What’s blooming this week at Pokeberry Pines – mid-summer flower power

Sometimes I forget to document what’s happening in the yard and gardens because I’m so occupied with working in them – harvesting, pruning, planting, staking – or just enjoying all the interactions among the plants and animals here. Today as I walked through the mass of blooms and greenery, I noticed there are some less conspicuous, but mighty significant, flowers blooming right now. It occurred to me that posting photos of and stories about what’s blooming now is an easy and fun way to document what’s going on in the yard. So here are some of the mighty plants that are blooming today – July 12th, 2021 – at Pokeberry Pines. Enjoy…

The jewelweed’s (Impatiens capensis) orange petals and long nectar tubes make them perfect plants for hummingbird pollinators, but bumble bees like them, too. Jewelweed is known for its ability to heal skin rashes, especially from poison ivy, and to treat athlete’s foot fungus.
The Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) is ALMOST ready to open up into its full late summer glory. We are excited to have this plant bloom for the first time this year. When its flowers open, it exudes a sweet vanilla-like scent that is a butterfly magnet!
Despite being ravaged by pine voles last fall, this Stokes aster (Stokesia laevis) has made a comeback this year and is blazing with purple blooms right now. These are a favorite food for bunnies, and although we have seen plenty of rabbits in the yard this summer, they have (so far) left the asters alone.
Last year we planted nine of these aromatic asters (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) so we’d have some bright fall blooms, but this one has decided to make an early appearance with a couple of blooms already. All of these plants are healthy and huge, so I expect a big show of purple come fall. Plus, this plant has one impressive scientific name!
The narrowleaf mountain mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium) is in full glory right now and attracts dozens of species of bees and wasps. This is one of those plants that is not real showy, but it is packed with flowers and has a nice minty smell when crushed. It’s scientific name actually means “densely packed flowers”. It was selected as North Carolina’s Wildflower of the Year in 2019.
I’ve been waiting with bated breath for these Rattlesnake masters (Eryngium aquaticum) to flower. This is a marsh species but seems to do well in drier conditions after its established. Last year they spent their first summer simply growing roots as we watered and babied them through the heat of summer. This year, they shot up to five feet tall, and just this week began to flower. I love the long, elegant bracts surrounding the small flower head. I’ve read that these flowers are blue, so I’m eager to watch for a color change as they mature.
One of the first flowers to bloom this spring, this spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) just keeps on putting out its bright purple early-morning blooms even though mid-July is usually its quitting time. By midday as the air heats up these blooms completely close again only to open back up in all their purple-ness the next morning.
We transplanted this swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) from the edge of my dad’s fishing pond. It has grown up happily here in our pollinator garden and gives the monarchs more choices. It is just beginning to bloom, with flowers not quite open yet. I love the pink-purple color in contrast to the bright orange of the butterflyweed species.
l planted several blue skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) last year, and most of them disappeared by way of vole damage or drought. At least that’s what I thought, until this spring a few sprigs of growth popped up where the skullcaps had been. I was hesitant to believe they had survived and it took me several weeks to convince myself these really were going to be skullcaps returning. But over the summer they exploded into large clumps of greenery and just this week began to bloom. This skullcap is just a beautiful herb and I’m grateful to have it return to our yarden with such wild abandon.


  1. Hi Deb…Love the garden plantings…looking forward to walking through them in hopefully the not too distant future.
    Brings back memories of the good visits we had in our adjoining backyards,while enjoying our talks, our wine and our friendship! Love you Deb..miss you! Cathy

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