Today is Potting Day for the Sedgwick County Extension Master Gardeners. It starts in an hour, meaning I need to leave in about 30 minutes. With 30 minutes to fill, I decided to share photos of what my offerings look like in full bloom.
Larkspur. Yes, it's an annual. But, if you put it (in full sun or light shade) where you'd like it to reseed, it will come back reliably year after year. I'm not sure what the species of my variety of larkspur is, so I can't say for certain whether or not it is native. It certainly needs no extra care and seems to attract bees readily.
Aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius). I originally planted both 'October Skies' and 'Radon's Favorite', which have long since cross pollinated. The species is native. This somewhat washed out photo is from last fall, towards the end of our horrible heat and drought. It shows the aromatic aster underplanted with gaillardia along my front walkway. These plants got very little water all summer, yet still they bloomed beautifully. Word of caution: aromatic asters look like yellow-green mounds of nondescript shrubbery (about 2' tall and 3' wide) for much of the summer, but they are covered with purple blooms in the September-October time frame. They bloom for a long time and are some of the last flowers to come into bloom in my garden.
Wild bergamot/beebalm (Monarda fistulosa). I have seen this species growing in the middle of a hot, dry prairie in SW Iowa, so I am going to transplant some into a similar locale to see how it does. So far it's doing very well in my garden bed, where it also got almost no extra water last summer. The clump has expanded to a large (3') diameter over several years, but it has not "run" like many of the other Monardas do for me, so I do not consider it invasive or particularly aggressive.
Sand lovegrass (Eragrostis trichodes). This beautiful, relatively small prairie grass is wonderful, although it will seedreadily, so watch for seedlings nearby and pull them if you don't want a clump in that spot. Sand lovegrass tops out at about 2', with a light airy seed head, looking very much like a smaller, refined version of switchgrass. This photo was taken 3 months ago, in January.
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). Judging from the number of seedlings that I have under my "bird trees", this relative of elms is one of their most popular foods! It's reputation is that "everything eats it, but nothing kills it". The leaves are rather rough and ready, but the overall form of the tree is attractive, it's hardy, and (did I mention?) the birds love it! I do not, however, have a photo of it at this time.
Early, deep/bright purple iris. A passalong from my father-in-law, this iris has done exceptionally well for me.
So that's this year's line-up of passalongs. I'll be curious to see which ones are most popular!