Late Summer Golden Haze

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Like living sunshine, waves of golden flowers splash across the meadows at the Yorktown battlefields.  We found a quintessential meadow planting, windsown, as we drove through this patchwork of fields and fences, earthworks and reminders of the battles where the British finally surrendered to the Americans in October of 1781.

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Tall native grasses grow in an Oudolph style matrix, punctuated by native  Solidago catching and reflecting the late summer sunlight.  Peaceful now, these fields stand empty as a silent memorial to the passions which bought liberty for our United States.

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The Yorktown battlefields lie at the Eastern end of the Colonial Parkway.  Beyond the fields one finds the little village of Yorktown on the Southern bank of the York River.   We visit from time to time, enjoying the waterfront which hosts concerts, craft fairs, sailing ships and a pleasing variety of restaurants and shops.  Families relax along its sandy beach.

Here, time blurs.  Present day life blends seamlessly with artifacts and memories of the past.

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We enjoy the peace which permeates this place now.  And we enjoy seeing the seasons painting their colors across the fields and trees; the gardens in the village; the river and sky.

Goldenrod is one of the highlights of late summer and autumn here.  This is the wild, native Goldenrod.  While gardeners can purchase several more refined hybrids for their gardens, this is the same Goldenrod the early colonists and Native Americans would have known.

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It grows freely, still, along roadsides throughout our area.  Like so many ‘native perennials,’ Solidago may be seen as a wildflower by some, a weed by others.

It seeds take root in unexpected places.  In fact, native Solidago grows in one of our shrub borders.  Once I realized what it was, I began leaving it to grow undisturbed each year.  It grows very tall in this shaded area.

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While a bit weedy, it feeds many pollinators now at the end of the season, and its beautiful clear golden flowers brighten even the dullest autumn day.

In large masses, Goldenrod creates a lovely late summer golden haze; living, growing sunshine which  brightens the last few weeks of the season.

More on growing Goldenrod

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Perspective

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“Preconceived theories are the misfortune of painting and painters. 

Nature is the most discerning guide,

if one completely submits oneself to it;

but when it disagrees with you all is finished. 

One cannot fight nature.”

 

Claude Monet

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“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.”

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Claude Monet

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“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand,

as if it were necessary to understand,

when it is simply necessary to love.”

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Claude Monet

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“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way.

So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

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Claude Monet

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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This series of photos was taken at a pullover along the Colonial Parkway near Colonial Williamsburg.  They reflect how our natural areas have already changed  in mid-September.  Even as the last of the fall perennials, like this native Goldenrod, come into bloom; our leaves are already dropping, and have been for several weeks now.  Many are fading and turning brown without showing bright color along the way. 

A period of unusually dry weather has turned our lush landscape of early summer to one showing the stress many plants are feeling. 

Still, there is beauty.  The golden sunlight of  early evening gilds  the trees as it falls lower in the sky.  As Monet observes, “One cannot fight nature.”

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One Word Photo Challenge: Mustard

Wildflowers on the roadside on Rt. 101 in Oregon.

Wildflowers on the roadside along  Rt. 101 in coastal Oregon.

“Mustard” shows itself everywhere in the September landscape.  Jennifer offers an easy challenge this week!

Goldenrod, and other wildflowers, bloom in the rich, dark shade of golden yellow known as mustard.

Hosta leaves have already begun to fade.  The summer's drought in coastal Oregon has taken its toll on the landscape.

Hosta leaves have already begun to fade. The summer’s drought in coastal Oregon has taken its toll on the landscape.

Leaves fade to this shade before turning brown and crinkly. 

Seeing the shade in nature recalls the spicy, bitter taste of good mustard.

Mustard colored flowers grow beside an exhibit at the aquarium in Newport, OR.

Mustard colored flowers grow beside an exhibit at the aquarium in Newport, OR.

I prefer mustard made from coarsely ground seeds, rich with texture and bursting with flavor.  Spread on a slightly sweet brioche bun, it is the perfect accent for a black bean burger and sweet potato fries!

 

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Goldenrod grows among other natives in this area around the sea lion display in Newport, OR.

And “mustard” flowers and leaves spice up our autumn landscapes.

Heralds of colorful changes in progress, accent against late summer greens;  we welcome the golden “mustards” of September.

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Wildflowers at the entrance to “Road’s End” beach access in Lincoln City, OR.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her

One Word Photo Challenge:  Mustard

Goldenrod

"Fireworks" Goldenrod

“Fireworks” Goldenrod

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Goldenrod is one of the last perennial wildflowers to paint the landscape each autumn.

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Goldenrod growing near College Creek along the Colonial Parkway near Jamestown, Va.

Goldenrod growing near College Creek along the Colonial Parkway near Jamestown, Va.

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Beginning its show in early August, Goldenrod keeps blooming up until frost.  Native on several continents, including North America, Goldenrod, Solidago species,  were popular in English and other European gardens long before they became used as ornamental plants in American gardens in the 1980s.

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Goldenrod growing on Jamestown Island in mid-August.

Goldenrod growing on Jamestown Island in mid-August.

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Here in Virginia, Goldenrod were considered pretty weeds,  found mostly in fields and along the roadside.

Some gardeners still shy away from them, believing that they aggravate fall allergies.  This is now considered a myth.   Ragweed, also blooming now, is the main culprit for most allergy sufferers.

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Goldenrod growing in the wild.

Goldenrod growing in the wild.

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In addition to being a beautiful plant, tough and deer resistant, Goldenrod has been used medicinally for centuries.  Native Americans chewed the root for toothache and chewed the leaves to treat sore throat.  Europeans have made preparations to aid with kidney stones.  The leaves, properly prepared, are anti-bacterial.  The leaves and seeds are edible.  Honey made principally from Goldenrod is especially prized.

Goldenrod is considered a sign or good luck and good fortune.  It is the state flower or wildflower in Nebraska, Kentucky, South Carolina, and is the state herb in Delaware.

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Goldenrod growing in a friend's garden.

Goldenrod growing in a friend’s garden.

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Goldenrod grows best in full sun.  It is tolerant of a variety of soils, but likes steady moisture.  It is perennial and spreads by rhizomes as well as seeds.  It is an important food source for many nectar loving insects, and is especially popular with migrating butterflies, and with bees who need a supply of nectar after most flowers have finished for the year.

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My friend grows several species of Goldenrod and sunflower in her garden on the banks of College Creek. Deer and squirrels are a constant presence, so the flowers and shrubs which succeed here must be tough.

My friend grows several species of Goldenrod and sunflower in her garden on the banks of College Creek. Deer and squirrels are a constant presence, so the flowers and shrubs which succeed here must be tough.

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Goldenrod is an herbaceous perennial, and so dies back to the ground after heavy frost.  It returns each summer, ready for its annual golden show throughout late summer and autumn.

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Goldenrod, “Fireworks” growing with Artemesia.

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Many species, and a few hybrids, are now available in the nursery trade.  “Fireworks” is especially pretty.  Like most perennials, Goldenrod can become invasive.

For those who have difficulty growing many flowering plants because of deer grazing and poor soil, Goldenrod is a tough, reliable choice which gives many weeks of beautiful flowers.

 

All photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

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