Thursday, June 15, 2006

Garden Wildflowers

In case you haven't already guessed, I'm an enthusiast for growing native wild flowers in local gardens. It can be a problem obtaining them, however. At this time of year, Watters carries some natives, primarily the shrubbier specimens, but also some penstemons and other flowering plants.

For the best selection of high country wild flowers, however, drive up I-17 to Flagstaff Native Plant and Seed. Most of the plants they carry will survive at our lower elevation (5200 ft. vs. Flag's 7000.)

A good native for the Prescott landscape is bear grass, which really should take the place of pampas grass all over town. It's in bloom right now among the granites out Iron Springs Road (on the right hand side as you head out of town), along western- most Gurley, and up Coronado. This plant was photographed by a friend; it is a feature of his garden.

The seed heads are even showier than the flowers. Besides, if our world comes to an end, you could always grind the seeds into a flour and weave baskets or shoes from the leaves, Indian-style.

And don't worry about bear grass taking over. It will, but the process takes some 50 or so year for this slow growing plant.

The commercial nursery folk have finally discovered just how spectacular native milkweed plants can be. The butterfly weed above is growing out of the rocks near Gurley Place. I have one, too, which is happy on my hillside.

This is the first of the asclepias to be gentrified (note that you'll never see the term "milkweed" in a garden catalog -- unless it is a highly specialized offering for butterfly fanciers!) The butterfly weeds in these parts are a rich buttery yellow. In the Midwest, they are more of a red orange.

Back in the Midwest many years ago, I tamed not only the Chicago- namesake wild onion, but also a common milkweed, which has huge leaves and a very pretty ball of dusty pink flowerettes. That was the year I got a ticket from an officious city minion for having broken the weed ordinance!

In these parts, you'll find butterfly weed out at Granite Basin Lake, uphill from the concrete picnic tables ... along Iron Springs Road (I saw one today) ... and, if you're up to a trip, the very very best displays of all are along the West Fork trail in Oak Creek Canyon.

Among other milkweeds in these parts are antelope horns and an interesting vining milkweed, which I first saw along the Agua Fria River at Badger Springs.

You wouldn't think that anything as completely adapted to to the high desert as penstemon barbatus would be so happy potted and watered, but this plant of mine has prospered. It is one of two red penstemons found in the Prescott area -- and one of eight penstemon varieties I've located growing wild between the Bradshaws and the Upper Verde River. But more about these wonderful humming bird flowers later, when I have the necessary time and references.!


Karen of Scottsdale said...

Weeds can be so pretty!

Granny J said...

As the wise old woman said, your weed is my wild flower!

Granny J

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