Sunday, October 4, 2020

More Autumnal Asters: Riley Park Community Garden Fall Tour Part 2


 Some fall flowers in the aster family that are great for pollinators include calendula, zinnias, tall coneflowers, chrysanthemums and cosmos. They all have those lovely shades of red, orange, and yellow that we associate with this time of the year.


When I go to pick the fading petals at dusk to use in salves, I often find bees sleeping on the seed heads or flowers of calendula.

This is a bumble bee gyne sleeping in a zinnia flower. She will hibernate over winter in the ground and when she finds a nesting site in the spring, she'll be a foundress. Once she lays her first batch of workers, she will be a queen.

Okay, so I'm cheating. This photo was actually taken last week in Richmond at Terra Nova, but I wanted to show proof of purchase that with your zinnia flowers, you sometimes get visits by painted lady butterflies.



In the herb garden you'll find zinnias mixed in with our edible chrysanthemums. Even though chrysanthemums they are supposed to contain bug-repelling properties, this stink bug indicates that edible varieties contain less of those chemicals.


We have two kinds of cosmos growing in the garden. These are Cosmos suphureus, which come in yellow and orange forms. The pink and white cosmos are C. bipinnatus. They are long-blooming annuals that self-seed. Flies and bees are attracted to both kinds. 



This is a fancy variety of cosmos taken in a yard just up the street. 


Gaillardia, aka blanket flower is one of my favourite bee plants. This Bombus mixtus gyne is sipping up that good nectar. She doesn't need to collect pollen until spring, but it is so sticky that she has some on her face.


The tall coneflowers are still going strong and the bees just adore them. They tend to be a bit floppy, so you might have to stake them or tie them up to a support.


This was taken a couple of weeks ago, but there are still a few sneezeweed flowers left on the plants in October. Be sure to deadhead the flowers when they bloom to extend their blossom time. Later in the summer you can start leaving the heads on to provide some seeds for the birds.

There is also some yarrow still blooming on the east side of the garden. Its shallow florets attract a wide variety of beneficial insects. Let it self-seed and become part of the "bones" or infrastructure of your pollinator garden.

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