Saturday, July 30, 2016

Favorite Summer Natives

Searching for a native plant in bloom is commonly a spring activity.  Summer sweet first came to our attention while Amy and I were on a hike.  Walking into a cloud of incredibly sweet scent led us to this flowering bush.  Our captive specimen came to us from a friend's garden.  She objected to a root runner spoiling the balance of her plants.  The offshoot came home with us and has since taken over a huge section of our planting bed.  One of its daughter plants will anchor a foundation planting at the south west corner of the house.  The glossy dark green foliage looks great when not hidden behind numerous white flowers.  Having the wonderful scent near the house will be an added bonus.

Most of the flowers have yet to open.  Even so a tiny spider has found the pollen on an early flower.  When more of the flowers have opened, the brown pollen stains will detract from the bright pure white mass of blossoms.  I try to see the stains as golden in color but that helps little.  In addition to the sweet aroma, there is the remembrance of that special time together when Amy and I discovered  this native treasure.

We were introduced to Cardinal flower in the writings of John Burroughs.  A single purchased plant deposited seeds and produced six new plants at its base many years ago.  Now we have these brilliant bright red flowers throughout the garden.  Late frosts are hard on these plants and those pictured were among the eighteen that were potted up and carried into the basement when cold threatened.  That may be overly protective but it does allow me to plant these where I want them.  Their red flowers near a stone wall creates an unbeatable picture.  Hummingbirds also find them irresistible!

For years I have been trying to get a clear photo that shows the unusual structure of a single blossom.  A long upward red tube opens into five petals.  Three droop down while two curl upwards.  Between the up pointing petals is a white tipped tube.  This photo shows single blossoms in profile in addition to the centered star of the show.

We do have fall asters to look forward to but for me the season of brilliant native plants has reached its peak with these two wildly different plants.

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