This week I have seven flowers to share with you from what is blooming in my Mississippi yard. The first is the image above of the iris growing at the base of an oak tree. I was so excited to see them open on Thursday. They have a very soft fragrance and really thrive at the base of the tree. These iris were already growing there when I moved to the house. I have no idea which variety, but to me it doesn’t matter as much as just having them here as I left about seven different varieties of iris at my previous home in Oklahoma, most of which it seems were destroyed by the new homeowners, I was sad to see.
The second image is a very old apple tree, with just a small bit of life left in its tired old bones. I cannot bring myself to cut it down, but I have planted a fig near the base with the hopes that it will be able to take over and replace the apple tree when it finally gives up the ghost. Its always good to plant for the future.
A member of the Rosaceae family just like the apple tree above, these dewberries are flowering prolifically around my yard (sometimes to my dismay) and along roadsides throughout the region. One can often find members of the same plant family blooming at the same time. Dewberries produce edible fruit if you can get them before the birds or other animals. Growing along the ground, they make for easy pickens. Dewberries, Rubus trivialis, are native plants. Read more about dewberries on Wildflower.org.
Dianthus, pinks, are beginning to flower. This winter they only rested from flowering for about six weeks, though the past two winters, they produced a bloom or two all winter. Growing in a half-whiskey barrel, these hardy gems are easy to grow and trouble-free. I deadhead them throughout the year to keep them flowering. The only trouble I have had with this planting were fireants that made their home in the pot. I have treated them successfully with fireant powder once per year. Fireants and poison ivy…two garden pests I despise and treat.
The following three plants are natives that you may be missing in your lawn or garden if you apply herbicides and/or grow a monocultured lawn. The image above is known as lyreleaf sage or cancer weed, a member of the Lamiaceae family (mint, henbit and dead nettle family), one of my favorites for spring. Grab your hand lens and observe the tiny flowers closely. The family for these plants is also referred to sometimes as labiate due to the flower structure (2-lipped). They are magnificent and typical of the family. A native perennial, Salvia lyrata, makes a nice groundcover! Are you familiar with the groundcover called ajuga? Well, this has a very similar growth habit because they are in the same family! Wildflower.org reports this to be a good plant for butterflies and hummingbirds. As with most members of the mint family, there are many herbal medicinal references for Salvia lyrata if you search the web.
Why I am nearly positive the plant above is Erigeron quercifolius (oakleaf fleabane), I can tell you for certain it is a member of the Asteraceae family. The leaf shape is distinctive which is why I believe it to be E. quercifiolius, and not one of the other Mississippi native Erigeron species. This plant grows in partial shade near the plant above, close to a sidewalk. After flowering I will go ahead and mow them down. Wildflower.org reports this plant to be a host for beneficial insects. Another good reason NOT to spray herbicides on your lawn to create some fakey “perfect” portrait of what someone has told you a lawn should look like.
My final flower for the week is a member of the Liliaceae family (a monocot). Pictured above, Nothoscordum bivalve (as known as Allium bivalve) is commonly known as false garlic or crow poison. This dainty, perennial bulb can be found popping up in lawns or along roadsides. It is a native plant for Mississippi. I mow around these little guys until they are finished flowering.
When keying out plants, having a great resource is invaluable. Although I have not yet found a printed key for Mississippi, I can usually get to the “family” using my KEYS TO THE FLORA OF ARKANSAS. This book was written by one of my professors at the University of Arkansas, Dr. Edwin B. Smith. Additional resources for Mississippi native or wildflower identification can be found on USWildflowers.com (or your state).
If you happen to find an error in plant identification, let me know. I do try to verify all plants and plant names with at least three sources, but mistakes happen. I love to learn if you know something I’ve missed.
Another day of planting awaits! I put together a few more raised beds yesterday and need to get them planted today. Rain comin’ on Sunday! Happy SPRING ya’ll!
Keep on Growin’
The Garden Maiden
All images and text copyright 2014 The Garden Maiden