My philosophy in the Automatic Garden is to get plants to reproduce on their own either by seed or roots. I have been trying to get Bartram’s Oenothera grandiflora Evening Primrose to naturalize for years. I have been sowing the seeds in four different locations hoping for some success.
The Evening Primrose has finally started some plants by seed. Instead of doing it in the perfectly fine garden bed, all the seeds germinated in the grass close to the bed. I was glad I spotted the plants before the mower got to them. They have been transplanted, but the Evening Primroses would have a better chance if they did not have to be moved.
William Bartram’s Oenothera grandiflora has had a good year in the Automatic Garden and it may be because the rabbit that habitually ate the plant has moved on. It is otherwise known as Evening Primrose and blooms as the sun sets. I spotted this perfect full cluster early in the morning, grabbed my camera and headed out in my jammies to get a shot before the yellow blooms closed. With the humidity near 90%, I had to continually wipe the moisture from my lens to get a clear photo.
I originally got the seeds at Bartram’s Garden in 2009 with a note on the packet that germination requirements are unknown and if you figure it out, you’ll get a free packet of seeds. I figured it out and took on the challenge, growing the Evening Primrose in garden beds and flower pots out of the rabbit’s reach for the last ten years. I have been successful and harvest enough seeds for the next year’s Evening Primroses.
More early Spring bloomers include this red Canna.
A surprise blooming plant for this time of year is Oenothera grandiflora or Evening Primrose that was collected by William Bartram in 1775 in Alabama and grown in his Philadelphia nursery. Normally, this plant blooms in the late summer or early fall. I think some of the seeds germinated early during this warmer winter. I found it blooming in three locations and the plant was shorter than usual.
The orange Tassel Flower, Emillia coccinea, has been maturing all winter and is now blooming. I thought I read somewhere that it was related to a dandelion, but it does not reseed like one.
A true Spring ritual in this part of the country is the blooming of Azaleas. I was surprised to see some opening already. All our big Azalea Trails are usually the second week in March, so hopefully they can hold off until then.
February is the start of Spring around here and a time to trim back Crepe Myrtles, Roses and start cleaning out beds. The trees that lost their leaves are budding out. And best of all the days are getting longer and evenings on the patio can be enjoyed.
I was in the garden earlier than usual one morning and was pleasantly greeted by the strong scents of my blooming gingers. This one is Hedychium hybred “Pink V.
My most reliable ginger that has been with me for many years is Butterfly Ginger, Hedychium coronarium, which I believe has the strongest scent and can be detected from across the backyard. I had a neighbor that told me she could smell it as she walked by the front of my house. The plants bloom in the Spring and Autumn.
Because it was early morning, I was able to catch the scent of the Four O’Clocks, which bloom in the early evening. These flowers have a wonderful fragrance and are great to plant near a porch or patio. Oddly, I have never seen hummingbirds or bees on them. Maybe some night I will stay up and see what pollinates them.
Another night bloomer, is Evening Primrose, Oenothera grandiflora, and was collected by William Bartram. It has an usual scent that is an acquired taste. I never really saw any pollinators on this Primrose, until I spotted what I believe to be a green bee, which I hope my reader that is a bee expert will let me know. Anyway, the bee was really working on the flowers and when I passed by later, it was still gathering nectar.
I look forward to my morning garden tour and being greeted by a scent, new bloom or a backyard critter.
So I came up with a plan to do stealth planting, strategically putting the Primrose among plants rabbits don’t eat. In the middle of the photo is one planted with Shrimp Plants.
In this photo a Primrose is planted with Salvia. I bet you can’t even find it.
Rabbits never touch the Gulf Coast Penstemon and neither do I as they smell bad, but make up for that fact by being pretty.
The Primrose in the front yard are the tall plants that were surrounded by the Penstemon when they were small. They look darn good.
Yup, I was feeling pretty clever thwarting those rabbits. As it turns out, deer like the Primrose too and they start eating at the top. The tall plants in the front yard were just about finished off by the deer (not the rabbits).
I guess I will have to count on the Evening Primrose I planted in pots, in a high planter, in the fenced in backyard.
Happy Fall! Many are posting photos of colorful leaves.
The leaves here will not change for a long time.
Instead, our Fall color comes from blooming plants that have woke up from their summer “sleep”, when it was just too hot to make a flower.
We don’t have flaming foliage, so these flaming tropicals will have to do.
Click on the photos to enlarge.
One of my favorite plants is William Bartram’s Evening Primrose (Oenothera grandiflora). I purchased the original seeds at Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia. The instructions said they were difficult to germinate, so I was thrilled when I was able to grow them.
Unfortunately over the past few years, the rabbits have taken to eating them or just biting the stems in half. This year, I was determined to grow some Primrose to replenish my seed supply. I managed to get six plants to grow in pots and elevated them in a tall planter.
It worked and the Evening Primroses bloomed. Soon I will be able to collect seeds for next year.
It is always amazing how many plants (and weeds) germinate in cracks. Surely there is not much soil in there. Most of the young seedlings in these photos aren’t weeds, but the garden favorites of Bartram’s primrose, coleus, jewel of opar, mother of thousands and some herbs from a pot on the patio. Actually, it will work out well if the crack plants make it through the winter, they can just be transplanted into a bed. What is even more amazing is the plants that have grown to nearly full size in a crack. And to top that, no one bothered to pull them out!
It is time to start collecting seeds to keep the Automatic Gardening growing. Autumn is the end of the flowering season for many plants, but also the beginning of next season in the promise of seeds.
As it turns out, Four O’Clocks, originally from Mexico, love it here and are very prolific. The seeds need to be collected to stop an over abundance of plants.
Bartram’s Evening Primrose no longer needs to be watched and coddled as it has come into its own. It has reseeded itself and made thousands, if not millions of tiny black seeds this year. An Automatic Garden success!
Balsam Impatients, otherwise known as poppers, have the habit of popping open and flinging their seeds as far as they can. It is always a good idea to collect some to plant where the human gardener desires. These came from George Washington garden. They were probably shared among many of the early colonists.
Wish Bone flowers make extremely small tan seeds that are difficult to collect. They are left to do their own thing and after the seeds germinate the seedlings are moved to beds.
These wonderful seed pods belong to the Philippine Lily. Each pod is stuffed full of flat seeds and are released as the wind blows.
Salvias are old garden friends. They are totally left on their own and never fail to reproduce and provide for the bees and hummingbirds each year.
Some seeds need to be collected to prevent reproduction. This wild and lovely little bean made it way into the garden. As with all wild things in a garden, it needs to be controlled, so as many seed pods as possible are collected. The pods twist open when ripe and send their seeds as far as they can.
Autumn seems to bring out the yellows in the Automatic Garden. The native Swamp Sunflower keeps its blooms for weeks. This started out as one plant, but has reseeded and multiplied over a few years to the point that some had to be removed.
The Esperanza or Yellow Bells (tecoma stans, Texas native) took a very hard hit during last winter’s freeze. It struggled all summer and was finally able to put out some flowers before next winter arrives.
Mexican or Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is a favorite of the Monarch Butterfly. This is a yellow variety. The Monarchs fly over the Gulf Coast on their migrations to and from Mexico. This Tropical Milkweed should be cut back in the fall as it harbors a parasite that is fatal to the Monarchs.
And of course, a favorite of the autumn garden is the yellow Oenothera grandiflora or Evening Primrose. It seeded itself all over the garden naturally creating succession germination and has had a plant blooming since August. It is a native of Alabama where William Bartram first collected it.