Tuesday, June 29, 2021

What's Bloomin' As June Ends

As June draws to a close, and the song of the cicada fades into history for another 17 years, here are some of the flowers blooming in my yard and in sunny openings at Herrontown Woods. 

Purple milkweed is less common than the common milkweed--a rare example of common names making sense. It spreads underground a little too aggressively, like the common one, but has a richer color to the bloom and slightly narrower leaves. Its blooms go through an evolution of color as they form--a very nice feature. We (that's the first person singular form of "we") found it growing near Veblen House and transplanted some to the Veblen Circle of wildflowers at the Barden (Botanical Art Garden).

Foreground here is another native milkweed, butterflyweed, which is lower growing and doesn't spread underground. Rarely seen in the wild around here (a couple specimens in the Tusculum fields that may still be there), I've seen it mostly in midwestern prairies with black-eyed susan and other prairie wildflowers.

The red in the background is beebalm, another incredibly bright and beautiful native wildflower, seen in gardens more than in the wild. It spreads underground, but not in a dominating way. We'll see if hummingbirds come to visit after their long migration.

Most people know the purple coneflower, from gardens rather than in the wild. 

Less known is the fringed loosestrife, not to be confused with the invasive and unrelated purple loosestrife. Fringed loosestrife has a shy flower that faces downward, yet the plant itself is surprisingly aggressive, and should only be planted where it can't spread. Yet another example of a native wildflower that is relatively rare in the wild yet gets rambunctious in a garden. Other examples would be groundnut, virgin's bower, and bladdernut. 

This photo doesn't do it justice, but here is tall meadowrue growing in a sea of jewelweed. The orange tubular flower of the jewelweed is visible in the lower left. Deer love to graze on the jewelweed, which is a native annual that often is seen trying to compete with Japanese stiltgrass in the wild. Hummingbirds love the jewelweed flowers, which keep appearing throughout the summer, and kids love to explode the springloaded seedpods. The tall meadowrue flowers need to be viewed up close to appreciate their subtle beauty, with each one bursting like a miniature firework.
One of the easiest plants to grow and take care of is the common daylily. We (again, first person singular form of we) planted the extension with them, and also the autumn joy stonecrop. They take zero care, and spend the month telling passersby to have a nice day. Each flower lasts a day, so you can cut some stems, put them in a vase, and have a steady stream of flowers inside as well, as each bud opens in series. Not native but doesn't spread or escape to the wild.

Among native shrubs, bottlebrush buckeye is doing its version of glorious, 
along with oak-leaved hydrangia. I've created a grove of these hydrangias by looking under the original shrub for sprouts or rooted limbs that could be dug and replanted nearby to quickly form new shrubs.
Maybe this year we'll get around to picking the elderberries, if the birds don't beat us, and make a delicious elderberry pie. 


  1. saw orange milkweed t Tusculum this year... also have seen the loose strife around-thanks for ID-ing it for me. (still not using INaturalist like everybody else). Deer will east autumn joy and the flower heads do not grow back- :(

  2. Great to hear the orange milkweed's still growing at Tusculum. Yes, the deer chow down on the sedum autumn joy. I fenced it along with buttonbush at Veblen House. Working so far.