Six on Saturday #29, May 26, 2018

The weather is warm and humid.  The first fireflies of the season have appeared.  The solitary adult hummingbirds who have been visiting the feeders since early April have been joined by squadrons of less colorful birds, presumably recently fledged juveniles. On the basis of all this evidence, I declare summer.

This week, flowering perennials outnumber bulbs in the garden.  I’ll start this Six on Saturday with one of my favorite native wildflowers.

1.  Spigelia marilandica (woodland pinkroot)


The hummingbirds agree that this is one very fine flower.  S. marilandica is native to the southeastern U.S. and the Mississippi valley as far north as southern Illinois.  The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service indicates that it is native to North Carolina but does not have any County-level locality data. [Update:  If I would just read my own old blog posts, I’d learn that S. marilandica is recorded from Macon and Cherokee Counties.  And also that I tend to repeat myself.]


In my garden, S. marilandica grows and blooms in deep shade and nearly full sun, but the best clumps grow where they get sun in the morning and dappled shade in the afternoon.  In my experience, two genetically distinct plants (not divisions of the same clone) are required to set seed, but as long as that requirement is met, no additional effort is required of the gardener.  The hummingbirds are happy to pollinate the flowers.  Seed is difficult to collect, because the ripe capsules split open explosively, propelling the seed some distance from the mother plant.  I find it easiest to wait for volunteer seedlings to sprout, and then transplant the seedlings to new locations.


My plants vary somewhat in the color of the flowers.  Some clones have greenish-yellow tepals on a purplish red tube, while others have bright yellow tepals on an orange-red tube.  As you can see, something about the intense red color makes my digital camera want to shift the color balance of everything else towards the blue end of the spectrum


2.  Campanula ‘Sarastro’ (hybrid bellflower)


I think my garden is probably a little too warm for this hybrid bellflower.  It doesn’t bloom every year, wilts in the hot sun, and looks ratty by mid summer.  But when it does bloom…Wow!  The deep purple flowers are the size of hen’s eggs.

Campanula can be invasive, but this plant seems quite civilized.  It forms a slowly spreading clump, and the shallow rooted plantlets have been easy to remove if they spread too far.

3.  Thermopsis villosa (Carolina lupine)


Thermopsis villosa is native to the western mountain counties of North Carolina, but it grows very well here in the piedmont.  Its only flaw is that the stems sometimes flop over, particularly when the flowers are replaced by heavy seed pods.

4. Iris ‘Black Gamecock’


Louisiana irises are generally wetland plants, but this hybrid is growing in well-drained clay that is wet in winter but can become almost bone dry in late summer.  Starting from a couple of dessicated rhizomes in a bag from WalMart about six years ago, it has spread into two large clumps with dozens of inflorescences.  The first flowers open just as the surrounding Iris tectorum finish their blooming period.  Perfect.

5. Penstemon digitalis (Foxglove beardtongue)


Another “more-or-less-native” that is recorded from half a dozen western North Carolina counties.  The clone “Husker Red” (with reddish foliage, of course) is very common in the horticultural trade, but these plants that I grew from seed have green foliage.

6.  Lilium ‘Claude Shride’ (hybrid martagon lily)


Lilium ‘Claude Shride’ is a common offering from bulb vendors, and I planted half a dozen bulbs last autumn.  I really like the dark, glossy flowers and the fact that it stands up straight without staking.  L. martagon is a European plant, so I’m not sure if it will tolerate the heat of summer and persist in the garden long-term. Time will tell.

That’s some of what’s blooming in my corner of the NC piedmont today.  To find out what’s blooming elsewhere in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and anywhere else garden bloggers are participating in Six on Saturday, head over to The Propagator.

24 thoughts on “Six on Saturday #29, May 26, 2018

  1. I’m going to hunt for Louisiana iris. The most difficult section of my garden is exactly what you describe. Wet clay (although mine doesn’t drain well) in winter and concrete in the summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful colors this time too. I will ask @ilenagm living in NC if she has a woodland pinkroot . She must know that. Superb wet iris and about the lily martagon, I just bought 1 bulb last Sunday (with Bletilla striata alba ones) that I immediately planted in the shade. A new shoot was already appearing, now underground: as you said; time will tell us !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful blooms! I really want to try an Indian pink in my garden, but I haven’t seen it available, though I believe it’s native to Central Texas. Lovely shots.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my, you do have a wealth of classy native plants to draw on, especially compared to the UK, your posts are a revelation. I’m curious about how many are widely grown, even widely available, in your regular gardening retail outlets. Or do you have a good number of specialist nurseries where you can get these things?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have two very good nurseries nearby that sell a lot of native plants: Niche Gardens and Plant Delights. Plant Delights is also well-known for introducing Asian and South American species that are hardy or semi-hardy in our climate, and it is the source of many of my weirder plants. The NC botanical garden in Chapel Hill also propagates native plants, sells plants, and distributes seed.

      Of the natives this week, Spigelia marilandica is well known to local native plant enthusiasts and can be had from all three of the above sources, as well as mail order nurseries. You wouldn’t find it at the local garden center. The Thermopsis would likely be available from decent general nurseries, and the Penstemon and Louisiana iris might turn up at any garden center.

      Niche Gardens:

      Plant Delights:


  5. I really need to give the indian pinks a try. They sound so rewarding, but something about the plant leaves me lukewarm… although those flower closeups are amazing.
    We’re also getting humidity and warmer weather but until a rose flowers I think I’ll still call it late spring up here in the North 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dang! You got the most interesting six so far. I had to read ‘pinkrOOt’ a few times. It looks like ‘pinkrOt’, the disease that killed and continues to kill so many old Canary Island date palms in Beverly Hills (in the Los Angeles region). The ‘Black Gamecock’ looks a wee bit purplish. Is that a Louisiana iris? Your penstemon is so rad! It looks like some of our natives in the west.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s