Friday, August 15, 2008

More Summer Blossoms

Summer brings some of the most showy flowers. One of my favorite that is blooming at the pond right now is Marsh Hibiscus, Hibiscus palustris. It is also known by the common name Swamp Rose Mallow. Many of the blossoms are white with a dark pink interior, but some, like the one above, have a vivid, striking pink color. The plant prefers wet soil and it grows naturally down along the White River. It will also do well in moist garden soil, as I planted one at my parents' home and my sister currently has one in her backyard. It starts out as a single gangly plant its first year, then as years go by and the root structure spreads, it becomes almost shrub-like covered with many blossoms. Mom was at first reluctant to have me plant it, since it was a wild flower, but soon it become one of her favorite plants and she would bring the neighbors over to admire the giant blooms.

Another beauty is one many gardeners have embraced and placed in their flower beds. Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, is a great nectar flower for butterflies and it produces seeds that many of the birds, especially American Goldfinches, enjoy. The pinkish-purple blooms last for a long time and are great for cut flowers if you want to bring some indoors. I had some on my desk for almost three weeks. We have some at Southeastway in the prairie and some near the building.

Another favorite of mine are members of the Liatris genus. These plants are butterfly magnets and this one is Liatris scariosa, Savanna Blazing Star. Look at all the skipper butterflies on this plant. There are Zabulon and Peck's Skippers, the little orange guys and one Silver-spotted Skipper, the much bigger brown butterfly. Such a great plant, which also produces lots of good seeds for birds in the fall.

I encourage you to look for native plants to plant in your garden. Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society has a sale each May and some local places also sell native plants. They are great food sources for the local wildlife and are eye-catching, as well.

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