Another Saturday, another six things in the garden. Thanks to The Propagator for suggesting this idea and for hosting links to other ‘Six on Saturday’ participants.
1. Lilium catesbaei (pine lily)
Lilium catesbaei grows on the coastal plain from southern Virginia to eastern Louisiana. It is a plant of open, fire-dependent pine savannas, where it often grows among carnivorous plants, orchids, and other plants that favor damp, acidic conditions. L. catesbaei is rarely available from nurseries, but about fifteen years ago, I grew a batch from seed obtained from another member of the local orchid society. In recent years, the number of blooming plants has decreased until this year there are only two flowering. I think it may be time to dump out the pots, assess what I have left, and repot in fresh soil.
2. Lantana camara ‘Miss Huff’ (Hardy Lantana)
Lantana ‘Miss Huff’ seems to be the hardiest commercially available clone of L. camara, and it is the only one that has successfully over-wintered in my garden. I have three plants in sunny, moderately dry spots. They freeze to the ground each winter and new growth emerges several weeks after the last frost. By late summer, the bushes are about 6′ (~2 m) tall and wide. Usually, I see the first flowers at the end of May, and then the plant blooms non-stop until the first frost. Buds and young flowers are bright yellow-orange, maturing to a darker orange and then fading to pink before dropping.
The flowers are moderately attractive to hummingbirds and attract large numbers of butterflies. It’s a great plant for guaranteed color even in the hottest and driest summers.
3. Vernonia glauca (Broadlead Ironweed)
Vernonia glauca is a true piedmont native, found primarily in Virginia and North Carolina. I obtained seed about ten years ago from the North Carolina Botanical Garden seed distribution program. I initially grew them at the back of a flower bed with other tall perennials, but the seeds, each with a tuft of fluff, have been carried on the wind all over the garden. At this point, it is almost a weed, and the long taproot makes it very difficult to eliminate. Beware seeds that have their own parachute.
4. Titanotrichum oldhamii
I currently have two semi-hardy gesneriads blooming in the garden. The first, Titanotrichum oldhamii, is native to China (Fujian Province), Taiwan, and Japan. I love the bright yellow flowers that resemble foxgloves. I bought my T. oldhamii plant last year, so it has survived one winter in the garden so far, and has come back bigger and stronger this year. It is growing in the shade of a large Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) in fairly rich, well drained soil.
5. Seemannia nematanthodes ‘Evita’
The second gesneriad is a native of Argentina. Seemannia nematanthodes ‘Evita’ seems to grow equally well in the ground or in pots and hanging baskets. I started with a couple of stems in a 3″ diameter pot, but the plant expands exponentially each year. In autumn, the above-ground stems, thin underground rhizomes, and roots die back, leaving small, scaly rhizome segments that look disturbingly like maggots. These rhizomes can be left in the soil or stored dry in a plastic bag.
In addition to growing Seemannia ‘Evita’ in semi-shaded beds around the garden, I keep a couple of potted plants. When it is time to repot in early spring, I usually have far too many rhizomes, so I add the extras to the flower beds. Consequently, I don’t really know how hardy Seemannia ‘Evita’ is, because I can’t be sure which of the plants blooming now are derived from rhizomes that survived the winter in the ground, and which are from rhizomes planted this spring.
6. ‘Celeste’ figs
These figs from the garden were dessert yesterday. I grow three varieties of Ficus carica: Celeste, Black Mission, and Conadria. Of the three, Celeste is the hardiest and most productive, so it isn’t surprising that it is the most commonly grown variety in this part of North Carolina. Celeste figs are small but intensely sweet, and if I don’t pay close attention they’re eaten by birds, squirrels, wasps and ants as soon as they are ripe.
That’s my six for this week. Now, I have to go outside and attempt to dislodge a squirrel that is building its nest under the solar panels. Hope I don’t fall off the roof.