Saturday, August 8, 2015
Summersweet, Clethra ainifolia, is described as a native plant with a natural range from Maine to Florida. Ocean currents from the south create a milder climate for coastal Maine despite its more northern location when compared with us. We frequently experience bitter cold after plants have begun leafing out. Recently our early weather features days of unseasonably hot daytime temperatures. Warmth draws leaves out to open just before a late frost blackens them. This year the cold was late and severe. The Summersweet bushes took a hard hit that I expected would kill them. They all produced a new set of leaves but flower clusters are sparse. We are pleased to have them still with us. The only flowers on this bush are directly over the warmth of the stone wall.
The natural form of this plant features pure white flowers tipped with golden brown pollen. The brown detracts from the purity of the white. From a distance the flowers appear to be near death. Their scent is the real draw. Drifting on the breeze, the sweet smell of these flowers will pull one near.
Summersweet reproduces by root runners. This offshoot was placed in the shadow of the gravel bank hill to give it protection from late frosts. Unfortunately it is next to a heavily used deer trail. All of its flower clusters have been eaten as well as much of its new growth. We need a larger cage here.
Ruby Spice is the name of this cultivar. Pink hides the color of the pollen making this a pleasant appearing flower. Purists will likely prefer the natural form of this plant.
It is uncommon for Becky to want her picture taken. Her wild sunflower drew her in. Rodents may have planted this seed from flowers that grew on our property. We figured that the telephone pole would prevent this sunflower from interfering with our neighbor's mowing. We did keep the side shoots trimmed to give him a clear path. This variety of sunflower is usually covered with numerous smaller flowers. We hope its appearance here pleases our neighbor. Becky loves sunflowers because they are so cheery!