As the dog days of summer are quickly approaching we cannot help but be grateful for the delightfully, cool spring days that have quickly become a vague memory. The cool temperatures and adequate rainfall not only brought smiles to the faces of our park visitors, but they also enabled the gardens at The Parklands to explode with color and brilliance.
Throughout all of our gardens and meadows, the perennials are proudly displaying their best attire. For example, the gardens at Cliffside Playground and Sprayground, located in Broad Run Park, are the home to many different species of perennials, as well as ornamental grasses—many of which are pictured below. As Head Gardener, I am fortunate to visit the gardens on a daily basis, along with garden team member and photographer, Kayla Franck. Kayla has captured these blooms at their best.
Lance-leaved coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata, is a native wildflower, which is a useful pollinator, providing a food source for wildlife, as they tend to drink the nectar and eat the seeds. The blossoms of the coreopsis are also useful as a natural dye.
Butterfly Milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa, is a species of milkweed that is native to Eastern North America. It is commonly known as butterfly weed because of the butterflies that are attracted to the plant because of its color and production of nectar. Milkweed is a host plant for the Monarch butterfly. Read more about our Milkweed planting intiative here.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, a lovely addition to the gardens with its red and yellow blooms, yarrow is actually an herb. The showy flower heads consist of many tiny, tightly packed flowers; their fern like leaves are very aromatic. Legend has it that yarrow was named after Achilles, the Greek mythical hero who used it to heal the bleeding in his soldiers’ wounds.
Spiderwort, Tradescantia, is a very hardy native great for use in borders, edging woodland gardens and containers. The three-petaled flower only remain open for a day, blooming in morning hours and closing at night. The flowers continuously bloom for up to six weeks.
Ox-Eye Daisy, Leucanthemum vulgate, one of the toughest perennial wildflowers, it is a typical grassland wildflower that is comfortable growing in meadows, fields, open canopy forests and disturbed areas.
Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus corota, a member of the carrot family, the root is also edible. It often grows in the same areas as poison hemlock and contains similar leaves. Take care to not confuse the two! Queen Anne's Lace is distinguished by its showy white bracts. The flower resembles lace (hence the name) and contains a solitary purple dot in the center.
Rattlesnake master, Eryngium yuccifolium, is one of our favorites. It is distinguished by its whitish green globe-like flower head. It is a unique, garden specimen, which, at first glance, is noticeably different from most natives. It is native to tall grass prairies and the open rocky woods of the central and eastern United States. You can find this plant in gardens at Cliffside Playground in Broad Run Park.
Mountain Mint, Pycanthemum muticum, is a member of the mint family; however, it is not invasive as are many of the true mints. Its dark green leaves have a strong mint aroma when crushed and make a delicious mild tea. It is also a useful pollinator, attracting bees and butterflies.
Cheyenne Spirit Coneflower, Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit', there is no doubt this flower stands out at the Cliffside Playground and Sprayground. With its assorted yellow, pink and red blooms it is a real eye-catcher. The flowers are often used as cut flowers; however, please refrain from cutting ours. Please leave them for the birds, butterflies and other pollinators that also enjoy this beauty.
Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta, a short lived perennial that is not commonly grown in gardens but can be found along roadsides and in meadows. That is where you will find these beauties at The Parklands. It is a coarse, hairy, somewhat weedy plant, with bright yellow to orange petals and a dark chocolate center disk. Blooming all summer long, it is often confused with its close relative the Brown-eyed Susan. Keep your eyes open! It won't be long before meadows are exploding with their color.
Karen has worked at the Parklands of Floyds Fork in many capacities. Originally hired as an Attendant in 2013, she has also worked in the PNC Achievement Center at the front desk and The Gheens Foundation Lodge as an Event Concierge. As of September 1, 2014 she has taken on the position as Head Zone Gardener. Karen is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor degree in Technical Horticulture and a minor in Floriculture. For the past fifteen years she has been actively involved in providing a hands-on atmosphere for her husband and three children. During this time she maintained a successful, profitable small business as a lawn maintenance contractor as well as a private residential gardener. Along with a passion to make a difference, Karen shares the same enthusiasm as her colleagues, as they continue to contribute to the growth and progress of The Parklands of Floyds Fork. When not at the Parklands, Karen enjoys spending time with her family, pets and just being in the outdoors.
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