Tomorrow is officially the day of thanksgiving in the USA, but I try to be appreciative and thankful every day about the good people, good things, good wildflowers and good garden critters in my life. Because the last two years have been especially challenging for me as a gardener, I am working extra hard at appreciating what is revealed to me every day in my garden. This Wildflower Wednesday post is in celebration of the wildflower and native plant beauty in the garden this month. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have in putting it together. xoxogail
|November 24, 2021~what an aster!|
After several freezing nights the flowers are gone from the garden, except a few of the last to bloom Willowleaf asters. They are a must have plant for me and I recommend that you add them to your garden, too. You need a plant that survives several frosts and deep freezes and this one does. If the temperatures were to rebound to warmer than 60˚ in the next week the bees would be back.
Hamamelis virginiana is also still blooming. The flowers furl when it's cold and unfurl when the day warms up. I can't imagine gardening without this understory tree. On warm days its honey scent wafts around the garden on the slightest breeze. It's been a Wildflower Wednesday star and will be again.
|Can you spot the partridge pea seed in its pod?|
Just a few days ago, along with the witch hazels and ex-asters, False dragonhead,
mums, Frost aster, Pineapple sage and African Blue basil were in bloom. The resident bumbles and our neighbor's honeybees were visiting. The
annuals were alive only because I was covering them up on frosty nights.
When the inevitable winter weather came to stay I folded the
sheets up and put them away ready for next April when late frost
threatens my spring garden. Oh, in case you wondered, I made cuttings and saved some basil for salads.
|Bumble on African Blue basil flowers|
New readers may be wondering why I have non-natives in my garden, long time readers know that any plants added to this garden need to be more than just pretty faces. Our growing season is long; bees that are provisioning their nests for
the winter and migrating butterflies and hummingbirds need all the pollen and nectar than can get. Basils and Salvias provide that much needed nectar and/or pollen in mid/late fall
when many native plants have gone to seed. My garden continues to be
mostly native, but I believe that adding pollen and nectar rich non-natives enhances a pollinator habitat.
They also have very pretty faces and taste wonderful in salads.
|Cotinus 'Grace' and Cercis canadensis|
I am thankful for all the 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 might never have realized the possibilities for a garden with difficult growing conditions like I have here at Clay and Limestone. I would surely never have met the unique plants and trees that grow in middle Tennessee, I wouldn't have begun blogging and I wouldn't have met wonderful friends like you dear readers or at Garden Bloggers Flings. Nor would I have become a Tennessee Naturalist.
My love for wildflowers opened my eyes to pollinators and their importance to our gardens, to agriculture and to the earth. When I speak of wildflowers I include shrubs and trees.
In the drama of a wildflower garden there are no bit players. The canopy, the understory, the herbacious layer and the ground cover are all part of a diverse ensemble. All the players are essential; all provide food, nesting and shelter for mammals and birds; they're host plants for a variety of insects that are a primary food source for birds, bats, small mammals, amphibians and even other insects that you want in your garden.
As I walk the garden I marvel at beauty of late fall colors.
The garden is a sea of browning leaves and seedheads. I think they're beautiful.
The promise of spring is in every one of those seeds. It's everywhere if you look carefully. Take a close look at your native shrubs. Dogwoods and Viburnums show their flower buds at the tips of their stems and the buds of late winter blooming witch hazels and spring blooming spicebush line the stems.
Native grasses like switchgrass glow in many shades of brown and gold. Please don't cut them down in fall, they provide shelter for small mammals and birds, song birds eat the seeds and they're host plants for several skippers.
|American Hop Hornbeam|
By the first of December most of the American hop hornbeam, persimmon, ash, oaks, hickories, hackberries, elms, serviceberries, dogwoods, spicebush, paw-paws will have dropped all their leaves. I leave most of the leaves where they fall. Butterflies, bees and other insects rely on leaf litter for protection and I don't want to mow them or blow them away.
Chokecherry offers miniature apple looking fruit if any critter wants to nibble.
I am grateful that so many plants happily grow in my shallow, clay soil.
|Euonymus americanus/hearts a bustin|
I came to love wildflowers so much that I wanted others to appreciate
them. That's why I started the Wildflower Wednesday monthly meme. Too many of our native plants are underappreciated and underutilized. They're also sometimes downright impossible to find locally. But keep on looking for them, each season more native plants are offered and there are wonderful online seed and plant resources.
|Rhus aromatica an attractive sumac with great fall color|
Blogging has changed since I began in February 2008, but, I still love sharing wildflowers with you all. Thank you for stopping by to read and thank you for commenting. After all these years your comments still mean the world to me. A special thank you for all of you who continue to plant natives and share them on your own blogs.
Happy Wildflower Wednesday
This year, I am especially grateful for the health and well being of my family; for loving and supportive friends; for fall weather; and, for wildflowers that bloomed no matter how horrid the weather has been. Happy Thanksgiving to you all, xoxogail
Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. I am so glad you stopped by. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers.
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.