Thursday, May 6, 2010


No the iris, tulip, bluebells and allium you can make out in this shot are not wildflowers. They were at some point somewhere. In this setting they could pass for wildflowers and on some levels that was the intended effect. Interesting no?

In my travels today this wildflower, Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja coccinea most definitely caught my eye. We don't have any of that.

Then I was bad. I'm a gardener. I have shovels, trowels and empty pots in my truck. I took a few pictures then looked for some small plants and brought two little ones home with me. Then I looked them up and read that Indian Paintbrush is an annual or biennial and is parasitic on grass roots. Not good.

That means I replanted them in the wrong place and would be much better off collecting seed than digging up plants. Oh well. Perhaps I will be back there at a good time to collect seed, assuming the neighborhood association has not mowed that particular spot. The two I snatched could also set seed that could land in a good spot depending on how co-dependent they really are.

Minor pilferage is how a lot of the native wildflowers have come to live in the low spot on a North Carolina mountain top. The resident gardeners were in to native wildflowers long before native wildflowers were cool.

The annual Phacelia purshii, maybe P. fimbriata, I'll have to put on my good reading glasses and have a closer look, was introduced by the resident gardeners. This is the white or palest of blue variety, blooming before the purple blue, Phacelia purshii for sure.

Seeds or little plants are introduced and if they like it here they are free to roam the mountain. The Phacelia really likes it here. Soon it will cast a shimmering carpet of blue across huge swaths of the ridge top garden. It has set seed and multiplied dramatically.

Phacelia bipinnatifida is also around here somewhere. It just needs to bloom so I know who and where it is. There is a freakish high native wildflower species diversity on this little patch of mountain because the resident gardeners like their wildflowers and have deliberately set about to bring them here. Sometimes they even buy them.

The Iris cristata was pilferage of one tiny plant. Now it exists in waves.

I could start potting it up and selling it and there would still be plenty left. Instead, it is now given away to happy gardeners and a native plant is spread even further.

Plant people would assuredly find the wild cultivated garden interesting. The blend of regular ornamental landscape plants with the high numbers and diversity of natives could keep them busy exploring for hours.

On occasion the resident gardeners have expressed concern that their garden is not properly designed or manicured enough, that people who saw it would not understand. I tell them all that matters is if they are happy. They like their garden

Some people won't like it. It would be too wild for them. Without wide paths on level ground, without hardscape defining the space, without rigid control, without grand art instead of garden chotskies, as a garden it would hold no interest for some people.

No biggie. Different things interest different people.


Siria said...

Hi Christopher! Your mountaintop gardens are beautiful. It's amazing the beauty in the native wildflowers! I believe you gave me some of that Iris Cristata last year. I don't recall it came up this year though. Does it require shade or sun?

Christopher C. NC said...

Siria the iris is said to prefer shade to dappled light. I have it growing in full sun and it is doing fine. So we have it here from deep shade to full sun. Yes yours came up.

Lola said...

It's all looking mighty fine. The wildflowers are combining with the tame ones so it all looks natural. And you do have little paths to walk on & marvel at all the beauty around.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hooray for wildflowers and it is wonderful that people don't have the same static gardens. I am sure this garden is just perfect for the Gardeners and something to be proud of.

Anonymous said...

Is the garden design like mine--let's plant something here and something there and something here....

Anonymous said...

I too have a wild garden and with 30 big trees I think it's suitable. I had to laugh about the paintbrush - as I looked at the first photo and you said you didn't have it,I was thinking "dig some up" and then you did!


Christopher C. NC said...

Lola the paths here are all like trails through a forest.

Lisa when I did the garden tour here, two of the folks nearly demanded that they wanted to come back. I think they got it.

Sallysmom very much so. Oh here's an empty spot.

Bev when I looked in my book again the Indian Paintbrush was marked with the Do Not Dig symbol, mainly because it won't survive. Seed would be the best way to go I think. I am also eyeing a place with the phacelia we have the least of to gather seed. It's nice that we have sun and forest shade and can do both habitats wildflowers.