Summer is almost officially over, but the heat is still here. Although fall is my hands down favorite season, it means that my favorite garden flower, the Purple Coneflower, will be on it’s way “out” soon. I’ve been trimming back my cluster of the pink and purple blooms a lot these past two weeks, in the hopes that I can coax another wave or two of flowers forth, before they begin to go dormant.
This year I went a little crazy with my Coneflowers, dividing the clumps in early June after they had only been established for one year, and probably could have benefited from another year to plump up more. Luckily, the native plants seem almost unkillable in my yard, bouncing back from one issue after another and thriving just the same. They are an ever popular plant with the butterfly, bee, and Goldfinch crowd, who I attempt to lure into my city garden every year, with great success. How wildlife finds my yard, sandwiched like it is between Industrial buildings, and interstate 95 in a busy city, I’ll never understand, but I am always glad they make the trip to find me!
This past spring, the groundhog that lives under my back porch kicked off the growing season by foraging through my Coneflowers and eating them back almost to the ground, which posed a challenge to my goal of 2008 to “live and let live” in my yard. After weighing my options, and the ethics of dragging the “hog” out from under my proch, rubbing his nose in what was left of my flowers, and punting his squeaky behind across the Daylilly bed, I opted to take the heigher road, if only to save my neighbors from the spectacle that would have been! “Confucious,” as I have named the animal, luckily pondered the errors of his ways, and has left my favorite plant untouched in the past months, leaving me plenty of flowers for summer arrangements. He taught me a valuable lesson about Purple Coneflowers though, since his overzealous spring pruning trained the plants to grow to half their usual height, and produce prolific blooms that were mostly hidden under larger flowers and shrubs.
I’m looking forward to next years batch though already, and in the coming weeks I will be able to move the conflowers in my pot designs there into reforestation areas on the property I manage, where the native plant will hopefully thrive, and prove to be useful for the wildlife there. If the animals I plant the Coneflowers for are even half as appreicative of the early spring foliage as “Confucious” was, I will be expecting Thank You notes on “Smokey the Bear” stationary some time next May.
Your thoughts: Do you have a favorite summer flower or plant that you are going to miss?