Thursday, May 26, 2011

Natives in the May Garden

Among the spring and summer blooming plants in my garden, many are North American natives. Last spring I added Poke Milkweed (Aslepias exaltata), also called Tall Milkweed.

Since Monarch butterflies will only lay their eggs on Milkweed, and their developing larva depend on Milkweed as the only staple in their diet, I planted it with the hopes of having them visit later this summer.

I've also got lots of Swamp Milkweed (Aslepias incarnata)--and although that is growing tall right now, it isn't yet in bloom.  It will form lovely pink blooms later in the summer.

When I planted the milkweed I also included Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)--another milkweed variety.  When that didn't come back this year, I added two plants a couple of weeks ago and they are beginning to bud out now. They will be orange/yellow in color.

The native Windflower (Anemone multifida) is in full bloom now.

As is native Coral Red Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens).

Native Primrose (Oenothora fruiticosa), also known as Sundrops, has just started to bloom.  I planted a couple of plants last year but over the winter the markers were moved by squirrels and I wasn't really sure where the plants were, until recently!

Earlier this spring, I added two native Sweetspire (Itea virginica) "Little Henry" (dwarf variety) bushes to the garden. They are blooming now.

While Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) has just recently begun to bloom, many of the plants still don't have buds.  This plant has been very 'tame' in my garden, although it has a reputation for being a runner.

Along with the basic Spiderwort, Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' was given to me last year by garden blogging friend Janet, The Queen of Seaford. I liked it so much that I added more of this variety just a few weeks ago. 'Sweet Kate' tends to stay in manageable clumps--at least that's what I'm hoping.

Blue Star (Amsonia) "Blue Ice" is finally in bloom.  I planted this earlier in the spring, just this year.  This plant may actually be a hybrid cultivar taken from the native A. montana.

A completely new-to-me native plant is this Woodland Pinkroot (Spigelia marilandica), also known as Indian Pink.

Planted earlier this spring, it's put out just two blooms so far...but aren't they interesting and different?!

While I featured Phlox divaricata, Woodland Phlox, in my last post on native plants, Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phlox blooms much later.  Unlike Phlox divaricata's spiky, pointed leaves, the leaves on this shade-tolerant phlox are more oval. (Another form of Creeping Phlox sometimes called Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata) is planted in my sunny front garden, and that is also still putting out blooms).

Native Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) is still going strong in the garden.

This year I added a new variety of Foamflower to the garden: Tiarella cordifolia "Elizabeth Oliver". She didn't develop more than a few flowerheads--and they weren't as full as my originals, so I'm hoping she will produce more next year.

I added quite a few Hepatica to the shade garden this spring. Some H. nobilis varieties are finished, but H. americana (Round Lobed Hepatica) "Alba" still has some blooms.

While the Arisaema triphyllum, native Jack-in-the-Pulpit, has already finished blooming, I haven't yet shown it in a post as I just added it to the garden in April.

Below is a photo of Jack unfolding, with native Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) in the background (also new in April, and now finished blooming, as well). *Thanks for catching that, Carolyn:-) Pulsatilla is a European native...but a great woodland garden plant, none-the-less, enjoying sun to part-shade.

At a local native plant sale last spring, I acquired Podophyllum peltatum (May Apple). So far this year, two very small leaves have emerged. There have been no flowers but I'm hoping by next year it will start to fill out, enlarge, and produce blooms.

Lastly, another native, new to my garden this year, is Scarlett Globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea).  She had a few small blooms but I think she is getting too much shade in the current woodland garden setting, so I'll be moving her out front to my sunnier perennial garden areas.

As you can see, I've been trying to add a variety of native plants to the garden over the last couple of years. Most of them are well-suited for my climate so I'm hoping they will continue to get larger over the next few years. They are all great wildlife and pollinator attractors and that is the primary reason I've added them...along with the fact that I really like the looks of each of them.  To read about more native plants around the world, Gail of Clay and Limestone holds 'Wildflower Wednesday' on the 4th Wednesday of each month. You can learn a lot by visiting this interesting meme.  If you have a garden blog, why not share the natives in your own garden?!

I'm thankful for Wildflower Wednesday, as it encourages me to learn more about native plants--which I've found to be extremely interesting.

Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble @
Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.


  1. Love all your native wildflowers, but especially that Spigelia. It's such a different flower. You've done a very good job adding some interesting natives.

  2. Jan,
    Enjoyed seeing the Poke Milkweed, I know a place in the Virginia Mountains where it grows wild, the butterflies love it. Poke Milkweed can hybridize with Common Milkweed too, I have seen that, very impressive.

    It seems odd to me to see someone purchasing May Apple, it is everywhere in our woods, did not bloom this year here.

  3. You have such a variety of native plants in your gardens...all beautiful!

  4. Jan, you have so many great natives and so many new additions to appreciate. I have never heard of poke milkweed. I dug up some common milkweed from the roadside and added it to my meadow. It is quite "vigorous" but has beautiful flowers with great fragrance. I don't think pulsatilla is native. I enjoyed reliving our Chanticleer visit in Jean's post. Carolyn

  5. A friend of mine gave me a Swamp milkweed plant recently because I told her I wanted to start attracting Monarchs. I hope to buy more of them. Your natives are beautiful. Where did you get your plant tags? I am thinking about placing something like that all around the garden because I sometimes forget....

  6. A great wildflower showing Jan. There are so many pretty wildflowers that I keep adding them, too. Spigelia is one of my favorites~I would love to see it massed in my garden~gail

  7. You have such a good variety of natives. The wildlife is sure to be happy in your garden.

  8. Hi Jan. You have so many native plants. I really like your Sweetspire. I only had two of my Butterfly plants come back this spring and they are both the pink ones. All of the orange ones died which I think is strange.I will have to remember to seed more next spring since I never prepared to lose them this year.
    Your Spiderwort is so pretty.I just planted some this spring and I am anxious to see how they do.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  9. The windflower photos really catch my eye. But they're all just BEAUTIFUL!

  10. I never knew there were so many varieties of milkweed. I just have the tropical milkweed in my garden. I love the variety of native plants you have in your garden. I need to learn more about them so I can add more too.

  11. Wow Jan, you have added a lot of nice natives to your garden. I was so hoping to get a Spigelia at our native plant sale, but they were sold out. Super plant!!!!
    I am rethinking getting at least 'Sweet Kate', miss seeing them. Glad you are happy with the ones you have. ;-)

  12. All your natives look really great. They are right at home in your garden.

  13. Jan, it's fun to compare natives. I just posted a collection of ours this afternoon. It's always interesting to see plants that are endemic to other parts of the country. The Spigelia is simply charming, I hope it fills in for you. I love the foamflower too, its leaves remind me of our native Heuchera here.

  14. Jan you have an amazing collection of wildflowers. I hope you have lots of visiting Monarch butterflies.

  15. Jan, What a wonderful collection of native plants! Some of these (like spiderwort) are old friends, but others are new to me. This post is a great lesson in how much attractive variety is available in native plants. -Jean

  16. I haven't seen Poke Milkweed before. I love the hanging umbels. The vivid pink color of the windflower too.

  17. Great post on growing natives, Jan. Amazing what a diverse plant palette exists out there. Spigella is one I'd like to get someday.

  18. I love this series of photos you've put together about woodland plants and flowers. I planted major wheeler on the fence between us and a neighbor that tends to let things go crazy. Of course the flwoers are blooming her THEIR side of the conse now. :(

  19. What a great list of natives for our area. Everything looks beautiful. We have some of the same plants. I just cut my sweetspire back so they'll bloom more next year. I also have a clump of spigellia. It's one of my favorite natives.

  20. I sent you an email about visiting each other's garden. :o)

  21. Wonderful collection of natives Jan! I love May Apple and I hope it can compete well with the pernicious Bishop's Weed. I am so envious of your having bare ground. I have an ocean of that invasive BW! The Monarchs will be thrill to live and grow in your garden.

  22. Wow, you've been BUSY Jan! Great additions ~ the pollinators are going to be thrilled with you and your garden. I love the poke milkweed ~ I haven't seen it before. I wish Indian pink would grow here but I think I'm just a little too cold??
    I hope you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor very soon.

  23. you know how I feel about spiderwort - yuck! but I too love milkweed :) easy as it gets!

  24. Jan I am just catching up and didn't want to miss your post...your wildflowers are just beautiful and there are so many...wait till your May apples grow...mine have been growing for about 4 to 5 years...they are now a full large stand with lovely white flowers...I marvel at them and they are one of my favs...

  25. Hi Jan, a lovely selection. Your Jack unfolding is a great photo of a sweet fleeting moment. Why do I always think of fairies when I look at woodland plants? :)


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