Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Summer Blooms 1

Fall is upon us, and summer blooms are fading, but...now it's time to plan for next summer!  Fall is a great time to plant perennials in your garden, and I hope you'll consider some native plants.  Why?  They're usually pretty hardy, and you'll be supporting native wildlife, too.  At the Museum, we have native plant sales twice a year--once in the spring and this year's Fall Plant Sale is open to the public on September 21 & 22 and 28, & 29, 2013.  Saturday hours are from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Sunday hours are 12:00 to 3:00 pm, rain or shine.  If you're a VLM member, a good deal--the member's preview sale is on Thursday, September 19, from 4:00-6:00 pm.  I'm not sure which kinds of plants will be available, but if you get a chance, here's a few I can recommend....first this beauty is commonly known as "bee balm" or "bergamot" and there are different cultivars (this one is the Jacob Cline cultivar), but they all belong to the genus Monarda in the mint family.  It attracts bees and also hummingbirds--which are especially attracted to red flowers.
Also in the mint family, is spotted horsemint.  The delicate pinkish hues of the petals surround the spotted yellow center.  The flowers grow in clusters along its stem--stems are square in cross section, a characteristic of the mint family:  These flowers also attract native bees and wasps:
 
Also in the mint family (yep, it's a large family!) is mountain mint, Genus Pycnanthemum.  The head of the blossom is fringed with delicate pale purple flowers--it's a magnet for bees and wasps, too.  Many thanks to Larry Lewis who showed me how wonderful this plant really is!  I took some really great insect photos when this plant was in bloom:
This charming white flower, about an inch or so across, is called "buttonbush"--and wow!--it attracted a lot of native bees as well as butterflies--I saw plenty of black swallowtails, tiger swallowtails and silver-spotted skippers on these spherical flowers.  The plant is a large shrub that can reach 10-12 feet in height and prefers fairly wet locations like on the edges of ponds and streams, even swamps:
Another amazing plant is buckeye--there are several kinds, but this white plume is from "bottle brush buckeye"--it grows up to about 8-12 feet and likes moist, well-drained soil.  I was able to get my best photos of hummingbird moths at this flower (see my August 21, 2013 entry):
One of my favorite kinds of flowers are "cone flowers"--the blossoms are very nice and come in a variety of colors, but what I like best is that the "cone" produces seeds that attract goldfinches.  This is "great rudbeckia" (Rudbeckia maxima) sometimes called a "great coneflower":
This weird-looking, yet beautiful flower is from the passionvine plant.  The oddly-shaped flower attracts bees and if you look closely you will see that the stamen form an arc--as a bee moves to the center to drink nectar, pollen is rubbed onto its back, so when the unsuspecting bee moves to another plant it's actually helping to pollinate flowers (sneaky plants!)  The foliage is a primary host plant for gulf fritillary butterflies.
Do you like aquatic plants?  Then I know just the plant for you....pickerel weed--don't let the title "weed" fool you!  It puts out a spire of lovely purple flowers that will attract bees and butterflies:
Finally, the quintessential aquatic plant--the water lily:
Hope this inspires you to "go native" when is comes to planning your garden!  More in two weeks....
Cheers,
Lisa




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