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Posts Tagged ‘Zinnia’

I don’t get to do many flower posts in October but we’ve had such a warm September and October that it seems like anything might be possible this year. I recently stumbled into an area where quite a large colony of chickweed still bloomed. I think it was star chickweed (Stellaria pubera) but I’m never one hundred percent sure with chickweeds. I didn’t see them when I took the photo but this example was covered with tiny black insects. Pollen eaters, I’m guessing. That they’re still busy is as much of a surprise as seeing the flowers they’re on.

Cosmos is a garden annual that is grown new from seed each year. It self-seeds readily and usually the gardener finds a few cosmos volunteers the following spring, but I’ve never known it to escape gardens until now. I found this example growing at the edge of the forest. Cosmos can be large plants; I’ve seen them reach six feet tall, but this one wasn’t even knee high. It had a single white blossom that was also very small for a cosmos plant; probably only about an inch across. Cosmos were first introduced from Mexico somewhere near 1880. They were an instant hit and have been grown in summer gardens ever since.

Silver leaved cinquefoil (Potentilla anserina) still blooms along roadsides and in waste places but the plants aren’t as robust as they were in June, so instead of fifty blossoms on a plant you might see two or three. This plant is originally from Europe and is considered invasive in some areas, but I see it only occasionally here. Its leaves are deep green on top but bright silvery white underneath, and that’s how it comes by its common name.

Even in the rain the inner light shines from purple morning glory blossoms (Ipomoea purpurea.) This morning glory is an annual that grows new from seed each year unlike the bindweeds, which are perennial. I found this example on a fence at a local restaurant.

I’ve never paid attention before to what happens when a purple morning glory blossom is finished, but this is what they do. It’s an amazing color change. These plants were full of seed pods so I took a couple in the hopes that it might grow here at home. It might find it too shady here in the woods, but we’ll see.

Spiderwort blossoms (Tradescantia virginiana) usually close on rainy or cloudy days so I was surprised to find an open blossom just after a rain one day. Though the sprawling plants aren’t much to look at I love the blossoms, and have since I was a very young boy. They used to grow along the railroad tracks and since I just about lived on those tracks this plant goes deep into my earliest memories. I’m always happy to see them, even though I find it hard to recommend them for a garden.

Yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) has been in this country for a very long time, having been brought over as a garden flower by a Welsh Quaker in the late 1600s. It was also used medicinally at least since the 1400s and modern science has shown the plant to have diuretic and fever reducing qualities. As if that weren’t enough it’s also used as a cut flower by florists because they are so long lasting when cut. I found these examples still blooming by a cornfield and I enjoyed seeing them.

Rabbit’s foot clover (Trifolium arvense) has formed pink ribbons along our dry, sandy roadsides as it does each year, but it’s starting to look a little ragged. This annual plant is said to be invasive but few plants want to grow where it does, so I don’t think it out competes any natives in this area.

Most goldenrods (Solidago) have given up the ghost for this year but I still see them blooming here and there. Any flower blossoming at this time of year will be covered with bees, just as this one was. All but one very determined one flew away though, as soon as I poked a camera at them.

New England asters are also turning in for their winter sleep. Once pollinated they have no need for flowers and are now putting all of their energy into seed production.

I know a place where thousands of wild thyme plants grow and here they were still blooming in October. I usually look for them in May but the bees don’t care when they bloom; they love at any time of year and they were all over these plants in large numbers.

If you feel the need to make yourself crazy, just try photographing a single thyme blossom. It’s among the smallest I’ve ever tried. I’m not going to tell you how many tries it took to get this photo because if I did you might think I really was crazy.

Nobody seems to know how shaggy soldier (Galinsoga quadriradiata) got from Mexico to New Hampshire but everyone agrees that it’s a weed; even in its native Mexico. The plant is also called common quick weed or Peruvian daisy and is common in gardens, where it can reduce crop yields by as much as half if left to its own devices. The tiny flowers are about 3/8 of an inch across and have 5 white ray florets widely spaced around tiny yellow center disc florets. This one was every bit as challenging to photograph as the thyme blossom was.

Yellow sorrel flowers (Oxalis stricta) seemed as huge as garden lily blossoms after dealing with thyme and quickweed flowers. I’m still seeing a lot of these little beauties and I expect that they’ll probably go right up until a frost. Speaking of frost, our first one usually appears during the third week of September on average, but we haven’t seen one yet. In October we get freezes, and that finishes the growing season. This year, who knows?

I saw a zinnia at the local college that looked like it had frosted petals. It was very pretty I thought, but the butterflies were paying it no mind. Every time I see a butterfly or bee reject one flower in favor of another I wish I could see what they see, just once.

Friends of mine still have string beans blossoming in their garden. In October. If that doesn’t show how warm it’s been here then nothing will.

I found a small tick trefoil growing in an area that had been mowed. The plant was quite stunted and looked more like clover than anything else, but the flowers gave it away. Note how they resemble the bean blossom in the previous photo. That’s because both plants are in the legume family, which contains peas, beans, and a long list of other plants and trees. Because of the leaf shape I think this one might be a panicled tick trefoil (Desmodium paniculatum) that had been stunted so its flowers couldn’t grow in a long panicle as they usually would. It was growing beside a pond in moist soil.

Finding a forsythia in bloom was a real surprise and showed just how confused by the weather some plants are. Normally this garden shrub would bloom in early spring but a cool August followed by a hot September is all it took to coax this one into bloom. There are others blooming in the area too. I have to wonder what they’ll do next spring. Forsythia was first discovered by a European growing in a Japanese garden in 1784 by the Swedish botanist Carl Thunberg.

Yes those are blueberry blossoms, specifically lowbush blueberry blossoms (Vaccinium angustifolium,) but there isn’t really anything that odd about this native shrub re-blooming in October because they do occasionally re-bloom. The surprise comes from when I think of the super crop of blueberries we had this year; I wouldn’t think the plants would have strength left to re-bloom after being so berry laden. This plant had the smallest blueberries I’ve ever seen on it; they were no bigger than a BB that you would use in an air rifle. Native Americans called blueberries “star berries” and used the plants medicinally, spiritually, and as a food source.  They made a sort of pudding with dried berries and cornmeal which helped them survive the long winters.

All of the meadows full of flowers that I’ve been lucky enough to find and show here have passed now but I still find surprises, like this nice colony of whorled white wood asters. They really shouldn’t be blooming now but I was happy to see them. Most of their cousins have gone to brown and are finished for this year. I hate to see them go but it’s one of the things that makes spring seem so special.

When the goldenrod is yellow,
And leaves are turning brown –
Reluctantly the summer goes
In a cloud of thistledown.
~Beverly Ashour

Thanks for coming by.

 

 

 

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Gardens, including my own, are suffering from lack of water and the usual late summer blahs; stuck somewhere between flowering profusely and going to seed. I’ve been able to get a few more shots of garden flowers but with everything blooming weeks early that means they are also finishing early, so we might have a period of few flowers blooming. This white tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) was suffering-you can see it in the leaves-but the flowers were holding their own and were very fragrant. I grow several varieties but don’t have white. I found this one in a local park. Sometimes plant breeders overdo it, I think. Though I’m sure a lot of people love this bicolor phlox (Phlox paniculata,) it’s not really my cup of tea. The leaves on this one were also showing signs of drought stress. Phlox are usually carefree but this dryness has s changed that. I don’t dislike all bicolor flowers. This purple and white morning glory grows on a chain link fence at the local post office and I think it is a beauty. I’ve seen people call this plant “Ipomoea indica” on various websites, but that plant is an “ocean blue morning-glory.” Instead, because of the heart shaped leaves and flower color I think it is “Ipomoea purpurea” which is the purple or tall morning glory. I’m color blind but it sure looks purple to me. This is a bicolor delphinium variety that I haven’t seen before this year. I’m not sure of its name, but I like the color. I grow delphiniums but I need to move them to a more sheltered spot so they don’t get broken by rain and wind. Delphinium comes from the Greek word for dolphin because at some point an ancient Greek thought that the back of the flower resembled a dolphin’s snout. Delphiniums are natives of Europe. Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) is a flower native to Mexico. The flowers are usually daisy like, but some have tubular petals like the one in the photo. This flower is probably a variety called “seashells.”  Cosmos is an annual plant that self-sows quite reliably. If you’re careful weeding in the spring and don’t pull all the seedlings, a six pack of plants might sow themselves and produce seedlings year after year for quite some time. I thought this yellow rose (Rosa) was a beauty. I found it in a local park and don’t know what the variety is, but I think it might be “Gold Medal.” You can see that insects have left it alone, even though there is some damage on the outer petals.My Hydrangeas have been blooming for quite a while now.  My grandmother always grew these and called them snowballs. This old fashioned type is called “Annabelle.” I planted it last year and have been real happy with it. I’ve done virtually nothing to it and it still blooms heavily. I found this trumpet creeper vine (Campsis radicans) blossoming happily on an old chain link fence. This native vine could have gone into a wildflower post, but I’ve known many people who grew it in their gardens. If grown on a trellis it needs to be a sturdy one, because trumpet creepers can reach 30 feet. If they can’t find anything to climb on they will grow as a tangled “shrub.”  If pollinated by bees or ruby throated hummingbirds, these flowers turn into long seed pods that are full of flat seeds that are dispersed by the wind. I like the flower buds on a trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) as much as the flowers. They look like red satin balloons. The flowers can also be pink or orange. The long stems, wide range of colors, and long lasting flowers make zinnias (Zinna elegans) an excellent choice for those who want to bring flowers indoors. Zinnias are native to the hot, dry southwestern U.S., and Mexico. When Zinnias bloom it is a sign that the hot months of high summer have arrived here in New Hampshire. “Cut and Come Again” is one of the best, old time cutting zinnia varieties. The flower pictured is a double variety.For those who don’t like double flowers, zinnias (Zinna elegans) also come in single flowered varieties. Plant breeders have been working tirelessly for years, trying to develop a truly black flower. Their favorite subjects seem to be the iris and daylily (Hemerocallis.) I would bet that this dark red daylily was a failed attempt. It is very dark, but full sun shows that it’s not quite black.

The Earth laughs in flowers ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Indeed it does. Thanks for stopping by.

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