Spring is here and it is finally warming up in my Northern Kentucky neighborhood. Many of the flowering ornamentals took a beating from the string of hard freezes we suffered, but from here on out I think everything will be growing fine! This will be my first weekend in the garden this season and I'm celebrating by planting a new northern red oak tree - I hope you have fun plans for your weekend too. Please visit Floridata often, tell your friends about us and be good and grow. Jack
Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis) is a large herbaceous perennial that is native to eastern United States, mainly east of the Appalachians, from Massachusetts to northern Florida. It blooms in late summer, producing large purple flower clusters that make it easy to spot growing in ditches and other moist soils from Zones 5 to 9. Read the profile now » and consider planting ironweed in your garden where it will attract birds and butterflies.
These beautiful and semi-tasty fruits are the reason why the Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) is considered a noxious weed in many states. Birds devour the fruit and then b-bomb the seeds all over the place where many germinate and disrupt the native plant populations. Other members of this genus are in cultivation, one is edible and the other very ornamental. Both are potentially invasive in certain climates so check locally before planting these too:
Among our Plant Profiles is that of the water chestnut (Pachira aquatica) which produces those crunchy white disks found in certain Chinese dishes. Even if you can't grow these where you garden you might enjoy reading about these familiar fruits and foods. Some like water chestnut can even be grown indoors - young water chestnut plants are sold as "lucky money trees". As you browse Floridata's Plant List you'll discover we have profiles of many unusual and exotic fruits - plants that you may not grow but that are fun to know. Here is a sample:
The showy foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) are hardy perennials that thrive in partial shade. The brilliant blossoms of pink, purple, magenta, yellow and white brighten low-light areas from late spring to early summer. Here's some links to more spring flowering shade tolerant flowers to consider for your garden:
I spied my first bunch of grape hyacinths grape hyacinths blooming on the first day of spring and, despite the cold snap, even a couple of early tulips were blooming already. Read Ray's articles about The Daffodils and history of The Tulips then check out Floridata's profiles of these and other spring-blooming bulbs:
The Hawaiian Islands are home to an array of native plant species that has attracted the attention of botanists, naturalists, horticulturists and world travelers ever since Europeans first visited the islands near the end of the 18th century. Read more »
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Prostrate blue violet (Viola walteri) is a small plant even by violet standards, less than 3 in (8 cm) tall. The flowers are very similar to those of the common violet (Viola sororia). Prostrate blue violet is a fine ground cover for naturalizing in a moist, semi-shady woodland setting. Under good conditions it will expand by runners and form an attractive groundcover network of silvery-green foliage. This pretty little American wildflower grows in USDA Zones 6 - 9. Read the profile »
Read about other North American wildflowers profiled on Floridata:
Steve has chayote squash (Sechium edule) vines that grow way up into the branches of nearby trees. He sent this pictures of an especially attractive and easy-to-peal individual from last year's chayote crop. Click here to download a large version of this stunning squash.
Here are a few other unusual edibles you might find in Steve's vegetable garden:
Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis indica) is a small evergreen shrub with attractive purple fruits is planted to create low hedges, borders and large scale ground covers. It's drought tolerant and easy to keep neat and compact. Unfortunately the deer like this shrub too - they eat the all of the foliage every winter. I wouldn't bother planting it if you share your neighborhood with deer (and who doesn't?) Click here for more on this handy little shrub for deer-free landscapes in Zones 8-11 .
It's a weed and it's all over every one's lawn - but many will admit that the dandelion's (Taraxacum officinale) fluffy seed puffball is beautiful and fun to blow apart. Medicinally this plant, when made into tea, in a short time, will make you pee! Here are a few more interesting species that have medicinal properties:
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