I am lucky to be the Horticulture Chair for the Boxwood Garden Club, a member club of The Garden Club of Virginia. For this Fall’s horticulture exhibit at the Board of Governor’s meeting, each club was asked to submit a plant that “speaks” to the soul.
As the instructions read:
“Nature is a thing of wondrous beauty. It speaks to all of our senses. What makes a plant
speak to you? Is it the color, the smell, the feel, the shape of the bloom? We are all for natives and pollinators! But, sometimes they are not the ones that give us that ‘ahhhh’ moment in the garden. Please choose a plant or bloom that speaks to your soul for our Horticulture Exhibit at the 2019 GCV Board of Governors.”
Well, I came up with 5 (with my botanist- minded mother’s help) native pollinators that speak to my soul, and they may to yours too.
What makes this native pollinator so special is it’s time of bloom and its beautiful blue flowers. Also known as Great Blue Lobelia or blue cardinal flower, this is a low-maintenance, moisture loving, late summer, early fall blooming show-off. The bright blue flowers in the axils of leafy bracts are crowded together on the upper stem. It is a single branch plant, unless damaged or cut early in its growth.
In my garden, this Lobelia thrives in the crevices between the slates on my patio, and next to the pond and pathways. They prefer being near rocks, perhaps because they hold in the moisture better.
Perfect for rain gardens, woodland gardens like mine, full sun or deep shade. The genus name honors Matthaias de l’Obel (1538-1616), a french physician and botanist who helped identify a new plant classification system based upon leaves. The siphilitica species name, on the other hand, comes from its usage as a “cure” for syphilis before penicillin was discovered.
Lobelia siphilitica speaks to me because blue in a garden is a happy sight, particularly when the rest of the garden is winding down for winter.
Also known as jewel weed, orange jewel weed, and spotted touch-me-not. This fall blooming, bright orange native pollinator can be found near creek beads and riversides throughout Virginia. It is a shade loving plant that usually grows wherever poison ivy also thrives, in moist or wet soil that is either clay, loam or sand.
A favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds, the stem jiuce is said to relieve itching from poison ivy and to treat athletes foot. Scientific data confirms its fungicidal qualities.
Jewel weed blooms in the late summer and re-seeds prolifically. If you have one, next year you will have hundreds. Perfect for a natural garden, rain garden, or shady area.
This wildflower speaks to me because of it’s pretty orange blossoms at a time when little else is in bloom – and the orange is a wonderful compliment to those re-blooming pink roses that love the cooler temperatures.
Jewels of Opar, or Flame flower is a self-seeding, tender perennial with sprays of tiny pink flowers. They are a wonderful filler flower for borders and containers and they don’t mind dry conditions.
This wonderful native pollinator has stunning chartreuse/yellow leaves that light up a garden. The delicate, fairy like flowers come out in late summer/early fall and are very good for drying and preserving. When they have gone to seed, however, the seed pods are a beautiful red that compliment the leaves beautifully.
This flower has a joyful language that attracts many followers. Chartreuse and pink are such a fun combination.
Also known as American Strawberry Bush, Strawberry Bush, Brook Euonymous, Hearts-a-burstin, Bursting Heart, and Wahoo.
This is an airy, deciduous shrub that grows 6-12 feet tall. Its ridged twigs become purplish when exposed to the sun. The rather inconspicuous pale green flowers have purple stamens and five, distinct clawed petals. Bright green, oval leaves turn dark red in the fall when the showy, bright red fruits open to reveal orange seeds.
The Strawberry Bush is a member of the bittersweet family. It is native to wooded slopes and moist understory areas. Though somewhat sprawling when young, it becomes more erect as it matures.
Who doesn’t love showy fruit on a shrub! And your birds will sing their praises.
Also known as Southern Blue Monkshood. This tall (3-5 feet), fall blooming beauty features several hooded, violet-blue flowers in loose clusters at the end of stem. It is part of the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup family. Ity got its name, however, because of its resemblance to the cowl on monk’s habits.
Monkshood is native to mountainous areas and likes to grow in moist, rich woods, on damp slopes or in thickets. Surprisingly, though, it is quite heat-tolerant too. A late summer/early fall bloomer, Monkshood adds a punch of beautiful blue to an otherwise fading landscape.
Caution: this is a highly poisonous plant, so best not to have in your garden if you have young children or pets. Handle it with care as all parts of the plant can be toxic.
Plant five native pollinators in your garden that will give you both an “ahhhh” of speaking to your soul, and an “ahhhh” for planting native pollinators that your birds, butterflies and hummingbirds will love.