Today we’re visiting with Cindy Strickland, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Hello, fellow gardeners. I wanted to share a variety of mostly dry plant forms with impressive persistence that look suitable for matrix planting or drifts of plants. I photographed them in winter or autumn in Zone 7b or 6b because of their beauty and to get ideas for combinations.
Vernonia noveboracensis, a butterfly magnet that can grow tall and is commonly called ironweed, likes full sun and grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 5–9. I have been noting the spread of it around the edges of a lake in my neighborhood.
I like the clumping habit and rusty coloring of the sedge Carex buchananii ‘Red Rooster’ (Zones 6–9), but apparently it can be short-lived.
I was surprised to see a bed of ferns collapsed and curled but still intact in a public garden. In the woods near me, ferns growing with other species of plants often just seem to disappear when conditions for them become too harsh.
This stalk of baptista (Zones 3–9) pods brought back fond memories of seeing dried prairie plants like blue false indigo from when I did tours of a prairie restoration site for schoolchildren. Aside from rattling the large seedpods of the baptista, children also liked to touch the scented dried flower heads of hairy mountain mint (pictured below). Plants like blue false indigo (Zones 3–9) fix nitrogen in the soil, making it a great companion plant for grasses.
These are seed heads of hairy mountain mint (Pycnanthemum pilosum, Zones 4–8). The flowers are incredibly popular with pollinators while in bloom, and carry on looking beautiful long after they’ve faded.
The seedpod of the hooded pitcher plant (Sarracenia minor, Zones 6–8) is almost a fantastical shape. Carnivorous plants like these require lots of acidic humus, full sun, and constant moisture—a tall order, but it’s interesting to see them!
A colorful colony of whitetop pitcher plants (Sarracenia leucophylla, Zones 6–10) is side-lit by the late afternoon sun.