Monday, June 14, 2010

Native As It Gets, Baby

I'm always searching the by ways for beautiful native plants, it could be Milkweeds (Asclepias),Blue Stars (Amsonia)or in this case-Verbenas, V. canadensis.

I have about a thirty minuet drive back and forth every day, and my eye gets used to the same landscape changing through the seasons. This Spring, I caught a glimpse of a lavender pink flower as I sped by on the highway, and made note to myself of the exact location. The next day, I pulled the car over at a highway maintenance pull-off, and hiked up a steep grassy hill, bordering a beautiful wooded valley. The scope of the land was much grander than it could appear driving so fast. I had to hike farther than I had anticipated due to a very lethal barbed wire fence that protected the property. At a drainage culvert I made my way across in to such a lovely valley, almost like an English pastoral painting from the Eighteenth century.

Backtracking to the spot I'd seen from the road, I worked my way up a hill covered in native grasses and rock. At the top of this wind swept place, there where hundreds of pink Verbenas,blooming like crazy-scenting the air with a candy sweetness. I'd seen native Verbenas before, but only in isolated pockets in gravel areas in the western part of the state. These plants were colonizing this sunny spot with abandon!

I took pictures and then gathered cuttings to take back with me. This is the pure species- many people have recently grown the natural hybrid "Homestead Purple", a great garden plant. I wasn't aware of the strong scent of this species- the cuttings I took perfumed the house for a week, overshadowing the last of the Lilacs! I have to site my new charges in a dry, well drained spot, maybe the Golden Garden, which is built on a berm.


  1. Brian, your description of the native verbena smell is so good, I almost can feel the aroma! Thank you for the pictures, and you know what - your milkweed is blooming in my garden!!!!! The seeds which you sent me produced wonderful plants. There are not many of them, but they have dozens of beautiful flowers! I am so excited - these are the first milkweeds in my garden! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Tatyana, I'm so glad your plants are doing well! I love that cool green color with the lavender at the center, somehow they almost look like icing to me. They do seem to slowly form colonies, but not invasive at all. Hope you're doing well! B

  3. What a great story with a fairytale of an ending. I wish you could somehow share the aroma you discovered. I too have a love of true natives and enjoy hunting for them... old railroad beds are the hot spots here in Indiana. Happy Gardening! -Annie

  4. Annie, yes, I love natives too...railroad by-ways do seem rich in our natives and introduced species (Verbascums..)Have a great Summer!

  5. That is so cool! I hope your cuttings do really well!