Monday, August 15, 2011

Blooms Day

It was dark and dreary here today, but there were plenty of things in bloom. I won't bore you with all the yellow daisies, just this one:

it is Elecampane, Inula helenium. Not a native, it was brought by the early settlers, probably for some medicinal use. The leaves are huge - as much as 3 feet long, and the stems can be 6 feet tall or more. Naturally this latest one has come up in the middle of a bunch of low things! The shaggy daisies have charm, though, and the whole effect is fairly graceful. Just don't try moving them - the root goes down to Texas.

Lots of phlox in bloom:

Some years they mildew badly but not this year. Something to be said about drought conditions, I guess. The phlox pretty much hold the border together this time of year. The darkest one is 'Nicky', and the white one is 'David', but I don't know the names of the others.

The Lobelia cousins are all in bloom: Lobelia cardinalis, L. syphylitica, and L. symphilitica alba. All three make good clumps, and all three seed around a bit. I find that if I want to keep L. cardinalis going in the garden, I have to lift and divide it every spring. It just dwindles if you don't separate the rosettes in early spring. It likes damp feet, but like its cousins, it can manage without. Both are native plants.

Another native, Whorled Aster, Oclemena acuminata, is blooming in the woods. It seems to be the first one of the Asters, although the Heart-leaved, Large-leaved and Lance-leaved ones are also starting. Not very impressive, but when you realize that it grows and prospers in dark dry places under pines and spruces you will have new respect for it.

Goldenrods are blooming too. The roads and fields around here are all edged with Solidago canadensis - an attractive if spready weed. There are three species of native Goldenrod that look very similar and there are two methods of telling them apart. In the first method, you take a number of samples, your hand lens and your calipers, your textbooks and your field guides, and you carefully disect, measure and identify each tiny part. After several hours of hard work, you may feel fairly confident in saying 'this is, most likely, Solidago canadensis.' The other method involves sweeping your eyes over the patch and announcing grandly, 'this is, most likely, Solidago canadensis'. Your chances of being right are about equal.

(This is, most likely, Solidago canadensis.)

Something else in bloom that I'm kind of excited about is my first yellow Clivia from the seeds I got a couple of years ago. I bought 6 seeds of Clivia miniata var. citrina, and 5 produced good plants. The first one bloomed this week:

Wow! Definitely yellow! The edges of the petals are practically white, which gives an over-all pastel effect. Now I can't wait to see the others bloom! The other plants are all smaller, but I think they'll bloom next year,  in time for Blooms Day, August 2012.


  1. Lovely post, especially about Elecampane. Reminds me of when I was asked to paint the Parish map to be hung in the village hall, we wanted all the village wild flowers to be included in the border, one of which was Elecampane which grows in the ditches here. Was given some by a farmers wife for my garden, you are so right when you say don't try to move it, I now have 2 clumps !!

  2. What a nice idea for the map, Pauline! Wish I could see it....

  3. Oh, I do love your method of identifying the solidagos! I'm also impressed that you care to identify them down to the species--I usually just state the obvious and say, "Oh, look, goldenrod."

    Your clivia is absolutely lovely.

  4. The lobelias are on my ever growing wish list. I'm really taken with the whorled aster. It has beautiful healthy looking foliage.