Monday, September 2, 2013
Local Wildflowers Blooming in an August Garden: Naked Buckwheat
This is part two of a short series reporting on the gardenworthiness of some local natives I'm growing from wild, graduates of my propagation program. First was Madia - now let's see how naked buckwheat is shaping up. Like Town Mouse's last post on what's naughty and nice - there is good and bad to say about how this plant has behaved in the garden. It may be to do with where it's growing though.
First the good - Tall sculptural hollow stems branching out with a cloud of little pompoms on top! Wonderful and the bees absolutely love it. When it gets maybe a bit too much water and too much shade, the stems flop over, as in the opening photo - still, it is lovely spilling over a path.
Even in full sun where the pompoms are getting a bit brown now, it's quite appealing. But look at the foliage -
Go on, take a closer look -
Now this plant in June had quite nice foliage -
But it didn't stay that way. At its best, it's not that lovely - sort of cabbagey. Here is a young plant:
But when the leaves all crisp up and turn brown, and the lower stem extends bearing them upwards about a foot -- no no no.
I forgive the plant though. Here's another June photo when the flowers were all white and pink - a bit weighed down by an unexpected hearty rain shower.
June, July - and through August this buckwheat has been blooming and giving me a lot of pleasure in many garden nooks. As long as I don't look at the foliage.
Around our neighborhood, naked buckwheat grows in just one spot: on a dry sandy slope about thirty feet above a river. That's where I gathered the original seed. But I think it may not have been getting as much sun as in my garden.
So my advice for naked buckwheat is to give it a little water and grow out of the full sun -- or put in the back of a sunny border so you don't see its feet. You'll enjoy the interesting stems and flowers without the foliage becoming an issue.
On a aside note, I'm starting to despair of finding local native plants that will thrive on our baking sunny ridge top. I'm going to try for more of a prairie plant community - but even so, the bulbs and clarkia that I planted this year did not do so well. The bunch grasses were great though. I started a post series on prairie and I hope to pick up that theme when it comes to fall and early winter planting.
Meanwhile, I've planted some warty ceanothus and I have some coffeeberry to plant in Fall - hoping to create a little shade here and there, without too much fire risk, if I can keep them fairly low. And thank goodness for coyote brush - my stalwart friend. I hope these scattered shrubs will create growing spaces were plants may find some respite from afternoon sun.