Monday, May 31, 2010

The Natives are Restless - What's happening as Summer approaches

As spring is drawing to a close, many of the summer blooming natives are getting ready to pop. This week I wanted to give an update on how the Native plants in my garden are doing.


I was very pleased to see that the Alleghany Vine, Adlumia fungosa, has begun to bloom with its little pale pink hearts. Last year it did not begin to bloom until mid-late June. This year I am letting it find its way in a more natural way, rather than forcing it to climb a trellis. In this way it is less likely to be twisted and broken off in the wind. IOt is a little difficult to see with its delicate frilly foliage and light colored flowers.  Now I just have to avoid stepping on it.

If these plants do well I will add in some new ones that I started from seed this year.  I hope that will get a stable population growing.


The little Rosy Sedge that I talked about a few weeks back is getting closer to bloom. This particular plant is so heavily shaded that the inflorescence, in fact, the whole plant is about half the size it gets in a more open location. I would never have spotted this development if I were not actively watching for it. I hope I can show you a good image when its flowers are actually open.
Correction: Two Stems of Meadowsweet


I have two native Spiraea growing here, Steeplebush and Meadowsweet, S. tomentosa and latifolia (or alba), respectively. While there can be easily distinguished by the different shapes of the flower spike, the leaves are also different. This is the first year that I could clearly detect the difference in the leaves. Steeplebush has a soft fuzzy leaf relative to the smooth leaf (glaborous) of Meadowsweet. In the photo you can also see that leaves of the Meadowsweet and more relaxed, but that is hard to tell if you don’t have a side-by-side comparison. While the habit of these two spiraeas is rather open, relative to the tightly mounded Japanese Spirea (S. japonica), I am surprised that these native species are not used more often in the residential landscape. In my garden Meadowsweet has proven to be a very versatile shrub, growing under a wide variety of conditions and blooming throughout the summer. It also can be pruned to tame it exuberant growth without compromising its ability to bloom.

The Red Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis, is still blooming away. Here it is shown with one of my Meadowsweet bushes just behind it.










Lastly, I planted two Winterthur Viburnums (V. nudum ‘Winterthur’) 4 years ago and they are both hitting stride now. (Their slow development was due at least in part to their proximity to the shade of a Norway Maple.) These buds will open to form corymbs of small white flowers. More interesting will be the pink and blue berries to follow.

3 comments:

Laurrie said...

I'm fascinated by those native spireas. I had never heard of either, and haven't found them for sale. Why? They look lovely but are never used in landscapes around here (and where do the common names come from... steeplechase... love it!) Thanks for introducing me to these plants.

Catherine said...

Hi Curtis, Just wanted you to know I checked in on your blog. The two spirea bushes you brought us last year are really looking good evne after the brutal winter here. Are either of them the varieties you mentioned in your blog? I know you told me but I don't remember.....
THX

Curtis said...

Cathy,
Yes, those were a couple of Steeplebush. They like moist sunny locations. You should be getting some pale pink spires ('steeples') soon. The meadowsweet that does well around my house is more tolerant of dry conditions.