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Transitioning to Autumn in the Pollinator Garden

The pollinator gardens are starting their fall transition: most notably, the Focal Garden. The coneflowers have only a few remaining blooms, the ‘Blue Fortune’ Agastache is starting to fade, but still teaming with bees nonetheless and the leaves of the Rudbeckia Maxima are turning a rich golden color. Taking the place of the fading summer blooms is Black-eyed Susans, Little Spires Russian Sage, Verbena bonariensis and Fireworks Goldenrod. In my other pollinator gardens, Hummingbird mint, and annuals such as salvias, zinnias, marigolds and lantanas are still bursting with flowers.

When designing a pollinator garden, we can take into consideration how long a homeowner wishes to see blooms carry into the autumn. If continuous blooms are a priority, certain Hyssops and annuals such as is Mexican Bush Sage are a great option. But let’s not overlook the beauty of the seed heads that dominate the prairie inspired pollinator garden.

The Rudbeckia Maxima, has lost its sunny yellow flowers, but in their place you are apt to find Goldfinches eating the seeds and then dropping down to the spent echinacea flowers to nibble a bit on those power-packed seeds. And where we see fading hyssop blooms, moths, skippers, butterflies and bees see a great food source. I often run across Praying Mantises in the garden: feeding on the pollinators. 

And starting to take center stage are the grasses, some turning a reddish hue, others golden brown and if you’re lucky to have Muhly grass, a hazy pink.  The Karl Foerster looks fine year round, but now, when it takes on a more golden color it looks irresistible with the purple exclamation points of the upright verbena. They have been there all summer, this fantastic garden duo, but now we’re more likely to take note. 

Autumn may be creeping in, but our pollinator gardens are far from fading away, they are, in many cases, starting their second act.  ~ Jennifer

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