I thought I’d take another tour through the flower beds before they get ahead of me. Everything seems to want to bloom at once this year. Clematis is one of my favorite flowers. Nothing could be easier to grow than these virtually no maintenance vines. I planted one on each side of my front steps many years ago and haven’t really touched them since. In spite of my neglect they still reward me with flowers like that in the photo. Clematis are in the buttercup family. The well-known wild virgin’s bower is a clematis. Dianthus is a huge family of fragrant plants which carnations belong to. Pinks like in the photo above are also dianthus, and are called pinks not because of their color but because the petal edges look like they have been trimmed with pinking shears, giving them a frilly appearance. These flowers are among the most fragrant in the garden. The leaves of garden pinks are usually a grayish blue color. Bowman’s root (Gillenia trifoliate) isn’t often seen in gardens and that’s too bad because it is a beautiful plant in the rose family that is covered with fragile looking, 5 petaled, white flowers. This plant is native to the eastern U.S. and is also called American ipecac for the purgative power of the roots, which Native Americans are said to have used. English colonials called Native Americans “bowmen” which explains the other common name. This yellow bearded Iris was given to me by a friend several years ago and is a favorite of mine. Unfortunately it is also a favorite of Japanese beetles whose damage can be seen on the petals. Since I don’t use pesticides, we share and learn to get along. On a bearded Iris a fringe or “beard” runs down the center of each of the three petals that fall or hang down. This is an example of a beardless iris that is most likely a yellow Siberian iris (Iris siberica.) When this flower is compared to the bearded iris it is easy to see that they are very different. Meadow anemone (Anemone canadensis ) is an old fashioned garden favorite that has much larger flowers than our other native wood anemone. This plant is also called crowfoot because of the foliage. Native Americans used this plant for many different medical reasons. When I was a boy I used to find Tradescantia, or spiderwort, growing along the railroad tracks. I’d pull them up to take home and plant in the yard along with asters, goldenrod and anything else I could find that had flowers on it. My father couldn’t understand what I wanted with those “damned old weeds.” Wouldn’t he be surprised to know that most of those “weeds” are now grown in gardens! Tradescantia is another native that has gone to the gardens because true blue flowers are so hard to come by. The common and well known house plant called wandering Jew is a tradescantia. Weigelia is an easy to care for shrub that is originally from Asia but has become quite common in American gardens. A little pruning to maintain its shape is all it really needs. Weigelia flowers can come in white, yellow, lavender, red and pink. I grow the pink one seen here in my yard and the hummingbirds love it.The blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) is in full bloom now and is another plant held in high regard for its hard to find clear blue color. This is another tough native plant that bees love. Black seed pods full of loose, rattling, seeds will follow the flowers. Hyssop (Hyssopus) hails from Europe and Asia and has been under cultivation for so long that it is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Exodus. In the mint family, today it is used as an herb in soups and on meats. It is yet another plant highly valued in the garden for the blue of its blossoms. Peony (Paeonia) is a flower with a scent close to that of old fashioned rugosa roses. Much loved and used for hundreds of years in American gardens, their only drawback is their weak stems which, unless staked, will leave the flowers dragging in the mud after a rain. I’ve come across old field stone cellar holes along long forgotten, overgrown roads that still have peonies blooming in what was once the front yard. Plants have been known to last for well over 100 years. Here is the owner of the scent that peonies seem to mimic. I grew up with a hedge of Rugosa roses in the yard and the fragrance of so many blooms was almost too much to bear. Unfortunately Japanese beetles love this flower and come from miles around to feed on the blooms, which is why it is almost impossible to find a blossom without damage. If you have ever smelled the fragrance packet on a Japanese beetle trap then you know what Rosa rugosa smells like. This rose is originally from Asia. I thought this white peony that was just opening was a beautiful thing to behold. If a white peony is floated in a bowlful of water into which a few drops of red food coloring have been added, the flower will absorb the colored water and the veins in each petal will be seen. Peonies have been grown in Asian gardens for thousands of years.
In joy or sadness flowers are our constant friends.~ Kakuzō Okakura
That’s it for this trip through the garden. Isn’t it interesting how many native plants we have adopted to grow in our gardens? Thanks for visiting.