Saturday, June 25, 2016

Two Wild Flowers Named Carolina

In some manner there has to be a distinction made between pernicious weed and treasured native wild flower.  This Silene caroliniana has remained a common weed for as long as we have gardened here.  Its usual appearance is as a single stalk sporting few flowers.  For some unknown reason, this year a clump of stalks produced a group of flowers of sufficient size to capture the eye from across the garden.  We have known this plant as sticky catch fly, or more simply catch fly, for years.  That name is connected to the brown sticky bands that encircle the stem at separated intervals. Wild pink is another common name that seems better suited to a garden specimen.

This plant prefers dry rocky barren soil.  That is what naturally occurs here but we wildly amend with stone removal and compost additions.  The tiered bed under construction in the front of the house sounds like a perfect location for wild pinks.  Since the basal foliage looks tattered at blossom time, this one will be placed at the back of the bed.  This plant may have been overlooked for all of these years since it grows here unaided.  Those days are behind us now.  In addition to the bright purple color, a pleasant scent is released by these beautiful flowers.

Here is another weed plant that we found growing alongside of an old fence line.  As it turns out, this is the New York State flower.  Properly named Rosa carolina, one must wonder how it came to be our state flower.  One also might wonder how the name carolina came to be attached to so many native plants.

The simple elegance of this highly scented flower is somewhat hidden by this picture taken late in the day.  These flowers last for only a single day.  The pictured one is curling its petals in preparation for casting them off.  The ground beneath this plant is littered with intact pink petals already dried.

We are still looking for a suitable location for this plant.  Underground stolons send up new growth at some distance from the parent plant.  Our five foot wide beds do not provide the growing room that this plant deserves.  We must find a suitable location soon since the two new plants potted up this spring are showing buds now.

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