Linaria purpurea – Bestowing some love on an underrated North American native perennial plant

Linaria purpurea is a hardy perennial. This lovely native plant displays signs of life in my garden very early in spring. Its hardiness level is zone 3 USDA, or zone 4 if you’re in Canada.

An easy to grow specimen, I enjoy it because of the blooms that look like dainty miniature snapdragons.  The ‘wispy-ness’ of the whole plant, along with foliage that makes it appear much more delicate than it actually is, sways disarmingly in a warm summer breeze!

As an upright self-seeding perennial, every year I am able to collect literally hundreds of seeds from this plant. Having said that, Linaria doesn’t spread in what some may call a nasty way, like Phytostegia for example, as purple toadflax is easy to remove if they start sprouting where they’re not wanted.

The bees and butterflies are very attracted to Linaria. I don’t think I’ve ever viewed this plant during its tenure without some type of pollinator making a visit!  What really makes me happy though is that the Deer never graze upon them, even though there are other plants right beside them that are often chomped upon, hostas and a giant blue Lobelia, for example.

This is one plant that will bloom for months. The flowers begin in early July and continue until frost, and works well in combination with andy other plant material.

Seeds should be sown at approximately ½’”depth, and spaced about 4” apart. The plant forms little clumps which are easily divided, placed in other spots of your garden, or shared with friends!

The location where it seems quite happy in my garden is a sunny spot with dappled shade, however it enjoys full sun or alternatively, even a deeper shady local.

Linaria grows to 36″ and the clumps are about 24″ wide. It is drought tolerant, too. Methinks it’s an underrated plant, maybe due to its affinity to its roadside relative, ‘butter and eggs’, but imho, this lovely taller purple variety is well deserving of a spot in any garden.

Happy gardening!

Butterflies flutter by… musings on these remarkable creatures

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Metamorphosis has always been the greatest symbol of change for poets and artists. Imagine that you could be a caterpillar one moment and a butterfly the next.” ~ Louie Schwartzberg

And, one more quote to offer.. my personal favourite because as a child, I thought butterflies were floating flowers.

“Butterflies… flowers that fly and all but sing.” ~ Robert Frost

There have been times in my life where I’ve felt I may have been trapped in a cocoon.  Many of you may have felt like this, too. Some times this may have been self-imposed, and other times it may have been situations or circumstances beyond our control.

One thing I’ve learned to do during times like these is to call on the spirit of the butterfly.

They emerge from their original caterpillar state, through that cocoon and towards one glorious transformation! Maybe that’s why these creatures fascinate us so.

Perhaps it’s because we humans learn, grow and evolve as we go along, not unlike this marvelous creature. In any case, I feel all animals on this planet offer lessons to teach if we take the time to listen.

 

In appreciation of spring – poets and portals

The beginning of T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Waste Land,” opens with “April is the cruellest month…”

Truly, I couldn’t agree more with this assessment.

Here in Ontario, we’ve sampled just about the worst role of every season during this one month alone. April’s weather forecasts were not on their best behaviour, offering only a few days taste of the tantalizing weather yet to come.

In my neck of the woods, the temps dropped overnight and it actually snowed. Thankfully a light dusting was all we received and most has now dissipated.

In any case, most poems about spring are uplifting,  giving us hope for rejuvenation and renewal in our own lives and our gardens. These written words are like doors opening to better times ahead… an optimistic tête-à-tête, or a literary sightseeing adventure, taking us from death towards the newness and rebirth of spring.

These portals are waiting to be cracked opened by the reader. It seems that doors and books have much in common! One may encounter something entirely more pleasant on the other side if the door handle is turned or the cover flipped.

With that in mind, I stumbled upon (a snippet of) a poem like that only this morning while perusing Pinterest.

Intrigued, I tracked down the rest, enjoying the lovely imagery offered, that in my mind sum up the best parts of spring!


“April Weather” by Lizette Woodworth Reese 

From – A Handful of Lavender (1891)

Oh, hush, my heart, and take thine ease,

For here is April weather!

The daffodils beneath the trees

Are all a-row together.

 

The thrush is back with his old note;

The scarlet tulip is blowing;

And white – ay, white as my love’s throat –

The dogwood boughs are growing.

 

The lilac bush is sweet again;

Down every wind that passes,

Fly flakes from hedgerow and from lane;

The bees are in the grasses.

 

A Grief goes out, and Joy comes in,

And Care us but a feather;

And every lad his love can win,

For here is April weather.


Links with further reading and information about the author: