Wildflower Wednesday: Wild?

April 27th, 2011
Coral Honeysuckle

Coral Honeysuckle

What exactly is a wildflower? I think everyone has his own definition, but mine is any plant with attractive flowers which grows and blooms without horticultural efforts. On the other hand, you could make a good argument for including any native plant – even those now under cultivation in someone’s garden. Ah, but what about perfectly lovely plants which have escaped the garden and now live free (and peaceably without threatening their neighbors) wherever they choose?

Earlier this week, I showed you two plants that would meet anybody’s definition of a wildflower – bluets and native azaleas. Today, let’s talk about some plants that resist categorization.

Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is native to North America, but is perfectly at home in many gardens, including mine. It’s going to be in spectacular full bloom in a few days, but doesn’t look half bad right now. The photo at the top of this post was taken yesterday in the kitchen garden at Tangled Branches South, where the honeysuckle twines around a rustic trellis. If you need another reason to grow it besides its obvious beauty – one word: hummingbirds! They love it. Oh, and it also has a long season of bloom. The photo below was taken in July 2009.

Hummingbird at Work

But what about another kind of wildflower – the one that long ago lived in someone’s garden and is still charming outside the garden?

Narcissus x medioluteus

Narcissus x medioluteus

These narcissus live at the wood’s edge. I first saw their flowers in the spring of 2007, and then noticed that they grow wild all over central Virginia. I wrote a long post about them two years ago, but the short version is that they’re a naturally-occurring hybrid of Narcissus tazetta and Narcissus poeticus which probably originated in the south of France. The Latin name in current use is Narcissus x medioluteus, but was also known as Narcissus biflorus. It’s been a resident of gardens for hundreds of years. I like to imagine that mine are descendants of a bulb brought on a long sea voyage by one of Virginia’s early colonial settlers. The illustration below is from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, published in the late 1700s.

And yesterday in my non-garden.

Narcissus x medioluteus

Narcissus x medioluteus


Please join Gail at Clay and Limestone and other wildflower fans around the internet for more Wildflower Wednesday blog posts.

14 Responses to “Wildflower Wednesday: Wild?”

  1. Love the Coral Honeysuckle and no garden should be without some Narissus….grest hummer capture.

    • entangled says:

      The hummingbird picture was an incredibly lucky shot. I was working in the garden and just happened to have the camera there.

  2. Gail says:

    I have that delightful narcissus in my garden! Thank you for id-ing it. Growing in my garden are many naturalized lovelies~lunaria and Queen Anne’s Lace are just, too. QAL are so prevalent that they are even listed in my favorite wildflower books! I love our native honeysuckle and it’s growing in my garden in the wayback in sunshine~I am hoping the hummers visit it~Even though I am not around to see them! So very glad you joined in with WW! gail

    • entangled says:

      I never thought of planting Queen Anne’s Lace, even though I admire it – thanks for the idea! This year I’m digging up some of the “good” flowers from the meadow (weedy field) and transferring them to the flower borders. I wonder if QAL is hard to transplant, with the long tap root?

      I plan to be a regular contributor to WW from now on – don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner :-)

  3. I have Coral Honeysuckle and love it too;-) No bloom or buds yet…it is taking it’s time this year!

    • entangled says:

      I just checked on the Coral Honeysuckle here in central Virginia this morning (before the latest storm) and found a couple of flowers open. It’s also growing in what’s left of the garden in northern Virginia, but I haven’t been there lately to see how far along the flowers are. Have you seen a hummingbird up there yet?

      • Yes, I’ve seen a couple of hummingbirds, in the back yard. Just flying around,not on a specific plant. I am behind getting my hummingbird feeders out. It’s difficult to see them on plants from the kitchen window so if they go to them I don’t usually know about it. When I have the feeders out, I can see those from the kitchen window.

        • entangled says:

          I know what you mean about being able to see the hummers from the house. I plant flowers they like around the front porch and deck so we get to see them when we’re sitting outside. Otherwise I wouldn’t see them much either.

  4. For me a wild flower is one that is native. I am reading a book at the moment about the origins of the flowers in the Uk and if you go back to the Roman time then our range of native plants was non-existence. Most of the plants I would have thought were natives have been bought in!

    • entangled says:

      So interesting! When we think about native plants here in the US, we generally regard anything as native if it was here before the Europeans came. Here in Virginia that would be about 400 years ago. But Roman settlement in England goes back almost 2000 years (correct?). I’m curious to know the name of the book you’re reading – it sounds like my kind of book.

  5. Racquel says:

    That Coral Honeysuckle is a great plant, wish I could find a spot for it in my own garden. :)

    • entangled says:

      They do require a bit a space, but I once grew one up through the branches of leggy viburnum. It took some pruning to keep it in bounds there.

  6. I’m so glad I found your blog. Even though you say you were just lucky to capture the hummingbird pic, it’s amazing! And your other shots are great, too! That Narcissus has a unique shape. Lovely!

    • entangled says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I was glad the wild narcissus turned out to be something unusual and pretty. It has a nice fragrance too, which I think I forgot to mention.

RSS feed for comments on this post.