The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Crouching Buckwheat, Hidden Lily - Even More Easy-To-Grow Plants

 Hidden Lily is also called Hidden Ginger.
The root has been used as a ginger substitute.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a hit movie, long ago.
By chance, I saw an offer for Hidden Lily, which I knew nothing about. Once the rhizomes arrived, I began reading. The plant seems to grow like Canna, enjoying sun and water. Unlike Canna, the Hidden Lily is a fairly hardy and can be left in the ground to spread and come up again the next year, or divided and shared with others.

I left the mesh bag in the rain-filled wheelbarrow overnight. The rhizomes seemed like that. They were easy to  plant by poking holes in the mulch and cardboard base, and they reminded me of Canna rhizomes.

 Canna rhizome, subject to frost. Gott sei dank.


 Cannas are enjoyed for their constant blooming and spreading,
but they can also be
as annoying as loud bagpipe music left playing too long.


 Buckwheat flowers fast and keeps flowering in the summer,
but never becomes a pest flower.

Battling Bugs with Buckwheat

"Buckwheat flowers attract honeybees and other pollinators with their morning nectar flow, but they also support healthy populations of smaller beneficial insects. Mounting evidence suggests that blooming buckwheat give a significant boost to important beneficial species, particularly hoverflies (properly known as Syrphid flies but commonly called hoverflies because of their seemingly effortless ability to hover)."
"Throughout the summer, I sow buckwheat in any spot bigger than a dinner plate that won’t be planted for a few weeks. With good weather, buckwheat can go from seed to bloom in a little over a month."

"Summer weeds that do germinate alongside buckwheat are usually shaded into submission. Later, when the plants are pulled out, residual compounds exuded by growing buckwheat roots may act as natural herbicides, suppressing the germination of weed seeds."

Growing Buckwheat to Improve Soil

"Phosphorous and calcium are among the most important nutrients needed by plants. Soils that are regularly enriched with organic matter often contain an abundance of these nutrients, but in forms that are difficult for plants to take up. Buckwheat has been called a phosphorus pump because of its ability to take up soil phosphorus and return it in a more plant-friendly form. When you grow a patch of buckwheat, both your garden and your compost pile reap this reward."
Crouching Buckwheat
A large bag also appeared in the mail. That was a bargain bag of Buckwheat seeds. I cannot imagine a better seed for:

  1. A low-cost, easy sowing to create a bee and butterfly garden.
  2. Flowers that overwhelm pesky weeds.
  3. Extra havens for beneficial insects in the Wild Garden.
Last year I had Buckwheat blooming in the deep shade where Wild Strawberries and Hosta bloomed. The extent of shade-blooming plants has intrigued me. When someone wants flowers, shade is often a problem and people regret having too much shade. But when a plant will flourish, flower, fruit, and set seed in the shadiest area of the yard, that is a real benefit.

 Hostas send up an elegant but modest bloom,
a flower loved by Hummingbirds.
The plants multiply without being annoying and garish.

Last summer, my first venture in Hostas was satisfactory. Mrs. Ichabod wanted some, and Mr. Gardener had a bunch to divide. Direct Gardening sold me a more for a few dollars. I planted tiny ones and divided plants last year. They came up again this spring. The value of Hostas, besides infinite variety of color and size, is the flower that Hummingbirds love.

The gardening websites are careful to mention flowers that Butterflies and Hummingbirds love. Today, more of us are in tune with the beneficial insect plants - often those with the tiniest flowers for those micro-creatures like Pirate Bugs.

God has planned for all these flowers to work together in protecting the beneficial insects and worthwhile crops. Sometimes, all someone needs to do is grow the plant that hosts the bug that kills the pest. And those plants are not the difficult or expensive plants, but the common, overlooked, easily grown ones.

Catmint is loaded with tiny flowers that pollinators love.
I have several growing among the roses,
enjoying the sun and extra water,
clumping rather than spreading like a flu virus.