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Posts Tagged ‘silphium perfoliatum’

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The sunny yellow flowers of the cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) look beautiful against a bright blue sky. The sky is the usual backdrop you see when admiring the flowers of this eastern North American native because they top long 8 foot tall stems!

The large leaves that climb the stalks are fused in pairs with the leaf opposite. They embrace the interesting square stalk, giving the impression of the plant stalk perforating the leaves, and form a little cup that captures rain water, thus giving the plant its common name.

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I’ve been a bit negligent about providing support for the heavy stalks, and the stems have splayed out from the centre.

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The result is a ring of sky-high yellow flowers that dip and swing in a swaying circle.

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When I walk by the circle of tall flowers, I am always reminded of a painting by Matisse titled Dance. (Photo Wikipedia)

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Recently, while I was sitting in the garden reading, I was tickled to spot this goldfinch taking advantage of the water-capturing quality of the leaves that gives the plant its name. The photo is a bit soft-focus because it was shot through screening.

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Wow, the middle of August! Hard to believe, although we can’t complain that we haven’t had plenty of hot summer weather this year. My garden is at its peak in July, when the 140 varieties of daylilies are in bloom. There are just a few late daylilies blooming their last blooms now.

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Here’s Flaming Wildfire, so brilliant and intense it seems to glow. And below is Cameroons, a 1984 Munson introduction, showing off the washed eye pattern shared by many of the Munsons.

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By August, there are hints of autumn as the ornamental grasses begin to put out their seed heads and the bright gold of rudbeckias dominates.

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Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’ is in full bloom. Named Perennial of the Year way back in 1999, it is a very reliable standard for the late summer garden.

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Here’s Goldstrum anchoring a planting with its taller cousin, Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstonne’ (Autumn Sun). Behind Herbstonne is the very tall grass Miscanthus giganteus, Giant Maiden Grass. To the left of Herbstonne is a tall switchgrass, Panicum virgatum ‘Thundercloud’. Between the Goldstrum clumps you can see the reddish seedheads of Redhead Fountain Grass (Pennisetum ‘Redhead’). At the right of the photo are stems of Willow-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus salicifolium), which has yet to bloom.

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My Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) has really matured this year and is putting on a terrific display. Some of the stems are drooping, which allows you to see visiting pollinators. The sprays of yellow flowers are mostly held so high, well above my head, that it is hard to admire insect activity up there.

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Silphium is a native plant and quite appreciated by pollinators.

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This spring, I split a clump of Lemon Queen sunflower (Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’), and thought it would take a year or two for the new clump to take hold. However, it apparently loves its new home and the hot summer we’ve experienced, and has filled out enthusiastically. Here’s the newly-established clump, just coming into bloom, embracing a bird house post with Phantom Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium ‘Phantom’) in the foreground.

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Another brilliant gold bloomer is Golden Dwarf Goldenrod (Solidago ‘Golden Dwarf’). It has taken me a while to get used to seeing goldenrod in the garden. It is a prolific native wildflower (aka weed) in these parts, and I have had to suppress an urge to yank it out of the garden every time I pass! It is actually quite well-behaved and its brilliant yellow is set off by an assortment of pink and purple phlox plants.

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Here’s a newer phlox, just introduced to the garden last year. In addition to pretty flowers, Phlox paniculata ‘Nora Leigh’ offers interesting variegated foliage.

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Phlox produces a wonderful blaze of colour that sets off other perennials beautifully. Here’s a hollyhock backed with phlox.

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And here’s Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ set off by phlox.

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Geranium ‘Rozanne’ was chosen as Perennial of the Year in 2008 and is a deserving winner. It has proved drought resistant and hardy, and blooms over a long period with no attention from the gardener. Here’s Rozanne tumbling over the edge of a path.

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Kniphofia ‘Shining Sceptre’ was new this spring. It settled in well and wasn’t disturbed by drought conditions. I was a bit surprised and pleased to see this attractive preview of the future clump of sceptres I’m hoping for. This winter will be its first test for hardiness.

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Most of the echinaceas have been in bloom for a while, but Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’ is just hitting its stride now.

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I’m very fond of the agastaches, mostly because they are beloved by pollinators of every stripe. Unfortunately, I haven’t found many of the varieties I’ve tried to be very hardy here. The sturdiest has been Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, shown here with Coreopsis ‘Sweet Dreams’ in the foreground and Echinacea ‘Prima Donna’ to the left.

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They’re not flowers, but I couldn’t resist including the showy berries of this pokeweed (Phytolacca acinosa).

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I don’t really think of hostas as flowering plants, but their wands of mauve or white flowers can be quite attractive. Here’s a clump of a small, unidentified hosta with violet blooms, backed by Hosta ‘Ryan’s Big One’, with an hydrangea bush in the background.

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Thank you for visiting the Willow House garden! If you would like to tour other gardens, visit May Dreams Gardens for more August Bloom Day links.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe) visiting Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’.

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The garden is beginning to wind down from the height of its July glory into its autumnal display. It is still attracting plenty of visitors. When I walked through the garden this weekend, it was alive with butterflies. The summer drought has made for a difficult growing season, but it seems to have been good for butterflies. There were white Cabbage butterflies and some Monarchs and Viceroys, but mostly there were Painted Ladies. Every flower was decorated with one of these beauties and I couldn’t resist photographing a sampling to share here.

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Painted Ladies (Vanessa cardui) are cosmopolitans. They can be found across the continent and throughout much of the world. Their huge range includes Europe, Asia and Africa as well as North America.

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They are not winter-hardy, and most northern residents perish. In the spring, Painted Ladies from southern areas and Mexico fly north on warm spring breezes and recolonize much of North America by summer.

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Painted Ladies nectar at a wide variety of plants, but particularly enjoy thisles. They are also adaptable in their choice of host plants for young caterpillars.

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Here is a selection of photographs of Painted Ladies visiting Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’, Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum), Persicaria polymorpha, Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstonne”, hydrangea, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum, and Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp).

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Here’s Remy, sitting by the Giant Maiden Grass (Miscanthus giganteus). Remy is about 18 inches tall. The Giant Maiden Grass is 9 feet! In June, the garden is dominated by the Giant Fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorphus), which I wrote about in a post entitled Another Summer in the Garden, linked here. But by July, it has been overtaken by other high-risers now hitting their stride. Foremost amongst these is this huge grass, and it isn’t done yet. It has its seed stalks to top off its nine feet still to come. I purchased this grass in the fall of 2010, so this is just its second summer in the garden. You can see how it looked that first fall in my post Tucked Into Bed. It’s sure come a long way since then!

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Just down from the Giant Maiden Grass is this Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum). It’s a native of eastern North America. It is topping out this year at 7 1/2 feet as it starts blooming. The large leaves are fused in pairs with the leaf opposite, embracing the interesting square stalk, giving the impression of the plant stalk perforating the leaves. The leaves form a little cup that captures rain water and gives the plant its common name.

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Coming in at a mere 6 feet, the Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima) falls far short of some of its neighbours, but it is a very cool plant. When I first saw this rudbeckia, a member of the black-eyed susan family, in a nursery, I thought it had been mislabelled. It sure doesn’t look like other black-eyed susans.

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Its large, glaucous leaves are nothing like typical rudbeckia leaves. Maxima is native to the southern states, but has so far been hardy here in Eastern Ontario. This is its third year in the garden. It’s flowers, held high on long, stately stems, are quite attractive. This one has attracted a little white crab spider.

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