|A past Wildflower Wednesday Star.|
Here are the 2019 Wildflower Wednesday stars
January Wildflower Wednesday: Winter Blooming Witch Hazel
Hamamelis vernalis is a lovely native shrub/small tree that blooms when you have just about given up hope that winter will end and warmth will return to the world...In my Middle Tennessee garden it often begins blooming in early to mid January and it's not unusual for it to continue blooming into February and sometimes March.
Ozark witch hazel's flowers are an unusual reddish color with four yellow/orange crepe paper streaming petals that unfurl as the day warms and furl back up when the temperature drops. This is a marvelous adaptive behavior that insures that the spidery blooms will survive the fluctuating winter weather and be in bloom for almost two months.
They perfume the garden with their sweet clove vanilla scent on warm days. I planted them for the earliest visiting pollinators and for that unforgettable fragrance. Once you smell them, you will, want them in your garden, too.
I think they're spectacular in my mostly brown winter garden and I planted one along the front walkway so visitors can enjoy the blooms and their sweet scent.
February Wildflower Wednesday: Winged Elm
Look what you will see when you look up... the prettiest red flowers that pop against the blue sky.
Ulmus alata is the botanical name and those corky, ridged wings on young stems are a hallmark of this native tree. Winged elm is also called corked elm. It's a small- to medium-sized deciduous tree (in the best conditions they can be much taller) native to the southern and south-central woodlands of the United States. It has a vase-like shape, with lateral branches and a rounded, open crown.
Elms are host plants to over 200 butterfly and moth species (think important bird food) and squirrels and chipmunks eat the nutlets of the samaras. I've never seen this tree offered at a local IGC, but, it can be found at specialty tree farms and orchards (search online).
The tree is often grown in parking lot islands, medium strips, and along residential streets. Winged elm trees tolerate air pollution, poor drainage and compacted soil. Wow. Poor drainage and compacted soil~No wonder it's doing well at Clay and Limestone.
March Wildflower Wednesday: White Trout Lily
Erythoniums is a genus of Eurasian and North American plants in the lily family. Of the nearly 25 species found in North America (mostly in western USA) only 4 are found in Tennessee. Those are: Erythronium rostratum, Erythronium umbilicatum, Erythronium americanum and Erythronium albidum. Erythronium americanum, the yellow flowered trout lily (above) and E albidum the white flowered trout lily, are both found growing in Davidson county, TN where I live. The yellow flowered seems to be more abundant and on a recent walk I spotted them in bloom at the Warner Parks.
I feel so lucky to have found White Trout Lilies growing in my garden. I've seen small colonies in nearby woodlands and in a neighbors small sloped side yard. Of course, I hoped the flowers would be white not yellow. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved the yellows, but, there's something extra special about these sweet white flowers.
Wildflower Wednesday: Phlox pilosa is still a star
I love introducing you to new wildflowers, but, this month I want to honor a very old and dear wildflower friend. Practically Perfect Pink Phlox is our star....and what a star with fragrant delicate pink blooms that last for more than a month.
May Wildflower Wednesday: Blephilia ciliataDowny Wood Mint and I have been gardening friends for over 30 years. I met it the first summer after we moved into this house. It looked like Monarda growing in the shady freedom lawn behind the carport shed. Although, it wasn't Monarda, it was definitely a mint with its square stems, opposite leaves and whorled light lavender flowers at the top of the stalk!
I have never seen it growing in the wild, but, once upon a time my neighborhood was a woodland and there are still wildflowers growing in lawns and woodland edges. I wonder how many of my neighbors are even aware that this pretty and others might be growing along the edges of their yards.
As more people move into Nashville and older ranch homes are torn down our freedom lawns with Salvia lyrata, Western Daisies, Fog Fruit, Ruellia humilis, clover and other "lawn weeds" are herbicided away. It makes me very sad and motivates me to continue to advocate for planting for wildlife in our gardens through my garden writing.
June Wildflower Wednesday: Asclepias syriaca
|Bumbles and other bees love the nectar and pollen rich flowers|
It's a colonizer and when you plant one you can be guaranteed that there will be dozens before you know it. Trust me on this and plant it were you don't mind it taking off or be prepared to dig them up when young (taprooted, so transplant when young) to share with others. Yes, it's aggressive, but, planting milkweed is important to Monarch butterfly. Besides, you do need this fragrance in your garden.
|balls of pink fragrant blooms|
July Wildflower Wednesday: Hibiscus laevis
Of course I bought it!
The first blooms opened in late June, they were quite lovely, only they weren't big or red. Instead the blossoms were a lovely white with deep maroon throats.
My Rose Mallow was really Hibiscus laevis/halberd-leaved rose mallow. I feel so fortunate to have a new wildflower to celebrate and love in my garden.
August Wildflower Wednesday: Wild Senna
Let me be absolutely honest with you from the start. I have no idea if my plants are Senna hebecarpa or Senna marilandica. For many of us they're indistinguishable from one another until their seeds ripen. The pods look the same, but they behave differently, Senna hebecarpa seeds will be expelled from their pods, while the seeds of Senna marilandica will stay tightly enclosed within the seed pod for months. I'll come back and relabel this post as soon as I know which Senna I have.
How do I know this?
A "2016 study by researchers at Penn State found that bumble bees preferentially visit flowers that produce pollen that has higher protein-to-lipid ratios, and wild senna was the favorite of bumble bees amongst the plants used in the study." In case you're curious,
spiderwort and Culver's root were also among the highest visited plants in the study.
This is a plant that belongs in every garden, especially pollinator gardens. I've only seen it offered online (most often as seeds). It's frustrating to see the same old same old perennials at nurseries when there are fantastic native plants that make the most sense for our gardens...but, I digress.
September Wildflower Wednesday: Euonymus americanus
|photo taken at Edwin Warner Park|
Strawberry bush/Hearts-a-bustin' is a delicate, airy deciduous shrub that can grow to 10' tall under ideal conditions. Which means it's closer to 5 foot in my garden. It is native to wooded slopes, moist woodland and creek or river areas, and is found in a variety of soil conditions ranging from sandy to clay. The typical range is from New York coast all the way south and across Texas and inland to the midwest from all those points. (source)
|5 green petals which frequently have a reddish tinge|
If a plant were to be chosen just for its bloom, Strawberry bush might not make the cut. Most people are under awed by the Spring flowers, in fact, they might even miss them. They are tiny and pale with 5 green petals that have a reddish tinge. In order to see them you are going to have to get quite close, which might mean getting down on your knees, since they're only 1/2 inch wide! I think they're worth crawling around on the woodland floor to see.
October Wildflower Wednesday: Zigzag Goldenrod
Zigzag goldenrod is my favorite goldenrod. As regular readers know I love take care of themselves, rough and tumble, colonizing wildflowers with great wildlife value and this goldenrod fits the bill! Plants are tough and adaptable prospering in part sun or part shade and in moist well drained soil and more importantly, they're superfood for insects.
|woodland ex-asters are great companion plants|
According to the Wild Seed Project (wildseedproject.net) “Asters and goldenrods attract loads of late season pollinating insects. In the wintertime, they provide food and habitat for many birds and small animals that feast on the seeds and find shelter in the dried stalks."
November Wildflower Wednesday: Ostrya virginiana is still dancing in the garden
She's still there, dancing in the tree all year round. It's been forever ago that I first saw her; so long ago that I can no longer remember when. What I do remember is saving this beauty from an invasive Japanese Wisteria that was strangling it as it climbed snake like up the tree. It could have been my imagination, but, I know the tree breathed a sigh of relief when the wisteria was cut away.
It's a lovely small tree, that I would miss terribly if it weren't here. My goal has been to provide habitat for critters in a visually attractive space and Ostrya virginiana brings grace, beauty, while providing for wildlife.
Ostrya virginiana also provides shade for wildflowers and mosses to grow. Each spring when the sun warms the soil, Trilliums, false rue anemones, spring beauties, toothworts and other spring ephemeral blooms crowd the woodland floor beneath her skirt.
Hophornbeams are totally under appreciated native trees that would be lovely in our gardens, if only we knew about them! You aren't going to find them at your local garden center, so you will have to search the internet or native plant nurseries. Trust me, this little understory woodland tree is worth the trouble to find.
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.