Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday



These are buds and teeny-tiny blooms of Cornus sericea, commonly called red-twig dogwood.  They're on one of many branches cut and used with evergreen boughs and pinecones to decorate containers last winter.  Most of the cut branches are leafed out, and even rooting.  Some are blooming, and they'll be left until next month when it's warm enough for summer annuals.  A few will eventually be planted along an open section of our back property line.  At maturity they'll be about six feet in diameter and ten feet tall, enclosing the last open border in our back yard.  In the part-sun, moist-soil conditions they like, they'll be fast-growing shrubs, so it won't take very long.

Red-twig dogwoods aren't known for showy flowers.  They're known for their branches.  Green spring through fall, they turn brilliant red as the leaves drop in late fall, and they stay red all winter. They're fabulous against the snow, and beautiful in winter containers. The branches in our containers were cut from a dogwood in our backyard.  They went straight into the pots with the bottom six inches or so poked into the soil.  To give them their best chance at rooting, they were cut fresh from the shrub immediately before potting.   They got no special care over the winter.  The evergreen boughs insulated the soil and helped keep it moist.  A few weeks ago when the weather got hot and dry, the evergreens came out and I started watering the dogwood twigs, keeping the soil evenly moist to encourage rooting.

Before the pots are filled with annuals, I'll carefully dig up the rooted branches, and transfer to them to gallon-size nursery pots. The pots will be placed in an out-of-the-way mostly-shady spot over the summer, and watered regularly. By fall they'll be ready to plant in the ground.  Extras can be shared, traded at plant swaps, or donated to garden club or charity plant sales. 


Senecio aureus is blooming about a month earlier than usual thanks to our extraordinarily warm March.  Migrating Red Admiral butterflies were all over the blooms last week.


The Red Admirals were loving Phlox divaricata, too.  Of course, when I had time in the garden with the camera, the butterflies were nowhere to be seen.

Celandine poppies, (Stylophorum diphyllum) also native wildflowers, are blooming behind the phlox, next to the kids.


I first spied Geranium maculatum about three years ago, during Spring Fling Chicago, at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool garden in Lincoln Park on Chicago's north side.  Not long after, this one came to live in our garden.


After years of planting columbine cultivars only to have them disappear in a year or two, we added a few natives. Columbine canadensis keep coming back year after year, and will easily self-seed if you let them.  If you don't want seedlings, just cut back the scapes when they're done blooming.


Dicentra cucullaria, commonly known as Dutchman's Breeches, were transplanted here from Mom's woods three springs ago.  They're still settling in, and haven't bloomed yet.  Maybe next year!  As long as they keep coming back, I can be patient.


Podophyllum peltatum, also called Mayapples, came from Mom's woods three years ago too, where there's a large colony of them.  They bloomed here for the first time last spring.  This one was moved last fall to make room for a new garden path. I was thrilled to see it bloom again this spring. Mayapple blooms hide under the leafy canopy of their umbrella-like foliage.  They're worth looking for!

The wildflowers pictured are all native in Illinois, and all make wonderful spring bloomers for woodland gardens.  They not only survive, but even thrive in the root zones of mature silver maples in our suburban garden.  They provide nectar for pollinators, and endless pleasure for us.  

Gail at Clay and Limestone hosts Wildflower Wednesday the fourth Wednesday each month.  Visit her blog to see what's blooming in her Tennessee garden and find links to wildflowers blooming in gardens everywhere.

23 comments:

  1. Linda, This is a beautiful post. I love seeing a bit more of your garden, too. I have planted the red twig dogwood but your excellent description of its cultural needs explains very well why it will never be happy here! Glad you're back to WW and Happiest of Springs. xogail

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    1. Thank you Gail!

      I think they do well in a variety of conditions. We have neighbors who have them in a dry, hot, sunny area and they thrive there even though moist soil seems to be their favorite situation. Hope yours takes off for you - maybe it just needs more time to establish itself.

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  2. I love the columbine. It reminds me of the Western Columbine we have in the Southwestern USA. I enjoy the yellow flowered azizonica which I'm pretty sure they sell over here in Sweden. I purchased two and they are the most prolithic flowering columbines of all the ones I've planted. I always clip the seed pods to encourage more flowering. One purple variety I chose at a nursury here produces fuzzy star-like flowers and not at all like the usual shooting star flowers characteristic of most columbines. I'll take a photo of them in late June or July when they flower and perhaps you will know what I'm talking about. For the moment, the trees don't even have a good bud swell as yet.

    *SIGH*

    --

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    1. Hi GG,

      Beautiful flowers! I had all of these in previous homes and I miss the magic of a woodland garden. I am trying to incorporate some of these on the north side of my home, but I am quickly running out of room.

      Eileen

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    2. Thank you Eileen!

      I can definitely empathize with running out of room! We have a large area in back covered with winter creeper. Right now it's a doggie latrine, but little by little I'm rolling it back to add more woodland garden space.

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    3. Timelss, I think I'll deadhead the columbines for awhile to encourage more blooming, and leave the last bunch of blooms to go to seed this year.

      Looking forward to seeing your fuzzy, purple columbines! We have a purple NOID columbine here, and I love the saturated color of the blooms.

      The trees here are all leafed out already - earlier than I can ever remember, thanks to a very warm March. Just about everything is a month early here.

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  3. You found some real beauties there. Love those Mayapples!

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    1. Thank you Birdwoman!

      I love the Mayapples too. I was very excited to see Mom's colony of them, and am so happy they seem to like it here.

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  4. The dutchmen's breeches, from which you took your transplants, are blooming like crazy this year. They are in the shaded area and will soon be overtaken by the japanese knotweed, (polygonum cuspidatum), that grows there. Speaking of which, knotweed is listed as an invasive in Wisconsin. But I recently discovered that it is a prime source of the resveratrol used in supplements. We are going to try some this year. It is related to rhubarb, which is in the buckwheat family, and has a similar tartness. It has hollow, jointed stems, something like bamboo, grows to 7' tall and spreads by underground rhizomes. In late summer and early fall the 'bushes' are covered with sprays of tiny, white blossoms. It's almost impossible to eradicate because the rhizomes go down 6 ft or more and even small pieces regenerate. It often clogs waterways, which is why it's listed as an invasive. But, like the invasive garlic mustard, it has health and culinary uses.

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    1. Oh no - we should move them, Mom!

      Interesting about the knotweed. I remember reading that it was used in resveratrol supplements. If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em!

      I cooked cleavers/bedstraw at K's today. They were pretty tasty!

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  5. You have a wonderful assortment of native wildflowers! I love the photo with the boy and girl statues. I looked up the senecio aureus to see its range, and found it is native to the states just to the east of Nebraska. I bet it would grow here. Is it easy to keep in the space you allot to it? Your geranium looks like the one I saw at our local nature center last weekend. I sure like it. I'm glad I caught your comment about deadheading to increase the bloom time of columbines. Mine have already been blooming a good amount of time, so I imagine they will be ready for a trim soon.

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    1. Thank you Sue!

      In our garden Senecio aureus is a bit spready, but not uncontrollably so. I'm purposely keeping it in small patches and keeping it contained by pulling the pieces that run. I deadhead it before it seeds, too. It's really a nice plant though, and worth the effort containing it. I love that's it's evergreen, and the basil foliage is really pretty.

      I think deadheading the columbines help keep them blooming a little longer, and as much as love volunteer plants, I like to keep the quantities of them manageable. I wouldn't mind a few more columbines though.

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  6. I've had such problems with my phlox divaricata! Last year was the only time they bloomed, and I think the huge amount of melted snow finally gave them the moisture they need. I just can't water that much! Yours look lovely!

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    1. Ours wasn't doing well at all Rose, until I moved it. In 8 years they had only bloomed once and they weren't really growing. I moved them in the fall to a sunnier spot, and they have taken off. I have found sometimes that moving a plant just a few feet can sometimes make a world of difference in its performance. It's still dry shade in the new spot, but it's sunnier. And who knows - maybe it's in a less heavily-infested maple root zone.

      I've had similar experiences with other plants here. I've moved some pretty sad-looking, languishing plants just a few feet one way or another and time and again it's made a dramatic difference in their health and performance. Sometimes it's saved things from almost certain death.

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    2. p.s. it has really surprised me how much sun they seem to want, especially for a plant called WOODLAND phlox.

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  7. What a lovely collection of natives and wildflowers, Linda! I love the photo of the sculptures among the phlox; such a peaceful scene--the perfect image of a serene woodland garden. Sounds like you are making excellent use of your red-twig dogwood and will soon have a beautiful swath of them in your back yard.

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    1. Thank you Rose!

      I'll enjoy the additional privacy when they're mature, and those red twigs in winter, too.

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  8. Linda, I think that's a grand idea to put the branches in the winter containers, let them root and replant elsewhere. I'll probably try that this year. Thanks. I also lose columbines after a couple of seasons. I should try the native ones. The doubles are pretty, but . . .

    And, what is it with the butterflies? I go out to take a photo, and mine all flutter away too. At least the bumbles are patient with me. Thanks for stopping by my blog this month. It was great to hear from you.~~Dee

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    1. Dee, I was a bit surprised how many of the branches rooted - probably 70-80% of them. It was so easy. I do think the evergreen boughs helped by insulating the soil, keeping it warmer and more moist than it would have been if the dogwood branches were by themselves.

      I'm impressed with the canadensis columbines' longevity in our garden. The blooms aren't as big and showy as many cultivars, but I do love their delicate, graceful beauty. The purple stems are pretty cool too.

      The Red Admirals seem more shy here than the bigger, later-season butterflies. I can get close to monarchs and swallowtails for photos very easily.

      Thanks for visiting. Looking forward to seeing you this week at Garden2Blog!

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  9. Hi Garden Girl
    What wonderful flowers you've got in your garden! I especially like the azure blue Phlox... I haven't seen it here in my part of the world. But now I will search in ever plant nursery I know :o).
    Have a nice Sunday.
    Alex

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    1. Thank you Alex! I'm so glad I moved the phlox and they're finally blooming. After so many years of them doing nothing I almost dug them out. Now I'm happy I gave them a fresh start in a new spot. I didn't think they'd take off the way they did. I guess they didn't want to end up in the compost. Hope you can find some in your area.

      Happy Sunday!

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  10. Stunning post, Linda. We have both been blessed!

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    1. Aw, thank you Joey!

      Blessings all around!

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