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River Oats, Elderberry, and Gardenia

river oats with fireworks inflorescence

It’s a few weeks early for fireworks yet, but that’s what these river oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) with their dangling florets look like to me. River oats is one plant that didn’t mind one bit the extra rain this spring. Before it sets seed I’ll have to thin it quite a bit, but at this stage it is really attractive. I’ll just wait and enjoy.

elderberry in bloomElderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is blooming all along the roadsides now. In my garden the flowers are fading and you can see tiny, hard green beads that will eventually yield the juicy dark purple-black fruit. I’ve had the shrub for three years, but have never gotten enough berries to make anything. Birds have enjoyed a few.

I found out recently that there is an elderberry beetle that needs elderberry in order to survive, so I don’t mind having it in my yard for wildlife, even if I have to keep foraging or buying the berries elsewhere.

More sun would be better for this shrub, but as it ages there are more and more flowers, even in the shade.

cherry bells campanulaI’m a sucker for bell-shaped flowers. I bought Campanula punctata ‘Cherry Bells’ years ago and quickly realized it was an aggressive (non-native) spreader. I removed it, but kept a small piece and moved it to a very dry spot. Between the dryness (and the deer, which eat them almost every single year) it stayed manageable– just a swath of light green pointy-leaved ground cover. But with all the rain this year, they outpaced the deer! Several very determined spikes have bloomed.

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the bells are large–at least compared to most other bell-shaped flowers I can think of–about an inch or inch and a quarter in diameter.

gardenia bloomAnd it’s a bumper year for gardenia –so many flowers! I’ve been surprised to find out how many uses there are for this plant. I’ve made gardenia powder in the past and thought maybe I would try oil or hydrosol this year. Now that I know it has such value as a medicine, I might like to try some other things. When I figure this out, I’ll post about it. (Suggestions always appreciated.)

How was your weekend? What’s your favorite plant this week?

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