Flowers Around The Farm: Stars, Suns, Goldenrod, And Thistles

I was gifted a lovely plant last summer, a vining plant that had beautiful crimson flowers on it. I was amazed at the vibrancy of the diminutive flower’s color. Sadly, over the winter, the vine, which had climbed all over a little handcrafted wooden trellis in warmer weather, died. Or so I thought…

The Cypress Vine (also called Hummingbird Vine) had definitely died with the frigid winter weather, but when warmer weather arrived, it came back to life. It made perfect sense when I read that it’s a self-seeding annual, so it regrew. It blooms during the summer and into early fall here, and mine puts forth the red flowers, though others may have pink or whitish blooms. The flowers are absolutely captivating. The vine is a member of the morning glory family and can apparently become invasive – I’ve already had to move it away from other containers of plants because its tendrils were reaching out and trying to grab them. Pollinators and hummingbirds are big fans of the flowers, and since I’m a big fan of both of those, I’ll enjoy seeing the vine reappear each year.

Another volunteer Black Oil Sunflower (a stray from seeds given to the fowl) has poked its head up from the soil. It’s rather late in the year, but the weather has been balmy and I think it has a good chance of reaching maturity. I’ve been watering it between dry spells to ensure that it isn’t too dry (with storms on the way, though, I probably won’t need to water again for a while) and put some grass clippings around the base as mulch to try to hold in the moisture. Rabbit poop makes fantastic fertilizer, and some of that was sprinkled around the plant, too. It’s looking good, other than the bug damage to its leaves.

Rabbit poop does a plant good!

There are also some wild sunflowers (I think they may be False Sunflowers) growing cheerily alongside the goldenrod. I’ve enjoyed these flowers each year that they’ve appeared, as have the pollinators; the Pennsylvania Leatherwing Beetles (also called goldenrod soldier beetles) are particularly fond of them, along with the goldenrod – speaking of which, I’m happy to see that it’s begun to make an appearance, too. I made a very special goldenrod-ginger wine last year and I’m eager to get more started soon, but the blooms don’t really come in full force until later this month.

There are some very tall, spiny, and sturdy thistles that have sprung up – the bees, in particular, seem enthralled with them. I think these may be Nodding Thistles. Thistles are a member of the sunflower family and are apparently popular with goldfinches. There are many goldfinches in our area, so I’m glad that they can utilize these prickly plants.

After an oppressively hot and humid summer, I’ll be very glad for Autumn’s arrival. It’s also the best time of year for wildcrafting around here!