Thursday, February 25, 2016

My Favorite Native Rock Garden Plant: Eriogonum umbellatum , Sulfur-flower buckwheat By Lorrie Redman

It is February and I am watching the elk cruise through my back yard looking for native grasses to munch on.  As I sit here on this beautiful sunny day, I am imagining and planning my new rock garden.    

Why a Rock Garden? 
·        I live at 7500 feet and I have sandy and gravely soil that isn’t nutrient dense. 
·        I can plant native plants that feed the wildlife in my area, are low water and low maintenance,
·        I don’t have to truck in loads of soil just to get started.
·        I have free rocks on my property and they are harmonious with my house and neighborhood. 
·        It offers great protection for all the small mammals, birds, and pollinators that live in the area.
·        Those same rocks help create miniature warm environments to help me grow plants that may not thrive without a rock to warm them up.
·        I love the juxtaposition of living and non-living things working together to make my yard beautiful!

Since I choose a garden that the animals can roam in, I also want to choose plants that they can use.  Native plants definitely fit my criteria including the Sulfur-flower buckwheat plant.

Why Eriogonum umbellatum, Sulfur-flower buckwheat

·        According to the USDA Plant Fact Sheet on Eriogonum umbellatum  “its seeds are important food source for many species of birds and small mammals. Quail, sage grouse, deer and mountain sheep eat the leaves, and insects found on the plants are an important food source for sage grouse chicks.”
·        Also according to the USDA Plant Fact Sheet: “Sulfur-flower buckwheat attracts a wide variety of bees and other native pollinators.
·        It performs best in dry open and rocky sites and likes sandy gravely soils with low fertility.
·        It is relatively free of pest and disease.
·        Its beautiful umbel flower head has four-season color (changing from bright yellow in spring to orange-red in the fall) and it is long blooming from June through October.
·        It can withstand sun, heat, drought, and wind.
·        You can start it from seed or find it in a nursery depending on your patience level.  E. u. aureum, Kannah Creek sulphur buckwheat is a seed grown selection from Colorado.  
·        Lastly, It is a native plant and you don’t have to worry about it being invasive!

If you are interested in more information on rock garden natives or Eriogonum umbellatum please check out the following sites:  USDA Plant Fact Sheet  Eriogonum umbellatum More references on Colorado native plants

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