After missing several weeks due to traveling, I’m back with Six on Saturday. As always, check The Propagator’s blog for links to other garden bloggers who are also posting their six.
1. Lycoris radiata var. pumila (hurricane lily, red spider lily)
Hurricane lilies (really amaryllids, not true lilies) are so named because because they bloom in late summer–hurricane season in the southeastern United States. The classic heirloom bulb of southern gardens is Lycoris radiata var. radiata, a sterile triploid introduced from Japan in the mid 1800s. It blooms in late August, and my bulbs are still slumbering underground. L. radiata var. pumila is a fertile diploid, presumably the original wild type form native to China. For some reason, these plants consistently bloom a few weeks earlier than the triploids.
L. radiata is one of the winter-foliage Lycoris. Shortly after blooming it produces a rosette of leaves that persist all winter, dying back in late spring. Since the plant grows in winter, it is less hardy than the spring-foliage types like those I discussed in a previous Six on Saturday, and I’m not sure it would do well much further north than North Carolina.
2. Zephyranthes candida (white rain lily)
After dry weather for most of July, August has been quite wet, and the rain has induced several rain lily species to bloom. This is Zephyranthes candida, originally from southern South America but now more widely naturalized. Superficially, it resembles a smaller version of the piedmont native Z. atamasco, but while Z. atamasco blooms in spring, Z. candida–like many tropical Zephyranthes–blooms in summer a few days after rain.
3. Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower)
Lobelia cardinalis is native to the piedmont and can sometimes be found growing in sun or part shade along creeks or beside ponds. Hummingbirds absolutely love the flowers. These are volunteer plants originating from very tiny seed that drifted from a plant that I put in a flowerbed about twenty feet away. After several years, I now have about a dozen blooming plants. The best ones have taken root in wet soil at the point where the foundation and gutter drains empty, down-slope from the house. I have been thinking about building a pond or bog garden there, but for now it is just a wilderness of Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium viminium), interspersed with these shocking red spikes.
Last week, while we were on holiday in eastern Maine, I saw some wild plants blooming along a stream close to the Canadian border, about 600 miles (965 km) north of my garden in North Carolina. I find it interesting that the plants in both locations bloom at exactly the same time, despite the longer growing season and warmer temperatures here in the south.
4. Hedychium coronarium (white butterfly ginger)
This ginger from the foothills of the himalayas is probably the hardiest and most vigorous ornamental ginger for cultivation in the NC piedmont. The stems grow about 6′ (1.8 m) tall, and the fragrance of the flowers is amazing. Unlike my cannas, which look pretty ratty after being chewed on all summer long by Japanese beetles and canna leaf roller caterpillars, the foliage of this H. coronarium is always pristine.
5. Fuchsia ‘Sanihanf’
After my paternal grandfather retired, he grew fuchsias in his garden and greenhouse in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I wanted to remember grandpa by growing them in my garden too, but most fuchsias expire from the heat before spring is half over in North Carolina. This Japanese hybrid, which was advertised as heat tolerant, seems to be the real deal. I bought it in April 2016, so it has now survived two NC summers and continues to bloom even when the days are in the 90s (32-37 C) and nights don’t drop below 70 (21 C). It might survive the winter outside in a sheltered spot, but not wanting to risk it, I grow it in a hanging pot and keep it in the greenhouse in cold weather.
6. Lilium formosanum (Formosa lily)
Most L. formosanum bulbs produce a single stem topped with four or five flowers, but this plant has branched and re-branched to produce a large cluster of flowers. The stems are slightly flattened and wider than usual, so I think it may be abnormal fasciation (cresting).
I started with two bulbs about eight years ago, but every year I scatter seed around, and now there are flowering plants throughout the garden.
6b. flower crab spider (Thomisidae)
While trying to decide which photo of L. formosanum to use, I realized that I had inadvertently photographed a little white crab spider that was hiding inside one of the lily flowers. Some species can change color to match the flower they are sitting on and are capable of capturing quite large prey. I’m not sure if she would be strong enough to tackle one of the big sphinx moths that pollinate L. formosanum, but I have seen similar spiders ambush and consume swallowtail butterflies