But even so, I got Mother Nature's message, and decided I should show you my garden before it truly goes to sleep for the winter. Join me for a prance through my prairie!
I discovered Rocky Mountain Bee Plant last year, growing naturally. Seeds I sowed in the fall sprouted, and the most successful plant loomed to five feet before the frost brought it down. Aptly named, it is a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds; you could hear the incessant drone of buzzing from quite a distance. Overnight, the pollinators have vanished from this plant. I have already collected seed pods, and will continue to do so as more mature - I can't count on this plant to return since Bee Plant is an annual. I look forward to continuing my experimentation with this gorgeous member of the caper family.By mid-August, my driveway baskets were past their prime, so I augmented them with Lamium, Anemone, and Angelface Summer Snapdragon. Despite covering them the night of the frost, the most delicate plants succumbed. Sigh. On the porch, the cold devastated the black susan vines that looked so pretty twining around the railings. I don't plan to use them again, since their connection to the railing prevents me from moving them in the case of hail (or frost)!
Aster showed no impact from the frost, and since it is a late bloomer providing welcome splashes of color in the garden right now, I am pleased. My aster plants (I think the initial landscaping plan had four or five) have spawned innumerable volunteers, and it appears to be a favorite of the deer since many of the seedlings are nibbled before they produce flowers. I am still occasionally surprised where I find the plants - the seeds are so small, I can only attribute it to the vagaries of the wind. When I locate one in a particularly desirable location of the garden, I make sure to protect it!
I was also delighted to discover a coneflower with magenta florets within the boundaries of my "formal" garden. It first appeared last summer in the prairie, and clearly some seeds found their way into the flower beds. Its stalks and leaves are remarkably similar to those of the prairie coneflower, so I had mistakenly labeled them as such, until they bloomed. I have studied my plant books, and perused the web, but I have been unable to make a formal identification. Can anyone help? Until then, I am mentally referring to them as magenta coneflower. Update: thanks to MB of Small City Scenes and Pat of Mille Fiori Favoriti for helping me identify this as Mexican Hat/Upright Prairie Coneflower. (In general, the coneflowers are more droopy following the frost.)
As the summer has progressed, I have also marked many spots containing what I believe to be volunteer bee balm. If I am correct, I will be quite happy since it has been hard for me to harvest seed from this plant - as soon as it is done blooming, the whole plant turns brown, and I have been unable to identify anything that looks like a seed!
As many of you know, bee balm is another plant that draws pollinators in droves. Below is a video of butterflies on and around the plant.
As long as we are looking at videos, check out the hummingbird with the scarlet gilia. For weeks, this female hummer was guarding this section of the garden by sitting on the chicken wire in between feedings. (The gilia showed no reaction to the initial cold snap.)
You may have noticed the blanketflower that is mixed in with the gilia. This plant has a special corner of my heart - it seems to bloom continuously with that eye-catching yellow/orange combination. Also, it was unaffected by the frost, its seeds are easy to collect, and I had great results with the seeds that I sowed in the spring. A keeper!!!
9/8/2019). As the garden self-propagates, it is more and more impractical to protect individual plants. I have had some success with placing chicken wire around large sections, such as the gilia and blanket flower you have seen in some of the pictures above. I think my next plan is to move those large chicken wire enclosures from year to year, allowing a new section to get well-established. We can only try, right?
Admired for its silvery gray, fragrant foliage as much as its lavender-purple flowers, Russian sage make a bold statement in a garden. The abundant, spiky clusters of flowers only started blooming in mid-August, so I was a little chagrined to see that some spike tips were affected by the frost. Also, the wind has weakened some of the branches and spoiled the normally symmetrical look. Nevertheless, all three of my plants are spectacular, and I love the show. They have also produced a number of volunteers, and I have learned NOT to water them - Russian sage likes very dry conditions.
Dedicating my prayers today to all those suffering the impact of wildfires, hurricanes, and flooding.