Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May Wildflower Wednesday

It's been a wild and crazy week and a half here, preparing for a big event next weekend.  There's been a frenzy of planting, weeding, and trimming, trying to beat the rains forecast for 5 days . . . rain that never came, meaning the garden hoses had to be lugged around each day as well, before the newly planted annuals drooped hopelessly in the hot sun.  Today the dark skies are really threatening and the wind is blowing at full force, so I must hurry in order to participate in the monthly celebration of Wildflower Wednesday hosted by the champion of pollinators, Gail at Clay and Limestone.

A quick look at some of the natives and native relatives finally appearing here in the garden:

Ever since I first saw drifts of Baptisia austalis, or Blue Wild Indigo, during the Chicago Spring Fling in '09, I knew I had to have this plant in my own garden.  According to Illinois Wildflowers, it is not a common native in this part of Illinois and not usually found in the wild.  But its popularity has grown, and certainly after being named the Perennial Plant of the Year in 2010, it can be found in many Illinois gardens.

An awkward long shot of the Baptisia in my roadside garden shows you just how large it has become in two years, when comparing it to the giant alliums to its right.  Whenever I look at these blooms in the spring, I'm always reminded of the magic of the Lurie Gardens in May.

Another native first seen at the Lurie two years ago and one of my new favorites is Amsonia Tabernaemontana, or Bluestar.  It has been blooming for a good two weeks in my garden, though it is just beginning to fade.   Its relative, Amsonia hubrichtii, has been named the Perennial Plant of the Year for 2011, but Amsonia T. is the only native bluestar in Illinois.  According to Illinois Wildflowers again, it is attractive to ruby-throated hummingbirds and to various long-tongued insects.  The foliage, however, contains a white latex that is toxic to mammals--in other words, this is the perfect plant for those bothered by deer.

Although not technically a native, Garden Valerian, Valeriana officinalis, is included on the Illinois Wildflowers website, so I thought I would include it today.  This plant is often included in herb gardens for its
medicinal effects.  Deer are also not fond of valerian, but it is attractive to a host of bees and butterflies.

The butterfly garden is in a state of chaos right now, as I tend to other more visible parts of the garden first.  Part of my problem in weeding out the undesirables and thinning the prolific self-seeders here is knowing which are which.  But there is no mistaking these seedlings about to bloom--Nigella, also known as Love-in-a-Mist.  These are not natives at all--in fact, my original seeds came all the way from the UK from blogging friend Cheryl--but I thought it was interesting that Illinois Wildflowers includes it in its list of "weedy wildflowers."  Apparently, it has escaped cultivation here and can occasionally be found in the wild here in the Midwest.

However, one of the plants that I didn't recognize as it began to grow in the butterfly garden and nearly pulled out was this one.  I'm so glad I didn't, because when it began to bloom, I recognized it as Penstemon X, a gift from our wildflower hostess Gail.  As evidenced on Gail's posts, this plant is a bee magnet.

Another gift from Gail is Phlox pilosa, now commonly referred to as PPPP.  Gail has been very generous with providing starts for so many friends that this surely must be one of the most celebrated plants in all of the blogosphere! I thought this description of PPPP from Illinois Wildflowers was interesting:

"The flower structure of the Phlox genus is a classical example of a butterfly flower. Such flowers feature flared petals that function as a landing pad for these insects, and a long narrow tube that is accessible to the long proboscis of butterflies, as well as skippers and moths." 

 Also interesting is that there is a very rare species of this phlox, Phlox pilosa var. sangamonensis (Sangamon Phlox), found in our county and one nearby county--I'll have to be on the lookout for this. For more information, check out one of Gail's many posts on this lovely native.

There are many other natives waiting in the wings for their appearance in June and July, but before you go, I can't resist showing one non-native that is looking its best right now--my clematis 'Nelly Moser.'  Even my non-gardening son and daughter-in-law commented on all the blooms this week.  I think I should hint that a taller obelisk would make a good birthday present this year, don't you think?

Every month I learn something new about natives and wildflowers from reading other posts--why not check out some of these participants?  You'll find them listed by Gail at Clay and Limestone.

Just a note--for some reason I can't leave comments on certain blogs.  So if I haven't visited lately, I'm not ignoring you . . . I'll keep trying.


  1. In the Colorado mountains, there is a white clematis that is native.
    Yours is much prettier and lush though!
    Your Amsonia are gorgeous. I didn't know that deer didn't like them. Perfect plant for those plagued by yard rats, as my dad lovingly refers to deer.

  2. Wonderful selection of natives and other wildflowers Rose! I didn't realize Amsonia hubrechtii wasn't native in IL. Oh well, it's the one I have here. I just moved it into a bit more sun this morning before the rain started. Maybe next year I'll see some blooms. I'd forgotten about that latex substance - no wonder the bunnies don't bother it. I'll definitely add this to my list for clients whose gardens are ravaged by deer.

    I've loved baptisias in previous gardens, and they've done well in only part sun. Here I've had trouble with them, but some I started from seeds last year are back - yay! I know it will take patience for them to bloom (probably at least another couple of years,) but I do hope they will survive. The nursery-grown ones I've added have all died.

    I have a lone PPPP started from seeds I bought over the winter - hope it will grow to maturity and spread around the garden. My goodness the seedlings are tiny and slow-growing! I planted an entire packet of them, and only one sprouted. :( Hopefully if my little one survives it will do a better job seeding itself naturally than I've done with the seeds in the basement.

    Your Penstemon X is lovely! I got a Penstemon digitalis at a native plant sale a couple of years ago, and it's budding now for the first time - yay!

  3. Lovely lovely shots Rose - I'm sure your garden will be lovely for your upcoming event with all those lovely blooming natives!

  4. You have some great natives. I can't believe how fast your baptisia has grown-wowser!

    Nelly sure does look great. A real eye catcher!

  5. Absolutely Rose, a taller obelisk would be perfect. I have 'Nelly' in my woodland area, she climbs though the Elder and makes a wonderful show.

    Valerian and love in the mist are also in my garden and I love both of them. They are so delicate, so pretty. Always a lovely addition to any garden.

    I so enjoy seeing your native plants. They are beautiful Rose, especially the Baptisia.
    Such a lovely colour.

    Hope everything is going according to plan re the reception.

  6. Everything looks great! Love the clematis.
    I think blogger is having a problem with comments. I ran into the same issue.

  7. Your Baptisia is so big and gorgeous right now Rose! And wow Nelly is really putting on quite the show...don't blame you for posting a pic. :)

  8. So many beautiful blooms in your garden right now. I keep hearing over and over about baptisia and amsonia and how wonderful they are. It seems the blogging world is saying I must purchase these plants for my garden!

  9. Gorgeous wildflowers! Ours are coming out too now that the sun is back. You are reminding me to pin up my sagging clematis, not in bloom yet.

  10. Phlox pilosa is barely budding and my baptisias are hardly leafing out yet!! It's crazy the difference in bloom time that just a couple hours' northward makes!

  11. You have a lot going on in your garden now Rose. I love the nigella. I have grown it before but it didn't reseed or I pulled it all out, which is more likely.
    I have had trouble lately leaving messages too. One day Blogger wouldn't let me do it at all. Crazy. All is good now. I have no idea what the trouble was.

  12. Baptisia! Lovely.

    We have the white and it is fairly common growing in the wild here.

  13. That clematis is gorgeous! But so are the other blooms in their own way.

  14. I am such a big fan of purples -- your garden is fabulous!!! Hardy to say which I like best!

  15. Oh my goodness, your Clematis is looking great! I'm hoping mine will come back. I think I trimmed it back too much. This is a beautiful post--I love the pastels!

  16. That is a big, beautiful stand of Baptisia, very nice! I planted a few a couple of years ago, and they have not yet bloomed. I'm hoping this is the year. If not, I may try them in a different spot, but I hear they are hard to move because of a taproot.

  17. Rosey, I've been lucky not to have much trouble with deer; I'm depending on the Ill. Wildflowers website that the amsonia is a deer-resistant plant. I've tried to leave a comment three times on your post, but Blogger doesn't seem to recognize me; I don't know why.

    Linda, I added an Amsonia H. this year, too; native or not, I'm looking forward to the blooms. My baptisia has exceeded my expectations. I bought it at one of our best nurseries in a gallon pot, and it has doubled in size each year.

    Cyndy, There are a few blooms and lots of buds on the roses, and buds on the lilies so I'm hoping for a lot of blooms next weekend.

    Tina, I've been really pleased with the baptisia; it's planted in a former sheep pasture, so maybe that helps:)

    Cheryl, I have been trying to leave a comment on your post, too, but I can't--there seems to be an issue with Blogger right now. Things are coming along, but too much has been left for the last week. If my husband is Mr. Procrastinator, then I'm Mrs. P:)

  18. Gardener, Yes, I can't leave comments on posts where there is a little box on the page to fill in. Blogger doesn't seem to recognize who I am:)

    Racquel, I couldn't resist adding the picture of 'Nelly'; this is the best she's ever looked.

    Marguerite, I saw both of these plants in large drifts at the Lurie Garden and fell in love with them immediately.

    Sarah, My clematis is not tied up as it should be--I always wait too long and have lots of stragglers, it seems.

    Rose, Your time will come; I've been amazed, too, at the difference a few miles makes in bloom times.

    Lisa, The nigella seems to like it here:) Blogger still won't let me leave comments...and last night when I intended to sit down here for awhile, we lost our power. Lots of bad weather around, but fortunately we were spared the worst of it. But we do have rain, and lots of it!

  19. It is definitely a problem with Blogger and is on their 'Known Issues' page Rose, they say they are working on it. Why it should only affect some I don't know!

    Always lovely to see your wild flowers. The Baptisia austalis is a beauty.

    I really like the Phlox too.

    My Nelly Moser is performing beautifully despite our exceptionally dry weather and my neglect.

    Love-in-a-Mist is a great favourite of mine, my Mother always grew it. It doesn't grow wild here at all though.

    We actually have some rain today!! It is desperately needed.

    I hope everything goes well with the reception Rose. Try not to get too frazzled, the main thing is to... ENJOY :)

  20. Such beautiful wildflowers, especially the blue indigo. I like the subtlety of the native flowers, and your photos make them look shy and lovely... and then bang! That clematis at the end is anything but bashful. Very nice!

  21. Your baptisia looks magnificent! I love both baptisia and amsonia; both are special and unique in different ways. Your gifts from Gail are exquisite.

  22. I particularly love the Clematis!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  23. Lovely blues again, my favourites

    I like Baptisia austalis very much, it would suit the large borders I now have (well, tiny compared to yours, but they look large in my garden now they have been created and are empty. A bit daunting really!) I like that it grows and spreads as well as the colour.

    Good luck with the big event!

  24. I enjoyed seeing your wild and not so wildflowers. I found some tiny phlox pilosa plants locally, and had to protect them from rabbits. Only a couple look like they are going to make it. I hope those grow and do well.

    Thanks for your comment on my milkweed post. I wasn't sure if I should let the common milkweed grow, but felt it came up for the caterpillars, so I left it, and decided it was somewhat attractive. I do pull the ones out that travel too far into the flower bed. I have had a number of caterpillars on the butterfly milkweeds, too. I kept looking, and they kept growing. Today, though, I didn't see any. I don't remember how old they are when they form their chrysalises.

  25. Hello dear Rose, I love all the flowers you've shown~native and exotic! They make me smile every time I see them. I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled that you didn't pull the PenX!! They are terrific plants. In case you wanted to know~P calycosus is the botanical name. xxoogail

  26. That baptisia is stunning, but there again you have so many lovely natives thriving. Wonderful.

  27. Beautiful wildflowers. Yes, if the Wildflower Society says they are, then they don't need the native tag I think. Love in a Mist will not grow for me no matter what I do. Oh well. I love seeing your flowers. That Nelly Moser is really something.~~Dee

  28. Oh how I love your gardens! Purple is my absolute favorite color. The Batpisia is gorgeous as is the Phlox. I cannot believe the blooms on your clematis. I'm in suburban Chicago and while mine are leafing out nicely, not a hint of bloom yet.

  29. Oh, how i love finding new gardeners that share the passion of Gardening! I host a garden party on Thursday's called Cottage Flora Thursday's...would love to have you come by & peek around & would love it even better if you'd link a garden post sometime? oxox,tracie

  30. I love love love nigella! I had it growing and self-seeding at one time, but then we built an addition and that part of the yard changed. Now I can't find the seeds anywhere! I have a friend who has it, and she's promised to save me some seeds this year.

  31. Thanks to all for your comments--I'm knee deep in last-minute preparations for Daughter's wedding reception this weekend. I'll catch up with everybody after that.

    Renee, if you need some nigella seeds, I'll surely have some this fall.

  32. I've been catching up on other blogs and I'm amazed at all that's going on in your garden! May all go well with the reception ... hope you're able to relax and have some fun during it!


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