A Touch of Gold

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Rudbeckia fills our garden in late August, blooming in a rich tapestry of gold.

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This native Rudbeckia hirta, which first seeded itself here more than five years ago, attracts golden bees, butterflies and goldfinches to its tasty nectar and abundant seeds.

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Rosettes of Rudbeckia leaves emerge in mid-March all across the garden.  They sprout wherever a seed has fallen or an underground root has spread.

There are always plenty to dig and share, especially those that emerge in the pathways.  The plants remain in the background througout spring and early summer, biding their time as they bulk up in the warming sun.

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How much is too much?” I sometimes wonder…

Native plants are enthusiastic growers, determined to survive.  They take every available advantage to thrive.  In full sun and over tree roots, clumps sometimes get wilty when days grow hot and rain is scarce.  I sometimes revive them with a drink from the hose.

But those that are well established, in deep soil and partial shade, care for themselves.  All we do is clear the paths and set the boundaries….

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Their opening comes slowly; not all at once.  Accustomed to sharing their space, they mix well with others.

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Physostegia virginiana, obedient plant

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Native obedient plant, Physostegia virginiana, creeps and spreads in the same way.  It has spread even faster and more aggressively than the Rudbeckia. 

This spring, I took the string trimmer to many areas where these two grow among a growing spread of goldenrod, Solidago.  I decided last year that those huge, waving plumes of gold were a bit over the top for our little woodland garden, and I’ve been cutting back the goldenrod to give other perennials a better chance.

The Rudbeckia and Physotegia took that trimming in their stride and came back bushier and stronger than ever.

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Now native mist flower, Conoclinium coelestinum, is also growing in the mix, offering a subtle touch of periwinkle contrast.  I didn’t plan and intentionally plant this mix of native perennials to create a ‘meadow style’ planting.  I only recognize what nature is doing, and guide it a bit.

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And our rich reward is a touch of gold gilding these late summer days, delighting us as we await the rich color and welcome coolness of autumn.

Our garden remains dynamic, changing from year to year.  Some plants persist and expand while others decline.

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We plant a few new things each season and other turn up on their own.

Each new year’s unfolding remains a grand surprise, guided by nature and the seasons; a golden opportunity to learn and grow as a gardener.

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Another native Rudbeckia, cutleaf coneflower, also fills our late summer garden with pure gold.  With a much larger habit and larger flowers, it is equally attractive to many pollinators and birds.

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Woodland Gnome 2010

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“I did not know that mankind were suffering for want of gold.

I have seen a little of it.

I know that it is very malleable, but not so malleable as wit.

A grain of gold will gild a great surface,

but not so much as a grain of wisdom.”
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Henry David Thoreau

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“Ô, Sunlight!

The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”
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Roman Payne

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Nature Challenge Day 3: May Rain

May 21, 2016 garden 037

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Blogging friend, Y,  invited me to join the Seven Day Nature Challenge last Saturday.

For this third day of the challenge, I’ll invite you again to join in.  This challenge has been out there for a while, and many nature photographers have already participated.  If you would like to take up the challenge, please accept in the comments and I’ll link back to you tomorrow.

 If you decide to accept this Seven Day Nature Photo Challenge, too, I’ll look forward to seeing what surprises May has brought to your corner of the world, even as I share the beauty of ours.

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May 21, 2016 garden 027

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Woodland Gnome 2016

Perspective

September 18, 2015 goldenrod 007

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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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September 18, 2015 goldenrod 008

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

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Claude Monet

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September 18, 2015 goldenrod 006

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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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September 18, 2015 goldenrod 004

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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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September 18, 2015 goldenrod 011

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2015

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September 18, 2015 goldenrod 003

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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September 18, 2015 goldenrod 010

 

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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Sept. 25 neighbor's garden 016

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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Sept. 25 2013 pkwy 011

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