Tag Archives: late autumn garden

Growing Crocuses

Try To Get A Natural Effect

We have a few days off for Thanksgiving and have spent most of our time grinding up leaves for mulch, fixing the deer fence to make sure there is no breach and planting crocuses and tulips.  Autumn is the time to put in spring crocus bulbs.  We put a couple of hundred bulbs in a year ago and love the way our lawn looks in spring.  This autumn we put 400 more bulbs in. I don’t really like growing anything ‘bulb’ because most of the time they become squirrel and chipmunk food.  However, taking our honeybees into consideration, I want to provide natural, early spring food for them.  Crocus is one of the flowers that bloom very early and have plenty of pollen and nectar.   They are also quite pretty and come in variety of colors.  They will disappear underground by the time other flowers start to bloom.

Crocuses blooming on the lawn in early April.  Since we mixed the bulbs, the colors are random.

I run out of space to put a lot of bulbs in so our lawn is the only place.  In order to make them look natural, I bought mostly mixed color bulbs.  I also bought individual colors of the larger variety and mixed them with the smaller ones.  Cast them on the lawn then planted them wherever they landed.  Last spring they came up before the lawn grew, creating a lovely natural effect.  Multi colors of crocus bloomed randomly in early April.  Unfortunately we lost all our hives last winter so the native bees had a great time.

Here’s a selection of spring crocus..

Deep yellow with maroon veins underneath
Lovely white
Dark purple
Yellow with a white edge
Lavender with a touch of white

I’m missing a couple of colors, either the bulbs rotted or they became our furry friends food.  We can hardly wait to see what our lawn will look like next spring.




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.



Autumn Flowers

Blooming When Nothing Else Does

I’ve been looking for flowers that bloom in autumn when nothing else will bloom.  I’m just trying to give our garden some color and the bees a late snack on any day that is warm enough for them to come out of their hives.  Not that many plants bloom at this time of year even the Goldenrod have already faded.

After some searching, I found Waterlily Colchicum and Fall White Crocus and planted them in late September.  Saffron also blooms in autumn but somehow they have not produced flowers this year.  I harvested some Saffron last year but this year there are plenty of leaves but no flowers.  Hopefully some will produce some flowers before it gets too cold.

Saffron flower from last year
Saffron flower from last year

I actually encountered the Waterlily Colchicum for the first time a couple of years ago at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when I attended the Chili Festival.  It was a love at first sight.  There was a large patch of them blooming but I didn’t know what they were until I found them in a plant catalog.  Here they are, a beautiful pink water lily look alike on dry land.

Waterlily Colchicum flowers among autumn leaves
Waterlily Colchicum flowers among autumn leaves
Up close. They really look like waterlily.
Up close. They really look like waterlily.
This Crocus blooms in autumn. Not many of them left from squirrels and chipmunks scavenging.
This Crocus blooms in autumn. Not many of them left from squirrels and chipmunks scavenging.

It’s nice to see colors in autumn that are not orange, yellow or red.  Hopefully there will be more of them next autumn.



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:


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.


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.


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?