Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hardy flowers

In spite of the dry weather this year (the State drought monitoring committee has just declared five Upstate SC counties to be in 'extreme drought' -- the worst category), there are still tough flowers in the garden.

Once established, blazing stars (Liatris species) are remarkably adapted to drought and clay soil. We have a number of native species here, but the most widely grown (by me, too) is a prairie species, Liatris spicata. I've had good luck with seemingly desiccated corms from big box stores and a local grocery store, first grown in pots, and then transplanted to the garden.

By the time they have several stems, they also have deep roots, allowing them to weather long dry spells with a minimum of fuss. With a bit of morning or afternoon shade, they do particularly well in dry weather; in decent rainy times, they can become huge.

This New England Aster ('Purple Dome') is flowering now in a container, a couple of months ahead of its normal flowering time.

Perhaps the dry soil and heat has triggered early flowering, but it's lovely, regardless.

And a tough, hairy-stemmed sunflower, Helianthus hirsutus, is just beginning to flower in the front meadow.

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