Late Season Flowers

And Good For Pollinators Too

Aside from the beautiful fall foliage colors there’s not much color elsewhere.  Chrysanthemum seems to be abundant in autumn but I’m not a fan of it.  I associate it with mourning.  It’s commonly used in funerals and to arrange on a wreath.  So, I don’t plant chrysanthemum in our garden.  We still have plenty of choices for autumn blooming plants and many of them are good for pollinators as well.

I bought Alyssum seed only the first couple of years, now they just come up every year.  Cute little flowers that hug the ground, tolerate light frost and smell like honey as a plus.

White Alyssum seems to self sow much more commonly than the purple variety

Aster is one of the flowers that can lend a helping hand in autumn.  Both native bees and honey bees love it.

I group different colors of Aster together. The white one is a weed though, White heath aster

I put two Maximillion Sunflowers in the garden two years ago, now I have a growing patch of it.  It blooms when other sunflowers start to fade.  It’s a perennial so I don’t have to seed it every year but I will have to divide it next spring as the patch is getting too large for the space.

Flowers are great for pollinators and the finches love the seeds

Fall crocus is also a great pollinator food source.  I’ve seen some bees attempt to pry open the flowers before they have fully opened.

This crocus flowers in late summer and early autumn instead of spring

Moonflower will bloom from mid summer on.  If the weather is warm enough it will keep going.  Its large, white, fragrant flower blooms in the evening.  And, the flower is edible too.

I have this one trailing over our toolshed door.

Calendula is perfect for sunny spots and it self sows.  Its flower is edible as well.

It comes in shades of yellow and orange.

About weeds.  Many weeds are quite beautiful and provide pollen and nectar as well.  I make sure that they don’t overrun the garden.  Goldenrod, with it’s bright yellow flower is a great source of pollen and nectar in late autumn.  It will grow any place that the seeds drop, even between cracks.  I have to pull a lot of them out each spring, sprouting in the wrong place, and it’s the only work I have to do to keep it around.

Once it’s established in the garden it’s very difficult to get rid off. It’s much easier to confine it to one place by cutting spent flowers off so they won’t sprout all over the garden

I don’t know where the first White Heath Aster came from but it has settled in our garden now.  I don’t mind at all.  I just think of it as an aster that is waiting for humans to see its potential.  I do, especially when I see honeybees, Hover fly, Bumblebee and many other small local bees on it’s flowers.

White Heath Aster is just another aster that hasn’t received very many ‘likes’ yet

There are a few more late summer-autumn flowers that are easy to grow and good for pollinators I would like to mentioned.  Until next time.

 

 

Too Cold To Be Outside

A Good Time For Planning: Flowers For Pollinators I

Snow came down two days ago accumulating just three inches.  Today the garden is still covered with snow and the temperature dropped down to just above 10°F.  It’s a perfect winter day for bird watching through the patio door.  Since the ground is covered with snow and the sources of water around here have turned to ice, they congregate around our feeders and heated birdbaths.  It’s also a good day to start planning for the next growing season.

The plant catalogs have been piling up. I have picked out a couple of new vegetables I want to try and am now looking for flowers that bees and butterflies will like. A new Cosmos ‘Cupcake’ looks very tempting. I have already put 200 crocus in this autumn. If they haven’t all been dug up by the squirrels and chipmunks they should blossom when spring arrives.  Any new plants I choose I make sure will benefit all pollinators, not just honeybees.  If I have to pick and choose however, flowers for the bees will come first.

Here are some plants that work for our pollinator garden and I start with flowers:

Alyssum comes in white, pink and purple. It blooms until frost and has honey scent
Alyssum comes in white, pink and purple. It blooms until frost and has a honey scent.  It’s great for ground cover too.  The white variety self sows very well
Honeybee seems to like this Aster more than the lavender color
Honeybees seem to like this Aster more than the lavender color.  It’s a good late season food source for pollinators.
Summersweet
Summersweet has a perfect name; its fragrance is really sweet. I grow both the pink and white varieties. But it can be a problem in the garden as it produces a lot of suckers.
Sunflower is also everyone favorite, birds included.
Sunflower is also everyone’s favorite, birds included. I was able to grow sunflowers again last year after I put the deer net up.  Prior to last year, all flowers, in fact everything, became deer food.  Sunflowers are fun to grow as there are many colors and different heights to choose from.  The Maximillian’s sunflower below will also brighten up late summer in the garden
Maximillian's sunflower 'Santa Fe' is a perennial that can grow over 6 feet tall and produce plenty of flowers on each stem
Maximillian’s sunflower ‘Santa Fe’ is a perennial that can grow over 6 feet tall and produce plenty of flowers on each stem.
Echinacea is a must for pollinators garden
Echinacea is a must for a pollinators garden.  There are a variety of colors to choose from: pink, white, yellow, orange.  The native purple (dark pink actually) readily self sows.  I propagate other colors by digging them up and separating them after a couple of years.
Butterfly Bush
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)has a strong fragrance and easily self sows.  I pick off spent flowers before they set seeds which encourages the plant to produce more flowers and no seedlings that I will have to pull next season.
This iris is a re-blooming variety
This iris is a re-blooming variety and fragrant.  I planted more bearded iris last autumn and look forward to seeing them bloom this spring.
Water Jasmine
Water Jasmine is a tropical flower with a mild, soothing fragrance.  In it’s native tropics, it’ll bloom year round but in a cold climate it blooms heavily in summer.  Bees and moths love it. The honeybee in the photo above is covered with hollyhock pollen .

These are just some of the flowers I managed to photograph with honeybees on them.  There are many more flowers that they like- crocus, snowdrop, Black-eyed Susan.  Next post will be on herbs and vegetables that I allow to flower, both as a pollinators food source and as the next season’s seeds.

 

 

 

Last Resource

Ode to a Honeybee In Late Autumn

We are having a warm autumn this year.  The daytime temperature is still hovering above 50° F on most days but drops back to slightly above 30° F at night.  We had frost for a couple of days early on in the season which killed off most of the garden.  So there is not much left for the bees.

Honeybees being honeybees, they still come out looking for food when the temperature is above 50° F and to relieve themselves as well.  We had fed them in mid-October but now we still worry that their food storage may not be enough for a winter that has not yet come.  Since they spend more energy flying around instead of semi-hybernating in the hive during this time of year, they probably have gone through more of their storage than usual.  So we are putting sugar syrup out on warm days.   They know exactly where the feeder is and zoom right to it.   They still go for any flowers they find blooming at this time of year: Alyssum, Chinese broccoli, Broccoli raab and…Saffron.

Alyssum, despite being tiny and low to the ground, they weather a light frost quite well. They smell like honey too.
Alyssum, despite being tiny and low to the ground, they weather a light frost quite well. They smell like honey too.
I let some broccoli raab flower and it turned out to be a good thing.
I let some broccoli raab flower and it turned out to be a good thing.
Honeybee collecting pollen from saffron flower
Honeybee collecting pollen from saffron flower

I should have grown more saffron but I always start small with any newbies.  If it fails I haven’t wasted much.  My fellow blogger suggested that I may be able to leave them outside since they are hardy to zone 6.  I will leave one pot out as an experiment.  If they are like other crocuses that bloom in spring (which I grow in the ground) they should be fine.  Then I can have plenty of saffron for tea and cooking, and plenty of food for honeybees in late autumn.

This girl didn't even wait for the Chinese broccoli to open fully
This girl didn’t even wait for the Chinese broccoli to open fully
They also go for the water at the heated birdbath
They also go for the water at the heated birdbath

What’s Left

Late Autumn

Did we really have a summer?  Briefly.  Most of the leaves are gone now and the plants are ready to take a rest.  But some plants in the garden are still pushing out their last show of the season.  I envy some of them when I do garden chores in a sweatshirt in a bracing chilly wind and see them with their bare branches and leaves or what’s left of them.  And there are these, the ones that still put on a show for us:

Alyssum
Alyssum

This clump of Alyssum is self-sown year after year, self fed as well.  I left them where they came up since they are very good at drawing in beneficial insects and smell like honey.  This one is in the vegetable garden, draped over the raised-bed reaching for sunlight.

Anise Hyssop
Anise Hyssop

Another readily self-sown, Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), is loved by birds and bees.  The second batch that sprouted up later this summer is flowering now.  It can be really invasive but the American Goldfinch love the seeds and my honeybees love them too so I let them grow.  Makes a great tea as well.

Borage
Borage

I have to pull a lot of Borage (Borago officinalis) out since one plant can take up a lot of space and they self-sow vociferously.  The plants that sprouted in spring are long gone.  These are the ones that came up in late summer.  Aside from the blue star shaped flowers that look so lovely, the bees love them as well.

Calendula
Calendula

These Calendula still produce flowers because they are fenced in with the vegetables.  Their relatives outside the fence were eaten down to the ground by deer and woodchucks.

Rose 'MME. Isaac Pereire'
Rose ‘MME. Isaac Pereire’

This old garden rose ‘MME. Isaac Pereire’ continues blooming from late spring to frost.  Deer have nibbled it’s tips and buds but missed this one.  I will put a net around the plot next season so I can have more than three roses in fall.

Rose 'Knockout'
Rose ‘Knockout’

For some reason deer won’t eat this rose.  This “Knockout” continues to bloom from late spring through autumn, plenty of them.  It has a lovely color that changes from salmon to pink as it matures.  If it had any scent (nope, hasn’t any), it would be a perfect rose.

There are some Hollyhock, Garden phlox, Echanecea and Aster flowering here and there and that’s about it.  The growing season is coming to a close again.  Frost is predicted this coming Sunday.  Where has the time gone?

 

 

Dependable Summer Plants (continued)

Still Blooming

Heading toward the end of summer when not many things are blooming whether because of high temperature, humidity, pouring rain or drought, there are still some diehard flowers that never disappoint me.  Garden Phlox, Black-eyed Susan, Echinacea and Alyssum just to name a few.  There are also some low growing shrubs and lovely weeds, yes weeds – that is what they are categorized.  I do let some weeds like Queen Anne’s lace and Goldenrod grow.  Not just because they are pretty but because my honey bees love them.

When I first grew Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) years ago, I started with a couple of pink colored plants which are the most common.  Then added white ‘David’ and an orange whose name I no longer remember.  I let insects work their magic and now there is quite a large range of colors.  I also realized that growing one or two Garden Phlox won’t do much in terms of fragrance.  I couldn’t smell anything if I didn’t put my nose next to it.  Now it’s another story.  The whole garden is perfumed with a very subtle, soothing scent, which is more pronounced in the cool morning and evening air.  Next spring will be time to weed it down a bit since the plot is getting too crowded.  I tie a ribbon to the ones I plan to keep with a map of colors as a guide.  The duplicates will have to go.  I don’t know if there are any more colors out there but I still keep an eye out for them.

Pink Garden Phlox
Pink Garden Phlox
White and pink phlox
White and pink phlox

See more of the Garden Phlox that I added this year – Jenny- and the ones that our insect friends have created at AMAZINGSEASONS

Another flower that started to bloom in June and still blooms now is the Clematis ‘Betty Corning’.  In order to induce the vine to produce new flowers I cut the spent flowers off.  It has been a very meditative thing to do since there are so many of them but the result is worth it.

Clematis 'Betty Corning' keeps blooming through summer
Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ keeps blooming through summer

I also have Alyssum growing all over the place in both white ‘Carpet of Snow’  and purple ‘Royal Carpet’.  Their fragrance smells like honey and they draw in beneficial insects as well.

Alyssum 'Royal Carpet' a mix of mostly purple and white tiny flowers
Alyssum ‘Royal Carpet’ a mix of mostly purple and white tiny flowers

These Alyssum will last until frost.  I let them set seed so they will come back year after year.  I’ve blogged enough about Black-eyed Susan and Echinacea so I won’t mention them again here but my appreciation for their hardiness and their ‘never fail’ ability to provide colors in the garden is always there.

Spring, Finally

A New Life Cycle Begins

After months of bone chilling cold and several feet of snow, Mother nature finally eased her grip.  The temperature has been increasing slowly and the spring rain has arrived. It’s been raining on and off since yesterday, with intermittent drizzle.  When it was just drizzling, I took the opportunity to walk around looking for both survivors and a new generation in the garden.  The deer and rabbits have done a lot of damage this winter.  I guess hunger made them try anything they can get their teeth on.  Yew hedge, rhododendron, iris, hydrangea, clematis, and tree peony bore the signs of being munched on.

There are also new flowering plants that have pushed themselves above ground.  Tulips, hyacinth and daffodils I rescued from the garbage bin have never failed to express their gratitude year after year.  Not many tulips left though. The chipmunks managed to dig a lot of them up last year even after they had started to flower.  Snowdrops have already bloomed.  Grape Hyacinth and Dwarf iris will follow close behind.

A new cycle begins again. I can hardly wait for a dry sunny day when I can begin pruning roses, feeding the plants, cleaning up the garden in general, and putting new seeds in the ground.

Alyssum 'Basket of Gold'
Alyssum ‘Basket of Gold’

The Alyssum ‘Basket of Gold’ (Aurinia saxatilis) is a perennial that produces bright yellow flowers.  Butterflies and bees love them.  This particular one was buried under a mound of snow this winter but it’s happy and perky again.

Daffodil, only a couple of inches above ground
Daffodil, only a couple of inches above ground
Dwarf iris 'Harmony'
Dwarf iris ‘Harmony’
Snowdrops enjoy spring rain
Snowdrops enjoy spring rain
Rescued tulips
Rescued tulips

I will have to cage these tulips before the chipmunks find them.  I have no idea what this one is but the pattern on the leaf is beautiful and the resulting flower will be so vibrant.

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

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

Alyssum
Alyssum

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.

Knockout
Knockout

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.

Zinnia
Zinnia

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.