Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday: In Praise of Natives

As the mercury inches ever higher on the thermometer and the garden becomes more and more parched from lack of rain, I am so thankful for the natives in my garden.  On this Wildflower Wednesday, I am singing the praises of those stalwart troopers that thrive no matter what Mother Nature throws at them.

I am always happy to see the Susans return, even if they are a little early this year.  These Rudbeckia hirta don't need any sunscreen in the blistering sun.

And I'm happy that the Butterfly Weed, Asclepias Tuberosa, has taken a liking to its spot in the roadside garden.  Since the butterflies and all kinds of insects love this plant, I don't even mind that it's spreading into gaillardia territory.

But most of all what makes me smile this time of year is my favorite flower of all, 
the native Purple Coneflower.

Of course, purple coneflowers aren't really purple--and these days you can find them in shades of yellow, orange, or red in addition to the common pink.  Above is 'White Swan,' which is thriving in its second year in the Arbor Bed.

Hybridizers love to play with Echinaceas and have come up with all kinds of cultivars with tantalizing names like 'Hot Papaya' or 'Milkshake.'  Some are doubles with pronounced pompon centers, while others have flared petals like this 'Big Sky Sundown' in my lily bed.

Purists, though, may prefer the original natives, like this Echinacea Tennesseensis growing in hostess Gail's garden.  This species grows only in a small area in Tennessee, but it is similar in appearance to the native Echinacea Pallida, which was common in the original prairie of my area.  (And yes, dear Songbird, these plants do grow wild here, though not as common as they once were.  More often, they are part of a wildflower seed mix sown along roadsides today.)

But my favorite of all is the common Echinacea Purpurea, which is anything but ordinary.   It's a favorite of the native bumbles, who apparently are on the decline, though they still seem to be plentiful in my garden.

Other bees as well, including this one I can't identify, find the coneflower irresistable.

And have I mentioned it's a butterfly magnet as well?  The first Monarch I've seen in awhile appeared yesterday, flitting from one bloom to another.

Coneflowers make the perfect resting spot for other species, including this Red Admiral.

When their bloom time is over, coneflowers keep on giving--the seedheads are a favorite of the birds, especially the finches.  With temperatures predicted to reach 100 tomorrow, I may just have to stare at this photo from last December for awhile to remind me it won't always be this hot:)

Echinaceas grow in wild abandon in my sidewalk garden, my butterfly garden, and the roadside garden.  While gardening trends come and go, there will always be a place in my garden for this perfect native.

Thanks to our hostess  Gail at Clay and Limestone   for sponsoring  this monthly celebration of wildflowers.  Stay cool, everyone!


  1. Purple Cone Flowers seem to grow themselves out here. I have several of the regulars around. The beautiful one you gave me didn't make it I am sad to say. This drought might get the rest of them. I am having to water water water. A scary thing. Happy WW.

  2. You certainly seem to be getting all the weather.
    The daisy like flowers are beautiful and I love the one of the butterfly and the snow! (Just to remind you of how it was earlier.)
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  3. Dear Rose, Your coneflowers are wonderful and I might be just a tiny bit envious of your deep Illinois farm/prairie soil. I am so glad they make your pollinators as happy as they make you! Happy WW.gail

  4. Lovely lovely lovely! Gorgeous butterflies and coneflowers. You sure can't beat them in this drought!

  5. Dear Rose, Firstly, thank you so much for the mention and the link, that was such a nice surprise, you are kind! It is lovely to see your sunny blooms, I think we could count the number of really nice sunny days here, this year, on the fingers of two hands! I do understand though that it is actually too hot there and that you are crying out for rain and I know I could not cope with those temperatures at all! However, it certainly looks like those lovely flowers are coping well, how cheerful and colourful they are. Of course it was lovely to see the butterflies too :-) I nearly missed the beautiful Monarch but definitely couldn't miss the gorgeous Red Admiral which is actually my favourite butterfly, we have them here too as you probably know.

    I have no idea how I missed commenting on your last post :-( The strange thing is though, I recognise the first part of the post but nothing at all from about halfway down so I can only think that I got interrupted while reading it and intended to come back. Anyway, I have enjoyed reading it and there were so many lovely things to look at. I think my favourites were the miniature fairy garden, the wonderful fairy mansion and I also loved those bark planters and 'Shovelhenge' made me smile :-)

    Wishing you some cooler temperatures!

  6. How is it that I could be looking at that snow picture with longing? :-)

    I love coneflowers too, and I need more of them. Yours look very happy in your garden. And wow, the pollen sacks on that native bee!

  7. That is one of the largest Butterfly Weed plants I have ever seen! Beautiful!!
    I saw my first Monarch this week too.

  8. Love those coneflowers, Rose! You have such a wonderful collection of them, and so many!

    That's a fantastic butterfly weed. I hope the two I moved last fall will be happier in front with more sun. With no blooms after three years, they were shrinking every year instead of growing. They're looking better already, but still no blooms. Happy WW!

  9. Hi Rose,
    First, I have to say, my eyes had to briefly process what they were seeing when the photo with the snow was scrolled up to, then I had to grin, feeling a little cooled off.

    I like your assortment of wildflowers, and nice shots of the bees. I was thinking I need to look at images of bees that are in my area, to see if I could identify any of them. There seem to be a good number of bees and wasps here enjoying the blooms. I have not been seeing as many butterflies as usual.

    Thanks for visiting my WW post.

  10. What a fantastic shots of the Echinacea. Special with the insects on it.
    Have a great week Rose.

  11. Your flowers are so beautiful and bountiful and the last image made me shiver deliciously....

  12. Lisa, The coneflowers here self-seed so rampantly that I actually have to pull out some seedlings every spring. I think I gave you a Rudbeckia--I forget the name, but I know it's not as hardy as the others. I'll join you in doing a rain dance:)

    Maggie, The last few summers have been especially hot and dry here; it makes me wonder about climate change.

    Gail, I'm not sure if the coneflowers draw more pollinators than any other plant I have or if it's just that I pay more attention to the coneflowers and notice the pollinators because of that. Yes, they are very happy in this prairie soil!

    Songbird, It seems like we're all enduring one extreme or other. I wouldn't be happy with constant rain either. I wish I could have included a photo of the coneflowers that do grow along the roadsides here, but it would have involved me pulling over and parking on a busy highway--a bit too dangerous for me:) Glad you enjoyed the butterflies--the Red Admirals are abundant this year.

    Cassi, Yes, I'd better be careful what I wish for--I'm certainly not ready for winter! Thanks for identifying the pollen sacs on the bee; I wasn't sure if that's what they were.

  13. Tina, Coneflowers were the first perennial I ever planted, and they will always be special to me.

    Janet, I've had the butterfly weed for 5 or 6 years. It was slow to establish, but it has really taken off in the last couple of years. It's in the roadside garden, which I don't do much to, so it must thrive on neglect.

    Linda, I'm sure your butterfly weed will appreciate the sun. Mine seems to like it dry, too, because it doesn't get any extra watering.

    Sue, I'd like to learn more about the different types of bees, too, and learn to identify them. There's a Bee Watcher group here that I'd like to join. We don't have a lot of butterflies, but more than a couple of years ago when I hardly saw any.

    Marijke, I can always count on the Echinacea to bring out the insects and butterflies.

    Ruth, Thank you; I'm going to have to look at those snowy seedheads today to stay cool--it's supposed to get up to 102!

  14. I'm not sure why, but I have great success with the Susans and no luck with coneflowers here. You said blueberries don't do well there for you. Gardening crosses we have to bear, I guess.

    I haven't seen any Monarchs here yet. They'll be making their way south soon I expect.

  15. Hi Rose,

    Lovely to see your natives doing so well during this very dry spell.
    I am sure they will continue to thrive, as over the centuries they have probably had much more thrown at them.

    Strangely every plant you mention has disappeared from my garden this year. Susan's, White Swan and Milkweed were successful last year. Not one has appeared .....I believe the soil here is too damp for them.
    BUT the beautiful Queen of the Prairie has many blooms waiting to open....and she is planted alongside our native Meadowsweet. Sadly I do not think they will bloom together, which is what I had intended.

  16. Yes indeed, Susan is a hardy plant even with our Bone Dry Conditions! They have self seeded in many places and I added the White Swan in two spots a week ago. I hope to add more in the years to come as they are so drought tolerant. When nothing else shines, Susan is always there to pick ya up...

  17. Ha! I chuckled when I got to the snow photo. I think it really cooled me off--psychologically, at least. Echinacea is one of my favorite natives, too. There are just so many great things about it--great cut flower, photogenic, lovely with other flowers, hardy, native, drought-tolerant, bird and butterfly friendly...the list goes on and on.

  18. When it comes to wildflowers, at least, you and I can grow many of the same things. The coneflowers are my faces too.

  19. When it comes to wildflowers, at least, you and I can grow many of the same things. The coneflowers are my faces too.

  20. I dearly love the Echinaceas too. Did you know I once had trouble growing them? I think my soil wasn't lean enough, and the drainage wasn't good enough. Now, I have them, and they are lovely in all their forms. The pollinators do seem to like the originals best although I like the other colors too. It is supposed to be hot here in OK today too. I think I'll run outside for a bit.

    I think your bee might be a green sweat bee, but I'm not sure how big he or she is. Have a great day.~~Dee

  21. Oh my goodness, snowmen, I mean snow flowers in June? LOL! It gave me pause when that pic popped up. It's hot here too, so I think I'll stare at your snowy pics as well. LOL

    Love all the flowers growing in your luscious garden, Rose. You must be happy with it. I especially love the Susans. Cone flowers are so pretty in all their shades and I like to see bees feasting on them.
    Have a nice weekend.

  22. Hi Rose, All such great natives! I have always had pink coneflowers, but this year I have added a white one. I can't wait to see it flower. I think the white variety is underused.
    I also added orange butterfly weed and am looking forward to it coming into bloom as well. Have a great weekend Rose! Stay cool.

  23. Dear Rose,
    I too love the natives. Cone flowers are part of my wellness garden. I enjoyed seeing the Monarch! Since it has been over 100 F I have not seen as many butterflies as in April and May.
    I am calling the Rain Dragons. No answer....they seem to be busy else where.
    Great post...celebrating the natives...
    Happy July,

  24. Hello!

    Pity that I have to wait still a little bit till our coneflowers get so beautiful!

    Garden Chair

  25. Your rudbeckia and coneflowers look wonderful! I just have the regular Purple Coneflower. 'White Swan' is a biennial here but worth keeping going because it looks so wonderful with the purple one. You have a very nice collection!

  26. I love your hardy wildflowers and that cool snow shot was just what I need today. It hit 90 in Maine, not as bad as 100 though. Poor you!

  27. What a wonderful wildlife garden. I can see why the bugs are so happy there. I quite like the Big Sky Sundown, very interesting petals. I'm growing Rudbeckia hirta this year for the first time from seed, my plants are still quite small yet but I'm hoping to see some blooms by the end of the season.

  28. Lovely to see what's in your garden :)

    Please send sun!


  29. Beauties of the photograph, fantastic colours. I am greeting.

  30. I'm envious of your coneflowers! My woodchucks find mine quite appetizing! Luckily, they don't like the Rudbeckia, whose seed heads I leave for the birds in the winter! Nice butterfly and bee pictures, too!


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