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.
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.
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 Continues