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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Reason #1037

. . . why fall in southeast Ohio is one of life's great pleasures.

This is what I see when stepping out the front door.

And that's just one view. Turning slightly to the right, I get this.

Okay, the drop-dead red in the center is an invasive burning bush that will be replaced by a native in the near future, but the plant is going out in a blaze of glory.

While its replacement is growing, we'll just have to be satisfied with the trees in the arboretum.

I suspect we'll manage.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A not-so-blue blue

I'm not sure when or how mild depression got called "the blues." After all, blue skies are a good thing, right? And blue flowers are among the most prized, perhaps because of their rarity in nature, at least as far as true blues are concerned: spiderwort, delphinium, Himalayan poppies, maybe, but most other blues are more purple, at least around here.

But who cares? Agastache foeniculum, AKA anise hyssop or blue giant hyssop, has been one of the success stories of our new lawn strip garden. (Given my haphazard record-keeping, I cannot remember if our plant is the straight species or the short cultivar "Honey Bee Blue," but I suspect the latter.) In any sunny area that is not waterlogged, this plant is foolproof. I love the red western agastache species and hybrids, but our damp winters often do them in. Our eastern native is made of sterner stuff. 

This member of the mint family is not an immediate attention-grabber. It has nice serrated leaves, nice but not spectacular color, and a pleasant scent, but not one that wafts; the leaves need to be bruised to release the anise scent that gives the plant one of its common names. However, it starts blooming with the midsummer daisies and is still going now after most of the asters have finished. It grows in sand, clay, and actual soil, and asks for no water, though it has no problem with rain or snow. It plays well with others, forming steadily-growing clumps that, unlike those of its distant cousin wild ageratum, do not become invasive.

And it is a pollinator magnet. On an ordinary afternoon last week, our single plant was loaded with bumblebees (whom the unfortunate light conditions would not allow me to photograph), and a female monarch, who seemed determined to visit every blossom on the plant while tanking up for her long flight to Mexico.

Here's hoping that the goldfinches visit to get the seeds.  I'm not ready for the show to be over.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Asters Everywhere!

I have not done a lot of gardening since our March move, but the pollinator bed in the front lawn strip is getting off to a good start despite my neglect. Of course, asters are pretty much indestructible, which is why I love them so. Most of the year, they look pretty pathetic, scraggly foliage straggling along a stem that gets woody and frequently lists to one side or another, but then they start to bud,

and when they bloom--oh my. So much color, and so much life! For anyone not in the habit of observing such things, asters are major fall pollinator food, and the seeds eventually feed the small songbirds who hang around for our Mid-Ohio Valley winters.

I have a bad habit of forgetting which aster I have planted where, so I am never quite sure which plant will show up. When I moved plants this spring, I had hoped that I got a start of "Purple Dome," but no such luck. I did, however, manage to transplant not one but two specimens of "Wild Romance," enabling me to continue using the line, "Wild Romance is blooming." Even if one is not inclined to make silly statements, who could resist that color?


A joy of the lawn strip (which I have not been able to photograph due to inclement weather every time I think of going outside with a camera) is its plethora of asters, even though I deliberately did not plant aromatic aster due to its seriously thuggish propensities. In addition to my ridiculously-named "Wild Romance," the bed contains plain old New England aster, the misty purple so much a part of autumn and such a magnet for pollinators, 

 along with one of the excessively enthusiastic white asters that I can never identify (and surely did not bring along deliberately) and a surprise: a tall pale pink beauty never seen before in my yard. Even better, the boxwood hedge has yielded several specimens of a large-leaved aster in a lovely pale blue. That one does not yet have a definite ID, but a specimen has been rescued to the lawn strip bed, while the others will go to the college's pollinator habitat. Even I recognize that one cannot leave three-foot daisies poking up through what is supposed to be a well-behaved evergreen hedge. (However, the butterflies and bees would rather have the daisies. Just saying....)