Caught this bumblebee taking in the sights and nectar of Baptisia sphaerocarpa in my garden. Nature never ceases to amaze me, but instead, wows me again and again.
I grow several baptisias after seeing them grown so well in Chicago when I went there for the Garden Bloggers’ Fling in 2009. In my garden, it’s taken three years for the false indigos to take off. I believe this is the fourth spring for this false indigo. Since then, I’ve added a blue one from Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery, B. Midnite Prairieblues™. It is a lovely shade of dark blue, but is taking a very long time to thrive here. I don’t know why.
After seeing a huge clump of ‘Purple Smoke’ in a friend’s garden, I planted a four inch pot two years ago. It is very pretty and beginning to bloom in earnest this spring.
It’s really much more purple than this photo shows, but it seems to be picking up the blue from the chairs. As you can see, bumblebees are particularly fond of baptisias. ‘Carolina Moonlight’ bloomed earlier, and if you don’t want to see your false indigo across the yard like the one above,’ it’s a calmer choice. I planted a one gallon pot, which I found at Marcum’s last spring, and it bloomed. There are so many choices in baptisias, and after seeing Fairegarden’s white one, I bought Baptisia alba var. macrophylla, white false indigo at Bustani Plant Farm last week. In a few years, on cloudy days, it will sparkle like hers I hope. With most perennials, it takes three years for them to hit their stride. With most native plants, I find this to be especially true. Yet, natives and their closely related cultivars lend a grace to the garden which more highly developed cultivars don’t seem to have. There’s a place for both in my garden. False indigos have simple flowers which pollinators love, and that’s a good thing for them and the other creatures who visit and live in this space. I visit the garden, but they call it their home.
After false indigos bloom, they have black seed pods, and they retain their blue foliage. They look good with everything else, and stop you in your tracks when blooming. They are drought tolerant and extremely hardy. I think last summer’s heat from hell just made mine stronger as they have never looked better.
Later, I’ll tell you guy what not to miss at this very independent nursery just outside Stillwater.
If you’d like to read about the taxonomy of baptisias, read Tony Avent’s article. It’s a good one. A big thank you to Gail at Clay and Limestone who hosts the wonderful Wildflower Wednesday meme each month. Go on over and check out her blog for other wildflower posters.