Entries in fall flowers (11)


Bee Friendly

I have been seeing a variety of bees in the garden lately, including honey bees, carpenter bees and others. Carpenter bees are especially attracted to several fall-flowering plants next to our patio. Every day I see them buzzing around the Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha), Red Dragon Persicaria, and Caryopteris 'Jason'.Mexican Sage
Mexican sage attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. It blooms summer through fall and is hardy to about 15 degrees F.

Here is a view of the front garden, looking over the Mexican sage by the patio. The Japanese maple behind the arch is the one attacked by Ambrosia Beetles. I have treated it and removed much of the affected areas. I will wait till spring to see if it survives. Despite the extensive surgery, it is still a beautiful tree. A close-up of Mexican Sage; it feels like velvet!

Here is another view of Mexican Sage.

The Mexican Sage coordinates well with this birdhouse. The orange flowers are Firebush, another great plant that attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

The pollinators also love Red Dragon Persicaria.

Fall-blooming Caryopteris is also called Blue Mist Shrub or Bluebeard. Be aware there is a spirea called Blue Mist Shrub, which is a different plant!

Carpenter bees look much like bumblebees in size and appearance, but the top of their abdomens are hairless and shiny black, while bumblebees are fully clothed with hairs, many of them yellow.

Carpenter bees are important pollinators and they don't sting you, but they are noted for drilling holes into wooden structures, which they use for nesting and overwintering. They also use trees or telephone poles.

Although we have a healthy carpenter bee population around our home, I have never seen any evidence of damage from them. (We do have problems with woodpeckers, who mistake the stucco on the front of our house for dead trees!) Carpenter bees prefer unpainted or old, weathered wood, so the best way to prevent damage to your home is to paint or varnish any wooden structures. Simply staining the wood does not usually work. There also are both chemical and organic products available to get rid of carpenter bees.

Before you decide to kill them, remember that, unlike honey bees, carpenter bees are native to America and they pollinate many types of blooms. A lot of bee species are on the decline due to disease and insecticide use. Without our pollinators, we won't have beautiful gardens or food!


Still Enchanted

This week marked my six year anniversary writing this blog. This is amazing to me, considering I had never read a blog before I started this one and had no idea what I was doing! I hoped, in the beginning, to make it to one year. The first year led to another, and here I am, sharing yet another Alabama autumn with the world, still enchanted by a jewel-tinted landscape and the dance of swirling leaves, falling in love all over again with this magical season.These photos were taken on the same day of the same Japanese maple.
Last night we had a much-needed soaking rain, and this morning was crisp as a tart apple, bursting with juice and tangy flavors. I was out early, planting pansies and violas, a traditional rite of fall in my parts. These, along with snapdragons, salvias, and assorted left-over summer bloomers such as marigolds, pentas and gomphrena, give that magical second-spring look to parts of the garden.
Pink gomphrena
Sweet viola
Marigold and sweet potato vine are summer plants that look great for fall, too.
The peak of our fall season is still weeks away, but autumn colors are beginning to show in dogwoods, redbuds, crape myrtles and Japanese maples.
To celebrate my six years in the blogosphere, I am giving links to six old posts, all written at least three years ago. Are there some out there who have been with me from the beginning, and do you remember any of these posts? Both long-time and newer readers may enjoy these golden-oldies!
1. My most popular post of all time, hands down. I still get many hits every day on this post, thanks to its high Google ranking and no doubt to its catchy title: How Not to Kill a Dwarf Alberta Spruce, written in 2011.
2. A post I think everyone should read: Chemical Warfare and Other Ways Plants Defend Themselves, written in 2010.
3. A real look at my life as a gardener: Why It Takes So Long To Get Things Done In My Garden, written in 2010.
4. Another view of the gardening life: The Garden Experience, written in 2012.
5. A visually lovely post about a special area in my town: A Magic Morning in Helena, written in 2009.
6. How I created the woodland garden: Seven Steps to Making a Woodland Garden, written in 2010.
There are many other posts I could mention. It was hard to choose just six! It has been fun, and I am deeply grateful to my readers!  Thank you, and best wishes to you all, Deb