six on Saturday, 29 April 2023

My first of today’s six is a wonderful find–a gift of Mother Nature–and an absolute delight. But before going there, I want to direct readers to Jim Stephens’, Garden Ruminations. Jim is the hub of our Six on Saturday bloggers, maintaining guidelines for taking part, and providing the space for comments and links to Saturday groups of six from numerous countries.

1. Now for that gift of nature. The featured image gives a big clue to what it is. In my recent post on native Alabama azaleas, I included a photo of one about to bloom but as yet unidentified. I had noticed it a few years ago and cleared a small space for it when it was overgrown by other native shrubs and hardly big enough to be recognizable as an azalea. It was in full bloom this week and now identified as a Swamp Azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), sometimes called swamp honeysuckle. As the buds promised, it has a lovely white, and very fragrant flower. In addition, it increases my list of native azaleas to six varieties! Yesterday, I trimmed back the Deerberry that overhangs it on the left of the first photo below giving it room to prosper.

2. Another white-flowered shrub and gift of nature is an American Snowbell (Styrax americanus). It did not bloom last year, and mistaking it for an underperforming beautyberry, I almost relieved it of its space along the dry creek bed. I am glad I didn’t. For whatever reason, maybe because with all the rain we’ve had the dry creek bed is anything but dry, it produced a prodigious number of blooms this year.

It is native to North America and likes moist to wet soil, part shade, and wooded stream banks. So I guess all the rain runoff was, in fact, the impetus to growth. Aside from the azaleas, it was one of the first shrubs to flower this spring. Also, like the native azaleas, it has a nice fragrance.

3. In the wooded area across “the creek,” there is a grouping of another native Styrax variety, Bigleaf Snowbell or Styrax grandifolius. These small understory trees have bloomed sparingly in the past, but they are really showing off this year. A few large pines were removed within 15 feet of this little grove last summer; consequently, much more light reaches them now. The extra sun and rain this year seem to have been very favorable for a great and gorgeous bloom.

Both of the snowbell varieties are deciduous, but once in flower very attractive to bees.

4. Speaking of bees, there is some bee balm or wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), that comes up on occasion. This spring is one of those occasions. I have some Monarda planted in a border strip along a fence, but the one below is wild-or at least unplanted by me in the past 30 years. It is growing at the feet of a red buckeye. The light lavender petals are decorated on the tips with darker purple spots. I must confess, though, I’ve never seen a bee on this bee balm.

5. My fifth entry is a single wildflower. I have just one Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), which appeared for the first time two years ago. I was successful in transplanting it to a small wildflower bed. It is not a showy variety, but it did return this spring after two totally destructive sustained winter freezes. Below it grows amid Carolina Lily weeks before bloom and Perfoliate Bellwort going to seed weeks after bloom.

6. For the last entry I have a gallery of irises that have bloomed recently. I can’t give many details. Some were gifts, some were found on the property when I bought the place, some were bought at plant sales as unknowns, and some have lost their names in the course of my questionable record keeping. They are Northern Blue Flag, light violet Bearded Iris, Siberian Iris, maroon Bearded Iris, and Blue Flags again.

Yellow, white bearded, purple bearded, and blue bearded irises are yet to bloom. With that forecast of future color, this week’s six comes to an end–except to wish good seasonable weather to everyone.

8 Replies to “six on Saturday, 29 April 2023”

  1. Thank you for sharing and identifying the natives on your property. Remarkable what a change in light conditions can do to enhance the performance of your natives.
    I am a fan of irises and yours satisfy my pleasure.


    1. I have seen bees on the “bought” plants I have! But, I think it is also supposed to be a balm for the swelling of bee stings.


  2. Swamp honeysuckle is a good name for it. Although it looks like an azalea (Rhododendron), I thought when I saw it that it resembles Lonicera albiflora that I saw in Oklahoma.


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