Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What comes after June? Native Blooms for the 4th of July

When I changed the calendar over from June to July I felt a little sad because it is really too late to put in any new plants in the ground for the season. Of course, I really should have finished all that at the beginning of June. But then I started to look around the garden and found that many of the native plants I have were just starting to bloom. For some, I think they are 2-3 weeks ahead of time due to the warm and sunny spring we had this year in the Boston area. Here is a round-up of my native plants that are in bloom at the beginning of July.

Winecups, Callirhoe involucrata, was one my first North American natives that I put in. The first time I saw it was during a wildflower photography class I took in the Ft. Worth area. This native to the west-central US, has settled nicely into a sunny spot in front of my house. In this photo it is backed up by a clump of Northern Sea Oats, with their newly formed seed stalks.

The Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, shown here was grown from wild seed that I got from NEWFS. These plants show quite a bit of variation in the blossoms and sizes of the plants. For me, I like the surprise of finding an unexpected flower, or plant, in the garden.

Whorled Rosinweed, Silphium trifoliatum, is a very unfortunate name for this tough native perennial. It is slightly smaller than the more familiar and more fortunately named Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum). I have had these plants growing within the dripline of a Norway Maple for 3-4 years and they are multiplying, that’s a tough plant!

Big-Leafed Aster, Aster macrophyllus (now Euribia macrophylla) grows well in dry shade and will spread by seed and underground runners. My colony started as a single plant and is now beginning to dominate the space. I think this one is blooming several weeks early this year. It provides some interest in what can sometimes be a very drab location. Another similar native plant for dry shade is the White Wood Aster, but that doesn’t bloom until fall.

Pink Tickseed, Coreopsis rosea, can be tricky to grow. This colony moved from the border to some cracks in the driveway and has been going strong for over 5 years. I tried moving some back into ‘good’ soil but the plants couldn’t handle the competition. I likes moist soil, so maybe there is runoff being channeled under the asphalt.

Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis, will bloom for at least 2 months starting in late-June. It can survive dry conditions in poor soil, but it is not a strong competitor when mixed with other plants in good soil.

The next three plants are from my Native Annuals Experiment.  One is a return from seed and the other two are new for me. 

Beach Sunflower, Helianthus debilis, has retuned from seed from last year’s plants. This annual sunflower is a cultivar called ‘Pan’. 

Lacy Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia, is an annual from the southwestern deserts. While it is reported to tolerate hot dry conditions, our recent heat wave has cooked at least one plant (3 weeks with no rain can be tough). These plants are recommended as an agricultural cover crop and as a great nectar source.  This one is only 6" tall, but it normally grows to 3' tall.  There are precautions about not letting it go to seed, as this species can get weedy.

 Annual Indian blanket, Gaillardia pulchella, is from one of the seed packets I got at the Wildflower Center in Austin. Compared to the hybrid and perennial Blanket Flowers this one appears to have a more relaxed habit.


Laurrie said...

It's interesting how the common thread with many of these natives is "gets out-competed in rich garden soil." With our focus on creating English style borders, we have created a baseline for gardening that assumes compost, amendments, good soil, etc. are where you start. But not for these natives!

Curtis said...

Well stated. I was just talking with another native plant grower yesterday about how many 'old field' plants we have troble growing. I wonder now how to create conditions that are similar enough to depleated farmland. Maybe this is a topic for a little research project.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I've found some of our prettiest natives in some of the worst soil (if you could even call it soil) here. I just found a native Aster (Aster chilensis) growing here, on a dry slope, nowhere near water. I think fencing the deer out of our orchard has allowed it to grow and actually bloom this year. I think Asters are a new favorite here, if only because they're blooming profusely when most of our natives are now going summer dormant.