I don't know the identity of these flowers, but I like them a lot. They grow about two feet high, with three-inch blooms that come in an almost endless variety and combination of hues. The blooms may have a single, almost primitive array of petals; while others sport double or even triple allotments. Each flower is unique. From their start in midsummer, the bright, colorful blooms keep arriving one after another until serious frost. Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds all find them attractive. Moreover, they somehow strike me as old-fashioned looking and seem a perfect choice for the cottage garden.
Yet…their name remains a mystery. Myladylove's parents live in the extreme northeastern corner of Tennessee, smack in the middle of the Blue Ridge portion of the vast Appalachian Mountains—that ancient rocky spine which runs southwestward from Newfoundland, Quebec and Maine all the way to Georgian and Alabama. From their hilltop home, a few minutes drive north will take you across the state line into Virginia; head east instead and you'll be in North Carolina…and in not much more time you could make that Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, or South Carolina.
Their home, which her Methodist minister father built a few years ago prior to retirement, sits atop a high hill, on mostly open acreage—grassy pasturelands rather than the thick forests of, say, the Great Smokies, and not nearly so high and rugged. There are plenty of woods around, and occasionally a black bear wanders along—but this is really horse-farm country, with lots of stables and riding centers nearby.
Myladylove's mother not only puts out a big garden—from which she annually cans several hundred jars of everything from green beans to tomatoes, peaches to pickles—but she also grows a variety of flowers, and often sends a package or two of seeds to us in the mail. A few years ago she passed along a handful of flower seeds.
One of those seed packets resulted in the blooms pictured in this post. The story is that a number of years earlier, an old man gave Myladlove's mother a supply of seeds which he said had been passed down through his family for several generations. He didn't know the flower's name, or if he did, Myladylove's mother doesn't remember. I've looked through a few garden flower books, and scrutinized the spring catalogs—but so far, no luck. No one I've asked recognized the plant.
Now I'm not saying this is a rare plant, or even uncommon…just that I'm stumped as to its name. It may be as common as marigolds, something everyone but me knows immediately. At best I'm a dabbler when it comes to garden flowers. While you don't need to know the name of flower to appreciate its beauty, I'm hoping someone knows this one.