Sunday, April 24, 2022

Scarlet Flax, Linum grandiflorum, Spectacular!

Scarlet flax, Linum grandiflorum, flax family Linaceae, is a short plant with bright red flowers. I have admired it for years; last year I planted it. 

scarlet flax, Linum grandiflorum
scarlet flax, Linum grandiflorum 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Yard Plants in Monterey, California

I was in Monterey, California this week. I walked residential streets oogling the plants. Exotic plants with huge cascades of flowers, from places like Australia and South Africa. In full flower in April. And then I realized what I wasn't seeing: grass lawns.

Pride of Madeira, Echium candicans
Pride of Madeira, Echium candicans

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Native Plants for Wildlife: How to Know a Plant is Native?

As I wrote two weeks ago (link), I'm trying to support birds by growing plants that produce insects for them to eat. The evidence is strong that native plants will support the insects that live around us and that most exotic plants will not. 

BUT, to feature native plants in my yard, I have to know what plants are native. Or, alternatively,  know which of the plants in my yard are not native. That is suprisingly hard. 

garden flowers

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Plant Story:Trumpet Creeper, Campsis radicans

Trumpet creeper, also called trumpet vine, Campsis radicans (catalpa family, Bignoniaceae) has for years been one of my favorite plants. The flowers are spectacularl: large red tubes, classical hummingbird-pollinated shape. The tropics has many plants like this, but in New York and Ohio, trumpet vine stood out. In those areas, it was easy to recognize. Add to the red flowers, long leaves with five or more paired leaflets and one more leaflet at the tip and a woody base, and you see how I knew it when I saw it. And it had an easy common name, trumpet creeper, obvious and descriptive. 

trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans

This big plant is native to the southeastern United States where it is a magnet for ruby-throated hummingbirds, but also for long-tongued native bees and moths. It attracts other flower visitors, like smaller bees, and perhaps they sometimes pollinate. For bees getting nectar is a project since they have to climb into each flower, not just hover in front of it like a hummingbird. The nectar is so good that both the Northern Oriole and Orchard Oriole feed from the flowers.