Posts Tagged Fire Pink

Fire Pink Hits the Bigtime!

A close-up of the star.

A close-up of the star.

Fire Pinks have always been one of my favorite native wildflowers. I’m lucky enough to have a small patch spontaneously maintain itself on a sunny hill in my back yard.  I don’t have to do anything but appreciate them every year when they bloom, which in my yard, is usually in late May. I wrote about my Fire Pinks in a post here a few years back.

I’m mentioning this lovely wildflower today — and yes, I know it’s red, not pink (see my earlier post for an explanation) — because it has just been named the 2015 North Carolina Wildflower of the Year. Here’s an excerpt from the news release I just received:

Chapel Hill – Fire-pink (Silene virginica), one of the most stunning native perennials of the eastern United States, has been named the 2015 North Carolina Wildflower of the Year by the North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG) and the Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc.

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For a Wildflower of the Year brochure and packet of fire-pink seeds, send a stamped, self-addressed, business envelope with attention to NCWFOY 2015 to North Carolina Botanical Garden, UNC–Chapel Hill, CB 3375, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3375.

The NCBG and the Garden Club of North Carolina work together to promote the use of native plants in home gardens. Each year since 1982, a showy, native perennial has been chosen and seeds of that wildflower are distributed to interested gardeners. To view a list of the past 33 North Carolina Wildflowers of the Year, visit the Garden’s website: ncbg.unc.edu/north-carolina-wildflower-of-the-year

We’re talking free seeds, people. All you need to supply is a stamped, self-addressed business envelope. Once you’ve established this wildflower in your garden, I predict it will stay with you through the years without any additional work on your part. And, no, I’ve never noticed the deer eating it. There’s so much to eat during its bloom period, I doubt deer would ever bother with something so relatively small.

I think this is a wonderful way to expose more gardeners to some of our most lovely native wildflowers. Thanks to the NC Botanical Garden and the Garden Club of North Carolina for keeping this successful program going for so many years!

Easy and gorgeous -- what's not to love?

Easy and gorgeous — what’s not to love?

 

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Fire Pink Season

Fire Pinks 

Living on our five acres of relatively healthy southeastern Piedmont land brings occasional floral and faunal surprises. After the massive flooding of Hurricane Fran a decade ago, I spied a River Otter sunbathing on a log in my creek. That was a one-time surprise.

A more reliable surprise is the blooming of the Fire Pinks (Silene virginica) every year in my back yard. I didn’t plant them; they were here when we got here, growing on a slightly eroding, west-facing hillside — the opposite side of the slope down to the creek where the Blood Roots reign every spring.

These crimson show-stoppers are impossible to miss when they’re in bloom, and pretty much invisible the rest of the time. Basal rosettes of leaves keep a low profile until it’s time to send up bloom stalks. These wildflowers are described in my books as short-lived perennials, so I’m assuming that the 20+ years of Fire Pink blooms that we’ve had are due to the flowers self-sowing on their own. I certainly haven’t tried to interfere with them in any way.

My books tell me they tend to be weak-stemmed, but I think that’s only if you try to pamper them by putting them in good garden soil. They naturally occur on rocky slopes in dappled shade, which is exactly where mine have thrived all these years.

Fire Pinks are considered to be in the Catchfly genus, which refers to the sticky hairs on their flowers. These are thought to be adaptations for slowing down non-pollinating insects. I’m guessing their preferred pollinators hover, rather than land on the booby-trapped petals.

If you look at one up close, you can see why these bright red flowers are called Fire Pinks. The Pink refers to the serrated edges on the petals, as if someone had taken pinking shears to their edges. See what I mean here:

Fire Pink close-up

If you click on the above photo to see a bigger image, you can really see the serrated edges of the petals.

I think they are lovely little wildflowers, and they need no help from me to flourish. I’ve seen them growing on steep hills along back roads that aren’t mowed often. And for my benign neglect, I am rewarded with crimson Fire Pinks just as summer begins to sizzle — a floral surprise I enjoy every year.

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