Saturday, July 1, 2017

Red, White and Blue for the Fourth and other times, too

Happy Fourth Of July!  When I think of the 4th it's all about red, white and blue.  In the garden these colors are not usually used together, unless you are doing a theme planting or a flower arrangement.  Occasionally it happens, though, by accident.

This mostly native arrangement has 'Annabelle' Hydrangea for white,
Monarda didyma and non-native Salvia splendens for red, and the blue
 is supplied by Campanulastrum americana and Salvia farinacea 'Victoria blue'.
The green fireworks are bottlebrush grass, Elymus hystrix.
While I didn't plan this color scheme, this combination of
blue flag iris, Iris versicolor, and the red and white striped flowers
of myrtle-leaf mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia 'Minuet'
made a pretty nice display in late May. 
Here are some North American native plants that can supply you with red white and blue flowers for each season of the year.

Scarlet sage is not hardy here so I grow it as an annual.
However, its seed will overwinter with a little protection
 In picking out these plants I looked for true reds rather than the many pinks and purples that are out there.  Roughly in the order of bloom from spring to fall  there is red trillium (Trillium erectum), wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Indian pinks (Spegelia marilandica), fire pink (Silene virginica), red beebalm (Monarda didyma), various red salvias (Salvia ssp.), standing sypress (Ipomopsis rubra), turkscap (Malvaviscus arboreus), scarlet  rosemallow (Hibiscus coccineus) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).
Cardinal flower makes a strong statement in late summer in sunny moist locations
The pure white flowers of bloodroot are one
of my favorites in early spring.
There seems to always be something white in bloom. Here are 10 native plants with white flowers roughly in order of appearance:  Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Phlox (all species have some white forms blooming from early spring to late summer), beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), hydrangea (H. arborescens and quercifolia), summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), swamp rosemallow (Hibiscus moscheutos, often with a scarlet center), tall snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), white turtlehead (Chelone glabra) and various asters.
Elderberry has large flat flower clusters
for nearly a month in late spring.

There are also native blue flowers throughout the growing season.  These plants tend to prefer shady locations.  Also their blue flowers show better in part shade than they do in full sun.  Many of the blues tend toward lavender or purple, I've tried to select more mid-range blues.  Here are a few, again in order of bloom:
Virginia bluebells carpet moist ground in early spring.
Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Jacob's ladder (Polemonium reptans), Ohio spiderwort (Tradescantia ohioensis), blue flag iris (Iris virginiana), American bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum), gayfeather (Liatris spp.), mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea), blue mistflower (Conoclinum coelestinum), great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) and various blue asters.

This smooth aster is one of the bluer (less purple) native asters in the eastern US.
(Should be Syphyotrichum laeve, sorry)

There are many other red, white and blue blooming natives out there and I would appreciate hearing what your favorites are.  And again, Happy 4th!!!