As one season transitions to another, it's time to share "lessons learned" during the past season with gardeners around the world. There's something encouraging in knowing that, as those of us in the Northern Hemisphere head toward the colder months, those in the Southern Hemisphere face the renewal of spring and summer.
No matter where you garden, I hope this past season was good for you! Please join in the "Lessons Learned" meme, if you're so inclined, by writing a post or sharing a previously written post about things you've learned during the past three months.
As always, I learned many things this summer in my USDA zone 5 garden in Southern Wisconsin. Some are facts that were totally new to me. Others were things I'd heard about but never experienced firsthand. Here are a few of my lessons:
Oriole feeders aren't just for orioles. They also attract finches, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and butterflies. I saw all of them at the oranges this summer. I didn't capture photos of every one, but that gives me another goal for the months ahead. I never expected that diversity of life at a simple, but beautiful, wooden feeder with oranges!
Giant Swallowtail butterflies are attracted to Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). I saw my first Giant Swallowtail, ever, this summer. At least I don't recall ever seeing one before. They're huge--with a wingspan of five to seven inches! We had Giant Swallowtail visitors several times this summer. And when the Swamp Milkweed was in bloom, they went directly to it, spending several minutes nectaring on its flowers. (By the way, hummingbirds, bees, moths--and of course Monarch butterflies, for which it's a larval host--among other pollinators, also love this plant.)
Some Asters grow well in dappled shade. I planted 'Vibrant Dome' Asters in my garden last fall in two spots--both of which are quite shady. The Asters performed well this summer and are about to bloom. That part of the garden must receive just enough sun to keep them healthy and coax a few blooms.
If rabbits chew off your Hyacinth Bean vine at the base, quickly stick the hanging stem back in the soil and water it liberally. Add some hot pepper flakes and rattling toys around the base (or whatever rabbit-deterrent works for you). If you're lucky, the vine will regrow roots and live to thrive for the rest of the season. (Of course, you can avoid all of this by only planting Hyacinth Bean in a protected area with plenty of chicken wire fencing. I temporarily forgot about my rabbit problem. Duh. Oh well ... it worked out OK.)
Our Hostas that usually bloom near the equinox are blooming earlier this year. In my post about them three years ago, they were blooming in late September. This year, they started blooming in late August. I tried to identify them in that previous post, but I'm not sure I have the species (H. aequinoctiiantha?) correct. In any case, the bumbles love them no matter when they bloom.
Heard about, but hadn't experienced firsthand until this summer:
Pollinators of all types do a much better job of pollinating a Meyer Lemon than I'll ever do with a tiny brush or a cotton swab. They crawl in and out and all around the blooms. Because of their excellent work, it looks promising that we'll have Lemons into the winter months.
Fifth instar Monarch caterpillars eat loads of Milkweed! I'd heard it said that feeding them live plants at this stage is like feeding a cow to a pond of piranhas! While that might be a slight exaggeration, they really do chow down fast on the last few days before they crawl off to form a chrysalis. I hadn't actively fed a caterpillar since I was a kid, but this year one found a home in a safe spot near the house. Long story, which I hope to share in a later post.
Those are just a few of the things I learned this season. How about you?
Feel free to add a link to your blog in your comment on this post. Please also join Donna at Gardens Eye View for the Seasonal Celebrations meme. Posts that cover both memes offer a chance to reflect on the past season and look ahead to the next, at the same time. Both memes will be active until the equinox, when we'll post the wrap-ups. Happy autumn (or spring to those in the Southern Hemisphere)!
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Also, for the first time, I'm linking in with Cathy's fabulous "In a Vase on Monday" meme, over at Rambling in the Garden. I've been meaning to join in for some time now, but the past several weeks have been hectic. It's a wonderful meme, and I hope to post more arrangements in the weeks ahead. For my first entry, in the spirit of the American Labor Day holiday, I selected two types of flowers that require very little labor. All you have to do is plop them in a vase:
|Cosmos (C. bipinnatus 'Versailles Mix')|
|Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus 'Rocket Mix')|