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!

Tiarella cordifola, aka foamflower – An Ontario native woodland plant

Tiarella cordifolia’s common name here in Ontario is the foam flower.

T. cordifolia grows to a height of 6 – 8 inches. This little native woodland plant offers soft green leaves reminiscent of a geranium, and like many native groundcovers, it’s not invasive.

The lovely, dainty white flowers certainly suit its name! Tiarella is Greek for ‘little tiara’.

Upon closer inspection, the wee blossoms look like a ton of tiny orchids and imho, the perfect flower to compliment any forest fairy garden!

Pollinators love it, possibly because not much else is blooming yet! As many perennials are slow to show themselves due to spring appearing rather late this year, Tiarella flowers are a welcome sight to bees, gardeners, and nature lovers alike!

For more information on this and other flowers, visit Gutenberg Project’s site offering a free e-book from 1917,  ‘Wild Flowers Worth Knowing’ by Neltje Blanchan

Chelone lyonii, Pink turtle head – A lovely native species offering autumn blooms

The beautiful Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’ also goes by the common name of pink turtlehead. It blooms from July straight through to October, so it’s a terrific addition to any garden.

Chelone comes from the Greek word meaning tortoise because each blossom obviously resembles, without too much imagination, a turtle’s head.

A great perennial for late summer colour that doesn’t much like excessive heat, it will tolerate full sun if its feet are kept cool. The flowers are primarily pollinated by bees, but the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will often visit them as well. The foliage of this plant is known to be bitter so it’s avoided by Deer and other herbivores. In my own experience the deer have yet to touch the Chelone, so this species is something to cheer about by any rural gardener!

Lucky to have this plant in my garden due to a lovely share from another local gardener, in the six or so years since it’s established, the plant has multiplied from one single flowering stem into more than a dozen. With its strong stems, the clump doesn’t flop over after a rainstorm.

It’s worth noting that there’s a white flowering species called Chelone glabra that I’d like to get my hands on! A host plant for the endangered Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly, and like their pink cousin they too will thrive in damp locations and shady glades.

It’s my hope to collect many seeds this year. I’ll be able to offer them online at my Etsy shop. The pollinators did their jobs well, seed heads are forming, and with a little luck the mild weather we’re currently experiencing means they’ll ripen before the first hard frost. Then I can get my hands on some! Culture/Info:

  • Foliage: Herbaceous smooth-textured.
  • Requires consistently moist soil.
  • Propagation Methods: By dividing the root-ball or from seed.
  • Direct sow outdoors in fall or early spring.
  • Stratify seeds if sowing indoors.
  • Seed Collecting: Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds.
  • Non-patented native perennial
  • Height: 24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Thanks for visiting. Happy Autumn! : )