Sunday, September 22, 2013
Autumn Asters, My Fall Favorites
The time after the Autumn equinox, after some light frost, but before the leaves on the trees really begin to change is perhaps my favorite time of year. Purple New England asters against the yellow of goldenrod and other yellow fall blooming flowers are a vision of gorgeous color in the garden and in the surrounding countryside. This year many of the flowers were knocked to the ground by heavy rain, but their beauty is not to be denied. They may be down, but the mounds of flowers are still a purple delight.
I'm not the only one who appreciates these flowers. They swarm with bees and other pollinators now that many other flowers have gone to seed or been killed by the frost.
This exuberant billow of October Sky asters, tumbles into the garden path nearly closing the east entrance to the stone square. Its habit is not unlike the billows of New York asters that line the ditches along our country roads. Fields of bright yellow golden rod accented with shades of purple asters are a feast for the eyes. For me every aster that grows in the garden is a delight. It would be impossible to have too many! The single spot of orange on these asters is a small butterfly. Although I may have seen this kind of small brightly colored butterfly before, I did not recognize it.
I could not have been more delighted when this American Copper butterfly, Lycanea phlaeas stayed put long enough for me to take this picture. It made it possible for me to make sure just who this small but striking butterfly might be. When I read that the host plants for this butterfly are sheep sorrel, Rumex acetosella and curly dock, R.crispus, I wondered why I haven't seen more of these little beauties. Both of those plants are weeds that flourish here. The sheep sorrel is one of our worst weeds that we struggle with constantly, occasionally winning a battle, but never the war. Somehow it's comforting that something beautiful comes of the nasty, annoying, pernicious, @*#$!, weeds. I'm sure sheep sorrel will always be here. We can never have too many asters or striking butterflies.