Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Late Summer Round-up

Wildflower border in early September.

As summer is winding down for us, it is still going strong for the summer and fall-blooming wildflowers.  In this border on the south side of the house the flowers are sharing space with a few varieties of tomatoes.  Notable here is the Brown-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba.  This plant is also growing in part sun, in dryish soils (I have some doing well near a Norway Maple, but it gets 3-4 hours of sun), but fades out early in deep shade.  Also in this border is the annual Crowned Beggarticks, Bidens coronata.  These are of a more manageable size, and bloom earlier, than the Bearded Beggarticks, B. aristosa, that I have grown in the past.

One plant that is expanding its presence in the border is Texas Sage, Salvia coccinea.  This southeastern native annual has managed to overwinter in the warmer locations here in my northeastern garden and in the pots where I have reused the soil.  The original planting was done 3 years ago, but that doesn't mean that a really cold winter will finish them off.

The bees access the nectar at the base of the flower

The Smooth Asters, Symphiotrichum laeve, have been blooming for about a week.  I don't usually see them blooming with the Black-eyed Susan's, since they usually get dried out here in late August.  I started out with only a couple of these asters, but now they a showing up all around the garden.  Another plant that has adapted well to this residential site is Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis.  The tiny seeds of these plants are finding their way into pavement cracks and then growing with some success.  They bloom all summer.  I didn't take a photo because they are looking kind of ratty now as they are going to seed.

One new plant I started this year was Giant Blue Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum.  The natural range for this mid-west native does not extend to Massachusetts.  The indigenous Agastache is the Purple Giant Hyssop, A. scrophulariifolia, and it grows to over 6' tall.  Since I wanted to grow this in a small residential setting I opted for the smaller sized species.  I was happy to see that, despite its youth, it has started to bloom.

This new Agastache is attacting bees already;
however, the nearby Beeblossum gets little traffic.

I have been growing Meadowsweet, Spiraea latifolia (actually Spiraea alba var. latifolia) around the house for over 5 years.  It is long blooming and very attractive to the native bees.  The down side is that it gets very rangy and tends to flop over onto other plantings.  This year, after the first big flush of flowers was spent at the end of June, I pruned a plant back by about half.  Now in September it is blooming again and has a more contained shape.

Probably the best place for this plant is in a hedgerow or a naturalistic planting; however, with some attentive maintenance it can work in an informal residential design.