Posts Tagged Green-Head Coneflower
This past weekend, I was able to persuade Wonder Spouse, Ace Photographer, to join me in a walk around the yard. He took just over 200 pictures, and he’s still post-processing most of them. But he released a few finished shots to me now, so that I could show them off.
As the leaves begin to color up and tumble from the trees, the insects and spiders in our yard seem to accelerate their activities. Flowers buzz audibly as the diversity of busy pollinators gather as much pollen as they can before winter stops them cold.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the spiders seem to get especially busy now. Orb weavers in particular erect massive webs between trees big enough, I imagine, to snag small birds. Not that I’ve ever seen a bird trapped in a web, but I do wonder sometimes.
The Writing Spider I showed you before now has a name — Big Girl — BG to her friends. She has grown enormous feasting on butterflies. Their discarded wings litter the ground beneath her sizable web. Last week, I watched the tiny male move his mini-web ever closer to the object of his fancy. I think he must have succeeded in his quest, because now he’s gone, and BG is distinctly fatter — full of fertilized eggs, I imagine.
Wonder Spouse took such amazing photos of BG that I must show you all three views:
We are fortunate in the southeastern Piedmont to have a wealth of autumn-blooming wildflowers. And this year’s uncharacteristically generous rainfall is making for especially widespread and colorful displays. Our floodplain is full of the red spires of Cardinal Flowers, numerous yellow composites, goldenrods, Monkey Flowers, and Blue Mistflowers. Wonder Spouse’s shots of the Monkey Flowers are still being processed, but here are a few photos to give you an idea.
My Green-headed Coneflowers have gone nuts this year. If you’ve got room for a 4-5-foot tall wildflower in your landscape, I highly recommend this one.
And those Blue Mistflowers I mentioned are just getting gorgeous.
As the humidity levels begin to drop and the mornings grow cool and filled with cricket song, my mind turns to fall planting season. In my region, fall is the best time to plant most perennials and all woody trees and shrubs. Our usually prolonged falls give new plants plenty of time to focus on root growth before the ground freezes — if it ever freezes at all.
Most years, our Septembers are still hot and very dry, so I’ve tended to wait until October to plant new additions. However, this year, the ground has remained blessedly moist all season, and the heat has remained astonishingly bearable — no 100-degree temperatures at all (knock wood).
Thus, I feel comfortable encouraging my Piedmont readers to go ahead and start getting serious about fall planting. Local plant nurseries will all be advertising sales soon, but there’s one sale North Carolina Piedmont gardeners should be sure to put on their calendars now: The NC Botanical Garden’s Annual Fall Plant Sale. Members get first pick from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 27. The general public is welcome the next day, Saturday, September 28 from 9:00 a.m. to noon.
Bring your own trays or boxes to carry home your purchases, and if you’re like me, only bring as much money as you can afford to spend. The wide array of vigorous native flowers, trees, and shrubs is more than most avid gardeners can resist.
I am a firm believer that there’s always room for more special plants in a landscape. Now is the time to survey your yard for spots crying out for color or shade or scent — or all three! Go forth, survey your yard. Then acquire the new plants that will help you realize your dream landscape.
Have you noticed that it’s dark in the morning again? And that faint chill in the pre-dawn morning air — have you inhaled its promise of autumn days to come? I sure have. Thoughts of autumn mean one thing to this obsessed gardener: fall planting!
It is my opinion that even the smallest landscapes always have room for a new plant or two. It’s a matter of researching your best options (right plant for right place), and you must be willing, on occasion, to do a little landscape editing.
Take a step back and cast an objective eye on your home landscape. Have you been pruning your forsythias into globe-shaped submission because they otherwise take up too much room? Are your evergreen azaleas plagued by insect and deer predation? Consider a radical fix. Yank out those old and difficult plants, and think long and hard about what plants you choose to replace them.
Most plants native to the southeastern United States (and especially the Piedmont region) will likely adapt more easily to your Piedmont planting spot. Native options abound, including many cultivars developed by horticulturalists. You’ll find you have more than enough choices among native plant offerings.
Not sure where to find native plants for sale at reasonable prices? I have the solution. Try the Fall Plant Sale at the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, NC. Members get first crack at the goodies on Friday, Sept. 23 from 5-7 p.m. The general public is invited on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Sales support the NC Botanical Garden, and if you don’t know that great organization, go visit their Web site to learn why they are an essential resource to native plant lovers of the southeastern United States.
As for that flowering plant at the top of this entry, that’s a Green-Head Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), also called a Cutleaf Coneflower, because it has pretty dissected leaves. Although it’s called a coneflower, it’s not an Echinacea, like the Purple Coneflower I wrote about here. This flower is in the genus Rudbeckia, the same genus that gives us Black-Eyed Susans. However, Green-Head Coneflowers add much more drama to the landscape than Black-Eyed Susans.
Green-Head Coneflowers can grow as tall as 12 feet in shadier locations. And they tolerate shade very well. However, as you can see from the photo above, if you don’t stake them, they will fall over. I like this look. It keeps the flowers closer to where I can see them — and who has time for staking flowers anyway? This native likes a bit of moisture to be happiest, and it spreads via underground stems, so plant it where it can stretch out and dominate a corner of your landscape. They’re called coneflowers, because the green centers in the flowers elongate as the seeds mature, producing brownish bumps full of seeds that native birds delight in devouring.
I grew my Green-Head Coneflowers from seed that I received as a benefit of my membership in the NC Botanical Garden. The Fall Plant Sale may include some Green-Head Coneflower plants for sale; I can’t promise, because you never know what goodies will be offered. But it’s certainly a possibility.
If you don’t live close enough to take advantage of the NC Botanical Garden’s fall plant sale, look around your area. Most public gardens and local nurseries offer great sales this time of year. It’s a great way for them to reduce their inventory, and for you to acquire some choice specimens for your landscape — just in time for their optimal planting season.
So go forth, find some gems, and settle them into your garden before winter comes knocking. Next spring, you’ll be glad you did.