Last week we received a much needed, nearly two-inches of rain. At times it came straight down, a heavy veil that blurred the colors of the garden below. Once ceased, tree branches still dripped. It was late day and fireflies added sparkle. They seemed drawn to me, but alighted on a yew, not a me.
I sought out those flowers that had succumbed to the long duration of rainfall and these three did not disappoint. Nor do they ever.
Sprays of Culver’s root flowers lay heavy with moisture, a terra firma Milky Way. One of the loveliest plants, a true native to our Great Plains, Veronicastrum virginicum is a sun seeker and drought tolerant. Normally it is strongly vertical, graceful pointed spires providing an old fashioned, understated elegance that many new plant introductions can’t match. Leaves whorl around the stems, which is one way to differentiate it from the Veronica genus.
Another sun lover, also drought tolerant, Callirhoe digitata, native to more-southern Plains, think Kansas, has been hardy in one garden assigned to native plants. Glowing flowers brightened the dull atmosphere. The saturated fuchsia seemed attached by mere threads to tangled long stems now weighted down from stormy weather. Fringed poppy mallow self sows modestly and I dig their taproots to share with friends.
Thalictrum ‘Splendens’ is among the most elegant plants in our garden, a cultivar of common meadowrue. They’d bloomed by late July and will continue to show flowers till autumn. These are tall plants, requiring staking soon after they emerge in spring in order to later steady them from gangly weight of leaves, flowers and myriad pollinators. I have it growing in both partial sun and bright shade.
At first the puffy clusters emerge abundantly from much-branched stem tips. They glimmer. They shimmer. They are tiny Japanese lanterns. The flowers have no true petals and are actually “naked flowers.” Sepals open downward, bravely exposing private parts, a tuft of golden pistils. I’m voyeur in a nudist colony.
On sunny mornings, normally docile bumblebees compete for the nectar and their rear leg panniers are heavy with gold. Since there are no large petals to present as landing stations, the bees dangle beneath the flowers as they ravage them.
The above three desirables are very tall but not bodacious. Flowers are lovely, subtle, not readily noticed; they wait in the wings until discovered. Once you have, you will, again and again.
If you enjoy observing bees, I recommend a treasure of a novel, The Bees by Laline Paull. The characters are bees and you will follow Flora 717 throughout her life in the hive, her movement through the caste system, and her defiance of presumed order. Once you read this you will forever think of bees as sisters, as well we should. New York Times review: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/books/review/the-bees-by-laline-paull.html?_r=0
And if you are serious about saving bees, avoid with all your intent the pesticide nicotinamides or any trade-named products that contain them. (copyright Mary Ellen Connelly, August 12, 2014)