Thursday, August 13, 2015

High Season for Floodplain Wildflowers

This is high season for floodplain wildflowers in Princeton, the sorts of native plants that also thrive in raingardens. The first rose mallow Hibiscus (H. moscheutos) appeared one morning about three weeks ago like a big eye looking out from the backyard garden. They're still going strong, and must be impressive along the banks of the Millstone River, easily accessible by boat, upstream of Carnegie Lake.

I planted one in a client's backyard swale, and it delighted them with its first bloom a few days ago, only to be later bombed by a branch from an ash tree towering overhead. The large branch, which landed squarely on the newly planted garden, appeared to be perfectly healthy, and there was no recent weather to point to as cause. It was a freak event, the garden rebounded, but still there was something uncanny about the timing.

Other floodplain wildflowers in bloom are wild senna (pictured), Joe Pye Weed, cutleaf coneflower, and cardinal flower. Boneset, whose bloom marks the climax of pollinator activity, is just opening up.

A couple other native species that haven't been seen growing wild in Princeton but add to the blooming power of our backyard is Culver's Root (past bloom by now) and cup-plant--a robust plant in the Silphium genus that towers over all others, except of course, the trees.

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