Ga Native: Woodland Sunflower

Now, for a touch of summer sunshine to warm up these cold, grey days of January. It took a good bit of searching online to finally identify this particular sunflower growing under one of my huge white oaks as, Woodland Sunflower or ‘Helianthus Divaricatus’. I knew it was some type of sunflower or aster, but wasn’t sure exactly which. I was able to identify it thanks to the multi branching blooms, the size of the plant,  the appearance of the blooms and leaves, and photos of different varieties online at the USDA’s plant ID website. 

This plant has a spreading habitat, and fills the shady area under the great oak. It does get some afternoon sun here, and the plant seems happy to take over the whole area. The long lasting summer blooms make the lackluster foliage as it dies back bearable. This sunshine yellow perennial returns early every year, and since it grows about 2-3 feet tall it makes a great plant for height at the back of a shady bed or border.

I saw many of these native Woodland Sunflowers while visiting the mountains at Black Rock Mountain State Park, in Mountain City, GA. I will write more about that amazing adventure in an upcoming post. I visited 10 state parks in Georgia in 2018, and am working on articles about hikes at those parks, and the plants I found along the way.

Purple Coneflower

The summer garden work is over, and this crazy fall heat wave has broken. Now, I have time to catch up on writing about the plants that bloomed for the first time this year.

Georgia Native Plant, Zone 7b, Echinacea Purpurea, Giant Purple Coneflower,
‘Echinacea Purpurea’

One of the spectacular native plants I bought at NightSong Native Plant Nursery’s Plant Sale last year, the Giant Purple Coneflower or ‘Echinacea Purpurea’, bloomed from June through August. There were five blooms total, and I recently cut off the dried seed heads to save for planting next year. I planted it in a 6 inch container last year, and am transplanting to in ground location today! (October 12th, 2018)

I found some fascinating info at my favorite wildflower site, US Wildflowers. The photos on this site are fabulous, and this site is an incredible free resource for plant identification.

Also, Southern Living has a great article by Gene B. Bussell on Purple Coneflower, detailing new hybrids being created, along with their uses in the southern garden.

I moved the plant from the container to the in ground location, where it will get good southern sun exposure. I will also be able to see the blooms through the deck railing. I transplanted on October 12th. All the leaves are gone now, but hopefully it will return next spring! I sprinkled one seed head all around the base of the plant, and saved the other four for planting next spring.

GA Native: Dwarf Crested Iris ‘Iris Cristata’

This native Iris, Iris Cristata came from the Night Song Native Plant Nursery plant sale, in Spring 2017. I thought it died last summer, but it came back early this Spring and bloomed two times!

I placed the rhizome on top of a ridge of dirt at the front of the bulb bed, sandwiched between the huge 2-3 foot tall bearded Irises. The Iris Cristata is super tiny, at about 6-10 inches tall.

The Georgia Native Plant Society is a great resource for information on Georgia’s native plants.

2018, GA, Zone 7b, Iris Cristata
Picture from last week. Only about 6-8 inches tall. Lots of new growth since blooming

I have a few new posts in the works about the new 3rd raised garden bed, and all the plants and herbs I am growing this year. Also, a great post to come soon about the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I was super excited to visit the gardens there for the first time, on May 5th, 2018.

April Irises 2017

Like their namesake in Greek Mythology, Iris- “the messenger goddess”, or “the rainbow goddess,” these beautiful flowers deliver the message that Spring has arrived, in all the colors of the rainbow. I only got a few bloom colors this year, and I am thrilled to have them!

My friend generously dug them from her garden two years ago, and I transplanted them here. One purple bloomed the first year- from over a dozen transplants. Then, this year three purples bloomed, and an absolutely gorgeous pinky, mauve beauty. I’ve not looked up the varieties yet, but wanted to post this while they are blooming (except the Dutch iris- bloomed earlier this month).

I enriched the heavy clay soil with my organic, homemade compost and fallen leaf mulch. I followed directions from The American Iris Society’s website on planting the rhizomes. They take a little time getting settled in, but are worth the wait for the spectacular flowers.

Growing Bearded Iris in Georgia

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This Bearded Iris traveled a long way to get here, and bloomed the first year after transplant! The season grew so busy this year, that I didn’t get these pics posted this Spring. My friend in Raleigh dug up two paper grocery bags brimming with iris rhizomes last year from her garden.

I brought them home, and planted a few groups in different sunny spots. Walter Reeves’ website  walterreeves.com discuses when and how to divide iris rhizomes. I also found the American Iris Society’s detailed instructions about how to plant and grow iris very helpful.

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The only one that bloomed this year was this regally dark and majestic purple beauty. I posted in the past about my Dutch Iris -which is planted in the same area. They are similar, but the bearded iris is larger, has more frilly flowers, and more striking foliage. The American Meadows All About Irises page contains helpful info about the kinds of irises, their histories, and how to purchase and grow them. I am so happy to have them growing here. As a bonus, the deer and squirrels don’t seem to find them tasty.

Hosta Trio & Dianthus

frontbedmayHostas I planted late last summer have returned gloriously. They have made the shady bed under the Crabapple tree bright with green, white, & yellow. I also planted Dianthus aka “Pinks” here last year. These “Pinks” are now brimming with blooms of many different lovely colors.
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Deer love to eat Hostas, so I am thankful these three beauties have been spared this year.

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Snake Plant

This beautiful Snake Plant was passed down to me and I shared it with a friend. It has grown amazingly well by the front door window, with little care. Mine has bloomed before, but not this year. I visited my friend a few weeks ago and her plant was blooming. The tiny white flowers along upright stalks remind me of honeysuckle blooms.

Snake Plant or Mother-in-law's tongue
Snake Plant

 

 

Now about 4 ft. tall, it was started from a small bunch of cuttings 8 years ago. Steadily multiplying blades have filled the clay pot.  Many older blades have been cut off at the base to keep the plant looking new and compact.