Hemerocallis fulva. Or as most folks around here call it, the ditch lily. It’s so commonplace alongside the drainage ditches along dirt roads, it’s hard to believe it’s not a native.
Every time RonK posts something that includes PNW plant life, I find myself scouring the photos, because 9 times out of 10, I’m seeing plants I’ve never seen before. Or I’m learning something about a known plant that is surprising to me. (Lamiastrum is considered invasive? How can that be?!) I very much have a midwesterner’s sensibility in the garden, so I thought I’d do a simple post with plants that define that sensibility for me. In other words, while opinions may vary about specific cultivars, the genus x species I’m listing are practically universal to the midwestern garden. I’d love to hear more about the plants that are practically universal in the gardens in your neck of the woods! (Note: These are not photos from my own gardens, which are still so overwhelmed with weeds that I’d be embarrassed to share photos at the moment. Maybe someday…)!–more–>
SPEAKING OF WEEDS…
It makes me ill when I think of all of the plantains I’ve weeded and pitched. It has a fibrous root system, which makes it so much easier to pull out than a dandelion (which is taprooted), but like the dandelion, it’s only a weed if you’re seeking the Scotts-approved “perfect” lawn. I spent years not knowing a thing about this lovely beneficial herb; now when I stumble across it, I leave it be or dig it up and move it to a place where it won’t be unwelcome or mowed. I don’t cook it or eat it, but I have been known to make a poultice from plantain leaves for spider bites.
I have a thing about blues in the garden; I can’t get enough. From a garden design standpoint, that would be a very, very limiting choice. Blue is a receding color, which is great if you are wanting to create depth or make a garden look larger. But it also makes the individual flowers difficult to discern and as a cool color, there’s very little pop. As a result, most designers use blue as a foil to help emphasize other colors or to cool down an overly-warm palette. Me? I just want blue, blue and more blue. My favorite spring blues:
Geranium pretense ‘Mrs. Kendall Clark’: She’s prolific; she’s a reseeder (which I view as a plus); and she’s beloved by the bees. What more could I ask for?
Brunnera macrophylla: Big, coarse leaves and tiny forget-me-not flowers; when the hosta are just starting to unfurl; this guy is doing his thing.
Mertensia virginica: Easy enough to find in cultivated gardens, but considered endangered as a wildflower in Michigan. It disappears altogether by late May, which is fine with me, because the foliage is scraggly and unrefined. But, oh, those flowers!
[S]HE LOVES ME, [S]HE LOVES ME NOT I was never one to pluck the petals off daisies; I’m pretty sure if I had tried that with flowers from my mother’s or grandmothers’ gardens, I would have been buying trouble for myself. But the opportunity was always there, because their gardens all included daisies. I have continued the practice, and my personal favorite for the past 15-20 years has been Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’.
THIS IS THE ONE AND ONLY RED WINE I LIKE First introduced in 1992 by White Flower Farms; when I ordered my plants from them, I was told I was one of the first 10 to order the variety. The color just took my breath away (and still does). Monarda are not “neat” plants, but since I am not a “neat” gardener (no formal gardens for me…the more natural, the better), its loose habit works just fine. And did I mention the color?
Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’:
MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE RUDBECKIA (AND NO, IT’S NOT ‘GOLDSTURM’) Don’t get me wrong…I love ‘Goldsturm’ and have it several of my gardens. But the black-eyed Susan that I look up to (literally!) is ‘Herbstsonne’ (Autumn Sun). She’s a stately 6′ tall in my gardens, and she flowers from late July/early August well into September. The bees and the butterflies adore her almost as much as I do.
IF I WERE QUEEN OF THE MIDWEST, I WOULD DECREE THAT MORE GARDEN CENTERS FEATURED THESE PLANTS, BECAUSE I CAN’T POSSIBLY BE THE ONLY ONE WHO COVETS THEM I have no idea why these plants aren’t more widely used. They’re late(r) season plants, so they add color to the garden when the mid-summer, prolific bloomers are a mere memory. They’re both natives, which is an important consideration for biodiversity and as the climate crisis deepens. And they are stunning in the gardens and a perfect complement to the fall leaves as they are starting to change. Yet they’re still harder to find in the local garden centers than a Hibiscus untouched by Japanese beetles…
What plants do you think of as quintessentially “your region” of the country?
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