Tuesday in Mooseville – How Does Your Garden Grow? 7/9/19

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–>

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.
Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’:

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…
Helenium autumnale:

Vernonia novaborecensis:

What plants do you think of as quintessentially “your region” of the country?

About DoReMI 165 Articles
Now a Michigander, by way of Ohio, Illinois, Scotland, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. Gardener. Sewer. Democrat. Resister.


  1. Thanks, I love sharing garden inspiration. Our hydrangeas are starting to bloom so the pathway on the north side of the house is dressed in blue.

    • That’s another thing that never fails to surprise me, despite knowing better…bloom times are so different, depending on location. Hydrangea here are mostly an August bloomer, and this year, everything is lagging so much, they could easily be September bloomers. I do love their flowers though. It’s funny. I have almost no shrubs on my property, but your mention of hydrangeas has me rethinking that choice, particularly since they would tolerate my black walnuts. I have an entire bed on the NW side of my house that I’ve never planted in all the time we’ve lived here. I always wanted to plant something, but the dogs always trod all over it. My current pups walk on the paving stones edging the bed, but never IN the bed so maybe it’s finally time. It would be perfect for a couple of hydrangeas.

  2. About the only thing I know about flowers is they’re pretty. LOL. That’s not 100% true but it’s close. Back in the day when I could garden and also had housemates, they did flower gardens and I did the vegetable garden. When they left (graduated, got married) I had to start letting the flower gardens go back to lawn because I couldn’t take care of them all. Then as I developed allergies to something in the yard…well, I have 4 not-lawn areas (not counting the naturalized daffs and crocus that come and go before we start mowing). Along the fence are daylilies – supposedly native but I’m not sure. There’s a strip in front that’s mostly irises – and peonies when the lawn guy doesn’t mow them down as he did this year. (This is the last year I’m using this lawn guy.) There’s a stone-edged more-or-less oval garden out my back door that’s mostly irises and daffs now but there’s still a sedum from the original plantings. And a bunch of garlic chives I have no idea where they came from. It’s very overrun with heaven knows what besides the wild morning glory that moved in this year – I haven’t been able to weed it at all. The minute I get out there into it I start itching. sigh. And what’s left of where my vegetable garden used to be is a rectangular box containing a rose bush, a lavender bush, a rosemary bush, a sage bush, and the milkweed I planted last year which fortunately reseeds. I wish I knew the names of the plants my friend had going in all the beds when she lived here.

    Around town I’ve seen azaleas, forsythia, poppies, and believe-it-or-not hibiscus. And of course a lot of other stuff I don’t know the names of but enjoy when they bloom. LOL. {{{HUGS}}}

    • I never, ever dreamed I’d do any gardening. My mom and grandmother both had gorgeous, but formal, rose gardens, and I spent [what felt like] the better part of my childhood doing the weeding. I was sure that was enough to put me off gardening forever, but I hadn’t reckoned on what living in Scotland would do to me. I saw whole new ways of landscaping that weren’t the usual-to-me yews against the house, with a bed of pachysandra or vinca at their base. Nor was it the symmetrical boxes of my childhood rose gardens. There was depth and height and swathes of perennials and multiple seasons of bloom and bulbs naturalized throughout lawns and something that suggested that chaos was only being held back by the lightest of touches. It was a revelation, although it wasn’t a particularly conscious revelation when we lived there. It was when we returned stateside and bought our first house…with yews against the house and a bed of pachysandra at their base…that I realized I would never again be happy with that style of landscaping. And so it started…

      My gardens have gotten away from me (I had several bouts with sciatica over the years that kept me out of the gardens and set me further and further back). That’s why this year, I’m working on eliminating at least one of them and scaling back a few others by making them low maintenance. But I can’t imagine every going back to yews with groundcover.

      • I’ve let most of my yard go back to lawn – so I supposedly wouldn’t have to worry about somebody mowing down my few flower beds with a riding lawnmower. sigh. I’ve never lived in a “yews with groundcover” sort of house or neighborhood. Among our many serious invaders, honeysuckle seems to be the winner around here. Especially since I stopped being able to work in my yard pretty much at all. (I’m usually OK for 5 minutes. 10 minutes in the back yard I start to itch. 15 minutes and I break out in a rash. If I’m lucky whatever it is out there that I’m allergic to isn’t wind-blown onto/doesn’t hit my face or my eyes swell shut.) And all the promises in the world by the guy with the riding lawnmower won’t cut down the honeysuckle and other volunteering stuff in my fenceline. sigh.

  3. Hi, DoReMi,

    Funny you should mention our designation of invasive plants. A friend of mine from the Midwest (Iowa/Wisconsin) just wrote me in response to one of my blogs about the same issue of how could such lovely plants at home be considered “invasives out here”? He was referring specifically to Vinca minor – Periwinkle which he said they often plant at grave sites and around the yard. They are very nice if they stay where they belong. Around here they escape yards and take over large tracts of forest floor, crowding out native ground covers and bushes. Same for Yellow Archangel. The shade and moisture are ideal for these plants to thrive and “invade” if not tended to.

    Thanks for the lovely photos of flowers you like. I particularly like the Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’. I make raspberry wine and this flower’s color is very close to the real thing.

    I tried to post a few quick photos from our side yard but had no success. Is there a trick to posting photos in comments?

    • Vinca minor is another one that is merely considered a spreader here, rather than an invasive. I do have to wonder if that’s because my neck of the woods is mostly villages and cultivated farmland, with any woodland areas so separated from housing areas as to limit the risk. I have noticed that if given the chance, my vinca will take on my Galium odoratum and “win,” so it makes sense to me that in the right environment, it would be invasive. I just can’t envision anywhere near me that would be the right environment. But then, I think about my daughter’s woodland property and the battle she’s fighting with English ivy…I’m sure whoever planted it first never envisioned the day when it was so out of control, it was killing entire trees.

      And no, I don’t know how to post photos in comments; I’ve only ever tried it in posts.

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