Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday: Signs of Fall

Is there anything better than a perfect fall day?  Cooler temperatures means you welcome the sun shining down rather than complaining at the discomfort.  The air seems crisper and full of pleasant aromas.  The song of birds and humming of insects seems louder as they enjoy the bounty of the season.   This is the time of year, next to spring, that I enjoy best.

Blackberry lilies in July
Though the garden is slowly dying back, and blooms are not as obvious as in July or even August, there is still some beauty to be found.  The Blackberry lilies Belamcanda Chinensis--which I struggled to get started here--have finally taken off and even multiplied.

Though the bright orange blooms of this plant have long since faded away, the seed pods they leave behind are just as striking, I think.  The papery pods open up in September, revealing the reason for their common name.  Though not a true native, Blackberry Lily is often included in a list of Illinois wildflowers.

This is also the time of year when things get a bit wild, and I don't just mean the disheveled look of my garden.  The "wild things" that looked like weeds all summer long in the butterfly garden have finally justified my allowing them to stay.  Goldenrod, not a fancy hybrid but the native kind, has been blooming since August .

Not a single one of these plants has been purposely planted by me.  For the most part, the goldenrod has been pretty well-behaved, staying within the confines of the butterfly garden.  But a few escapees have traveled elsewhere, and as long as they continue to be polite, I let them stay.  Actually, I think the bright yellow blooms contrast nicely with the dark sedum in the arbor bed, one of those happy accidents that I enjoy.

The goldenrod also goes well with the other rambunctious wild things in the butterfly garden, native asters. The mass of asters in this area all started from one, maybe two, purple plants purchased several years ago.

Somewhere down the line, the purple parents produced light pink progeny.

And now we also have a deeper pink offspring.

Purple or pink or a shade in between, I don't care; I've let Nature take her course in producing these.  The only interference I've done is to cut them back in May or June so that they don't flop so much come bloom time.  The bees don't care what color these are either.  In fact, the absence of bees in all the above photos is due to the lack of my photographic skill and no other reason, because both the goldenrod and asters have been covered with all kinds of critters all fall.

Evidence that I have let Mother Nature take her course--too much so, sometimes--can be seen in the very front of the butterfly garden.  I am guessing this is some type of aster, but I really don't know.  Whatever it is, it is something I would generally classify as a weed.  But it does look rather pretty right now in bloom, so I'll let it stay for the moment.  Heaven knows, I have enough other weeds to keep me busy for now.

One aster that I can positively identify is this one: 'October Skies' Aster oblongifolius, or more properly, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium. A cultivar of the native Aromatic aster, it was planted in the arbor bed to provide some much-needed late color.  By next week, it should be a mass of light blue blooms just in time for October.

Another reason I love fall, especially this year, is that we've had more butterflies than I've seen all the rest of the year.  The scarcity of Monarchs in particular is a concern for many of us, so I was happy to have this visitor stop by last weekend.  He enjoyed one of my favorite non-natives, the zinnias, and to my delight eventually settled on the 'Zowie Yellow Flame'--perfect color coordination, don't you think?

Wildflower Wednesday is officially celebrated the fourth Wednesday of every month, but is celebrated every day of the year by our hostess Gail of Clay and Limestone.  You're welcome to join in to honor those native plants that provide so much more than just a pretty face.


  1. Aren't the blackberry lily seed heads the best! They're naturalized in Tennessee, but, I have never seen them in any spot but a garden. The golden deliciousness of goldenrod! It's a fantastic plant chock full of wildlife value...I love it. Happy WW. xo

  2. Love the monarch on the Zinnia! Another reason to make sure I have Zinnias in my garden again next year. Drat, that was a big mistake! I wonder if the white Aster-like plant is False Aster or Boltonia? I ordered some seeds to actually plant it on purpose in my garden because it's supposed to attract butterflies, too. Here's info about it: Boltonia asteroides. Your garden looks fabulous still, Rose!

  3. She is beautiful the blackberrylilly. The light blue Aster is my favorite. I never seen it before. Great the monarchbutterfly visited your garden. It's such a beautiful one.
    Have a wonderful weekend Rose.

  4. Hi Rose,

    Your garden is so colourful. I to like the combination of sedum and golden rod.......mother nature often works her magic in the borders of my garden to !
    Seedheads are wonderful and add such interest at this time of year.
    As you may remember autumn is my favourite season....

    I will be posting regularly as my family miss my blog and want me to keep a record for future generations. I will keep it simple, nothing to time consuming.

    Have a lovely weekend and enjoy the beautiful autumn days you are experiencing at the moment.

  5. Rose, what a pretty Blackberry Lily!
    Never seen them and are lovely. Your aster are the same as mine, truly fall flowers.
    Have a nice weekend!

  6. This post reminds me that I have a blackberry lily. It never blooms or sets seed. It has sat in the same place for years without dieing or reproducing. Hmmmm Must move it this fall or next spring. If I thought we would ever get some rain I would do so. Your wildlings look so pretty. No wonder the butterflies stop at your place. Have a great weekend.

  7. Gail, The first time I saw a blackberry lily was in the fall. I eventually planted it in my garden because of these cool seeds; the blooms are extra!

    Beth, I'm pretty sure this is Aster pilosus, which I've posted about before. I just didn't have time to properly identify it, and it seemed a little early for it this year. I think I've made several converts to 'Zowie'--I wouldn't be surprised to see them in many gardens next year:)

    Marijke, The Monarch is my favorite butterfly and one that almost everyone can immediately identify. They've been in decline due to several factors, so many of us are trying to plant things to bring them back.

    Cheryl, So glad you had time to visit! And I'm happy to hear you are going to post more often. Blogging can take a lot of time; I've cut way back on both writing and reading in the past year, and so have many others, I think. Still, I enjoy it and don't want to give it up. I do remember fall is your favorite season--we are having a beautiful start to our autumn this year. Wish you could have seen all the bees on these asters! Take care and stay in touch.

  8. Nadezda, The first time I saw a blackberry lily in the seed stage, I knew I had to have one!

    Lisa, It took me several years to get one Blackberry lily going here; now I think they're multiplying. We haven't had any rain either--all those dark clouds keep going somewhere else:(

  9. Oh, my gosh! I LOVE that blackberry lily! It's on my list for next season. Gorgeous pics and I wholeheartedly agree ~ autumn and it's welcome relief from the heat ~ is a wonderful change of pace for this gardener. Have a great weekend, Rose!

  10. Love that blackberry lily! All your fall wildflowers are showy and gorgeous.

  11. Your garden is looking great! That monarch just adds to the beautiful colors of fall!

  12. Autumn flowers are really lovely. They make a good splash of colour before the dreary winter sets in.
    I noticed a tiny lady bird on one of those yellow flowering plants...... which just makes that picture! Did you see it?
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  13. Hmm . . I wish I had such nice weeds :-)

    I have a hybrid goldenrod, and it has an interesting form but not as much color as all the native stuff that's blooming along the roadside.

    I also captured one of the only monarchs I've seen this summer, feeding on my asters.

  14. your blackberry lilies would partner well with my Zantedeschia (calla lily) gone to angular green seeds.

  15. Gosh Rose, that butterfly shot is so sharp, what a wonderful picture.

    Your flowers are beautiful as always.

    I love the colours of autumn but I don't enjoy the onset of winter and as summer is my favourite season, I am in mourning at the moment!

  16. Hi Rose, thanks for passing by my post! You have delightful colors there, so beautiful. But i love most those dark berries, maybe also because we don't have them.

  17. I have a blackberry lily that was the gift of some bird or squirrel. The flowers are beautiful and delicate, aren't they? I think that first aster is New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). It has variable blue, purple, or pink flowers. Beautiful photos!

  18. Beautiful collection of flowers :)

  19. Oh, I have a picture of a butterfly on a zinnia too! I've missed the usual hordes of them who have previously come to party among the zinnias every September.

    Identifying the asters is very hard. I have a lot of woodland asters along the edges of my property and in the rock garden. I know what you mean about "weeds"--there are quite a few things that I just let exist in the rock garden, like the wild daisies in June, and now the goldenrod and asters. I'd really like to be able to get rid of the creeping strawberry vine stuff though--what a nuisance it is!

    Hope you're enjoying the fall!

  20. Kate, I just think the seed stage of the blackberry lily is so cool.

    Laurrie, The best part about my fall wildflowers is that they're foolproof--I can't kill them:)

    Tina, I was so happy to see this Monarch--there have been very few of them this year. Definitely planting some milkweed for them next year.

    Maggie, We call ladybirds ladybugs here; I think I like your term better:) Yes, I did notice her--actually they've been all over the place and turned up in a lot of my photos.

  21. Cassi Renee, The hybrid goldenrods are pretty, but I have enough of the natives popping up here that I've never planted anything else. I've grown to really enjoy them in the fall.

    Diana, Your calla lily sounds lovely!

    Suburbia, I took several photos of the Monarch, but this was definitely my favorite. I love autumn, but it's usually such a short season here--I'm not ready for winter either!

    Kalantikan, You may not have blackberry lilies, but you certainly have many interesting plants we don't have!

    Jason, I thought the asters were probably New England Asters, but since they've all re-seeded, I wasn't sure anymore.

    Ela, Thanks for stopping by.

    Kimberley, I've missed the Monarchs, too; I hope next year is a better year for them. Defining what is a weed is all relative, isn't it? We also have smartweed growing around here, which is a type of Persicaria, but I don't want this kind in my garden at all!

  22. What lovely fall colors! Our asters are in full bloom too. I'm relieved to see a Monarch on yours - we usually have so many in Maine, but I haven't seen any this year.

  23. I love that Blackberry lilies, such extarordinary flowers, with those markings on the petals, and the seedheads are really dramatic too. Your asters are really pretty too, 'October Skies' has been on my wishlist for a while, I just need to clear enough space for it, so maybe next year.

  24. Hi Rose, I enjoyed seeing the blooms you have going. I like that white one, too. Yes, the goldenrods and asters complement each other well. Of course, I'm always glad to see photos of Monarchs, too.

    Thank you for the nice comment you left on my blog anniversary post. It meant a lot to me to read what you said about my gardening with nature in mind by adding more and more native plants.

  25. I love your garden, and I love your approach to gardening. I have never seen blackberry lily flowers or pods before. They are absolutely fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  26. The Monarch butterfly is so beautiful, we don't have them here in The Netherlands. I am also fond of your blackberry lilies, they are of an outstanding beauty and look very exclusive.

  27. Simply beautiful shots!
    I have a little garden but it cannot be compared to yours.
    My sunflowers were beautiful but frost came a few nights ago and they are dying.

    Nice to stop by your blog.

  28. Your asters are lovely! Purple and gold make a wonderful combination, especially in the fall Lots of wild goldenrod here too, you can't keep it down! lol The bees and wasps love it.

  29. Still looking good. I wondered why the lily was called blackberry lily - and then saw the photo of the seeds. they are beautiful.


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