Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Wildflower Wednesday Roundup

Welcome to the 2015 Wildflower Wednesday Roundup! 

Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers no matter where you garden~the USA, the UK, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants, how they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. I hope you join the celebration...It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!

Without further ado, here are the best and brightest of Clay and Limestone's 2015 wildflowers.

January: Crossvine
 Bignonia capreolata is a vigorous, vine that climbs by branched tendrils and has attractive trumpet shaped flowers in early spring and summer. In my neck of the woods, it is more often seen scrambling 30 to 50 feet up the trunk of a canopy tree on its way to the top and sunshine. You might not notice it during the summer, it has deep green leaves that get lost, but, if you see a trumpet shaped flower lying on a path~stop and look up, the flowers will be blooming at the top of the tree. blooms in the early summer at the tops of the trees in my garden.

It  has much to show for itself all winter long when the evergreen leaves take on a reddish to deep burgundy hue that brightens up a mostly brown winter garden.

 February: 5th anniversary for Wildflower Wednesday
It's hard to believe that 5 years have passed since the first Wildflower Wednesday meme post. I want to thank each of you for joining me on my continuing journey to create the best wildlife garden possible and for sharing your posts with me. At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to do to celebrate this special anniversary and then it occurred to me that I could share that first official Wildflower Wednesday post with some updated text and photos. So that's what I've done.

 March: Spicebush
 Lindera benzoin is one of the earliest blooming trees in my garden. I love how the sulphur yellow flowers  light up the dark corners of the woodland. It's a wonderful small understory tree and you'll find it on my list of perfect native plants. Lindera benzoin ought to be in more gardens. It's easy to care for, good looking and has great wildlife value...Don't go looking for fancy cultivars, as far as I know there are none. Seriously, a tree like this doesn't need to be "improved", it's already perfect!

April: Dogwood
Flowering dogwood is the most popular understory tree in my part of the gardening world! I have several in my front garden and my favorite grows in the shade of a Bur oak and several Shagbark hickories. It has the most appealing and graceful tiered and horizontal branching and the lower limbs tickle the Golden ragwort and Mayapples growing beneath it. If you're going to add one to your garden don't plant it in the middle of the lawn, instead, plant them in the shade of a taller canopy tree to give them the dappled light they prefer. Let those lower limbs alone and smother the lawn with newspapers covered with decomposing leaves (or pinestraw). Then plant spring ephemerals and other shade loving wildflowers. Voila, just like that, you have a woodland wildflower garden. All from one understory tree!

May: Goat's Rue
It's Tephrosia virginiana also known as Goat's Rue and it's our Wildflower Wednesday star of the month. It has fuchsia pink, creamy white and yellow blooms that resemble sweet peas and are striking against the silvery stems and leaves. I am delighted and surprised that it is blooming in my garden. It is said to prefer sandy, loamy, acidic soil and as you all know that is no where near a good description of the soil at Clay and Limestone! It's been  growing nicely for the last two years on the rocky edge of the Susan's Garden and the asphalt driveway. A taprooted plant, it's anchored itself firmly into the ground, so I must be doing something right to make this beauty happy!

June: Embrace imperfection!

When you commit to a pesticide free garden you have to be prepared for chewed on petals and foliage. Are you ready to embrace imperfection? You won't be sorry when you do. Bees, butterflies, skippers, beetles and hoverflies will move into your garden. It will be alive with critters. Your garden will not be magazine perfect, but, pollinators don't care if your flower petals are chewed on. Pollinators need flowers bursting with pollen and nectar. Your garden will be teeming with life. Spiders will build webs, the beneficial insects will keep aphids in check, pollinators will pollinate and, birds will hunt the insects.

It will be a beautiful imperfect garden, just as it's supposed to be.

 July: Summer Phlox
I count on the different species of Phlox for several seasons of delightful color starting in early spring. The first Phloxes in this garden were here when I arrived. They were the offspring of whatever the previous gardeners might have planted 30+ years ago and were all wonderful magenta flowered beauties. The offspring of the offspring are still here and after years of letting species and cultivars go to seed, real treasures have been produced in the crossings of the crossings.

Butterflies, moths (including Hummingbird and Sphinx moths) and skippers are the primary pollinators of phlox. Their proboscis are long enough to reach the nectar at the base of the narrow phlox corolla and pollen is carried to the next flower.

Phlox has all the characteristics of a classic butterfly nectar flower.

  • clustered flowers with a landing platform
  • brightly colored
  • open during the day
  • ample nectar producer 
  • nectar deeply hidden in corolla
I decide every year to plan more Phloxes! This summer I did!

 August: A cool, cool season native grass lesson

I love my cool season grasses, especially Danthonia spicata. They're the first grasses to green up and by the time the warm season grasses are knee high they've begun to set seed! It's a puzzle to me why they're still overlooked, underestimated, unappreciated and in some cases still unknown. On the whole they're easy peasy plants that would grow well in many of our garden settings.

Most cool season grasses don't make as big a show as our handsome warm season native grasses, but, they play an important ecological role in plant communities by providing food (forage and seed) and cover early in the growing season when most other plants are just waking up! That's a lot of coolness!

 September: Autumn Equinox in Flower
I wasn't sure which of the glorious wildflowers of the Autumn Equinox to showcase for Wildflower Wednesday! September has a number of beauties! Salvia azurea was first! Pitcher sage is not only beautiful, it's a favorite of bees. The bumbles are the primary pollinator of this Salvia~they fit perfectly into the lipped flowers. The Carpenter bee, although another frequent visitor, is not a pollinator. It's too large, instead it slits open the corolla and robs the nectar while avoiding contact with the pollen. The stinkers!

Occasionally, butterflies visit, but, I've not captured any photos this year...It's a sweet flower that's native to North Carolina south to Florida; west to Texas; north to Nebraska and Minnesota. It's happy in full sun or partial sun as long as it gets good drainage.

October: Rhus aromatica

 The species Fragrant sumac is a woody plant that can grow 6 to 12 feet. That's entirely too large for my garden (and most of yours), so I planted 'Gro-Low'. It was selected by growers for its dwarf habit, making it very attractive for my garden. It will grow in poor, dry soil in full sun or deep shade. It requires only good drainage. At two to three feet tall and with a 4 foot spread it's a delightful groundcover under my Rusty Blackhaw. The spreading branches root where they touch the ground and that helps it form a dense weed suppressing mat.

Leaves and twigs are aromatic when bruised giving rise to its name~Fragrant sumac. The smaller leaves do have a slight resemblance to those of its relative poison ivy (Rhus radicans), however this fragrant sumac is a totally non-poisonous plant.

It blooms in spring and the nectar and pollen attract small bees, flies and even some larger carpenter bees.   Small clusters of hairy, red berries which may persist into winter replace the female flowers. The ripe fruits are a treat for birds and small mammals.

November: Thankful for wildflowers and you

I am thankful for wildflowers. They have brought me so much joy. When I stop and think about it I have wildflowers to thank for helping me gain new knowledge, for great adventures and for meeting new people. Without wildflowers I wouldn't have met my first garden mentor, Paul Moore. I wouldn't know Mike Berkley and Terri Barnes of GroWild. Without wildflowers I might not have been drawn to the Tennessee Naturalist Program or volunteered at Owl's Hill.

Wildflowers led me to blogging and searching the internet to learn all I could about native plants. That's when I stumbled upon Pam Penick's blog Digging and read about Garden Bloggers Fling. I've gone to many Flings and met bloggers who have become some of my dearest friends~I cannot mention everyone for fear I will forget some. I count myself fortunate indeed to have made friends with folks from all over this country,  Canada and the UK....Some of them are even as wild about wildflowers as I am.

My love for wildflowers opened my eyes to pollinators and their importance to our gardens, to agriculture and to the earth. I came to love wildflowers so much that I wanted others to appreciate them. That's why I started the Wildflower Wednesday monthly meme.

Which brings me to today's Wildflower Wednesday post about thankfulness.

I want to thank the best ever group of bloggers who join me on the fourth Wednesday of each month to celebrate wildflowers from all over this great big beautiful world. Diana, Donna, Rose, Sue, Alison, Janet, Kathy, Lea, Carol, Cindy, Ann, Dee, Frances, Hannah, Greggo, Aaron, Jason, Shirley and Beth, you are all the very best.* I am honored that you join me as often as you can. Thank you for caring about wildflowers, for taking the time to share your gardens and your knowledge with all of us. You rock.

My dear friends, Thank you for planting more wildflowers. Thank you for taking care of the bees and all the other pollinators that visit and live in your gardens. Thank you for tolerating what others consider pesky wildlife. Thank you for another year of your friendship, visits, comments and for joining me in celebrating wildflowers all over this great big wonderful world. 

You are the best and having you in my life has enriched it beyond measure.
See you next year!

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. Merry Christmas!
    And a very Happy New Year to you and your family!

  2. Thank you for sharing and inspiring us all with your love of the natural environment and the natives that bring us so much joy. The pollinators and I thank you for your offerings. Hope your Christmas is merry and the new year brings you good health, happiness, and love.

  3. Always a pleasure Gail to read your posts and join in...thank you for keeping wildflowers front and center. They are so important. I will be joining in Monday. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  4. I will bring my Christmas Wildflowers to you next Wednesday.
    Today I was thinking about our Rhus, which is now renamed Searsia. Planted a second Searsia leptodictya. Also has the fragrant leaves mmm.

  5. just noticed my blog isn't on your list

  6. Nice year end round up of wildflowers. I sure learn a lot from your posts (and those who link to it). So far no Crossvine in my woods, but lots in the neighborhood. I have three fragrant sumac, Gro-low, very happy on my bank. Tried to add more Lindera benzoin into my woods this winter but MO Dept of Forestry was out of them. :-(
    Happy New Year, and keep sharing your knowledge of wildflowers with us.

  7. I don't participate, but I always read, and always learn something. Thank you Gail!

  8. I love your year end review. Inspiring. As I look forward to my first full year in my new smaller garden it will contain many wildflowers/natives.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson