Joe Pye Weed – a favourite native plant for bees, butterflies, and me!

Joe Pye Weed, aka Eupatorium maculatum, (or in some circles, Eutrochium), is a big favourite with bees, butterflies, and me!

Every year it seems, nature offers me a new favourite flower, perhaps one I’ve previously known about but overlooked. These beautiful natives, despite having the word ‘weed’ in their name, should not be overlooked by gardeners.

The bright pink to mauve flowers offer food to pollinators from July through late September.  A native plant, this lovely, tall specimen thrives in full sun to light shade.

It prefers moist soil, but will tolerate a drier spot if it’s watered well enough in the beginning, so their roots can grow deep enough and therefore not dry out too quickly.

Give them optimum conditions, they’ll grow up to 6 feet tall in Zones 4 through 8.

Their preferred habitat includes moist meadows, or the banks along a stream or pond. Plant them in your butterfly/pollinator garden, or a slightly damp spot on your property.

(If you’re smitten with these flowers like I am, just an FYI that I’ll have some seeds from this lovely plant listed in my Etsy shop over the next day or so.)

Thank you!

Sweet Peas are ‘Scentsational’ Flowers

This lovely climber is an old time favourite.

Sweet Peas have been cultivated, at least since the 17th century, were immensely popular during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and are native to the eastern Mediterranean region.

Every year I grow a few in my garden, if only for an occasional pick-me-up from a snootfull of their heavenly fragrance. ūüôā

If I could bottle the scent of Lathyrus odoratus to enjoy all winter, you can bet I would!

If like me, you like to get the jump on spring, I recommend preparing the ground this time of year for next year’s planting. Top dress the garden, and dig in some sheep manure, which helps to draw roots down deeper in the ground, resulting in less watering overall, happier seedlings, and healthier plants.

Sweet Pea flowers come in many shades. This includes purple, pink, blue, white, and bi-colours, too. Pollinators enjoy the flowers, and I am able to enjoy the Hummingbirds and bees when they visit and pollinate the sweet peas for me.

Sweet Peas are a great cut flower, and perfect for bridal bouquets.

I worked as a floral designer at a wonderful flower shop in Toronto, and a few days before I was married, one of our wholesale flower reps gave me a bunch of these lovelies as a wedding gift.¬† As my wedding bouquet was already created, I took them instead to my grandmother’s grave and left them there for her. A token of how much she would be missed… But I digress!

A couple of years ago, I broke down and bought a perennial sweet pea plant, Lathyrus latifolius.

A vigorous climber, it seemed very happy to attach itself to the obelisk my better half built for me. It’s very hardy in this zone 4 of Ontario, and a prolific bloomer, too. This year it grew taller and thicker than last, which as a gardener, was good to see!

I did note however, that annual sweet peas have a much stronger scent than the perennial version. Of course that might just be the variety I’m growing, but in any case, both are beautiful, and very welcome in my garden!

It is worth mentioning that ornamental sweet peas can be toxic if ingested, so don’t eat them!

They’re not edible like their Pea cousins, Pisum sativum, which by the way have similar flowers, but the bonus of edibles for dinner!

Or, if you’re like me, eaten directly from the plant while standing next to them in the garden. ūüėČ

Of interest, within the language of flowers, the Sweet Pea means “Everlasting, or delicate pleasures”, and, along with the daisy, they’re the birth month flower for April.

House and Garden – Mayflower, ca 1902

Phalaenopsis orchid flowering on Wordless Wednesday

Lithops – Nature’s living stones

Lithops, also known as living or flowering stones, are native to the dry regions of South Africa.

In their natural environment, Lithops receive less than 2 inches of rainfall per month throughout the entire year. They could not survive these harsh regions if not for their capacity to store water.

Because these succulents survive under such arid conditions, watering should be minimal and infrequent.

They are dormant during the summer so too much water will cause them to rot. I wouldn’t recommend planting them in an enclosed terrarium either as they will surely die a quick death!

They are ideal houseplants as long as there is adequate light. As houseplants, they require at least 3 hours of direct sunlight. Southern exposure is best.

Lovely in an open table top dish garden, group a few together, add sand, pebbles, and even seashells to mimic their natural environment.

 

Cacti, succulents, and other houseplants basking in spring sunshine – Wordless Wednesday