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Gil Nelson, wildflower expert and author
Gil Nelson will lead a walk June 2

Wildflower Surprises
by Ginny Stibolt

Did you know that we have our own locally indigenous wildflower located in four counties here in northeast Florida?  William Bartram collected it and called it Ixia coelestina.  Botanists have decided that its scientific name should be Calydorea coelestina, so the common name is now Bartram's Ixia.  

In the iris family, this small flower thrives in fire managed pine forests.   The flowers open at sunrise and last about three hours. The species is rare, but not currently threatened and you have a chance to see it on June 2, 2007.

Gil Nelson, author of Trees of Florida, Ferns of Florida, Florida's Best Native Landscape Plants, and many more will lead an early morning search for ixias in Jennings Forest in Clay County. The Ixia Chapter of The Florida Native Plant Society invites you to join us. There's no charge, but show up at 6:30 am sharp and wear good walking shoes.

Bartam's Ixia

There's more information and a map on The Ixia Chapter's website; Bookmark it, there are always field trips, workshops, gardenfests, and other doings. 

Orchids in My Lawn 

I will be going on the field trip to Jennings Forest, but I can find wildflowers in my lawn.  In these low water months when the lawn is hardly growing, and we're not mowing, I've found a bunch of ladies tresses (Spiranthes spp) poking up from the grass.

The little orchid flowers spiral up the stem, which all together make a nice show.  The roots are fleshy tubers which increases the likelihood of their surviving the transplant process.  That's a good thing, because in the process of extracting them from the St. Augustine, most of the soil was knocked from their roots.  

Ladies in waiting...  Photo by Stibolt

Ladies tresses, unlike Bartram's Ixia, are common and widespread, but that does not make them any less attractive.  The other day I decided to transplant some of these beauties into garden and meadow areas so they won't get whacked off the next time the John Deere visits.  I thought there would be five or six, but once I got going, I found more than two dozen.  

There's another fall and winter blooming orchid that I look forward to, the lawn orchid (Zeuxine strateumatica).  While the ladies tresses are native, the lawn orchid is from Asia.  I have a photo on my meadow page.

When you let your landscape go wild, you just may find surprising wildflowers of your own.

Ginny Stibolt would like to hear from readers who have suggestions and questions. After all, there are more than a few transplanted gardeners here in northeast Florida trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t in planting zone 8/9. You may contact her or read extra details on her articles and other information posted on her website:

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