Narcissus, backed by bluebonnets and coreopsis – Rockport City Cemetery
Wildflowers are the primary spring attraction at the Rockport City Cemetery, but there can be surprises.
Any non-wild flowers there usually are non-living as well: made of plastic or silk. This year, a few non-native but entirely alive flowers suggested the work of a human hand. They added a different kind of beauty to the scene, and may have been planted in memory of a family member or friend who was especially fond of them.
Bud of Leucojum aestivum, or summer snowflake
I was delighted to find examples of Leucojum aestivum, the so-called summer snowflake. I’ve often seen photos of the flower from England or our northeastern states, but until this trip, I’d seen only one actual flower: an apparent escapee from a garden at a nearby historic plantation.
The small, graceful flowers are delightful. I was especially taken with the shape of the stamens, which looked to me like bits of tubular pasta. The flowers are pollinated by bees, and a closer look at the pollen scattered about on the inside of this flower suggests that it’s been visited by at least one very busy bee.
A little online exploration revealed that these plants will naturalize very well in parts of our state. If we can’t have snow, at least we can have snowflakes.
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For a great look at snowdrops, see this post from Pete Hillman.
Louisiana canna (Canna glauca) ~ Pineywoods Native Plant Center, Nacogdoches
With its feet firmly planted in the water, its long, slender leaves arrayed around a sturdy stalk, and its gently curving petals, the plant’s appearance first suggested an iris: a beautiful if somewhat puzzling version of the irises native to Texas.
In fact, I’d come across Canna glauca, a member of the Canna family native to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina in the United States. The plant favors a wet environment, and often goes by the names water canna, or Louisiana canna. The specific epithet glauca refers to its blue-green leaves.
I’ve never been a fan of so-called canna lilies, which aren’t lilies at all, but members of a genus which originated in tropical areas of the Americas before being introduced into other parts of the world. But C. glauca, less frowsy than many canna cultivars, caught my eye with its color and simpler form.
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Buttonbush flowers and developing seed head
The children’s game called “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?” isn’t complicated. One child, carrying a hidden button, appears to transfer it into the waiting hands of every other child standing or sitting in a circle. Then, everyone tries to guess who actually received the button.
The flowers of buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis ) wouldn’t do so well for the game; they’re both too large and too delicate. Still, they’re as attractive as the plant is useful. Commonly found in wet open areas, low woods, thickets, swamps, river bottoms and stream or pond edges, buttonbush can live in up to 2 feet of water. This combination of blooming flowers and developing seed head was perched at the edge of a small lake near the Watson Rare Plant Preserve in east Texas; one of my own feet was planted in the water as I took the photo.
Though tolerant of shade, buttonbush blooms most profusely in full sun. The pincushion-like flowers — actually one-inch round ball-like clusters of white blooms — provide nectar for a variety of bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, and beetles, and an assortment of birds are known to visit. Its seeds are favored by waterfowl, and some mammals feed on its twigs.
Widely distributed across the eastern half of the United States, this easy-to-grow native makes a fine addition to gardens and landscapes where moist to wet conditions prevail, although some have found it capable of adapting to drier areas. Its fruits, deep red and sometimes glossy, will last throughout the fall.
Pond Creek Wildlife Management Area ~ Northwest Arkansas
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