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Left: Abelmoschus manihot, Sunset hibiscus.
This plant has a history and has done some traveling! Doris D. obtained some heirloom seeds at a seed swap held by Old Salem. She grew them and collected seed, which she shared with Sue H. Sue learned they need lots of sun, of which she had little, so she sent them to her sister Dianne in Texas. Her sister potted up the seed in her greenhouse and sent Sue this photo of the growing plant--which is happy in the Texas sun. Each flower lasts but a day, but continues to bloom from mid-summer through early Fall.
Native to temperate regions of South and East Asia. The leaves are high in Vitamins A and C as well as protein and have been consumed like spinach or lettuce. The flowser buds have also been eaten raw or cooked. The plant also has a number of traditional medicinal uses, and has been used in the making of paper in Japan and Korea.
From the gardens of Sue H., Doris D., and Dianne of Texas.
Left: A Monarda didyma cultivar, possibly 'Balmy Pink'
Doris is successfully growing this beauty in a container as it was bred not only for the pink color, but because it grows only to 12" tall. Monardas generally grow 36-48" tall and were used for tea and for several medicinal uses.
From the garden of Dorisl D.
LEFT: Louisiana iris, Iris hexagona
This is an iris that Kit S. gave me a few years back. It's the first time I've seen it bloom but quite possible that I missed it. It's kind of hidden where it was planted. If I am remembering correctly, they are LSU iris.
From the garden of Terry W.
LEFT: Blue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium angustifolium
This little beauty first arrived in my garden several years ago, compliments of birds I suppose, as I did not plant it. It is my good fortune that it is happy here, and after a couple of years I now have several clumps. It is in the Iris Family (Iridaceae) and I can see why. The leaves have the look of iris leaves, though slender, narrower and before blooming can be mistaken for grass. The color of the flowers is similar to some is, though the shape doesn't bring iris to mind. The clump, a perennial, grows to about 12 to 18 inches tall, making it a nice border plant. It spreads a bit, popping up in unexpected places. I'm always happy to see it.
Years ago, Native American tribes used the plant medicinally and some Herbalists still favor it for certain uses.
Blue-eyed grass is native in NC, from one end of the State to the other. It grows sporadically in most of the eastern U.S., though a bit more heavily north of us.
It does well in sun or part-shade and appreciates a little water when the summer gets dry. Dividing every couple of years is helpful and allows you to fill out a border or to give plants to friends. Dividing in Autumn is perfect.
From the garden of Kathy S.
Left: Spring Bouquet
Spring is here and we are experiencing our usual anxieties about what will emerge, what will survive the inevitable cold snaps, and when should we plant.
Member Elaine C., on hearing the news of a drop into the 20s this week, dashed out to snip a few blossoms. She said her Camellias are loaded with blooms this year and she only wishes she could have brought them all in.
What she did bring in she shares with all of us in the photo to the left- a lovely arrangement that reminds me of 17th Century Dutch paintings, as this one below by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (Flowers in a Glass Vase, 1614):
LEFT: Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis
This beauty blooms in early Spring, even in snow on occasion. It emerges from the soil with a leaf initially wrapped around the stem, open its flower and then unfurling its leaves.
The "root" is actually a rhizome (underground stem) that when cut open displays the origin of the name, for it is bright red. It was used as a dye plant, or more accurately, as a paint. Some Native American tribes decorated their horses with the red "paint" as well as baskets and such. It also has a long history of use in toothpaste formulas and other oral products.
In the garden of Kathy S.
Below: Sanguinaria canadensis, Bloodroot.
Bloodroot are about a week later than last year, but always a joy to see when the open. Native Americans had some medicinal uses for them, and for years it was used as an antiplaque agent in oral care products.
We recommend talking with yhour physician before using any herbal products, as some have been foiund to contain toxins, and many interfere with other medications you may be taking. The information we provide is for historic interest.
Erythronium americanum, Trout lily
Another native spring blooming plant that is now opening. Crushed leaves were once placed on wounds that were slow to heal, but I haven't read any recent studies that verify this. Removing the leaves weakens the bulb, so leave the plant as is and it will return year after year, and will spread, but not aggressively.
Below: Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa, Hepatica
Once used to treat disorders of the liver and to help healing skin wounds, it has since been found to be toxic and is no longer used. Some suggest that drying it removes toxins, but don't take any chances! Just let it bring a skip to your heart when you see it start to open in early March.
Claytonia virginica, Spring Beauties
I noticed Spring beauties opening in mid-February, which is not unusual for them. We have two species here, this one has narrow grass-like leaves. The other, C. caroliniana, has broader, slightly egg-shaped leaves. I have those in my yard, too, but this one always seems to appear and bloom first.
The tiny corms (bulbs) were once eaten as a tasty treat, but once you dig it up and eat it, the plant is gone. Better to find a potato and leave the Claytonia in your garden!
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