|Echinacea purpurea (white cultivar)|
I’ll start with some big ones—shrubs that really grab your attention and as well as that of the pollinators. Just finishing up their blooms now are bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). This summer buckeye is good in part shade/sun and a popular plant with tiger swallowtail and silver-spotted skipper butterflies as well as bees. The buttonbush likes moist conditions and can tolerate even standing water but it wants a bit of sun. It is popular with the same group of pollinators.
|Tiger swallowtail on Aesculus parviflora|
Devil’s walking stick (Aralia spinosa) isn’t often planted in gardens but you should look for it now on roadsides (I saw it peeking out on GA 400 going north), hanging out on the sunny edges of woodlands and damp ditches. Its huge inflorescence contains dozens and dozens of tiny cream-colored flowers, attracting butterflies and bees galore.
Smaller shrubs blooming now include summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) and a few of the native hibiscus, including the comfortroot (Hibiscus aculeatus), both of which I mentioned last week. As you might expect, the summersweet has a light fragrance to it; it is a favorite of bees and wasps and small butterflies. I have the cultivar ‘Hummingbird’ which stays lower than the species (it was selected by nurserymen for its compact form). New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) a shrub so small that you might think it is a perennial. The small white flower clusters are visited by bees, wasps, flies, and beetles.
|New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus)|
I cheated a bit in posting that picture of the white form of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). White is not the natural color, of course. There are still other white flowers to appreciate. Just finishing up are wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) and Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum). Wild quinine is great for drier sites while Culver’s root does best in a moister spot. Still blooming are three more perennials tolerant of dry areas: hairy angelica (Angelica venenosa), the first of the thoroughworts (Eupatorium album), and mountain mint (Pycnanthemum sp.). For your moist areas, pair up the Culver’s root with aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis), another lover of moist soil.
|Culver's root (Veronicastrum virginicum)|
I’ll finish up with a tree, the very special Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha). It’s blooming now at my neighbor’s house, 3 marvelous specimens on a 3-foot slope where the property drops down to street level. Popular with tiger swallowtail butterflies and bees, it is one of our very few summer-blooming trees (sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum, is another).
|Franklinia alatamaha is beloved by bumble bees|
If you’d like to add a little summer white to your garden, consider some of these plants. They all look pretty good in the shimmering air of a Southern summer.