Wednesday Vignette – Wine Cups


This week’s garden vignette is a dreadfully disorganized scramble that was slated for revamping – one of these days.

If ever.

Then it kept raining, raining and raining and everything grew into a heap of lush green foliage with flowers on top of the mess.

DSC_1554 There are two scramblers here – Wine Cups (Callirhoe involucrata) and Clematis ‘Rooguchi’. Most of the plants in this bed had been moved from my old gardens in Glen Ellyn years ago, so the area has functioned more as a holding area than a garden.

So THAT’S my excuse!

DSC_1544There is an Astrantia, a Galium called ‘Victor Jones’, a daylily I picked up on sale and underneath the mess, there HAD BEEN an Oakleaf Hydrangea.

I dare you to find it!


Another little garden is taking shape in the distance where a decrepit farm gate is getting replaced with a new one constructed of old barn wood.


I am rather fond of scramblers like Wine Cups for their ability to weave into their neighbors sometimes creating arresting combinations – or sometimes just confusing combinations as you never know what flower belongs to which leaf.

In the prairie it threads its way into Northern Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) which, by the way, is NOT a Honeysuckle, nor is it invasive. I have also let it scramble through Wine and Roses Weigela.


Wine Cups, also called Poppy Mallow, is a member of the mallow family (Hollyhock, and Hibiscus among others) easily recognized by the distinctive flowers.

Wine Cups is drought-tolerant, develops a significant taproot and produces bright magenta flowers all summer long. The color is always clear, never muddy as is common with magenta colored flowers. Native range includes Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas with scattered populations in Illinois.


Hey, I think I can spot the Hydrangea in this shot!

Flowering can be prolonged by removing old flowers before they set seed. Mine have never seeded. If yours have, please comment!


Hurry up – time to get this posted!

Whew – what a workout! I think I’ll take a nap now.



Wednesday Vignette — Pale Indian Plaintain

Set featured imageDSC_1543

Pale Indian Plantain (Cacalia atriplicifolia) is not something you are going to run across at your local garden center. It is a Midwestern native found in rocky woodlands, thickets and wet meadows throughout Illlinois, “conspicuous but uncommon” according to Swink and Wilhelm. I obtained a few from my friend Victor and scattered them about just to see what they would do, this being the only one to bloom this year.


What a lovely thing it has turned out to be, conspicuous to be sure, and not just in flower. Leaves and stems are thick and leathery. Leaves are blue-gray in color while the stems and petioles display a purple cast. Creamy white flowers exude an aroma like vanilla.


Forgive the blur — I haven’t quite mastered the macro feature of my camera.

A couple years back I rolled a hollow log into this bed that consists of nothing more than a jumble of Bittersweet clambering up an electric pole. There is an old gate and chair hiding in the jumble, along with Kitty.


Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis) and Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) are nearby companions. Alas, the snowplow almost demolished the old log last winter.


It appears that deadheading will extend the bloom. Right now I am content to watch the show.

Wednesday Vignette – Bottlebrush Times Two


Appropriately named Bottlebrush Grass sports long floral spikes that resemble a bottlebrush. I rarely see it used ornamentally except by native plant enthusiasts like myself. It is perfect for woodlands or to add textural interest to the summer shade garden. It is quite lovely backlit, as most grasses are, and the light color makes them stand out. Plants often form small colonies and I suspect they may seed about. Paired spikelets become straw colored when mature.


Bottlebrush Grass was assigned to a different genus in the past and referred to as Hystrix patula. Because this grass forms a naturally occurring hybrid with Virginia Wild Rye (Elymus virginicus), it was reassigned to the Elymus genus and is now known as Elymus hystrix.

Repetition of flower form with Bottlebrush Buckeye in the background was quite accidental but is much enjoyed.


Yes, I KNOW it’s Thursday! Alas, I traveled to Wisconsin but I still wanted to keep up the momentum of this “meme”.

Wednesday Vignette — Ozark Coneflower


I am charmed by the randomness of Clematis which attaches itself to anything within reach. This year – quite by accident—its companions are Echinacea paradoxa (Ozark Coneflower) and Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush Buckeye). The rose, on which it was supposed to consort with, does not want to cooperate.


Echinacea paradoxa is a rare native wildflower found in the Ozark region of Arkansas and Missouri. The paradox of this species is that it’s a yellow flowered member of the purple coneflower family. According to Prairie Moon Nursery, Echinaceas easily cross-pollinate. E. paradoxa is one of the parents used in hybridizing Coneflowers resulting in the bizarre colored cultivars that are so popular in the market these days. E. paradoxa is deer resistant, fragrant, and is not prone the Aster Yellows that plague E. purpurea.

This is my first post for Wednesday Vignette which was initiated by a fellow blogger who describes it as follows:

This meme celebrates combinations. The inspiration of the week can be foliage and flowers, but it can also consist of surrounding materials, colors and textures, or a combination of it all – anything that creates an arresting display in the world around us.

I plan on featuring plants that are native to the Midwest. Sounds easy, no? Let’s see if I can keep this up!

Lily Loving Llamas


Blame it all on this endless rain.


The ground is like butter when you put a shovel in it, making weeding, edging and digging holes a breeze.

Sort of.

No mosquitoes, few flies, temperatures in the 70’s. Am I really in Illinois? So instead of cleaning the bathroom I go outside and play.


My Burr Road client:


Coming home from a landscape job with a big honking clump of daylily had me wandering around looking for a place to dig another hole. Without a weedwacker, fences and corners can quickly get out of control. It didn’t take long to find a weedy mess that needed some taming.

I dragged an old piece of plywood out of the barn and made a hillbilly patio that I can easily mow over. The big chunk of daylily went into the corner with a Heptacodium branch that I dragged out of the burn pile.



All done – except of course for Dusty and Lefty who were watching all this activity with great interest.



Farewell Daylilies!

Dusty and Lefty are my two remaining llamas from our backpacking days. Each carried up to 60 lbs of food, tent, beer and other essentials into the wilds of Colorado and Wyoming in years gone by. The gear remains in the barn and Dusty and Lefty remain as resident pasture poodles.

1810 Pilot Knob

They have a good life.


The following day they came back for seconds – as if there was anything left! Some chicken wire next year may inhibit them from stretching their long necks through the fence. But this year I just have to shake my head and chuckle.


Now, readers, it’s your turn!

I’m getting more response from posting a picture of a skunk on Facebook than I do from this blog. Should I continue to post? Here are some topics I was thinking of writing about:

A recap of one of our old llama adventures:

1777 The top at last

Comparing different Echinaceas or Coneflowers for Illinois gardens:


Traveling to the southwest with my sister, Karen:


DSC_1410Flowers, flowers and more flowers:

DSC_1446So, what shall it be?

Should I continue posting?


An update to my original post. A month later and I’ve made some improvements — after scraping and four coats of paint an old window from our house in Glen Ellyn gets hung on the barn wall. The branch leaning in the corner is a dead Heptacodium that I dragged out of the burn pile. Chicken wire stapled to the fence keeps Lefty from reaching the Daylilies. Everything here is re-purposed junk and giveaways.

Thanks to all who encouraged me to continue this blog!