Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday: Perennial Favorites

It's time for another Wildflower Wednesday, the monthly celebration of wildflowers and natives hosted by the gracious and enthusiastic Gail of Clay and Limestone.  It is perfect timing for me, as so many of my favorite natives are in bloom right now. Driving along country roads or even the interstate the past few weeks, one can't help but notice masses of the white umbels of Wild Carrot Daucus carota, or as I prefer to call it, Queen Anne's Lace.  In many places it is bordered by a profusion of blue blooms from Chicory Cichorium intybus.

Most farmers would say that Chicory is a weed, but I've always had a fondness for this weedy wildflower.  Probably it's the color, since blue is my favorite, and not many plants have such a true-blue bloom.  It pops up around our outbuildings each summer, and I'm inclined to let it stay.

I was hoping to get a long shot of the roadsides filled with chicory and Queen Anne's Lace, but pulling off a busy highway or a narrow country road didn't seem smart or safe.  So instead I pulled into a turn-off near my home to get a few close-ups.  Illinois is "The Land of Lincoln," and throughout the state you will find not only museums, but promotions of any ties the area has to the man many of us consider our greatest President. Just a mile from my home is this historical marker, where Kelly's Tavern once stood, a place where Lincoln once stayed during his days of riding the circuit practicing law.

Next to the marker is a small planting of various prairie plants, including tall Rudbeckia, Joe-Pye Weed, common milkweed, rattlesnake master, and other yet unidentified wildflowers.  I'm describing all this to you because when I downloaded my photos yesterday, my computer was acting up and I accidentally deleted all those photos, including what I thought were some great shots of butterflies--grrrrr.

But I did manage to save one of the best, this one of a rattlesnake master Eryngium yuccifolium. The unusual name of this native probably came from its use by some Native American tribes who used the leaves and fruit in their rattlesnake medicine song and dance.  As you can see, the bumbles and other pollinators love it; in fact, this whole area was full of buzzing creatures who didn't exactly appreciate my disturbing them to get a few photos--maybe they hexed my camera:)

I don't have to travel anywhere, though, to find natives this time of year.  The Joe-Pye weed Eupatorium purpureum has been impervious to the thugs in my butterfly garden this year and towers above them, though not to the exaggerated height I claimed in a previous post--it stands about 6 feet, not 10 feet tall.  This specimen does not have the purple tinge to its stem as many of these plants do, and for awhile this spring I wasn't sure if this really was Joe.  I was so glad to see it start blooming a few weeks ago and being reassured that it wasn't a giant ragweed instead!

A newcomer to my garden this year is Liatris spicata, planted from bulbs purchased at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show in March.  Talk about easy to grow!  The plan was to have them interspersed with white coneflowers to add some vertical interest in the arbor bed. The coneflowers didn't get planted, but the liatris filled in this area quite nicely on their own.  I planted eight bulbs, imagining eight spikes of purple, but as you can see, they are much more robust than that.

When the coneflowers start winding down, I get a little sad, but not to worry--the Susans take their place. All of them are re-seeders from previous years, so I won't even  try to identify them, though most, I suspect, are from original Rudbeckia hirta. I was a little disappointed in the turn-out in the butterfly garden, no doubt due to the proliferation of asters and obedient plants, but I was happy to see one specimen of the new 'Cherry Brandy' Rudbeckia return. Many of the returnees this year are taller and more slender, perhaps because of the limited space.  The Rudbeckia pictured above is in the lily bed, where I definitely did not plant it!  It doesn't fit into the planting scheme in this garden area, but with a cheery face like this, who would have the heart to pull it out?  I certainly didn't.

Finally, my favorite of all the natives--my beloved purple coneflowers Echinacea purpurea.  After a month of blooming, they're beginning to fade and look a bit ratty, but I still enjoy them.  Soon the goldfinches will be feasting on their center disks.

I've gone on and on before about the many admirable traits of purple coneflowers, so I won't repeat myself today, but if you would like to know more about these natives you can click on a much earlier post here. Suffice it to say, that they are pollinator magnets of the first order.

Butterflies have been scarce around here this year, but when one does arrive, it's sure to find the coneflowers.  This Monarch doesn't seem to mind that the flower has seen better days.  Attracting birds, bees, and butterflies, and pretty to boot--what more could you ask of a flower?

As a final note, it is still hot here in central Illinois, but we have had a few much-needed rainshowers over the last few days.  During this heat wave and near-drought, though, all the natives pictured above have been real troopers, braving the heat and lack of attention without complaining like their fussier non-native companions.  Another good reason to go native!

If you would like to know more about any of the native plants featured here, you might want to check out my favorite source, Illinois Wildflowers  Or better yet, check out this month's contributors to Wildflower Wednesday at Gail's. 


  1. Jeg synes godt om alle dine smukke blomster.
    Tak for kigget.

  2. Rose, Lovely, lovely, lovely! Anything you say three times is true! What a great shot of the bee on Rattlesnake Master. I love how they are unfazed by the prickliest plants as they go about their job of collecting food and pollinating our flowers. Your comment this morning at my WW post made me laugh~there is no guarantee with phlox that a seedling will breed true~The same with coneflowers! My E purpureas and E tennesseensis crosses are an interesting combo of recurved and upcurved petals! gail

  3. Your wildflowers are wonderful! I also planted some Liatris this summer, very happy with the result. I have Cherry Brandy and it came back this summer but is looking a little ratty now. On the bright side, it seems to be reseeding--- so I will have more Cherry Brandy!
    I have some Queen Anne's Lace seeds from Les that I need to spread. Like it with the chicory.

  4. That liatris is so darned pretty and happy! I never have luck with it in my garden and it is such a butterfly magnet.

  5. I planted Rattlesnake Master this spring, no blooms yet though. You posted some beautiful photos today and all are wonderful natives for the garden. :)

  6. The liatrus really did take to its new home Rose. All of that soil preparation did the trick. You need to give us an overall look at your new arboat way we can watch the evolution of this garden. Happy WW.

  7. Your liatris look beautiful. I had them in my gardens but the Voles seem to enjoy them as much as me! All have succumb to the little furry rodents. I plan to give them another try in the future. You have many buzz magnets there in the form of wild flowers….

  8. One of my favorite drinks, Pero, is made from Chicory, so I have a particular fondness for the plant.

  9. Queen Anne's lace and chicory go together like peas and carrots Rose! They're among my favorite roadside blooms.

    Wow - your liatris have really taken off! Our coneflowers are just getting started. I'm glad they bloom in the shade, they just bloom later than they would in the sun.

    Beautiful selection of wildflowers Rose!

  10. Your historical markers are much better than ours! You can read yours, at least, look how big it is! Ours are tiny plaque like things.
    Good for you! Your first year and the liatris blooms. I had it for a long time and finally gave up cause I got nothing!
    You'll find me wasting another hot evening in front of the tv with the lovable losers...

  11. I too have been proud of how well my natives have held up through this rough weather! I had to water some of the rain garden plants but that's not shocking seeing as they're water lovers. I love the liatris!

  12. I do love your wildflower posts! We have Queen Anne’s Lace all over in Maine too. How sad about your lost photos. Let’s hear for natives! Good to hear you got rain too.

  13. Hi Rose,
    I enjoyed seeing what's blooming in your area and on your property. I see some of the flowers I had in my post.

    It's 10:43 p.m. CDT, and 82 degrees. Maybe the cool front will head your way, too.

  14. Summer in Illinois just wouldn't be complete without Queen Anne's Lace, Black-eyed Susans and chicory. Even if my flower garden was not up to par in midsummer, I could always count on the roadside show. You know, I don't remember that rattlesnake plant. Is it more common in the northern part of the state?

  15. You have so many of my fav wildflowers here...chicory is a beautiful roadside flower and I love it too...

  16. Dear Rose,

    Lovely post, so nice to see such lovely perennials on show. Adore the Eupatoriums and the Cone Flowers. Thankfully ours have just come up so we have yet a few weeks to enjoy them before getting depressed!

  17. Landbohaven, I know you're not writing in German, but I know just enough German to figure out what you've said:) Thanks for visiting!

    Gail, I was so mad about the photos I lost, but was happy the one of the bee did turn out. I was surprised how much they liked the rattlesnake master. I have lots of strange offspring in my garden, too:)

    Janet, I was so happy the 'Cherry Brandy' came back in my garden, too. I planted another one this summer, so I hope they'll reproduce even more next year.

    Tina, The liatris seem to love it here; I sure didn't do anything to them other than plant them.

    Racquel, I don't have any rattlesnake master in my own garden, but I may have to re-think that; certainly an interesting native.

    Lisa, The liatris must love compost:) I am planning to do a post just on the arbor bed one of these days; I've been taking photos since spring to show how it has evolved. I certainly want you and Cheryl to see it!

    Skeeter, I haven't seen any voles this year, thankfully. If they were in my arbor garden, Sophie would have dug up all the liatris to get them:)

    Rosey, I've never heard of Pero--is it a coffee drink?

    Linda, My dad pointed out some chicory growing under my lilac tree one time and reminded me it was a weed--but I still didn't pull it:) My coneflowers are at the ratty-looking stage now, but I still am enjoying them.

    Sissy, I think this was an Eagle Scout project; it's really a pretty little place, but I wonder how many people stop and look at it. I was so tired last night that I spent the evening on the couch watching another loss, too:)

    Rose, I didn't think about it until I was writing this post how well the natives have come through this weather. I haven't watered them at all.

    Sarah, Queen Anne's Lace has always been one of my favorites. If I had thought more quickly while I was downloading photos, I wouldn't have clicked "ok" so quickly:(

    Sue, No cool front yet today, but I think rain is on the way this weekend.

    W2W, I really wasn't familiar with the rattlesnake master until I started taking an interest in wildflowers. I don't think it's a plant you see as often in gardens or even in prairie plantings as often as other natives.

    Donna, I just love the blue flowers of chicory!

    Petra, How nice that you have coneflowers just beginning to bloom--my favorite time of the season!

  18. Nice flower collection. I also have purple coneflowers at home. It's flowers easily faded away yet I love looking at them. By the way, purple is my fave color.

    Lisa from Country Guitar Lessons

  19. That little blue chicory flower is quite cute. Your natives are some of my very favorites, Rose. Had it not been flr blogging, I wouldn't have liatris or echinacea in my garden...I just love them! And the Blackeyed Susans, once plants I tried to contain, are another fave--especially because I recently got to watch a Goldfinch eating the seeds. The seedlings are easy to pull if it goes a little wild, and I've found myself re-planting them in other areas of my yard to increase their numbers.

  20. I've always had a fondness for chicory too. There's something about that color blue. I'm sorry to hear about the lost photos ~ so frustrating ~ but you saved a beautiful one! I love Liatris but the voles love it too, so if I try it again I'll have to try it in pots.

    Still baking here too ~ it'll probably get up to 100 today.

  21. All of your photos are lovely! I have some rudbeckia that reseeds itself...sometimes in the oddest places. I need to move them once they have finished flowering.

  22. I don't recall seeing or hearing about the Rattlesnake Master before. What an interesting plant! Looks like we're at about the same place with our natives. My Liatris look a little rattier than yours, but my Coneflowers are still chugging along--boy they had a great year! Beautiful photos, too!

  23. Such beautiful photos! I love the Monarch. I haven't seen many butterflies this summer either. Last summer there seemed to be more. Still lots of dragon flies, however.
    You garden is so healthy and thriving.Thanks for sharing.

  24. I do love Chicory for the same reasons as you--a true blue is a hard color to find in the garden.
    Send your rain down this way when you finish with it! ;-)

  25. Always love to see Cone Flowers and Queen Anne's Lace! Your Monarch is lovely....the Gold Finches are enjoying my Cone Flowers and the Black Swallowtail caterpillars are loving the Anne.....
    Native is best. Mine have also done just fine in the heat and dryness.
    Stay cool.

  26. Hi Rose

    Tku for showing so many of your native wildflowers.
    Queen Anne's Lace is a particular favourite of mine. It grows happily in my garden, I never tire of it.

    I also have liatris (alba). Yes, they are easy.
    I saw a lovely combination at the Prairie garden last week.
    White liatris amongst Astilbe ( a beautiful purple specimen) Sadly none of the plants were named. I am sure I will track it down. I shall have this combo in my garden next year, for sure.

    My milkweed is at last in bud. I cannot wait to see it bloom. You sent me the seeds two years ago now.....the blooms have been a long time coming. Oh the patience of the gardener.

    Lovely post Rose....tku for sharing.

  27. Lovely photos as always. And I'm impressed once again by your knowledge of wildflowers.

  28. Lovely post, Rose. So love coneflowers if only to attract butterflies! Been on the run all summer so fun to catch up :)

  29. I have some chicory in my lawn. :) And of course rattlesnake master is one of my faves. Also quite fond of Joe Pye and Liatris. :)


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