Welcome to the Wildflower Wednesday December 2018 Roundup!There's still color in the garden and I thank the beige colored stalks of wildflowers, grasses and shrubs for brightening the gray days. Gardening in the Middle South is a treat, we have four seasons, but our winter is mercifully short and spring and autumn make up for the steamy hot summer weather. It won't be long before the earliest spring ephemerals will break dormancy and the gloriously long bloom of wildflowers will begin.
Without further ado here are the 2018 stars of Clay and Limestone's wildflowers.
January Wildflower Wednesday: The Siren Call of a Wildflower
|with pedulous umbels that are similar to allium (source|
But, there's a but, Asclepias exaltata is a moisture loving plant! Where I garden the soils are generally dryer (summer), heavier and more neutral than where poke milkweed is naturally found. Is this enough of an issue to make me turn a deaf ear to the siren call of this beautiful wildflower?
I don't know, so I'm going to research Poke milkweed before I sail toward it!
February Wildflower Wednesday: Dirca palustris
What a lovely surprise for a late winter day.
Dirca palustris is an early blooming deciduous native shrub. It can be found in rich, moist, neutral soil in woodlands scattered (meaning uncommon) over much of eastern North America. The small yellow flowers first appear in late winter and continue into early spring just in time for small bees to stop by for nectar and pollen.
If Lindera benzoin (Spicebush) is happy in your garden conditions, then, so will Leatherwood. They may be found near one another in woodlands and forest settings. They also share similar characteristics: bloom time, yellow flower color, leaf shape, blooming in deep shade, red fruit and lovely yellow fall leaf color. They're both blooming in my garden right now and make those shady spots pop with their yellow flowers.
Wild ginger is found in rich, moist forests in Eastern N. America - Manitoba to New Brunswick, south to N. Carolina and west to Kansas. It's an early bloomer here in middle Tennessee and the delicate bells shaped flowers are already beckoning pollinators. In cooler climates look for them in early April.
April Wildflower Wednesday: Sedum ternatum
Sedum ternatum, is commonly called three-leaved stonecrop or wild stonecrop. It slowly creeps to form an attractive green patch. It's happiest in average, well drained soil, in bright to filtered light and is naturally found growing in damp locations along stream banks, bluff bases and stony ledges. You can try growing it in full sun if your soil is consistently moist. I planted it along the front path with visions of it cascading over the limestone wall, but, the clay soil is too dry during the summer and it's never spread like I hoped.
Sedums are often touted as drought tolerant, because their fleshy leaves can hold moisture, but, wild-stonecrop needs moisture. Don't plant it in dry sandy soil and expect it to thrive. It's a woodland plant.
May Wildflower Wednesday: Bear's Foot and a walk on the wildside
|Bear's foot/Hairy leaf cup leaves are giant sized|
June Wildflower Wednesday: Lanceleaf fogfruit
Finding new to my garden wildflowers makes my day and I can't find any reason to not like this flower. It's a seriously cute little Verbena cousin that ought to be in more native plant gardens and considering that it's native to almost all of the US (except for the dryer NW states), it's amazing to me that it's not readily available. If I had a pond or stream in my garden it would have a place of honor.
If happy it will carpet the ground with attractive foliage that is accented in the summer with small clusters of pale lavender-pink flowers that attract bees and butterflies. It's semi-evergreen (depending upon the zone you're gardening in) and can tolerate heat and humidity, as well as cold winters. It is native to southeastern Canada, most of the United States southward into Mexico.
July Wildflower Wednesday: Growing Wildflowers in Containers
|Joe-pye a few summers ago spent two seasons in a container|
I have been gardening this way since I realized that the sunniest sections of my garden were also the ones with the shallowest soil. When I say shallow, I mean three or four inches of decent soil that sits on top of enormous limestone boulders and bedrock. I've been able to pry out smaller rocks and plant a prized wildflower, but not always. It used to be maddening, then, I figured out that those shallow spots were opportunities for me to add my favorite native wildflowers to the garden...in containers!
August Wildflower Wednesday: Oenothera biennis
While researching the plant I noticed that it showed up on several state weed sites! That's always disconcerting to a wildflower/native plant enthusiast, but, not all wildflowers are appreciated or valued by everyone. Some might be put off by it's height or it's unremarkable foliage, neither bother me. I find the yellow flowers that are still blooming when I walk the garden early in the morning to be quite charming. I like catching their sweet lemony scent and watching the occasional bee or other pollinator visitor that's out that early.
I found our Wildflower Wednesday star in the Susan's bed a few years ago. It looked like Conoclinium coelestinum/Blue Mistflower, but, the flowers were less numerous and pink. There were a few other differences, too. Blue Mistflower is a sturdy plant with upright reddish stems, while this little beauty could be best described as airy and loose limbed.
I rather liked what I saw.
I'm never surprised to discover a new native plant in this neighborhood or even in my garden. Plants frequently appear, either having gone unnoticed or because conditions were favorable for growth of seeds in the soil seed bank. This was a woodland not so very long ago and there must be many wildflower seeds laying dormant in the soil.
October Wildflower Wednesday: Frost aster's moment in the sun
It's Wildflower Wednesday and I'm sharing my garden guidelines with a special emphasis on fall and winter. Although, they're universal, I've personalized them with photos of past Wildflower Wednesday stars. If you're new to C and L, my garden is a Central Basin woodland (there are some sunny areas) with dryer, heavier, shallow and neutral clay soil. I've unearthed enough limestone rocks to build several small walls and there's still more. Not too far below my plants is a thick layer of Ordovician limestone that makes for challenging gardening experiences. The native plants I've chosen are adapted to the environment and conditions at Clay and Limestone and provide food, nesting and/or shelter for mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. Humans seem to appreciate it, too.
My guidelines can be applied (with appropriate modifications) no matter where you garden for wildlife.
My friends, I wish you a very Happy Wildflower Wednesday and thank you for planting more wildflowers. Thank you for taking care of the bees and other pollinators. Thank you for tolerating pesky wildlife that too often eat your favorite flowering plants. Thank you for another year of your friendship, visits, comments and 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.
Most of you have been very busy with the holidays, but, if you have the time to join this Wildflower Wednesday, just add your link to Mr. Linky and leave a comment. Please remember, it's not necessary for them to be in bloom!
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.