Wildflower Week Finale

Although it is a beautiful blue flower, so very easy to grow in any conditions, the Spiderwort, Tradescantia virginiana is considered a thug by many, and rightly so. Naturally occuring here in the Fairegarden, some are allowed to live, many get pulled, and most will be cut down to the ground after blooming to prevent massive seeding. Kept under control, it is a good filler for dry shady spots.

Wild geraniums abound here. We cannot find an ID for this one, does anyone know it? The leaves are very finely divided and it is shorter than the sibling G. carolinium.

Geranium maculatum has the largest blooms and has spread itself through the tough characters of Epimediums and Variegated Solomon’s Seal in the woodland bed. The common name of Cranesbill refers to the shape of the seedheads, like the beak of a bird.

Like the Tradescantia, the Geraniums can be a bit overzealous when it comes to reproducing. Just as they should be pulled to keep the population in check is when I like them best. The leaves of Geranium carolinianum turn gorgeous shades of reds, oranges and yellow as the seedheads ripen to an ebony hue. Everything about this plant is elegant, to my eye anyway, in a subtle way. The small pinkish flower is insignificant compared to the cut of the leaf and the beauty of the seed head. It is easy enough to pull any extras.

The Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum was added to the newly created Fairelurie after seeing it growing in the famous Piet Oudolf designed garden, The Lurie in Millenium Park at the Chicago blogger get together in 2009. We are not a prairie here in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, but several prairie plants thrive in these conditions so why not give them a try, was the thinking. Mailordered plants in summer are never a good idea here, but some lived and have become large enough to bloom and be divided. This might even be the year for smokes to appear, the fluffy pink seedheads which are the highlight of this plant.

Also growing in the Fairelurie are a variety of Camassias and Amsonias. Camassia cusickii appears to bloom in nearly the exact same shade as the Amsonia hubrichtii. Hmmm, how does that affect the overall design, she wonders?

Growing too successfully in the Fairelurie, Golden Alexanders, Zizia aurea had to be dug, divided and moved across the pathway, some sent to Fairegarden North Carolina. Seedlings have been spotted in the gravel as well. This one will have to be watched.

Little Iris cristata was a passalong from my dear neighbor Mae. We love the creeping rhizome and watch for them to emerge each year.

A dwarf golden leaf cultivar of the native Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’ was on the must have list. Found online at a good price, as so often happens, when it arrived in a small box, planted in a tiny pot, the pricing made perfect sense. It was planted in the best soil in the Ferngully area with a wire cage placed around it for two years. You can see how small it still is, but the cage has been removed, for now. The leaves brighten the shady area and complement the blue self sown Aquilegias.

Species blue eyed grass, Sisyrinchium albidum, we think, was a gift from our former mailman, Claude, now retired. This mighty fine native is used effectively in clumps along the pathway of the Azalea walk. It can be divided endlessly and looks best in groups of a dozen or more, planted closely.

Speaking of the Azalea Walk, the deciduous Azaleas are the signature plant here. Most are planted along a pathway that stretches one hundred feet along the former privet hedge line of the property next door that was purchased to build the garage.

Starting mid April and continuing into early May for the later to open varieties, the mixture of species and hybrids of the native to our area deciduous Rhododendrons provide constant joy. Only stormy weather can keep a smitten gardener inside when these are in bloom. The full list, photos and more information about them can be found on the page on our sidebar, Plants We Grow-Deciduous Azaleas.

We wish to thank our are good friend Gail of Clay And Limestone for helping us see the beauty in the wildflowers and natives. She sponsors Wildflower Wednesday on the fourth Wednesday of each month for everyone to share in the goodness. It was decided that for April, since there were so many wildlings to share, that a whole week could be set aside to present them. The other two posts can be seen here:
Wildflower Week
Wildflower Week Continues


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14 Responses to Wildflower Week Finale

  1. fairegarden says:

    To those who were wondering if the Fairegarden was affected by the recent massive number of tornadoes in our area, thank you. We are safe and with no damage here, but much devastation was reported not far from us, I am sorry to say.

    This post went up as a rough draft, the typo errors have been fixed, and the html code, I think. Thank you for bearing with us.

  2. Sheila Read says:

    Thank you for showing how beautiful our native wildflowers are. I grow many of them in my garden, too. I love your native azalea walk! I think they’re so much prettier than the typical azaleas found in garden centers.

    Hi Sheila, thanks so much. The native deciduous azaleas are like nothing else, the flowers so colorful, huge and most are scented. I am glad you like them, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. gail says:

    Dear Frances, Fairegarden’s wildflowers are delightful this morning. I like the little native geraniums~I have both you’ve shown but, haven’t researched the name of the bright pink one. The Prairie Smoke that I also mail ordered did not thrive here~but, I am going to try again…It was not situated correctly~My bad! Have you noticed the sweet scent on the zizzia? I know with the azaleas scent wafting about it might be difficult (lucky you). Get close to it~It smells like a sweet prairie. Have a great weekend~and thank you for the linklove xxoogail

    Dear Gail, thanks for hostessing the wildflower week! I will get way down and try to sniff the little Zizia, thanks for the hint to do so. Some of the smokes perished, but extra water helped the remaining ones to establish better. Still, they are nothing like the ones we saw at the Lurie, but hope lives! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Valerie says:

    I love your azalea’s. About half of mine were attacked by rabbits this year. They not only ate all the flower bud’s but actually killed a couple of plants. Do you have a problem with rabbits in your garden. If so, what do you do?

    Thanks Valerie. I am so sorry to hear of your rabbit problem. We do have rabbits here, they eat my strawberries they day they will be picked. I finally fenced them. As for the Azaleas, mine are quite large so the rabbits cannot reach them any longer. For smaller stuff, I would make a cage of chickenwire to protect them until they grow. I have seen that done even in large managed gardens like the Biltmore in Asheville.

  5. That sure is an unusual Geranium. Its leaves look almost Phlox-like. You’ve given me a case of unrequited love for Azaleas. They just don’t grow like that up here.

    Thanks MMD. The geranium flower is quite small in proportion to the foliage, less than 1/4 inch in diameter. Most are a light pink on a taller plant, this plant is more squatty with a more dissected leaf. I couldn’t find it in any books or sites, but Gail seems to also have it. The Azaleas love our conditions, although there have been losses due to drought in bad years.

  6. Julie says:

    Help, my Spiderwort, Tradescantia virginiana took over this spring, but anything green coming up is preferred over the long hard winter we just endured.

    HA Julie, I feel your pain! Like many of the wildlings, they are so appealing just at the moment we should be digging them out ruthlessly. The flowers are pretty and we wait too long, seeds are flung and we are overrun. There are worse weeds out there than these guys, but we will set to digging them out. Soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Les says:

    I too have ‘Little Honey’ and have found it to be painfully slow, but it is alive and well. Now I just need to find something to plant around it that will look as good as your combo. I have a blue and gold thing going on with it, but the blue is from violets I did not plant nor do I want.

    BTW, I loved your Earth Day Rant. It really bothers me how the public has been convinced that lawns and gardens that contain any weeds or insects must be delt with chemically. At the garden center we often have to steer people away from what Scotts and Lowes or Home Depot have told them is the “right” way to do things.

    Good for you, Les, trying to fight the machine! It is certainly an uphill battle, and often people look at me like I am crazy. The message of better living through chemicals is deeply ingrained. Little Honey is a sweety, very brightly colored. There is Tradescantia in that mix, too, for the blue and gold mix that lasts most of the growing season. I have given up fighting the violets for the most part, only pulling them where seeds have been sown. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Your wildflowers are delightful. I think the geranium population exploded here this year–never seen so many, but we pull them out so that they don’t take over.

    Thanks Cameron. The geraniums seem more numerous this year here, too. We have been pulling. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Nell Jean says:

    Lovely display, thanks. I’ve already cut spiderwort to the ground while He-Who-Mows leaves clumps of it growing in the lawn because he thinks it is pretty — and cuts nicotiana and sweet william to the ground.
    Wild geranium is still a weed in my book, sorry. It can get to a pretty impressive size in a good rich bed I will admit. It goes through a day here of the pretty you talked about and then it shows its real weedy self for what it is.

    Thanks Nell Jean. I understand the allure of the pretty blue flowers on the spiderwort. Even digging it out, we never get all the root and it returns again and again. You are right about the wild geranium, it is a weed. I leave a couple and pull most, but really do admire it. It gets very large here, that is when I realize what a weed it really is! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Alistair says:

    Frances, as I am not familiar with the US states I was wondering if any of my friends were affected, I am pleased to hear that you are well, although the situation must have been frightening.
    Tradescantia is a perennial which we have grown in the past, very well behaved over here and flowers in mid Summer. We love the hardy geraniums and grow quite a few of them. Many people in the UK think of Pelergoniums if you mention Geraniums. Your garden and plants are looking beautiful.

    Thanks Alistair. The weather event was very frightening, one of the worst I have experienced. We were very lucky to have no damage. I appreciate your concern. The Tradescantia is a lovely plant, but much too successful at self sowing here. I still like it, though. The hardy geraniums are good for our semi-wild garden. We do not grow the Pelargonums, but did in our infant gardening years. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Lola says:

    Dear Frances how lovely your wild flowers look. I have a few here that have a small blue flower. I don’t know it’s name but several yrs ago I planted some wild flower seed so that is where it comes from. It comes back every yr.
    My Pink Muhly has not shown any sigh of growing. Is that normal or have I lost it? I have lost a couple grasses that has surprised me as they are only 3 yrs. old.

    Thanks Lola. You are lucky to have a blue returning wildflower, whatever it is. The pink muhly should be showing new growth by now. The best thing to do is give it more time, then replace it if you wish.

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    The finale was certainly grand. It is easy to keep Golden Alexander in check by deadheading before it spready all of those leaves everywhere. So many pretties in your garden. I love that golden oakleaf hydrangea. I don’t think I have ever seen that.

    Thanks Lisa. I can see that the Golden Alexander is a hearty fellow! The Little Honey is truly a dwarf, but awfully cute! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. teresa says:

    Frances, these are all so pretty. We are not quite as advanced into our spring yet but things are waking up now all at once. You do have to keep some of the plants in check or they will just take over.

    Thanks Teresa. I am so happy to hear that spring has sprung for you all up north, finally. The overzealous plants are being pulled now, but it is too late, they have seeded already and will be returning happily next year and so on. But that’s okay. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I’ve been pulling out Geranium carolinianum from the vegetable garden without realizing what it was. I recognized it immediately in your photo. I just assumed it was one of those “bad” imported weeds and not a “good” native weed. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I may keep some, but in a less sensitive place. It looks like it could have groundcover possibilities?

    Hi Tangled, that is a good idea, those geraniums would take over your veggie garden in no time. I don’t know if good it the right word to describe them, but they have some finer points, especially the foliage color change that is happening here right now. Then the seed pods turn black and the contrast with the red/orange is lovely. They go dormant later, so might like some help covering ground.

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