six on Saturday, 18 May 2019

Whether because of the generous rain this spring or the increase in sunlight due the loss of some trees over the past couple of years from drought, straight-line winds, and judicious thinning, I’ve enjoyed more wildflowers in the wooded lot than ever before–in number and variety.  So, I still have some natives for this Saturday’s selections.  I want to start with the one in the featured photo above.

1. Starry rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus) was one of the first wildflowers I became familiar with when I bought this property about 25 years ago.  I have never cultivated it, collected its seeds, or tried to transplant it.  I just wait for this perennial native to come up again on its own–either in a familiar place or some surprising location.  Once it does come up, though, it can’t be missed.  It grows on a strong tall stem of about three feet and does not branch until it begins to flower at the top.  The stem and leaves are hairy.  But, it is the developing flower heads that I find to be interesting in their boldness.  I certainly see where the star in starry rosinweed comes from.  Were I to have named it, however, I think it would have been called spikey rosinweed.

rosin weed2  rosin weed3

2. Star tickseed (Coreopsis pubescens) has been rather abundant the past couple of weeks, but this native wildflower is just about at the end of its run.  It has been a welcomed bright spot among the brown leaves.

tickseed  star tickseed Coreopsis pubescens2

3. Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are just beginning to bloom. They grew so abundantly in the wooded part of the garden that five years ago I’d share mature plants with any gardener who wanted one of these Southeastern natives.  But in the regionally famous “drought of 2016,” dozens of plants died back nearly to the root–and others just outright died.  I am delighted to see them in strong recovery mode this spring. I am also delighted that I’ll be pruning for shape rather than for the removal of dead wood this year.

oak leaf1      oakleaf3

4. Redring milkweed (Asclepias variegata) was a wonderful surprise find this week.  I have never seen it in the wooded part of the garden before.  It is a North American native most common to the Southeast.  Actually, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center lists it as endangered in Conneticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. I hope it will continue to appear in my garden. It has a fascinating flower head, and reportedly it is a favorite of bees.

redring milkweed

5. Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) remains a dependable spring visitor.  I find the furled buds in the flower clusters as attractive as the open flowers.

phlox3     phlox2

6. My final entry is in honor of the diseased curly leaf pine I wrote about on Saturday, 13 April.  It was taken down recently, leaving a huge empty space in its absence, as  evidenced by its previous drip line.  I confess watching it fall to the chain saw and cut into sections for removal was an oddly moving experience, in part because it was a favorite and a beautiful tree when healthy.  But, mostly because it had been a gift many years ago from a chemistry professor colleague, who not long after the gift died from a different insidious disease, cancer.

To remember John and the tree, I kept the final slice of the truck when the short stump was cut to the ground.  He would be proud of me for including the Felco 2 pruners for scale.

Any other gardeners who would like to join in on Six on Saturday next week can do so by following the guide at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/.

7 Replies to “six on Saturday, 18 May 2019”

  1. I will be interested to learn how you prune oak leaf hydrangea for shape, as I am growing three bushes at the front of my house that I plan to prune late this fall. One gets more sun than the others and is outpacing in growth. All three are in healthy bloom now.

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    1. Oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on old growth, so it will be important to prune before any new growth appears next season. Honestly, though, I only prune dead, damaged, and wildly wayward branches. They can get a little lop-sided, hence pruning for shape. With the difference in sun yours are getting, they are going to be of unequal growth and, possibly, fall color. But variation in nature is beautiful, right?

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  2. Susan, I enjoy greatly reading about all your beautiful wildflowers and plants you have on your property. We too have experienced a healthy rebirth in some of our vegetation.

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  3. Garden varieties of milkweed are quite the fad here. I don’t know what happened to the milkweed that used to grow wild on the edges of the orchards. It used to be so abundant. I have not seen it in many years. I do not know where it came from, but like the mustard, it was around the orcards all over the Santa Clara Valley when I was a kid.

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  4. Another beautiful week–and an increased awareness that I have seen and confused many of these plants time and again (the phlox–beside the hosta–I don’t see well enough to recognize that they are two plants–and thought the phlox was a seed-bearing part of my hosta!). Lovely and peaceful selections this week.

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