Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday - Late Bloomers

Lobelia siphilitica

It might be fitting that this Wildflower Wednesday post on our late bloomers is a little late too. The late blooms are welcome, while the cold I picked up this week, draining sinuses and energy and delaying posting, has been far less welcome.

Lobelia siphilitica
would typically be finished blooming before now. This one, started from seed this spring, decided to surprise us with a few late-season blooms. (Notice the cluster of buds on the ground, complements of the bunnies?)

female winterberry holly

The winterberry holly Ilex verticillata is unlikely to have any berries left by winter. Here, birds enjoy them in October. Winterberry hollies need both male and female plants for pollination and berries. While the berries are toxic to humans, winterberry hollies are easy-care native shrubs great for a wildlife garden. Although the blooms are inconspicuous, the berries are ornamental and the foliage has nice fall color.

male winterberry holly in a less sheltered spot, showing its fall color

Possibly Symphyotrichum racemosum, these are the last asters, and the last wildflower blooms of the season in our garden. Asters are rabbit food here, and are fenced to protect them from the bunnies so they may be enjoyed by pollinators and us.

Over this season a number of new native plants found homes in our garden. Some were started from seeds like blue lobelias and a lone new prairie smoke. Others were started from cuttings: another blue lobelia, a purple milkweed, and two more Indian pinks. Still others, like wild ginger, Short's aster, blazing star, spiderwort, and sweet woodruff were passalongs from gardening friends. It's been a good year for wildflowers in our garden in spite of our hot, dry midsummer and the usual rodent shenanigans. As the season draws to a close here in Chicagoland, we're savoring the late bloomers and looking forward to spring.

For more Wildflower Wednesday posts, please visit our gracious host, Gail at Clay and Limestone.


  1. Yeah for late blooming wildflowers! They make me smile! Thank goodness we seem to not be bothered by bunnies~I would miss my asters. Happy WW! gail ps I hope you recover soon.

  2. Don't we love those late bloomers. We tend to forget about them all year and then they reward us with that last blast of growth.


  3. Sweet woodruff is native? I didn't know that. Is Indian pink Spigelia marilandica? Apparently that stops at the IL & OH borders and is not native in MI! :(

  4. They make me smile too Gail! You're lucky the rabbits don't eat your stuff. They're really terrible here, and I've gone a little crazy with fencing to protect the most vulnerable.

    The cold seems to be getting a little better - Thanks!

    There's not much blooming anymore Eileen, but whatever is, is most welcome!

    Hmmm Monica . . . maybe not! I got it my head years ago that sweet woodruff was native. Someone who should know told me it was, and I never verified. Well, it is native somewhere, but not in this part of the world. :) Oh well, it still makes a nice ground cover in spots where not much else will grow, the blooms smell nice, and it's easy to pull out if it spreads too much.

    Indian Pink is Spigelia marilandica. I've never seen it growing wild in Illinois, but it's native here. It's one of my very favorite woodland natives and makes a really nice garden plant. Hummingbirds love the blooms, and so do I!

  5. Thanks for including the photo of the aster, Linda--that's exactly what mine looks like! Though the blooms turned up pink in my photo, they were actually paler pink with the darker center just like yours. I have no idea where mine came from, but now that you have identified it for me, I will definitely leave it alone.

    Sounds like we have something else in common--that nasty cold/sinus bug. Drinking lots of hot tea seems to help, but I think time is the only cure. Hope you're on the mend soon.

  6. I thought they looked the same too Rose! I love the cloud of pale blooms. There are so many asters they can be challenging to ID. I'm not positive on this one - it's just my best guess after researching it.

    Hope you're feeling better soon! My strategy from as soon as I felt it coming has been lots of herbal tea, sometimes with a little raw honey, chicken soup with homemade stock, (SO much better than canned/packaged broth!) and extra vitamin C. I ended up with a fairly mild case that's getting better pretty quickly.

    Mom always made chicken soup for us when we were sick. It's the best comfort food ever, and I think it really does have medicinal value. I stockpile chicken bones in the freezer until I have a pot-full, then simmer the bones with a couple of splashes of apple cider vinegar in the water to extract more minerals. I let it simmer for couple of days on the stove or in the crockpot before straining. It's rich and delicious!

  7. The final asters are so bittersweet! I don't know why but the rabbits (knock on wood) don't bother my asters here. Tulips, purple prairie clover...they demolish them. But not the asters. I wonder why?

  8. Our ridge-top garden was touched by the first frost early this morning, but recovered nicely during the day. Now, the tomatoes and peppers will give their last, but the kale will be sweeter. We leave the broccoli and fennel go to flower as the bees love to work the blossoms as long as they can fly. Glad your cold is getting better. I got a mild one while K & N were here, but it was over in three days. I like to think that chicken soup, tea with honey & lemon, and country air will often do the trick!

  9. It's interesting how rabbits (and deer) will eat different stuff in different gardens Rose. Rabbits eat hostas and rudbeckias in some of my clients' gardens, and never (yet) touch them here.

    We had frost on the rooftops here Thursday night, but none in the gardens yet Mom. There are peppers and a few tomatoes to get, and kale and other greens that should still go for a while. I'm thinking about hoop houses so I can keep the greens going as long as possible. Last year I could still harvest good kale until early January.

    Glad your cold was mild and brief!


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