Plants Know No Boundaries

from May 1999

Our hearts and minds have been drawn to South Eastern Europe lately and while we all hope for better news, I've been thinking of some of the plants native to that region. Edraianthus graminifolius grows in Yugoslavia, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece. Commonly it is known as grassy bells and is in the Campanula family, which you know once you see the deep purple, many-flowered clusters at the stem tips. Blossoming starts now and continues into midsummer. They make a mat of dark green, narrow 1/8" wide by 1" long foliage and look beautiful in a well-drained site in the perennial or rock garden. Give sun and regular garden irrigation. They are cold hardy to 0 deg. F.

Salvia forskaohlei natively lives in S.E. Europe and W. Asia within Bulgaria, Thrace and the Black Sea coast of Turkey. The broad 8" furry basal leaves are almost heart-shaped and are surmounted by erect, 2-3' branched flower stems. Large flowers are violet-purple with white in the throat, blooming summer and into fall. Hummingbirds sip nectar from these big flowers. Give a sunny and well-drained spot in the garden with average water. Hardy to 0 deg. F. Lovely in the border garden or viewing on a bank when they are backlit.

Salvia pratensis ssp. haematodes is another European native, with the species found growing in meadows. It too has fuzzy, large basal leaves that are more narrow than the S. forskaohlei and have a reddish cast to the center vein that spreads outward on the new leaves. Upright branching flower stems reach to 2' high. Spring-summer flowers are large and lavender-blue. Hardy below 0 deg. F. Best grown in sun with a compost-rich, draining soil with moderate to regular watering.

Coming back home to California native plants, we currently have another meadow component in our Thalictrum fendleri var. polycarpum, or meadow rue. This dainty long-lived perennial typically forms a mound 2-3' high of delicate, divided grey-green leaves that remind one of fern foliage. In the deep shade flower stems may stretch to 6' high. From spring into summer flower stalks arise displaying dainty threads of bright yellow pollen from the male flowers, while the female flowers are tiny threads of ivory to reddish that fill into angular seeds, all of which dance in the breeze. Flower color shades from light green into purple. Plant in dappled shade to sun at the coast, in moist, rich soil. Hardy below 0 deg. F.