Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Early Fall is Golden


It's been gradual, but we are slowly moving into the fall season. We are still experiencing dry, hot (as in 90 degree) days, but mornings are comfortably cooler and days are getting shorter.

skipper butterfly on helianthus angustifolius

This has become my favorite season in nature. Summer blooms have mostly faded, bequeathing the garden to the next wave of blooms. Insect activity is at its pinnacle with a profusion of bees, butterflies and beneficial insects.  Late September, early October is a golden time.

Solidago rugosa 'fireworks'

Goldenrods come ablaze on pollinator hill. The tiny flowers provide an abundant supply of nectar for bees, wasps and butterflies.

They even liven up the fluffy dwarf joe pye weed blooms that have gone to seed, giving this old/new combo more star power in the landscape.

Eupatorium dubium with solidago

Maryland Goldenaster is a strong bloomer, from late September through November. The bold yellow blooms are especially loved by bees and butterflies.

Chrysopsis mariana paired with Muhlenbergia capillaris

The garden (writing) spiders even add a touch of gold dangling in their webs amid the foliage.

The black swallowtail caterpillars feasting on the bronze fennel in the kitchen garden add a splash of yellow to the fading golden blooms of the fennel.

But it is the bright, bold yellow of the swamp sunflowers that are most eye catching. Standing tall, these blooms can be seen from the road and wave at the passerby.

The colorful flower flies that frequent the blooms all but blend in with the florets. They are significant pollinators in gardens calling on a wide range of blooms. Look closely, as they mimic bees, but unlike bees, they often hover in front of the flowers.

Once pollination services have been rendered by bees, butterflies, flies and diurnal moths, these blooms will provide seed for the many song birds who reside here.

The fall garden is one of my greatest pleasures. The transition from summer to fall is gentle and glorious. This is an important time to continue to nurture all the pollinators and other insects in the garden by providing nectar sustenance as they prepare for hibernation or migration.