Winter Plant Portrait-Wallflowers, Erysimum

This plant portrait post features the family of wallflowers, Erysimums, sometimes labeled as Cheiranthus, growing in the Fairegarden. They are shown in the above image on a foggy morning with dripping Nigella, Nasella tenuissima and red Salvia greggii.
Added: There has been some interest in the photo shown above. It was first featured in an early post that can be seen by clicking here-Blogger Visitors-In The Garden. It was about the day Tina of In The Garden came to visit the Fairegarden. We had never met, but hit it off immediately. There are a couple of other images showing the sunny fog that morning. Those conditions have never been duplicated since. It was a magical day.

The same scene as the first image, a year later, in 2009, is more reality based.

The view while standing on the other side of the wallflower planting shows a few other flowers blooming on April 28, 2009. The garden in late April is a joyous riot in this area.

Some might remember a whiney pants post about losing the files of photos saved for plant portraits recently. Among the lost images were a group of Erysimum shots taken over several months. The photos shown in this post were found in some previous posts about the Wallflower roommates, the Dianthus. Along the middle terrace of the slope behind the main house is a path of concrete step stones that has been colonized by dianthus seedlings. We wanted a planting to join in the sea of pink and extend the color before and after the Dianthus. Wallflowers have proven up to the task in the sunny, poor soil with excellent drainage in these beds. While bright orange mixed with the pinks might not be to everyone’s sensibilities, our belief about mixing color is the more the better. All are welcome.

A few close up wallflower shots were found after much searching on the jump drives. Hooray!

E. ‘Pastel Patchwork’

E. ‘Citrona Orange’

E. ‘Bowles’ Mauve’

E. ‘Pastel Patchwork’ right after purchase from the big box store in late February 2008.

E. linifolium’ Variegata’, (photo taken last week, late January)

Also growing hither and yon are seed started plants that have self sown in the gravel paths and been moved to the terrace among other spots. We feel fairly confident this is E. cheiri ‘Cloth Of Gold’ progeny.

Japanese painted fern makes a striking bedfellow This type of fern is also a volunteer, popping up everywhere.

This gold bit is even blooming right now despite snow, ice and sub freezing temps for days on end.

Information on these perennial/biennials was sparse. This information comes from the BBC plant finder site:

Bowles’ perennial wallflower

Common Name: Bowles’ perennial wallflower
Genus: Erysimum
Species: bicolor
Cultivar: ‘Bowles’ Mauve’
Skill Level: Beginner
Exposure: Full sun
Hardiness: Hardy
Soil type: Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Chalky/alkaline, Dry
Height: 45cm
Spread: 50cm
Time to take cuttings: May to July

Spring bedding is synonymous with wallflowers, which make a bright and very fragrant accent in beds and borders early in the year, and are discarded after flowering. Less familiar are the perennial wallflowers such as ‘Bowles’ Mauve’ and its lesser known relative ‘Bowles’ Yellow’. These are beautiful and floriferous, woody-stemmed small shrubs. Unfortunately they are short-lived as perennials, but easily replaced with young plants raised from cuttings.

Reading the above helps me understand why some of these are so short lived, for our soil is acid, not alkaline and that is just the nature of the beast. But the fragrance and color are outstanding in the garden, and some do manage to survive to seed about. They will continue to be grown here, with new plants added in spring and treated as annuals if need be. The Dianthus would miss them if we didn’t. Me too.


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47 Responses to Winter Plant Portrait-Wallflowers, Erysimum

  1. Liisa says:

    That first photo is just beautiful. And, I love the bright orange wallflowers. I find myself becoming more and more fond of orange mixed with pinks and purples. I must thank you for your recent orchid post, which gave me the courage to repot my orchids. Have you noticed delayed blooming after they have been repotted?

    Hi Liisa, thanks so much. I am glad you are not repulsed by the orange and pink. It popped up in other seasonal plantings as well, and was very appealing. Is that a maturing of color taste, or the blindness of old age, I am speaking only for myself here. πŸ™‚ Good deal on the orchids. I have found that the more that the roots are disturbed in the process, the longer it takes for them to settle back down to producing bloom spikes. But they will be better off for it in the long term.

  2. Yes that first photo is simply magical πŸ™‚

    I love wall flowers, they just flower their socks off for months on end and give fabulous colour.

    RO xx

    Hi RO, thanks so much. The foggy sunshine of the day the first image was taken has never been duplicated here. It was pure magic. The wallflowers add so much, we have a new batch of just germinated seedlings under an old glass light shade outdoors right now. Very exciting! πŸ™‚

  3. Autumn Belle says:

    Before I see your pictures, I only think of wallflower as a person who is shy/ a loner / can’t dance. I look up the dictionary and found that it is indeed real flowers! Now I want to walk up that path that is surrounded by so many pretty wallflowers and breath in the fragrance and see if the flowers will talk to me, just like Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps, they will talk when the wind blows and leaves starts to whisper.

    Hi Autumn Belle, thanks for that, I would love to have you stroll the paths here in late April with me as well! We do talk to the plants and flowers here regularly, and they answer. Of course. πŸ™‚

  4. Edith Hope says:

    Dear Frances, Like others, I have to say that your first photograph is beautifully ethereal and utterly entrancing.

    The Erysimums are, of course, such excellent value in the spring border. It is such a pity that they seem to be short lived and lose vigour and form after a few seasons.

    Hi Edith, thanks for that. The conditions of that day were full of enchantment, with both sun and heavy wet fog at the same time, never to be repeated, but there is still hope. πŸ™‚ The wallflowers are short lived, most seem biennial in fact. Like the foxgloves, we will keep the seeds spread to always have them. Worth the small effort with a big payoff.

  5. catmint says:

    Hi Frances, wallflowers are among my favourite plants, I grow pink and orange which I think is a divine combination. Interestingly, they are perennials and have withstood tough love and cutting back and transplanting for years and years. I agree with Edith, the first photo is dreamingly ethereal and i love it. We are lucky that we have lots of flowers in winter aren’t we?

    Hi Catmint, thanks. I am gladdened to hear about your success with the wallflowers. There is always hope that there is some magic key to growing them that I am missing. Maybe it is the drainage? That affects so many plants and is often not taken into consideration. Our best plants grow in the gravel paths. I don’t want them there, but that is where they want to be. That tells us something. The day the first photo was taken was a wonder of nature. πŸ™‚

  6. I love orange and pink together, a favourite colour combo at the flower shop, and none of my customers have complained. I have never grown wallflower and after reading this post, I am wondering why not! I shall be on the lookout.

    Hi Deborah, thanks, that is good to know about the pink and orange being acceptable. The wallflowers are not the stars of the garden, but make fine supporting cast members. The fragrance is wonderful too. πŸ™‚

  7. Darla says:

    I agree, all colors are welcome here too…just as God intended! Beautiful photos here Ms. Frances.

    Thanks Darla. Yes, that is the way it is set up, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

  8. Frances, yours is the only US garden where I’ve seen photos of success with wallflowers, even though they are short-lived. I came back from Monet’s Giverny so inspired to grow them, but haven’t yet taken them on as boarders. Do they reseed? That is my hope!


    Hi Cameron, thanks for stopping by. The wallflowers are hard to find here, but sometimes the big box stores will show them early in the season. There is also a small nursery in Knoxville that will always have small pots of the variegated leaf one as an early offering. Our only reseeders have been the ones we grew from seed ourselves, the yellow Cloth Of Gold. I believe the seeds came from Thompson and Morgan. They never self sowed until planted next to the gravel paths, and the babies came up the following spring in the stones. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

    • Gravel seems to be the perfect medium for a lot of seedlings! πŸ™‚ Thanks!

      Glad to help, Cameron. We have not yet, but always threaten to sow seeds directly into the gravel. There is something about the conditions that are perfect for many things to germinate.

  9. I LOVE that first photo. I would just like to jump right in the photo and explore. πŸ™‚

    Hi Amy, thanks. It is one of my favorites as well. All the shots from that one morning are amazing. I think the original post was here-Blogger Visitors-In The Garden. The top photo and a couple of other foggy sunny shots can be seen there. It was the first time a blogger came to visit the Fairegarden, without having met her ahead of time either. I think I might add this link at the bottom of the post since there is so much interest in that first shot. πŸ™‚

    • Amy says:

      Beautiful! I’m sure the bloggers had a wonderful visit in your garden. Also, I really like your comment form on your blog.

      Hi Amy, thanks so much. Tina and her family seemed to enjoy their bried visit here. I provided plenty of snacks for the boys and Tina and I never came up for air from the chattering. WordPress is very user friendly. πŸ™‚

  10. Les says:

    You should have only posted that first picture. I had a hard time moving past it and really had to concentrate on anything after it.

    Thanks for making the effort to read on, Les. I understand completely and have added the link to the post where it first appeared to the story. The weather conditions on that day have never happened since then.

  11. gittan says:

    Hi Frances, that first picture… it’s amazing! And I must say that I like the third one a lot to, just beautiful! Kram gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks so much. Late April is just amazing here. Other times are good too, but the number of different things in bloom peaks in late April. A good time to take a bunch of photos. πŸ™‚

  12. Gail says:

    Stunning plant portrait! Talk about being ready for her closeup~Your first photo is beautiful~~Now I am toddling back to the couch and tissues. gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. I am so sorry you are sick today. Do take care, now. The combination of fog and sun were incredible that day. Possibly once in a lifetime. πŸ™‚

  13. Wendy says:

    Absolutely breath-taking and inspiring as all your photos are! Would you please share how to get your signature on your pictures?
    Thanks for sharing your garden beauty.

    Hi Wendy, thanks so much and welcome. The signature in the picture is added in the photo program that I use, Image Expert 2000 that came on our old Dell desktop. I think it is still available out there. The tab says *add text*. I would like to be able to turn it sideways, but that is not one of the options. I can change the font, size, color and placement. Good enough for me. Hope this helps. πŸ™‚

  14. LOL, I never knew wallflowers actually existed, thinking it was just an expression. And as I already bemoaned at VP’s, ARG!, I should NOT be reading garden blogs this time of year by people who have less harsh winters. Your late April garden is like our early June garden. A Michigander can get so distressed this time of year!

    HA Monica, that is funny! Think of our earlier garden shots as previews of coming attractions in your own lovely space. Attitude adjustment!!! πŸ™‚ Wait a minute, those shots are not from right now, these are from late April!!! Except the two so noted. HA

  15. I like the wallflower but it’s the dianthus in the slope picture with the stepping stones that really stands out to me. I hope to colonize one of our sloping areas with some this year. That first shot is very cool!

    Hi Dave, thanks. I remember that you always like the dianthus plantings here. How it self seeded like that is a complete mystery to me, but you can spread it yourself by just sticking pieces in the ground. Now is the perfect time actually. I would put a rock on each piece to keep it from heaving up out of the ground until it can root.

  16. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    That first picture is stunning Frances. I had to linger over it. It took me away from all this cold and snow. These wallflowers remind me of one that grows wild in the park where I walk Luna. Along a hillside by the river where they cleared some of these orange wallflowers popped out. They delight the senses. However I have never gotten close enough to them to see if they have a fragrance. I will this summer.

    Hi Lisa, thanks so much and wow to the volunteer wallflowers near you! I have not had the orange ones self sow, but maybe placing them close to the gravel path will help spur reproduction! Our yellow ones are super fragrant, planted near the deck and the path well traveled under the garage deck the whiffs are so welcome on warm spring days. Oh, doesn’t that sound delicious? Warm spring days, warm spring days, ad finitum…. πŸ™‚

  17. Sweet Bay says:

    The first photo is simply magical. I love the third photo too — all of those Dianthus (drool). I especially like the mauve and purple ones. Do they mostly bloom in the spring for you?

    Hi Sweet Bay, thanks so much. The garden in late April is the stuff of dreams. I have more photos from that time than any other in the files. The Dianthus have self sown in a way that human plantings could never duplicate. The big bloom is in mid spring, with sporadic, and inconsequential blooming afterwards.

  18. lotusleaf says:

    The first picture is sheer magic. The beauty is wondrous!

    Hi Lotus, thanks so much. It was a wondrous morning that day. πŸ™‚

  19. Sweet Bay says:

    Frances I went back to the visitor (Tina) post, and it’s gorgeous. I love the shot of Veilchenblau draped over the pot on the back of the shed.

    Thanks for going back in time, Sweet Bay. That was a great day on so many levels. Tina was so sweet, we jabbered nonstop like we had known each other for ages even though it was our first meeting. She was my first blogger meet up. Though Veilchenblau only blooms once a year, it is magnificent for that two week or so period.

  20. rosey says:

    We get these yellow wallflowers in the meadow near our house and they are loved by the swallowtails as well. Your photos are beautiful, as always. Our soil is VERY alkaline and now I understand why the wallflowers survive so well here. Thanks

    Thanks Rosey. You have answered some questions about our mixed results with the wallflowers. We can grow them yes, but only in certain places. Now I understand why. That is cool that they thrive in a meadow too. Gives me planting ideas. πŸ™‚

  21. Everything in your garden is always so beautiful, lush, and not slug bitten. What’s the secret Frances? Fairies?

    I had the most lovely Bowles Mauve, it bloomed winter and summer for over 8 years. I lost it in the big freeze of last year. But what an amazing plant.

    Too bad it is so hard to find any little Cherianthus around here, they tend to be only the orangy yellow mix. I guess I should grow them from seed, but limited space makes it difficult for me.

    Love that first shot, breathtaking.


    Hi Jen, thanks so much. We do have terrible slug problems in certain spots, like the bed under the garage deck. I believe the slope gives us drainage that keeps things on the dry side. We cannot grow many of the things that love moisture. We don’t have much shade either. I guess that is the secret, and the fairies of course. We had to grow the wallflowers from seed in the beginning. The big box store has them on occasion and I scoop them right up. Most people don’t know what they are. I wintersowed some seeds this season, and see they are up now! I will leave the covering on, for we have much more cold weather to come. You might try that method. πŸ™‚

  22. Hi Frances,

    It never ceases to amaze me how the same area in the garden can look different depending on the time of year, the weather and the time. I do love how fog can transform the look of plants with their tiny droplets clinging. Love your Salvia greggii – one of my favorite Salvias to grow.

    Hi Noelle, thanks. Looking back on the old photos is so fun, but we too notice how things have changed. I wish we could have that same foggy sunshine again, it was magical. The greggiis are great, red is always a welcome splash in the garden. πŸ™‚

  23. Elephant's Eye says:

    Japanese painted fern is a volunteer. You lucky, lucky lady!

    Hi Diana, thanks. I am lucky. And don’t know how or why the ferns mulitply so, other than we don’t cut them down until spring, if they get cut at all. I guess they self spore. We just dig them up and spread them around. Free plants, always good. πŸ™‚

  24. I’m glad you found some photos of your Wallflowers. I am a recent convert to them, as I just planted my first one last year. Thanks for the advice about taking cuttings. I will be doing so, as they are beauty, tough plants.

    Hi MMD, thanks. I was lucky to stumble upon them on the jump drives. Apparently they are short lived, but worth replacing. We have found some at the big box, grown some from seed and some were at a small nursery in Knoxville. Whenever we see them, or seeds, we get them. Glad to hear you have some too. πŸ™‚

  25. Catherine says:

    What pictures today! I love the one with the Dianthus looking up the hill. I love Erysimums too. I’m waiting for mine to start to bloom soon. I’ve read that these plants bloom themselves to death, it does seem true.

    Hi Catherine, thanks. That spot is bright light in the spring. Good deal on yours so close to bloom. The bloom themselves to death sounds right here as well. Bless their little colorful hearts! πŸ™‚

  26. joey says:

    So lovely, Frances … but I could barely get past your 1st photo, breathtaking! (Japanese painted ferns love me too … aren’t we lucky).

    Hi Joey, thanks. That is great about the ferns at your place. We are both very lucky. πŸ™‚

  27. Grace says:

    Hi Frances~~ I love Erysimum. They really do make fabulous garden plants. Your photos are amazing!!!!!!

    Hi Grace, thanks. I am glad you are on board the wallflower train too. πŸ™‚

  28. Janet says:

    I love your garden, have I mentioned that before? I love the sweeps of color from so many great blooms. I am a big fan of Dianthus and the Wallflower mix. I have one Wallflower and had no idea it came in so many colors….then I saw it on some blogs over the last year. What a great plant. super super super photos Frances. Just lovely.

    Thanks Janet, that is so sweet of you. Finding the other colors of wallflowers has been a challenge. The easiest, but taking the longest and offering no instant gratification is the seed route. I know your new garden will be a good home for some pretty wallflowers and dianthus. I envy your blank slate. πŸ™‚

  29. It’s funny that they’re named wallflowers because they’re beautiful and definitely can stand out. I especially love the gold one with the Japanese fern! As a gardener with alkaline, clay soil, these wallflowers may be perfect for me!

    Hi Rose, thanks for visiting. I don’t know where the connection to this plant and girls sitting along the sidelines at a dance came from. I always thought it was that these plants like to grow in walls, where the drainage would be good and the lime from the rock would give the right Ph. What that has to do with unattractiveness alludes me. Lucky you with the perfect conditions for them! πŸ™‚

  30. I’m supposed to be working on an article, but I spied your post title in my blogroll and of course had to scamper over here. I can smell those lovely wallflowers from here, Frances. They’re so beautiful, especially some of the new multicolour ones like Pastel Patchwork. I find them hard to find around garden centres unfortunately, maybe because they’re biennial and don’t seem to self seed well in these parts. I’ve grown the ordinary ones from seed but want the cool colours, of course.

    Hi Jodi, thanks for stopping by. Pastel Patchwork has never shown up again at the stores, and what a shame. It bloomed for many months through cold and hot temps, rain and drought without stopping. We are always on the lookout for any of them, and have ordered seeds. They are worth the search. πŸ™‚

  31. Rose says:

    Frances, you don’t know what a treat it is to see all these colorful blooms this morning. I know you must have been hit with bad weather, too; we are in the midst of a snowstorm that is supposed to turn into a blizzard…

    Wallflowers are something I’ve never grown, but I like the idea of something else blooming in the spring. Glad you didn’t lose these photos–that first one looks positively magical. I can just imagine the resident fairies hiding out amongst the wallflowers.

    Thanks Rose. I do understand about seeing color and flowers right about now, though. Our winter has been unusually wetter and colder, with so few days with any sunshine at all. I am so sorry about your blizzard, do stay safe and warm! The wallflowers are great, if you see some while out and about, grab them! πŸ™‚

  32. Steve says:

    I’m going to add absolutely nothing of merit other than to concede the fact that your first picture is simply a classic – and I mean with few peers anywhere. You can cut the humidity with a knife, lol – that saying seems to fit so well. Your latter wallflowers remind me of Evening Primrose, a distinctly old fave of mine which does very well out West. Thanks for the tour, great post, Frances.

    Thanks Steve, you always say the nicest things! It was a special day, for many reasons. We have the yellow evening primrose too. It spreads like crazy, but we like that about it! Mass plantings! πŸ™‚

  33. TC Conner says:

    Have I ever mentioned how beautiful your garden is? And that first photo is stunning! Funny thing, the only Wallflowers I’m familiar with (until now) had everything to do with Bob Dylan’s son, Jacob.

    You are too funny, TC. I had forgotten about that band! Thank you for the remark about the garden. I wish you could have seen it that day. I know you have met Tina as well, it would have been wonderful! πŸ™‚

  34. The maternal side of Richard’s family is from Estonia. When some of the cousins visited the homeland they brought us wallflower seeds from the old homestead. They flowered in rather dour brownish maroon and dull yellows but are super hardy and have sentimental value. Those yummy sherbety colors that I love and occasionally purchase are much more temperamental. The hot pink and bright orange color combo is stellar, in my book.

    Thanks Ricki. That is so cool to have the wallflowers from Estonia. Super hardy sounds like a perfect plant, whatever the color! I am trying to start some mixed seeds with hopes of getting the dour color you mention. HA We always want what the other person has! πŸ™‚

  35. Hi Frances

    Photo numero uno is sublime. You’ve said before ‘about the light’, but I also really like the garden view with its beautiful planting in number three.

    I love the wallflowers but must grow a japanese painted fern, especially if they volunteer.

    So many types of wallflower

    Hi Rob, thanks so much. That light, plus dripping fog makes for some fine photos. Those conditions have never been duplicated, and believe me when I say, I have been watching for them. The ferns were planted long ago, and we noticed baby ferns popping up below the junipers that are planted on the slope just below the ferns. Looking under the juniper branches, we found millions of baby ferns and quickly transplanted them all over. How or why it happened, we have no idea, but it seems the babies are even more reproductive than the purchased parents. We just don’t cut them back. At all. We also had babies sprout from underneath a windowbox on the shed that was planted with original babies. I guess the spores dropped down to the ground below, which faces north and is shady and moist. Good luck with them and the wallflowers, they make a nice duo. πŸ™‚

  36. Anna says:

    What an exquisite foggy morning that must have been Frances. Off now to see if I can locate ‘Pastel Patchwork’ over here. I do hope so.

    Thanks Anna, it was a very special day. I hope you can find the patchwork, it is a beauty. πŸ™‚

  37. Lola says:

    Thanks Frances. All those beautiful flowers have lifted my spirits. This rain can be a bit depressing.
    I too have met wonderful Tina. Sadly I didn’t get to see her garden but I do in her photos. Maybe one day.

    Thanks Lola. This winter the weather has been hard on us all, more so that usual. I have never seen Tina’s garden, other than her photos on her blog either. I am sure it is as amazing as she is.

  38. Layanee says:

    I haven’t had much luck growing them here but they smell good don’t they. I have three books by E. A. Bowles. Must get one down to read. Lovely photos as always.

    Thanks Layanee. The wallflowers are very fragrant and planting them near the pathways is a smart move to enjoy them. I did not know who Bowles was, she admits ashamedly, thanks for educating me. πŸ™‚

  39. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I just wish I could smell them. Their smell reminds me so much of my grandfather, and the feel of their velvet petal between my fingers takes me back to childhood. I wish I had some in the garden here.

    Thanks Happy. They are really fragrant and add so much to the spring gardens and beyond. It is a puzzle why they are not seen more at the nurseries. They are easy to grow from seed.

  40. Jean says:

    Frances, This is a genus that I wasn’t familiar with — and I can grow it in my northern garden. Like yours, my soil tends toward the acid (but since I heat with wood, I always have plenty of wood ash I can add in!) — and it’s certainly well-drained (think beach sand). When I add my hot-color beds in the front, I’m going to look for some of those orange wallflowers. Thanks for introducing me to them.

    Hi Jean, thanks for visiting. I hope you can find some wallflowers to add for hot color. They are easy from seed, so if you cannot find plants, look for the seeds. They are worth the effort and are more likely to reseed for you. πŸ™‚

  41. cielo says:

    Love the first three photographs… I can always feel and see myself walking there… is such a mysterious lovely place…. it has that certain air….

    Have a nice weekend Frances!


    Thanks Cielo. The middle terrace is a happy part of the garden, very sunny, probably the sunniest spot here. I need to put a chair there, thanks for the inspiration! You too have a wonderful weekend. πŸ™‚

  42. Gosh if you blink an eye you miss posts!! I totally missed this one and what a beauty it is Frances! I love the vista shots… beautiful garden plantings! Your first four photographs with the lovely wallflower sprinkled throughout are heart stoppers! What a treat!!! ;>) Carol

    Thanks for catching this one, Carol! That is a very special part of the garden in late April. The dianthus are very fragrant and the wallflowers just add to the scents swirling in the warmth. What a nice thought! πŸ™‚

  43. Town Mouse says:

    What fun! I love the orange wallflower myself. And sorry to hear about the misplaced photos…

    Thanks, Town Mouse. The wallflowers are sometimes hard to find at the nurseries but a new packet of seeds has been sown so there will be some more, we hope. I am over the photos being misplaced, and have devoted some quality time to look for more. It is the large variety of salvia shots, taken over a long period of time that will not be retrieved. The photos are tagged with the date, so I can look for certain months, like April for the wallflowers, but the salvias were many different months and the flowers tiny. Better luck this year. πŸ™‚

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