Winterberry Farm Primitives

This blog is now devoted to gardening with native plants with a focus on those species native to the east coast of the United States. With an MS in Agricultural Science from the University of Delaware and my love of native plants, I hope to help folks see the beauty and necessity of using native plants in your garden instead of exotic plants. Did you know that our native song birds and native insects are disappearing as our local environments continue to change?
For those who come to this page to see my 'Winterberry Farm Primitives' blog can now be found at where I will post new additions to my online antiques shop at and discuss various subjects about primitive antiques.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Front Garden - July 13, 2014

This is the mid-point of summer in my front garden and the little annual vines didn't make the splash I was expecting this year. With our very nice and very cool, rainy spring, the vines didn't have the heat and sun that they needed to grow and get big so we planned another way to make the garden pop this year...we painted the tobacco lath fence a gorgeous red color to not only preserve the fence but to make a statement in the garden. We used an outdoor solid stain called 'Aztec Red' for the fence and it looks wonderful against the greens in the front garden. Not too much happens in my front garden during the long, hot days of summer but there are a few plants that flower and give some color to the summer days. Spigelia marilandica and Silene virginica are two plants that flower in the summer and they are both plants that can grow in sun or shade.
Spigelia marilandica - or Indian Pink - were first found and named in the state of Maryland. They are gorgeous little plants with great green leaves and wonderful red flowers with great yellow throats.
Here they are with the sun shining on the flowers and I swear they don't look real but look like they are part of a surreal oil painting. If cut back after flowering, Spigelia marilandica will flower again later in the summer season so you can get a double show of these spectacular flowers. Silene virginica, on the other hand, have small vibrant red flowers that sit on leggy plants with long, narrow leaves that intertwine themselves through and around other plants for a wonderful surprise of these bright red flowers in either partial shade or full sun.
I love Silene virginica whose common name is 'Fire Pink' because of its range of red colors from a bright red to a softer and quieter red depending on its location in your garden and the make-up of your soil. This little plant (that can range in size from 12" to 18" tall) is our native relative of the Dianthus genus that includes florist carnations and I think is a much more desirable plant to have in your garden. In its native habitat, it is found on rocky outcrops and at the edges of forest meadows to give that little blast of color to the deep green of our woodlands.
One last plant that flowers at this time of year in my front garden is a cousin to Porteranthus trifoliata (Bowman's Root) and it is Porteranthus stipulatus also known as Indian Physic - so named because Native Americans used the powdered root of this plant as an emetic. It can grow up to 24" tall and is like a small, feathery shrub with light green leaves and tiny bright white flowers. When you look at the flowering season of this plant, it's range is from Late May to June but my Porteranthus stipulatus flowers in late June to early July so it is a little surprise of bright white color in the deep greens of my mid-summer garden.
This is also the time of the year that my trillium are setting seed and I must stress that trillium do not set seed easily and they must be of a certain age to set viable seed so remember to leave your trillium plants to die down on their own instead of cutting off the stalks once the flowers die back. My trillium in my front garden definitely set viable seed these days and I am careful to protect them when weeding and pruning my shrubs. Here is a picture of one of my Trillium cuneatum that has set seed this summer with its hard seed case.I am hoping to have a third little set of new trillium seedlings next year. So far this little population of Trillium cuneatum has increased each year with small single leafed plants that have germinated from these mother plants. Hopefully one day I will have a nice 'blanket' of Trillium cuneatum in this side of my front garden.
Since it is going to be a quiet month in my front garden in August, I will be sharing my Lilium superbum flowers that are just now fattening up their buds for flowering later this month. I will also share the progress of my native shrub gardens in my back gardens in my next blog so stay tuned!!!

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