It's summertime! Summer solstice arrives in the Northern Hemisphere this year at 6:07 AM on Thursday. Please visit Floridata often, bring your friends and be good and grow. Jack
Gray birch (Betula populifolia) is a small to medium size tree that is a native of northeastern North America. It is a pioneer species that grows in old fields and distrubed lands where it sometimes forms thickets. This is a nice graceful little tree for a specimen planting in small yards in USDA Zones 3-6. Though it is fast-growing, it has a life span of less than 30 years. Read Floridata's gray birch profile now»
Feathered amaranth Celosia spp.) joins other sun-lovers to create a spectacular bed that will remain bright and colorful all season long. The showy leaves of coleus (Coleus x hybridus) provide background while low growing white wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri) fills out the space in front of the celosia. More flowers for sunny beds:
The dancing ladies ginger (Globba winitii) in my garden down in North Florida blooms at this time of year. It's really pretty with colorful dangly blossoms that "dance" in the breeze and grows well in shady situations. Member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae, are largely tropical and sub-tropical species and many like these in the following list we enjoy in our gardens and in our food:
The butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) is a long-time garden staple whose cultivars come in a range of colors from white to pink to purple - and they really are attractive to many kinds of butterflies. However the species is an invasive pest in some regions so check locally to determine if it's OK to plant where you live. We've added this warning to our Profile. Here are a few more flowers that butterflies visit at this time of year:
After several attempts, I finally grew my first hollyhock (Alcea rosea) flowers last summer. In late June the pretty white double-flowered hollyhock began producing big beautiful blossoms along four feet of towering stem. The buds at the bottom of the stalk opened first, with blooming proceeding upward over a several week period. Click to download a large (800x600 px) version of this image.
Right beside the white hollyhock (Alcea rosea), I planted a single-flowered black one. Actually the flowers are more dark purple than black but as they open they really do look (almost) black - whatever the color, it is very striking plant. Click to download a large (800x600 px) version. Here's a list of a few more perennial summer favorite flowers:
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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Both the southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides) and the northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) trees grow where I am in Northern Kentucky. The flowers of the two species are similar but with the northern blossoms being more elongated with a brownish splotch in the center. The both finished blooming last week and both are beautiful. Click to download a large version (800x600) of the northern catalpa flowers for a closer look. Download a southern catalpa flower for comparison.
The mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) trees are blooming around this time of year. It's not the kind of tree I'd intentionally plant in my yard but I enjoy watching them bloom at this time of year - especially since the big one in my front yard suddenly died several years a go (they're subject to certain diseases in North Florida).
The pipestems (Agarista populifolia) around my house in North Florida are blooming now producing dangling rows of inverted urn-shaped flowers. This handsome evergreen shrub is a native of the southeastern United States where it inhabits shady places with moist soils. Happily it will succeed in dry, crappy sandy soils too which is another reason that I like to grow it.
The false plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) started blooming this week. This low growing perennial is every bit as pretty as the true plumbago (Plumbago auriculata ) and and is much hardier (it grows in USDA Zones 5-9). Click to download a large (800x600) version of this blue beauty for your desktop. More species to use for large-scale groundcover:
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:
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