Monday, June 29, 2009

Celestial Lily - Nemastylis floridana

The celestial lily (Nemastylis floridana) is visually very similar to its close cousin, Bartram's ixia (Calydorea caelestina). In fact, another common name for this plant is fall-flowering ixia. They are both very rare endemics, members of the iris family, and produce stunning large deep-blue flowers.

The celestial lily is more widespread and occurs over much of the eastern peninsula to south Florida. A few populations also have been recorded in central Florida and in the central west coast. Despite this, it is listed as a state Endangered species.

Celestial lilies occur in open sunny wetlands; particularly wet pinelands and marshes. Although they have some drought tolerance, they prefer wet conditions during the summer and early fall and will only prosper and bloom when given them.

Celestial lilies bloom in the fall and, like Bartram's ixia, the flowers open for only a few hours. But, in opposition to the ixia, the blooms open in late afternoon. Celestial lilies produce one flower at a time, but each one opens about 3pm and lasts only until about 5pm. If you snooze, you lose and you must then wait until the next bud is formed. A well-grown specimen may produce multiple flower stalks and bloom over several weeks in late summer or early fall.

These too are connoiseur plants. Hawthorn Hill has grown them now for two years with some success. Provide them plenty of sun, a good fertile soil, and plenty of summer moisture. Given this, you will love this plant.

Our plants were purchased from Woodlanders; a wonderful source of quality native plants for the south. We do not at this time expect to proppagate this species at Hawthorn Hill.

Bartram's Ixia - Calydorea caelestina

Bartram's ixia is a very rare and beautiful member of the iris family; found only in 7 counties in northeast Florida and nowhere else. In these counties, it occurs in seasonally wet open flatwoods and prairies. Likely always a rare plant (and listed as a state Endangered species), surveying for Bartram's ixia is exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult to notice when not in bloom and individual flowers only open in the early morning for 2-3 hours before closing. If you are not there to witness these spectacular blooms during this time, the plant fades back into obscurity.

Named for William Bartram who first described this plant in his famous book Travels in the late 1700's, ixias have long fascinated botanists and the few native plant gardeners fortunate enough to have grown them successfully. Though quite rare in nature, it has been grown and offered by native plant nurseries in limited numbers for years.

Bartram's ixia requires good sun and sufficient moisture to prosper. In nature, it responds to frequent fire because this opens the forest floor and canopy to more sunlight and the ash acts as a fertilizer. In the landscape, provide your ixias with good soil and an occasional dose of diluted fertilizer.

Bartram's ixia is deciduous. New leaves emerge in February and are fully formed by March. These leaves are stiff, narrow, and stand about 6-8 inches tall. By April, the shoots that will produce the first flowers become obvious. These come off the side of the main stem. Flower buds do not become obvious until late afternoon the day before blooming and only one flower is produced from any single shoot per day.

Flowers open at sunrise. If you get up early enough, you can catch the swollen buds before they open, but be prepared to need a flashlight to see them. As the sun catches the horizon, the flower buds open and the spectacular deep blue flowers open. These are 6-petaled and nearly 3 inches across. Well-grown specimens may have multiple flower shoots, but most commonly the plants have only one flower at any one time. The flowers remain in good condition for about two hours and then noticeably start to fade. Within three hours or so (depending on cloudiness), the flowers will have folded completely and the seed capsules will begin to form. Bartram's ixia may produce more then 3 flower shoots during the blooming season, however, and repeat this process with each. Our plants bloom into early July.

Bartram's ixia is definitely a connoisseur plant. If you work in the morning, you may never see it flower. But, if are able to catch its wonderful flowers while they are open, this is a wildflower with few rivals.

Hawthorn Hill has been growing Bartram's ixia for 2 years now and hopes to propagate plants from the seed we have collected from them. Check with us from time to time if you are interested: (727) 470-9130.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ghloson's blazing star - Liatris gholsoni

Named for one of Florida's most respected modern botanists, Angus Gholson, Liatris gholsoni is only recently described as a new species of blazing star and is quite rare. At first glance, it appears identical to the common graceful blazing star (L. gracilis), but there are stark differences in the way the leaves come off the main stem, the length of the flower stalk, and the "hairs" on the stem and leaves.

Gholson's blazing star only occurs in the deep sandy ridges around Torreya State Park in extreme north Florida, just west of Tallahassee. As such, it joins a number of other very rare plants found only in this region of the state. It is listed as a state Endangered species not because it is uncommon in its natural range, but because its natural distribution is so restricted.

Like nearly all blazing stars, Gholson's is deciduous. It makes its appearance in early spring as a basal rosette of thin leaves, but starts its upward growth almost immediately. Mature specimens eventually reach 3 feet tall or more before flowering in early fall.

Gholson's blazing star produces a great many flower buds along its main stalk, but the flowers are small and each bud produces only a few flowers. These buds are noticeably held away from the main stem by stalks - quite similar to that of the graceful blazing star. Like most species in this genus, Gholson's blooms in early fall and the flowers attract butterflies, small bees, and a number of other pollinators.

Although restricted in its natural range, we have grown this species in our Pinellas County landscape for several years with great success. Our plants are propagated from seed each year from these plants, and we have a limited number each year to share with other blazing star enthusiasts.

Give this species good drainage and plenty of sun. It will do well with other blazing stars and in a mixed wildflower planting of other sandhill or scrub species.

Pink Prairie Clover - Dalea carnea

Also known as "whitetassels", pink prairie clover occurs in one of three distinct varieties across much of Florida and parts of the lower southeastern United States. Two of the varieties, D. carnea var. gracilis and var. alba, have white flowers and give rise to the other common name. The more widespread variety, D. carnea var. carnea, however, is decidely pink and is the reason for its Latin name.

Pink prairie clover is a component of open pineland flatwoods and other mesic habitats. Unlike other Florida prairie clovers, it does not require deep sandy soils and excellent drainage to survive. It tolerates occcasional wet soils just fine, but is also very drought tolerant once established. Just give it sunshine for at least half the day.

Pink prairie clover is not erect like its Florida cousins either. It develops long branches of the central stem that tend to sprawl just above the ground in all directions. As such, it rarely stands more than 8 inches tall, but may spread out several feet in all directions. Because of this growth form, it makes a great ground cover. Just don't plant individual specimens closer than 3 feet apart.

New growth off the main stem begins in early spring and the new flower buds become obvious by late June or early July. Flowering occurs about a month later and lasts for nearly a month more. In full bloom, pink prairie clover is awash in lavender-pink flower heads and makes a spectacular sight. Each of the cylindrical heads is composed of 20 flowers or more, and these attract mostly bees and some butterflies. Prairie clovers also are one of several food plants of the southern dogface butterly, but it is not recorded as using this species.

Use pink prairie clover in a mixed wildflower setting. Many taller species will grow up through its thin sprawling branches so it can be planted with compatible willdflowers such as blazing stars and black-eyed susans.

Hawthorn Hill has been growing this prairie clover for several years from plants we initially grew from seed and we are very pleased to be able to offer a few specimens each year to the public. This is not a plant we produce in quantity so let us know early if you are interested.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Farewell - Dalea pinnata

Summer farewell (Dalea pinnata) is a member of the prairie clover genus and a wonderful addition to a wildflower garden. Native to much of the northern two-thirds of Florida, summer farewell also occurs in Georgia and the two Carolinas. Throughout this range, it is native to sandy upland habitats and open sunny conditions.

The Latin name is derived from its finely pinnate leaves. These are a rich green in color and help make this plant attractive even when it is not in bloom. Summer farewell makes its appearance in early spring. The stems are reddish and these eventually reach 2-3 feet in height before the plant blooms in late fall. Many dozens of bright red flower buds are formed on the tips of the stems and these eventually burst open to create a display of pure white flowers. Each rounded bud may contain over 30 flowers and they remain in bloom for several weeks. Eventually the flowers fade, but the ripened seeds produce a feathery appendage that is silvery grey and attractive in its own right.

Summer farewell needs a good sunny location and excellent drainage to prosper in the wildflower garden. If you can provide this, plant it in clusters of at least 5. This is a plant that might get lost in a mixed planting if not planted in groups. Because of its height, place it in the middle of the planting - not in the very front, but not in the back where its subtle form and color cannot be easily observed.

Hawthorn Hill is excited to have this beautiful wildflower available to wildflower enthusiasts. After several years of searching, we found a good local seed source that provided us the plants we now grown in our garden and collect from. Plants take 2 years to bloom from seed so our seedlings will not bloom until fall 2010.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Prairie Clovers - Dalea spp.

When I lived in the Midwest (a great many years ago, now), I was always intrigued by the prairie clovers, genus Petalostemon, that dotted the tall grass prairies with their color and fine-textured foliage. Today, those wonderful species have been combined with the 3 native Florida species and all of them are included in the genus Dalea.

Prairie clovers are members of the legume family. They thrive here in poor soils and serve to improve them by fixing atmospheric nitrogen through a complex process that ultimately returns it to the soil. Because of this, they are valuable members of a landscape planting without consideration of their other attributes.

But it is precisely these other attributes that make them something everyone takes notice of in the landscape. Our 3 prairie clovers are quite different from each other in growth form and habitat needs. The common pink prairie clover (Dalea carnea) is rather prostrate and spreads outward from its central stem. Although it rarely stands taller than 1 foot, a mature specimen may cover an area 3-5 feet wide in diameter. Scrub prairie clover (D. feayi) and summer farewell (D. pinnata) are stiffly erect in growth form, standing several feet tall and rarely more than one foot in circumference.

The flowers occur in globose heads, each with several dozen or more individual flowers. Because all of the flowers in a head tend to open at the same time, they are especially showy. Many heads tend to bloom simultaneously and the overall flowering season lasts for several weeks. These blooms attract butterflies and are specially attractive to bees and other similar pollinators.

The foliage of all three species is also fairly similar. The tiny leaves are finely dissected and almost fern-like. In Florida, prairie clovers are tardily deciduous. They re-emerge quickly in the spring and make handsome foliage plants by early summer. Florida's prairie clovers require full sun to reach their best potential.

Florida's prairie clovers have not generally been propagated by nurseries associated with the Association of Florida Native Nurseries (AFNN), but Hawthorn Hill is making all of them available. We grow limited numbers of each species in our Pinellas County landscape and we hope that others will recognize their value to the mixed wildflower garden.

Dalea carnea - Pink prairie clover is a native of flatwoods and prairie habitats where it must contend with seasonal drought and flooding. It is a rather sprawling species that blooms in early summer. As the Latin name suggests, its flowers are a soft pink in color.

Dalea feayi - Scrub prairie clover occurs in the deep, well-drained sands of the Florida scrub. Here, it is an erect species that rarely stands more than 2 feet tall. In the early fall, these plants are covered by bright pink flowers.

Dalea pinnata - Summer farewell is also a plant of well-drained sandy soils, but is found in a wider variety of habitat types. As the name implies, summer farewell blooms in late fall and is one of the last wildflowers to do so. Although the flowers themselves are white, the buds are bright red and the ripened seeds are silvery grey before they disperse.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Softhair Coneflower

The softhair coneflower (Rudbeckia mollis) is an easy to grow member of the black-eyed susan genus. Native to a rather broad range of north and central Florida, this species has done well for us in Pinellas County over the past several years.

Softhair coneflower is relatively drought tolerant and will thrive in most sunny settings in the typical Florida landscape. Given too much shade, it will become leggy and susceptible to fungal and insect pests. It has fared best in our yard in locations where it gets some protection from the mid-day sun, but plenty of morning and late afternoon rays. One established, it has required no more water than any of the other dry flatwoods and sandhill species it is planted with.

Use softhair coneflower in small groupings near the back of the planting area. In such a setting, it puts on a spectacular display during the late spring and early summer months. A well-grown specimen will reach 4-5 feet tall, and at this height it may have more than 20 flowers at any one time.

The flowers are rather typical black-eyed susan blooms, but the ray petals are flatter and broader than its common cousin and the individual flowers are several inches across. After blooming, most individuals persish. They compensate by producing very large numbers of seed. Plants that we have left alone have spawned many seedlings nearby. You can also collect the seed from the dry heads and propagate it yourself in shallow trays with a good potting soil.

Hawthorn Hill has been propagating this species in this way now for two years with great success.

Shiny Coneflower

A state Endangered species, the shiny coneflower (Rudbeckia nitida) occurs in wetlands and other moist-soil habitats in a few disjunct populations within north and central Florida. This distinctive species is occasionally offered in gardening catalogs, despite its natural rarity, and is reportedly more adaptable within the home landscape than its natural growing habitats would indicate.

Shiny coneflower is no shy violet and makes a commanding presence in a mixed species wildflower garden. Well-grown specimens may reach 5 to 6 feet in height when in flower during the late spring to early summer months. The basal leaves are several inches wide, erect, and 12-18 inches long - so even when not in bloom this plant is attractive and noticeable.

Large, but typical,black-eyed susan-type flowers occur in small clusters at the top of the stalks. They are relatively short-lived, but put on a show for several weeks to nearly a month. They attract butterflies and many species of small bees.

Use this species to anchor a mixed planting and use several specimens together in a small cluster to maximize its impact. It is deciduous during the winter months, but re-appears in early spring. Although gardeners in states to our north report it to be fairly adaptable to average landscape conditions, I would not use it in typical Florida ones. If you have a moist area that gets at least half sun, shiny coneflower is a wonderful choice.

Hawthorn Hill has grown shiny coneflower in our Pinellas County landscape since 2009. We hope to produce plants for sale from the seed they have produced here and those plants would be ready by spring 2010.

Black-eyed Susans

Nearly everyone is familiar with the common black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) - shown here at the top of this post. While this ubiquitous wildflower takes on many forms across its vast geographical range (every state except Hawaii and nearly every Canadian province except the extreme north), it remains a favorite among wildflower gardeners everywhere.

Perhaps its popularity comes from its simple beauty, the bright yellow ray flowers surrounding a black central disc. It likely also comes from its ease of management. Few wildflowers require less care and reward you with so much.

In Florida, the common black-eyed susan is far less showy than it is elsewhere. Unlike the broad flowers and thick foliage of the Midwestern prairie forms, for example, the Florida variety has flowers that rarely are wider than 6 inches and with leaves that are thin. Even in the best of conditions, black-eyed susans almost never stand taller than 2 feet.

The common black-eyed susan is also short lived. Seed-grown plants normally flower during their first year, but rarely live more than two. The "up side" is that they bloom nearly continuously once they start and they produce copious amounts of seed. Few gardeners do not gain plants over time. Those that don't likely use too much mulch as the seed needs to find the soil surface to germinate.

I use the common black-eyed susan in most of my wildflower plantings - all except the most xeric. I like to combine small clumps of 3 to 5 plants with other species and then let nature take over. Solitary plants are really too thin to provide much impact, but small to large masses are spectacular. Although this species prefers a bit of extra moisture to achieve its full potential, it will survive nearly every growing condition except extreme droughty soils.

Although most of us are familiar with the common species, few recognize that there are a great many other species in Florida and that all of them deserve some use in our landscapes. Eight other species of black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia spp.) are recognized as native to Florida. A few are grown with some regularity by the nursery trade, but most are difficult to find. Hawthorn Hill loves black-eyed susans and we are committed to making some of the less-common species available to the home gardener. Eventually, we hope to have every species growing in our Pinellas County landscape. If there are any species you are looking for, please check in with us from time to time - and let us know your interests.

The following species of Rudbeckia are documented as growing naturally in Florida:

1. R. auriculata - Eared coneflower has been documented in Florida only in Walton County; the western panhandle. It also occurs in scattered populations in Georgia and Alabama, but is not common there also. This species is poorly known and never offered in the nursery trade.

2. R. fulgida - Orange coneflower is somewhat available and occurs in several recognized varieties. Only variety fulgida is considered native to Florida and the species only occurs naturally in 5 counties in the central panhandle. This species is not currently being propagated by Hawthorn Hill.

3. R. graminifolia - Grassleaf coneflower occurs in wetlands within 5 counties in the central Florida panhandle. It is a Florida endemic and quite unique. Unlike other members of this genus, the flowers are small and somewhat inconspicuous. And, the outer ray flowers are a rust brown in color - not the bright yellow we are accustomed to. Hawthorn Hill does not grow this species.

4. R. laciniata - Cutleaf coneflower may well be our favorite. With its broad, deeply-lobed leaves and its showy blooms, we use it in moist locations where it gets a half-day of sun. Under these conditions, it has really prospered and puts on quite a display in mid-summer. In Florida, it naturally occurs only in 5 counties in north Florida, but it is native to nearly all of North America - including most of Canada. We currently propagate this species at Hawthorn Hill.

5. R. mohrii - Mohr's black-eyed susan is a tall thin species native to moist-soil habitats in the east and central panhandle of Florida and a small portion of Georgia. Despite its grass-like leaves that provide little foliage structure and its need for moist soils, this black-eyed susan produces showy flowers during the summer months and is well worth growing if you can provide the conditions it requires. Hawthorn Hill has been growing this species for several years within our wetland garden and we hope to have extra plants for sale in 2010. To the best of our knowledge, we are the only licensed nursery currently making this available in the trade.

6. R. mollis - Softhair coneflower is a drought-tolerant robust member of this group native throughout much of north Florida and south to the north-central peninsula. Well-grown specimens may stand 4-5 feet tall and have 20-30 flowers at any one time. Use this species in small groupings in the back of an open or partly sunny area. In our landscape, it is short-lived, but reseeds heavily. We have been propagating this species at Hawthorn Hill from the beginning.

7. R. nitida - Shiny coneflower is another tall wetland species and restricted to Florida, Georgia and Alabama where it is uncommon everywhere. In Florida, it is listed as a state Endangered species. Unlike Mohr's black-eyed susan, it has large strap-like leaves and makes a good showing when not in bloom. In our landscape, this species blooms in late spring. We hope to collect seed from our plants and make this species more widely available beginning in 2010.

8. R. triloba - The diminutive brown-eyed susan is rather rare in Florida, but occurs throughout much of eastern North America. Named for its uniquely lobed leaves, this species rarely stands more than 2 feet tall and the individual flowers are only about half the size (or less) of the common black-eyed susan. It is short-lived and generally does not make to its second year. Brown-eyed susan is grown by several native nurseries in Florida asnd is often available. It is not propagated by Hathorn Hill at this time.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Resindot Sunflower - Helianthus resinosus

Of the 17 species of sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) native to Florida, very few are regularly offered to the public through nurseries associated with the Association of Florida Native Nurseries (AFNN). And, most of those, except the ubiquitous beach sunflower (H. debilis), are wetland plants and poorly adapted to most residental landscapes. That is a shame, as sunflowers are some of our most treasured wildflowers and a genus that never fails to attract attention in the garden.

Sunflowers in general are important components of a wildflower garden for several reasons. They produce showy large flowers for many months during the summer and fall. The outer ray flowers generally have large yellow petals while the numerous disc flowers inside the head attract a wide variety of insect pollinators, including butterflies and bees. Once the flowers are pollinated, they produce a great many seeds. While not as tasty to us as the commercial sunflower, these seeds are significant to the diet of many songbirds, small mammals, and other wildlife. Sunflowers are way more than just a pretty face.

Sunflowers are perennials. When they are happy, they return year after year to perform their magic. They also multiply by underground suckers. Take this into consideration before planting them. Purchase a few plants and let them fill in the holes. If they are not happy and perish, you have not wasted much money. And, if they multiply a bit more than you expected, you can give them to friends. Let the suckers become well established, dig them up with a small trowel and repot them so they can establish a good root system before they are transplanted elsewhere.

To the best of my knowledge, Hawthorn Hill is the first native plant nursery in Florida to offer Resindot Sunflower (H. resinosus) to the public. We are excited to make this wonderful species available because we believe it may well be Florida's best sunflower for residential wildflower gardens. It certainly has a lot going for it.

Resindot sunflower is a resident of the sandhill ecosystem. Sandhills are characterized by deep well-drained sandy soils and little tree-canopy shade. Plants of this community have to be tough and resilient to survive. In particular, they must be adapted to low fertility, occasional drought, and full sun.

Resindot sunflower makes a commanding presence in this community. Full-grown specimens may reach 6 feet in height and have more than a dozen blooms open at any time. In our Pinellas County landscape, the resindot sunflowers are now two years planted after growing them from seed. They are one of the first of our wildflowers to appear in the spring - after a short dormancy underground - and they begin flowering by mid-June. They then keep blooming until late fall.

The flower heads are large - often more than 6 inches across and the ray petals are broad and bright yellow. The foliage is covered by stiff hairs inside small glands, hence its common name. The leaves are deep green and stiff.

Our plants have produced suckers in our garden, but they have spread very slowly compared to the wetland species we also grow. The plants we offer for sale are grown from seed produced each year in our landscape. These first-year plants will bloom, but they will not reach their full potential until the following year's growing cycle.

If you admire wild sunflowers, you can't go wrong with this one. Resindot sunflower is only found naturally in three counties in extreme north Florida (and in much of the Southeastern Coastal Plain), but it has been extremely hardy in the Pinellas County landscapes we have planted it in. We believe that it should be adaptable to nearly any well-drained site from north to south-central Florida and we'd like to see you give it a try.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rough Blazing Star - Liatris aspera

Though sometimes referred to as "Tall blazing star", I prefer to call this wonderful wildflower by the literal translation of its Latin name, L. aspera, meaning "rough." Besides, it is not very tall in comparison with many other native Florida blazing stars; rarely getting taller than 2-3 feet.

Rough blazing star is a rather rare plant in Florida, but it is one of the most widely distributed species in North America. In Florida, it is documented only from 5 counties in the extreme north; Jackson, Leon, Wakulla, Columbia, and Alachua. In the rest of the continent, it occurs in nearly every state in the eastern half (from North Dakota south to Texas and east to the Atlantic) and most of eastern Canada. Though out of its natural range in our Pinellas County landscape, it has done well.

In all of its range, it occurs in sunny locations on well-drained soils. In my Pinellas County garden, rough blazing star emerges from its winter dormancy in early spring, but remains as a basal rosette of dull blue-green leaves until late summer. At this time, it sends its somewhat zigzap flower stalk upward and the large, scaly button-like flower buds soon follow.

It is these large flower heads that make rough blazing star one of the showiest wildflowers in our landscape in late fall. Each head is nearly an inch across and comprised of a great many deep lavender flowers. Unlike many of the blazing stars we grow, most of the buds open up at about the same time - so while the blooming season does not last as long, it is a spectacular show while it lasts.

Rough blazing star is a wonderful butterfly nectar source and pulls in a lot of swallowtails and medium-sized species in our landscape. It also attracts a variety of bees. Because of its stout flower stalk and relatively short stature, the flower stalks rarely flop over and normally remain erect. This enhances its use in the wildflower garden.

Hawthorn Hill began growing this species from seed in 2008 and we are very enthused by the results of our growing trials. Because of this, we intend to offer it in limited numbers from our own stock after it goes to seed this fall. Please inquire if interested: (727) 470-9130 or through the blog.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Florida Blazing Stars

There are 17 distinct species of blazing stars (Liatris spp.) native to Florida, but only a handful that have ever been offered by nurseries affiliated with the Association of Florida Native Nurseries (AFNN). Of those not offered in Florida, some are routinely available from nurseries in states north of us while others are of very limited distribution and have just not caught on in the trade. Hawthorn Hill hopes to rectify that over time by making the uncommonly offered blazing stars available to all of you that appreciate these beautiful wildflowers. In short, we love blazing stars and we want to share them with you.

Blazing stars are members of the aster family, one of the largest families of wildflowers. They are long-lived perennials that die back to the ground and over-winter each year as a semi-woody "bulb" - correctly known as a corm. In the spring, blazing stars produce a basal rosette of grasslike leaves and by summer the long thin flower stalk becomes noticeable and elongates. Most species bloom in late September through early November though a very few may start earlier. And, with very few exceptions, their flowers are a rich shade of lavender.

It is the 2-3 week show of flowers that make growing blazing stars worthwhile. During the remaining weeks and months, they are really nothing special so they should be planted with other wildflowers and native grasses. But, few wildflowers make such a spectacular statement when they are in full flower; their spires of rich color waving above the others and demanding your attention.

Blazing stars bloom from the top down. That trait has made them invaluable to the cut flower trade. For months, their flower stalks grow upwards, but no flowering occurs until the last bud is formed. Then, what was last is now the first to open. Leave the spent flowers on the stalk to produce seed, but if you simply must you can cut it and still have the flowers below it.

Blazing stars are universally loved by butterflies and other pollinating insects. They are an integral part of a good butterfly garden. It is rare to have blooming blazing stars in the garden that don't have a butterfly or two nectaring at it.

All of our species are native to well-drained sandy soil. Only the common dense blazing star (L. spicata) tolerates very moist soil as well as drier conditions and can be planted nearly anywhere statewide. Nearly as universal is the graceful blazing star (L. gracilis), but it will eventually succumb if kept too wet for long. All species grow best when given adequate sunlight and proper soils. Too much care and nutrients may very well cause your plants to get unusually tall and fall over. When this happens, the flower stalk winds along the ground before trying once more to grow skyward. And, this ruins much of the aesthetics.

Below is a list of the blazing stars currently known to be native to Florida. I have put an asterisk (*) next to those that we currently grow in our Pinellas County landscape and a "plus" symbol (+) next to those we currently offer for sale. Hickory Hill is always interested in adding to the number of blazing stars in our collection and, over the years, we hope to increase those we are actively propagating. Although we currently do not commercially propagate the common species, we would be willing to do so under contract conditions if you want us to.

Common Name Latin Name

1. Rough blazing star Liatris aspera*+

2. Chapman's blazing star L. chapmanii*+

3. Elegant blazing star L. elegans*+

4. Grassleaf blazing star L. elegantula

5. Garber's blazing star L. garberi*+

6. Gholson's blazing star L. gholsoni*+

7. Graceful blazing star L. gracilis*

8. Florida blazing star L. ohlingerae*+

9. Georgia blazing star L. patens

10. Fewflower blazing star L. pauciflora

11. Godfrey's blazing star L. provincialis

12. Savanna blazing star L. savannensis

13. Piedmont blazing star L. secunda

14. Dense blazing star L. spicata*

15. Scaly blazing star L. squarrosa*+

16. Appalachian blazing star L. squarrulosa*+

17. Scrub blazing star L. tenuifolia* (both varieties)

Monday, June 8, 2009

All About Hawthorn Hill

Hawthorn Hill is a licensed retail nursery devoted to the propagation of Florida native wildflowers that are either rarely available to homeowners (like the pink dalea - Dalea feayi, above) or simply unavailable up to now. Over the past 20+ years, we have scoured the state for the unusual and the underused, we have collected seed or traded plants with other enthusiasts and we have grown hundreds of species in our native plant landscape in Pinellas County, west-central Florida. Up to now, we have only experimented and evaluated native wildflowers for use in home landscapes. But we are ready to make some of them available to others. Florida is blessed with a great many wildflowers that deserve wider use and better recognition. We hope that you will find something of interest, that you will grow them yourself and that you will then help to spread them elsewhere. Our goal is to get these plants more into mainstream production and then to move on to other species. Hawthorn Hill will remain small, but diversified - and committed to making the best available to others.

Hawthorn Hill is managed by Craig Huegel. Craig is a founding member of the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, the former state Education Chair, and the author of three books on Florida native plants, butterfly gardening, and landscaping for wildlife. He has a Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology and was a faculty member of the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department at the University of Florida - one of the founders of the Cooperative Urban Wildlife Extension Program. He has been active statewide in a wide variety of initiatives related to native plants and wildlife and he now is a principle at Ecological Services Associates, LLC - an ecological consulting firm based in Venice Florida. 

In the months and years ahead, we will be posting descriptions of Florida's best wildflowers - including those that we have for sale in limited numbers at our nursery. If you see something that interests you, please let us know. And, if there is something you wish to see, let us know that too.