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Danelle Cutting: Stunning blooms, gorgeous displays at Hurley Park

We have had quite a bit of interest in Hurley Park due to COVID-19. Questions range from wanting to know what is in bloom, whether or not we have flowers all of the time, and of course when is the best time of the year to visit the park.

It is true that we have blooms just about any time of the year but something doesn’t have to bloom to be beautiful, in my opinion. There is a lot of interest in plants that have stunning blooms but plants also have additional gorgeous features. In this article I am going to share with you some plants that are beautiful right now in the heat of the summer but can also be attractive without blooming.

A great plant that is blooming right now is the black-eyed Susan also known as rudbeckia. A lot of our guests think these are miniature sunflowers and I suppose they do look similar. They tend to show up during the hottest parts of the year and it is a nice specimen to have when most of your flowers have finished blooming.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Another great specimen is the purple cone flower or echinacea purpurea. I love these flowers because of their unique shape and their vibrant colors. They come in an assortment of colors from white, red, and purple. The nice thing about both rudbeckia and echinacea is that the pollinators love them.

After the blooms are spent, the seeds ripen and provide food to the local wildlife. The stalks and seed heads can somewhat look unsightly and almost like a burnt look but the beauty comes from the gorgeous birds that feast on the seeds.

Be sure to let the wildlife harvest the seeds and only after the seed heads are cleaned should you remove the plant debris. That’s why we leave the stalks standing at Hurley Park even after the blooms are gone.

Alianthus Webworm moth on Mountain Mint

Mountain mint is one of my all-time favorite plants and we are lucky to have some at Hurley Park. The plant is blooming right now but it is not an extraordinary bloom nor is it overly fragrant unless you crush the leaves. The beauty in this plant is seeing all of the pollinators collecting the nectar. I like to think of it as the coffee shop of the insect world as you will see numerous insects on this plant.

If you want to see some of the most beautiful insects and arachnids (bees, butterflies, wasps, spiders, etc.) be sure to have a mountain mint at your home. Sarina Dellinger, our assistant park manager, captured some gorgeous photos of insects congregating on the mountain mint to showcase all of the visitors she has seen. Mountain mint may not have spectacular blooms but it makes up for it by having a delightful fragrance and being a busy stop on the insect highway.

Painted Japanese Fern

To wrap up this tale of unique plants that have interest even without blooms is ferns. That’s right. I didn’t even say what kind of fern because Hurley Park has quite a few that are so unique you have to visit so, come check them out. There are thousands of various ferns worldwide and although Hurley Park does not have them all we have a beautiful collection. Ours are located at our “Fern Glade” near the creek alongside Craige Street. They are in a shady cool spot that is perfect to take a break from the heat and admire their beautiful span of colors and unique textures.

One of my favorites is the Japanese painted fern that has lacey fronds and changes from a deep green or purplish color to a mossy white. We also have some cinnamon ferns that have unique stiff fertile fronds that turn a brownish color. The fronds also have a beautiful yellow color in the fall.

These are just a few plants that are unique with or without a bloom at Hurley Park. I hope you are able to visit us soon to see how beautiful and unique these plants truly are!

If you have any questions about the park or what is in bloom, please give us a call at 704-638-4459 or contact us on Facebook or Instagram @HurleyParkNC. If you would like to donate to Hurley Park, visit salisburync.gov/hurleypark .

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