Tag Archives: Abelia

Before The Frost

Still Standing

Fall is officially here, not just the date but temperature and the color of leaves.  The ground is practically covered with leaves and the branches are becoming more bare everyday.  We start grinding up the leaves for mulching and composting when we have days off.  I don’t cut back much of anything except for the Butterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii).  This lovely, fragrant and food source for butterflies and bees is very invasive if the flowers are allowed to set seed.  I left other plants in the garden stand as they are during winter so birds and insects can have food and some protection from the harsh elements of winter.

As bare as the garden looks now, there are some diehard flowers that are still standing up to the cooling temperature.  Frost will eventually stop them but it’s still a different beauty.


Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) starts flowering in summer and won’t stop until frost.  Its light fragrance draws bumblebees in.


This little flower, tiny, low to the ground but tougher than they look.  They keep going and are good for bees and other insects as a last resource.

Garden Phlox
Garden Phlox

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) is a real diehard.  It can tolerate drought, wet and cold to some degree.  I have no idea which one this is since I let them grow freely and cross-pollination results in many shades of phlox in the garden.  I only know that the phlox ‘David’ is white.

Ms Doreen Pike
Ms Doreen Pike

Rosa Rugosa ‘Ms Doreen Pike’ is still producing flowers here and there.  This one is soaking wet from the rain.

Antique Caramel
Antique Caramel

Once I pulled some of the Bee balm (Monarda) out to give more space to this rose ‘Antique Caramel’, it seemed to be happier and flowered more than last year.


I don’t remember if I ever mentioned I got this rose ‘Knockout’ for free from the nursery, two of them actually.  They’ve been doing really well and never let me down from early summer to frost.


This is one of the Zinnia that is still flowering.  Most of them have black spots due to an excess of rain lately.  But they are doing well this year.


The Beauty of Icicles

I looked out at the garden this morning and discovered that the garden was coated with an icing, as well as the lawn.  It was a beautiful morning, sunny and calm, but pretty cold.  As much as I had to work against the sun that was rising and melting the tiny icicles and everything it touched, I tried not to walk on the lawn or disturb the crystal-coated  leaves and spent flowers.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  There will be another frost tomorrow, but the ice crystals will not form the same way.

Here are some of the crystal displays putting Swarovski to shame.

Frost on what is left of Abelia
This die-hard tiny chrysanthemum is still blooming despite snow and frost.
On what’s left of an Echinacea seed head
On Goldenrod, coral-like but looks more like snow than frost.
On a blade of grass
On the base of an Echinacea seed head
On English Lavender
On Maple leaves
On Rugosa rose ‘Blanc de Coubert’
On Red Russian Kale

Flowers For Bees in Late Summer

Still A Lot More

Autumn will be here in a week; September 22nd is the first day to be exact.  I don’t really go by the date when I think of autumn.  I depend on the temperature and plants in the garden to tell me that fall is coming.  The same goes for spring when I’m prompted to start sowing seeds by the sprouting of weeds.

I know I have a few flowers that bloom until the first frost, but haven’t been concerned until this year when I acquired honey bees.  I want to make sure that they have enough natural food to last the winter.   The temperature has been down below 50F in the last couple of nights, but has gone up between 70F and 80F during the day.  The honey bees won’t come out foraging until the temperature is above 50F, but the resident Bumblebees have been very busy from early morning until last light.  There doesn’t seem to be any competition between them.  They seem to co-exist pretty well, unlike the wasps.

There are still plenty of flowers in the garden, Garden phlox, Coreopsis as well as herbs and vegetables flowers.   I let the Goldenrod (Solidago) grow and set seeds.  I know it is a weed but what constitutes a ‘weed’ anyway.  On the other side of the globe, Goldenrod is a cut flower and being sold in the market.  Farmers Markets in NYC also sell them.  I guess the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” still rings true.  I like them for the bright yellow flowers when there is not much else blooming, and for how much the insects and birds love them.  Our resident honey bees can also forage on them from mid-summer to fall.

Honey bee and wasp sharing the Goldenrod for a moment, before the bee was bullied out.

Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’ (Clematis turniflora) really has a perfect name.  As soon as the temperature cools down, it starts to blossom.  It is a sign of autumn approaching.  They create a cluster of small white flowers so dense that they look like snow from afar and they are lightly but beautifully fragrant.  A plus side?  Bees love them.  A minus side?  It can grow to 30 feet in one season.  I cut everything down to a couple of feet off the main branch in spring; it grows right back on to our roof by the end of summer.

This bee has a lot of pollen to carry back, but still adding more to her load from Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’.

Another autumn flower is Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.  It’s great for full sun and dry areas, and it’s hard to kill.  As soon as the flower blossoms, the whole mop head will fill with all types of insects.  I’ve never really liked it much, but it came with the house so I keep it.  I keep dividing them and replanting them in an area that doesn’t need much care.  I may look for a different variety next year since I want to provide a variety of food for my resident bees in fall.

Taking nectar from Sedum

Abelia (Abelia grandiflora) is another staple for mid-summer to frost blooming.  This compact shrub with dark green leaves provides little white cluster flowers with a light fragrance.  I don’t have to do much aside from cutting some old stems off at the base in spring so it doesn’t get too crowded.  Mulching with compost once a year keeps it in good health.

No bees on this one, but Bumblebees and day-flying moths are frequent visitors on this Abelia.

I can’t leave this last one out, Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii).  This lovely shrub can be very invasive if I let the flowers set seeds.  But it makes up for the down side by providing a lot of beautiful and fragrant flowers.  They are still blooming in our garden in September, though less than a month or so ago, but still providing scent for the garden and food for the insects.

Honey bee taking nectar from a Butterfly bush. Notice the little, pink tongue.