Tag Archives: asters

SAVE THE DATE: 9/26 A FIELD DAY FOR MONARCHS!

Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus on white snakeroot, Ageratina altissima, Sharon, MAA monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, feeds on the nectar of white snakeroot flowers, Ageratina altissima, during its southern migration in a Sharon, MA garden on September 26, 2019. This pair of natives co-evolved since the retreat of the last ice age, and they depend on one another, and the entire web of life, for their continued existence.

MONARCHS DELIGHT

September 26th was like a dream to me. I looked out the kitchen window while doing the dishes, and there were several monarchs in my gardens, all at one time. I’d seen one or two here and there this season, but never a parade of several at a time, like that day. I dropped the dishes to a could of soap bubbles and dashed out with my camera.

Later, on arriving at a Sharon, MA client’s gardens, Monarchs flew up every time I turned a corner on the mowed paths that snake around many beds where clouds of white snakeroot are now in bloom. I counted at least two dozen monarchs at least twice, and twice saw four monarchs on one snakeroot. It was like living and working in a dream where the monarchs have recovered and are robust in numbers again. It wasn’t a dream, but it was a remarkable parade of flight and feed that I shall not forget. Of course there were other native butterflies, like spangled frittilaries, and native bees, like Bombus sp., and other native plants in bloom.

THE BEST PLANTS FOR POLLINATORS: We can all make a difference in our yards, our gardens, our landscapes, our containers, one plant at a time, by design. Please join me doing so! These are the native plants that support the entire life cycle of the most butterfly and moth species:

Trees and shrubs:

  • Oak trees – Quercus sp. such as white, red, pin, black, bear
  • Willow trees – Salix sp.
  • Black cherry trees – Prunus serotina

Herbaceous plants:

  • Goldenrods – Solidago sp. such as blue-stem (axillary), seaside, bog, white, showy, downy, zigzag
  • Asters – Symphyotrichum, Oclemena, and Aster sp. like New England, tartarian, heart-leaved, large-leaved, purple-stem, bushy, small white
  • Milkweeds – Asclepias sp. like common, butterfly weed, swamp, poke, butterfly, clasping, green

Have fun, and let me know if you need a hand!

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HOW TO STAKE GARDEN PEONIES, OTHER TALL PERENNIALS

Here’s the short answer to how to stake peonies, Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstonne,’ baptisia, asters and other tall and/or vase-shaped perennials that are at risk of collapsing under their own weight this season. Do these in the spring:

EIGHT STEPS TO STAKE GARDEN PEONIES

  1. Get stakes, twine and pruners.
  2. Set five stakes evenly around peony.
  3. Tie twine to one stake.
  4. Loop twine around each consecutive stake.
  5. Return to and loop around first stake.
  6. Loop twine around every other stake.
  7. Return to first stake
  8. Cut and tie off twine.

For more answers, here’s an expanded explanation:

  1. Gather five garden stakes for each perennial, plus twine and sharp scissors or pruners to cut the twine. Safety glasses or goggles are a great idea too, as getting your eye poked by a stake takes all the fun out of staking.
  2. Push your five stakes into the ground, evenly spaced around the drip line of your perennial. If you view your perennial from above, the drip line is the circle or perimeter of the foliage from which water drips to the ground.
  3. This third step completely encloses all your perennial stems. Starting with a stake that is towards the back of the perennial, tie a slip knot around the stake about 15 inches above the ground. Next, one stake at a time, consecutively, draw your twine around your circle of stakes, making a complete loop (not a knot) around each stake as you go. When you get back to your starting stake, make a complete loop around it, too.
  4. This fourth step creates a supporting matrix of spaces through which your stems will grow. Resuming at what was once your first and is now your last stake, draw your twine around every other stake, making a complete loop around each of these stakes as you go. You may need to carefully pass the twine between stems to reach your next stake. When you get back to your original stake, cut your twine long enough to tie a slip knot, and tie the knot. If you’ve done this correctly and you could look at it from above, your twine pattern will look like a star inside a circle.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 at least one more time, higher up on the stakes to support future growth. You may be tempted to cut the stakes to a lower height, but you’ll risk not having enough support for the flower stems once they elongate and your flowers are in full bloom, especially after they become heavy with rain.
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