“Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I first discovered native plants, I was introduced to a lovely flower that reminded me of sunsets in the desert. And this flower makes me smile when I see it blooming from late spring right up to a killing frost in fall.
I knew it first as Blanket Flower, and later by its Latin name Gaillardia pulchella. Sometimes called, Firewheel or Indian Blanket, this flowering plant is part of the Aster family (Asteraceae), and closely related to Heleniums.
Gaillardia pulchella can be found in a widespread area in the US. But in the Northeast, where I live, and along the Atlantic and in California it is naturalized and not necessarily native. Its native range is from North Carolina to Florida and west to South Dakota, Colorado and Arizona. It loves to grow in dry plains open roadsides and sandy prairies.
In the late 1700s, Gaillardia pulchella was named for a French naturalist Antoine Rene Gaillard de Charentoneau who was a patron of botany. Pulchella means “pretty” in Latin.
As I profile this wonderful native (naturalized) plant, I am linking in with [email protected]Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme, and [email protected]Elephant’s Eye at False Bay for her Dozen for Diana monthly meme. And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden. The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials. Check out her wonderful 2015 Spring Catalog to see which natives Ellen is selling this year.
Gaillardia pulchella acts like an annual or biennial as it is a short-lived perennial. Left to self-seed it will continue to bloom and grow. The flowers are fabulous to watch from when they begin to break bud until they become a seedhead. The daisy flowers are 2 inches across with red-orange petals dipped in yellow.
The soft leaves are usually hairy and can be smooth edged or lobed. It grows from from 1-3 feet high. When flowers begin to pop out just above the leaves, they are more yellow at first.
Gaillardias prefer full sun, and fast-draining, drier soil. And they seem to thrive in the heat with some rain. In heavier soil, like my clay, they are said to rarely survive winter. But many of mine do return especially if I create berms on top of the clay with lighter soil.
Gaillardia has few insect or disease problems although they can get aster yellows, fungal leaf spot or powdery mildew. Sun and good air circulation will help reduce the possibility of these. Many of mine grow well in part sun too although they are not as tall.
The best method to propagate is by casting seed, in fall, onto loose topsoil. They germinate quickly in 1-2 weeks.
Benefits to Wildlife
Native bees and butterflies love Gaillardia. And they are host to lepidopteran butterflies/moths found in the plains and southwestern states.
Deer and rabbits usually avoid these plants making Gaillardia welcome in my garden.
While Gaillardia leaves can cause contact dermatitis, they also have medicinal uses. Gaillardia pulchella is being studied by cancer researchers because of its tumor-fighting qualities.
Gaillardia makes a great cut flower and seems to last a long time in the vase especially if picked before they are fully in bloom. The plant will bloom endlessly and prolifically if clipped periodically. Including them in a cutting garden is a must.
You’ll find Gaillardia pulchella in many wildflower seed mixes because they grow so easily and quickly in meadows and other open dry areas. Gaillardias mix well with grasses, cool-colored flowers and gray foliage plants.
2015 has been the year of the Gaillardia.
Folklore and Tales
The common name of this flower is said to refer to the colorful patterned blankets made by Native Americans. It was also said to refer to how this plant could blanket the ground with drifts of the flower.
One Native American legend tells the story of when an excellent weaver died, her grave was covered with flowers as brilliantly colored as the blankets she made.
Native American peoples made tea from Gaillardia to treat gastroenteritis and sore eyes. The Kiowa considered it good luck.
In the Language of Flowers, Gaillardia symbolizes bravery. They are brave in my garden as they weather many frosts and keep blooming.
Do you grow a Gaillardia? What do you love about this native flower?
Join In The Seasonal Celebration:
As I feel winter’s tickle, it tells me it is time to celebrate the coming of the new season. I know winter is not everyone’s favorite season, but I hope you will still join in Seasonal Celebrations. I welcome those Down Under who will be celebrating the coming of summer to join in too.
The next Seasonal Celebration kick-off post is coming on November 30th.
In A Vase On Monday
Though we have had many frosts, and you can see the Gaillardia pulchella encased in ice above, they have not stopped blooming…..no killing frost yet. So I was lucky enough to have some for a vase this week.
I decided to combine them with yellow and red foliage in this wonderful green autumn vase.
I used Clethra cuttings with yellow leaves and seedheads as well as pillar Barberry, Berberis thunbergii ‘Helmond Pillar’, that is turning from burgundy to bright red with berries.
And since there were more buds than flowers, I picked more Gaillardias and made a small vase with Pulmonaria leaves, still in the garden with burgundy Ajuga foliage. For a bit of contrast color, are Scabiosa atropurpurea and Knautia macedonica still popping out a few flowers.
As the garden all but fades away, and the days are becoming colder, I wonder what will be in my vase next week.
I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase: [email protected]Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by [email protected]An English Girl Rambles and [email protected]Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.
Check out the latest issue of RURAL, an on-line magazine which is the creation of [email protected] The Light Laughed. You can read an excerpt of my story, Winter’s Gifts, in this Christmas/Winter issue of RURAL. I am pleased to be featured in with so many creative and talented folks.
I hope you will check out the lastest issue of this free online magazine. You can subscribe to RURAL here.
Next up on the blog:
Monday will bring the Seasonal Celebrations post kicking off the celebration of of the new season. I hope you will join in.
I will be linking in with [email protected]Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with [email protected]Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
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