Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cool Blooms for a Hot Month

Silene regina, the Royal Catchfly
Cosmos and Bumblebee, a great combination
Asclepias verticillata, the whorled milkweed
Hymenocallis-or Peruvian Daffodil
Civia "Golden Dragon"

I have been a bad,bad, blogger.So many things to do in the garden and at work, that I've felt "blocked"...and the endless weeds. Several special things need to be given their due, so I am showing a few to get unplugged. After a dry winter rest, one of my favorite Clivia decided to send up a late flower stalk for July. I had drooled over the expensive yellow Clivia that were being offered at White Flower Farm,unfortunately out of my garden budget.Then,years later, My friend Patrick found a healthy plant of "Golden Dragon"at a local nursery,and made a special gift of it to me. I checked the progress of the flower stalk every day, and after a summer shower it bloomed. Beside the "Golden Dragon", is a rare variegated Clivia that actually came from White Flower farm, via the amazing garden and collection of Matt Mattus -Growing With Plants-(you are the best!). He and his partner Joe just happened to be at the famed nursery when a shipment of regular orange Clivia minata were being delivered. Mixed with all the dark strappy leaves was one plant with the treasured striped pattern, and they scored it! Matt says this is a robust form, some are of weak character and slow to bloom...I can't wait to see!

I bought some Ismene bulbs late in the season, but the bulbs still were firm, so I potted them up and was rewarded by a crystalline bloom in just days! Not a winter hardy bulb, but easy to care for during warm months, then give it a cool dry rest for the Winter.

I have a great fondness for Asclepias (milkweeds), and was so excited to discover the elegant but diminutive A. verticillata or whorled milkweed growing in the native grasses by the back road to the farm. I have explored my property in all seasons for ten years, and I have never seen this jewel before! I have about ten species and cultivars, the essential food plant for our beloved and threatened Monarch butterfly. I encourage all readers to plant at least a few varieties in a remote, or not so remote a spot for this purpose. I think they are stunning, amazing native plants to celebrate and enjoy. Butterfly Encounters in California offers a large selection of these great plants (seeds), and Bobby Gendron, owner, also has produced a simple and easy to fallow planting video for novice gardeners to learn how to stratify the seeds of some species for abundant germination.

One of the wildflower areas I burned in the Spring has come into full annual bloom. Although there are many perennial species I hope to see next year, the happy annuals are giving the July garden a bright face lift! I will post on that next time, but I had to share the crisp white cosmos with a very contented Bumblebee foraging the golden pollen to feed it's colony.

The last thing I wanted to share is a lovely native plant that shines like a star in the moist meadows of Southern Missouri and Kansas, Silene regina. I first saw the plant on a float trip with the devine Devines and some of our other friends. The bright red stars where along the river bank (North fork of the White river), being visited by hummingbirds. I was captivated, but did not find a source for the plants until many years later. Once I get fixated on a plant, only time will stop me! Hopefully, I can get these somewhat finicky plants to set fertile seed, so I can introduce them to the edges of Hiddenfield pond.


  1. Your blooms are very lovely now, also in different colours. I like the white cosmos with bumblebee. I guess the bees are very busy this season because I have many pictures for other blotanists having bees feeding on the blooms also. The milkweed flowers are tiny but I like the blue shade. I guess one can really see the beauty when it is given focus and magnified.

  2. Oh my, that Peruvian Daffodil is exquisite! You have many beauties in your gardens -- and I love the arrangement in your header photo. I'm glad to have found your blog. :)

  3. I just love that you found a plant you had seen so many years earlier in the Silene. It will now go onto my wish list and if I ever see one it will come home with me too. We need more natives always, and we also love those milkweeds. Your little one is a gem indeed.

  4. Absolutely gorgeous, Brian! I have some volunteer little yellow flowers (sorry, can't name 'em) that Hillary says are wildflowers (she CAN name 'em. I have no idea how they landed in my yard.

  5. That Peruv. daff is quite unique..does it have fragrance? Haven't seen such a frilly milkweed before..very pretty. Btw, are those cool peacocks still around?

  6. Hi Lynn, yes the Ismenes have a lemony scent, quite nice!, the peacocks have migrated to another farm, silly birds...maybe they will return someday!

  7. francis, I love the Asclepias...and really all the native plants, but I wouldn't give up the garden classics!

  8. autumn Bell, what a pretty name in English! thanks for stopping by