Four White Flowers

May 07 2008 Published by under Gardening For Life

It's spring, and everything looks great in the garden right now. Well, except for those pervasive Star of Bethlehem invaders that have to be pulled out by the dozens. Star of Bethlehem is a non-native, very invasive plant that can take over your flower bed almost overnight. I spent about an hour or more yesterday pulling it out of my flowerbeds. Its flowers are white, but it's not one of the four white flowers of the post title.
The four white flowers would be: tree peony, woodland phlox, chokeberry tree blossoms, and foam flower. I am not what you would call a photographer - I take snapshots, not photos, I fear. Nevertheless, maybe you will enjoy these flower snapshots!

The first of the lot is the tree peony.


I bought this tree peony several years ago, before I got religion about gardening with natives. It is definitely not native, but at least it is not invasive. It probably doesn't support much in the way of native insect life. The flowers on my tree peony are wider than the length of my hand - and I have long hands.
Next is phlox, a beautiful plant I inherited from the garden's previous owners. I think this is woodland phlox. I nearly killed it in the first year I was here because I did not realize it was a good plant. Fortunately, it was hardy enough to survive my plant stupidity.


Woodland phlox is a native. Butterflies and bees are supposed to like it. The flowers are about as wide across as a third of my finger.
Two years ago I planted this chokeberry tree.


I picked it because it was native and deer resistant, though this was before I got religion about natives. In the first year, this deer-resistant plant was savaged by the enormous deer herd that practically lives in my backyard. Moral of the story: deer will eat just about anything when they are starving. The flowers are about as wide as my fingernail. It gets red berries, and the foliage turns a brilliant red in the fall. I'm not sure this one is planted in the best site, but it's struggling gamely along.
The last plant is foamflower.


Another inherited native, and another one I almost killed. I am sure I did kill a few nice plants that the previous owners put in. Someday I'll be a real gardener....I hope. I have since learned to let unfamiliar stuff sprout for awhile until I can figure out what it is. Foam flower - good; garlic mustard - bad. Learn to recognize this one and rip it out ruthlessly. The individual flowers on the foam flower are very teeny tiny. It really does look sort of foamy, doesn't it?
These flowers will all be gone in a short time; foam flower probably lasts the longest. But I so much enjoy them while they are here. Gardening - even though I'm pretty much a rank amateur - is so good for my soul. I'm so glad spring is finally here!

10 responses so far

  • Cherish says:

    Do you do anything with the chokecherries?

  • Zuska says:

    No. I think the birds eat some of them; supposedly they aren't bothered by the taste as humans are.

  • absinthe says:

    We have a tree peony that was planted around 50 years ago. It is lovely.
    Neighborhood rumour has it that it was imported from Japan, along with several other tree peonies in the 'hood (most of our neighbors have lived here for decades).
    They are incredibly expensive. Just a small one in a 6" pot costs $150. I've harvested the seeds from mine (which is white, like yours) and from a neighbor's (who has a pink one). I am going to try to go through the many step process to cultivate them (tree peonies are double dormant...see
    If I manage to get some growing, I'll bring you another one for your garden the next time I'm in Philly 😉

  • Zuska says:

    Whoa! What kind of tree peony are you buying for $150? Mine didnt' cost a lot and it was fairly big when I got it. Maybe I paid $20 or $25 for it.

  • absinthe says:

    Hmmm...obviously I have to go out to Philly to buy some tree peonies. I actually didn't end up buying them for $150 (the going price at the local nursery)...too rich for my blood and hence the collection of seeds last year.
    The problem might be that I am in the middle of Midwest Nowhere, and you are in a big urban center. A lot of things are more expensive here than they were in Chicago, which I think reflects the isolation of the place.

  • Alan says:

    Hi from the UK. I suspect the expensive peonies were grafted named varieties - many of the more elaborately flowered forms have to be propagated that way as they rarely set seed. They are very long lived plants - we have some in a local arboretum which are well over 100 years old

  • Doug Alder says:

    Another very invasive plant is Lily of the Valley. This is my first spring in the new house and I'm dealing with a real mess left by the previous owner. She had planted two beds of Lily of the valley and it's hell getting that stuff out. Oh and she also planted California Poppy and that stuff is evil, it's going to take me years to eradicate it.

  • Zuska says:

    Yikes! How I loathe invasive plants! I just recently found out that Lily of the Valley is invasive. There is some growing underneath the arborvitae in my backyard, courtesy of the previous owners. It has not seemed to grow much at all over the past three years...maybe the arborvitae keeps it in check? Maybe I should just rip it out now, though, before it decides to go insane...

  • Doug Alder says:

    rip it out Zuska - it spreads underground. It will take over eventually

  • Zuska says:

    thanks, Doug. Will do so as soon as I get back home from this weekend trip.