Flowering Dogwood

October 21st, 2020

cornus florida

This tree is considered by many to be the most beautiful of our native understory trees in North America. It is found throughout the eastern half of the United States from Maine to Florida, westward to Louisiana, and northward to Illinois.

physical description

This tree grows to approximately 40 feet tall and is often found as a substory species blooming from March through October depending on the latitude of the plant. It produces white or pink flowers which are actually the bracts of the stem. The flowers are very inconspicuous and produce large red seeds in the autumn. The green leaves turn a bright red during the late autumn, highlighting its presence.

habitat

The flowering dogwood is found in shade to partial shade areas in rich, well-drained soils.  It is cold tolerant. It grows well in thickets, near small waterways, and shaded deciduous woods.

uses

This is an excellent species to use as an accent plant in lawns, as an understory tree, or as an addition to a moist or watered area.

interesting information

The flowering dogwood is susceptible to many diseases, perhaps the primary one being fungal anthracnose, which started in New England many decades ago and which is now found throughout the Chattanooga area.  No preparation is known to cure this problem short of cutting down the dogwood.  Thankfully, the Reflection Riding Arboretum is now stocked with flowering dogwood that is resistant to this fungal contaminant.

Birds and butterflies are attracted to this species for very different reasons; butterflies are seeking nectar during the flowering period and birds, later in the year, are looking for the seeds.  

This species can be propagated from the seeds, but they must be either sown in the late autumn to germinate in the spring or they can be stratified at 41oF for 30 to 40 days in the refrigerator and then planted in the spring.

The flowering dogwood benefits from adding 2 – 4 inches of mulch from the stem to the drip line to encourage the roots and to reduce drying out of the roots.

Flowering dogwood (disease resistant) are grown and available in the nursery of Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.

Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

shop for native plants!

Our nursery is open for in-person shopping! Come by Tuesday-Friday 9:30-4:00 and Saturday 8:00-1:00. Your purchase supports our mission to reconnect people with nature. Members save 10% on all plant sales.

Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

Ashy Hydrangea

October 14th, 2020

Hydrangea cinerea

The ashy hydrangea is a bit weird – it has two types of flowers, kind of like sunflowers. The inner flowers are the fertile ones that are in the inner portion of the inflorescence. The outer ones are merely there to attract pollinators.

physical description

This member of their own family (Hydrangeaceae) is a native of the interior portions of the southeast and the mid-eastern United States. It is a woody shrub that grows to a maximum of about 3 feet tall. There may be more than 100 individual, small flowers on each inflorescence at the end of each branch.

habitat

Ashy hydrangea grows in upland and rock outcrop sites in our region. The flowers are mostly white or a creamy white color. It prefers nearly neutral or basic soils.  Flowering usually is found in late spring and lasts most of the summer. It can stand most sunlight conditions, from full sun to partial shade.

uses

This plant is used as an accent plant in gardens. It can be planted in forests with a reduced understory to bring attention to this area.

interesting information

The name hydrangea comes from the Greek words “hydro,” meaning water, and “angos,” meaning vessel, which together roughly translate to “water barrel.” This is because of the fact that hydrangeas are notorious for needing lots of water and they have cup-shaped flowers.

This species gets its name from the dense pubescent grayish hairs on the bottom of the leaves.

Bees, beetles, and wasps are often attracted to the flowers.

They are grown and available in the arboretum of the Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.

Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

shop for native plants!

Our nursery is open for in-person shopping! Come by Tuesday-Friday 9:30-4:00 and Saturday 8:00-1:00. Your purchase supports our mission to reconnect people with nature. Members save 10% on all plant sales.

Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

Yellow Giant Hyssop

October 8th, 2020

Agastache nepetoides

The yellow giant hyssop, a member of the mint (Lamiaceae) family, is a robust herbaceous perennial found throughout much of the eastern United States and Canada. As a member of the mint family, it has the characteristic square stem (in cross-section), but it does not have a particularly intense scent, a characteristic of the family. However, its leaves are quite bitter and, therefore, it is a deterrent to deer.

physical description

This plant achieves a height of between 4 and 7 feet tall. The greenish leaves are 6 inches long and about 3 inches wide with coarsely toothed margins. Each major stem and secondary stem terminate in a spike of multiple pale-yellow flowers. These flowers are first found in mid-summer and extend into early autumn. The spikes can last 1 - 2 months but the individual flowers are very short-lived.

habitat

The native yellow giant hyssop is found, and does best, in deciduous forests, thickets, woodland borders, and power line cleared spaces in wooded areas. It prefers partial sun to light shade and mesic to moist, loamy soils. It does not do well in dry or drought conditions. This species grows well in hardiness zones 4a to 9b. Chattanooga is in zone 7 and, thus, this species will do well here.

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uses

Since the separate, individual flowers are so small, the yellow giant hyssop is frequently planted for the green vegetation rather than for the flowers displayed.

This plant looks best in gardens and yards when planted in masses to actively show off the flower spikes.

interesting information

The yellow giant hyssop attracts many insects for pollination and honey bees use the nectar in the production of honey. It also attracts butterflies.

This species is endangered in some states (e.g., Connecticut) but there is no Federal protection for it.

Other species of hyssop has been used in England since the 15th century and in the Middle East since the 3rd century BC.

Yellow giant hyssop plants are grown and available in the arboretum of the Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.

Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

shop for native plants!

Our nursery is open for in-person shopping! Come by Tuesday-Friday 9:30-4:00 and Saturday 8:00-1:00. Your purchase supports our mission to reconnect people with nature. Members save 10% on all plant sales.

Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

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