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Flowers in Every Season for Pollinators and Happy Gardener

Grape hyacinths

The grape hyacinths were the big surprise this year. Riotous they were.

It is not difficult to find flowers for every season.  Many spring flowers have decided it is time to take a nap until next April. If it weren’t for the fact that summer bloomers were beginning to show their colors I’d be very depressed. Like many of us my spring garden began with bulb flowers like scillas, crocuses, daffodils and tulips of every sort. In my May garden fringed bleeding hearts and a goldheart bleeding heart showed their colors. I had epimediums, hellebores, bistort, troillus, Jacob’s ladder, fothergilla, quince, geum, primroses, fairy bells, forget-me-nots, tiarella, snow drops and summer snowflakes. There is more! Centaurea montana was blooming along with solomon’s seal, primulas, wood poppies, barren strawberry, and creeping phlox. Viburnams are blooming along with lilacs and red and yellow twig dogwoods. Most of these are native plants which I chose because I want to benefit local birds, bees and butterflies.

Strolling through the garden is a delight in the spring. Now that it is June my roses are just beginning to blossom. Roses used to have a short blooming season, but nowadays hybridizers are giving us roses with a longer season, or a second flush.

SUMMER BLOOMERS

Huskers Red

Husker’s Red penstemon

Some people actually have no interest in roses, but there is no shortage of a variety of summer bloomers. June is a great month for irises which are available in different sizes, forms, and colors. Beautiful shrubs like mountain laurel, rhododendrons and azaleas come into bloom. Honeysuckle, astilbe, columbine, coreopsis, campanula, agastache, and Husker’s Red penstemon will also bloom.

Many annuals that attract the birds and the bees bloom all summer and into the fall including zinnias, marigolds, calendula, cosmos, nasturtiums, and cleome (spider flower).

Many of these plants show themselves in many colors. To attract pollinators we should think about the way bees see. The colors most appealing to bees are white, yellow and blue – in their various shades. I will think of that as I choose from the colors of  my zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, and nasturtiums.

The plants in an herb garden, thyme, basil, oregano, sage, borage and mint bloom in blue, attract bees and keep cooks happy.

AUTUMN

Sheffield daisy

Sheffies – Sheffield daisy

Summer is a longer garden season than spring. Plants that bloom in the fall may begin their term in August, and keep us happy until frost. Chrysanthemums might head the list. Football games and mums on lapels. Not this year, of course. No games. Even so, other types of mums can delight. There are spoon and quill mums that have unusual petals, little button mums, and cushion mums which are the mounding mums that appear at supermarket doors in the fall.

My favorite chrysanthemum is the so called Sheffield daisy. The daisy-like petals are a lovely pink with a yellow center. They are a little sprawly and low, but they start their glorious bloom in September and continue until a hard frost. I love this plant which blooms when almost everything else is giving up. It is a good spreader and I usually have divisions to give away.

Boltonia is an amazing plant, growing tall and stately. It brings a profusion of small white daisy blossoms on sturdy four to five foot stems well through October.

Culver’s root is even taller than boltonia. It is at least five feet tall with candelabra-like spikes of white flowers.

Of course there are asters that also bloom through the fall. There are tall asters like the white wood aster with tiny white daisy-like blossoms, the three foot brilliant pink Alma Potchke, and Wood’s Blue which is only a foot tall, but can carpet an area, or be kept in check. There are many asters to take us through the fall.

Douglas W. Tallamy

There was no garden when we moved to Greenfield five years ago. But I had read and was inspired by Bringing Nature Home written by Douglas W. Tallamy, a professor at the University of Delaware. He has been teaching for years how insects interact with plants and how those interactions affect the world around us. He has given us statistics about the losses of insects, birds and what it means for us.

Right now I have been reading that if 70 percent of our garden plants, from trees to annuals, were native plants our birds, bees and butterflies would be supported. We would get to understand the interconnectedness of all creatures.

Tallamy has written two other fascinating books: The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Landscape with Rick Darke, and his new book Nature’s Best Hope: a New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. I want beautiful flowers in my garden, and I also want to be a conservationist.

Tallamy has a website, www.bringingnaturehome.net with information about the native plants that are suitable to our part of the world.###

Between the Rows   June 6, 2020

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