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It’s in your nature: Autumn flowers

We are blessed in the Times News area to have adequate precipitation. Even more fortunate is that our precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. In my opinion this gives a variety of plants, especially wildflowers, the opportunity to flourish from spring to fall. About the time the black-eyed Susans and oxeye daisies are finished blooming in late summer, the rest of the lineup takes over. Yes, the roadsides are still brightened by chicory and some butter and eggs, but the new stars are taking stage.

My favorite fall flower can be found blooming along streamsides. It is the cardinal flower. The deep red blooms on a spike make an already beautiful stream look like an artist’s painting. I intentionally took my camera along with me to both the Pohopoco Creek and Lizard Creek in the past week to glimpse them and snap a few photos. My timing was good because my walks occurred before last Sunday’s downpours swelled Lizard Creek to three times its size. The streamside vegetation and those flowers were flattened. Those along Pohopoco Creek fared better.

Now blooming in damp meadows is the New England aster. Its violet-colored blooms are 1½ to 2 inches across, they tend to grow in fairly large patches, and are a beautiful addition to fall’s palette. Still blooming, but beginning to fade are the fast growing Joe Pye weeds. I still marvel how plants can gather so much energy from sunlight and attain rapid growth. Joe Pye weed can grow to be over 8 or 9 feet tall in less than half a year. That to me is impressive, too. I find most of them flourishing in damp areas or growing right along some streams.

Two yellow fall flowers are the evening primrose and woodland sunflowers. Evening primrose has its flowers along a raceme bearing a number of ½- to 1-inch flowers. You can see many of them from your car window gracing our roadsides. The woodland sunflowers have an array of beautiful 3-inch flowers. The latter also grow very large and may be 6 feet tall in optimal growing areas.

Knapweed and Queen Anne’s lace are still blooming until September. The former grows even in poorer, drier soil and has lacy purple 1-inch flowers heads.

Two other white flowers are the hedge bindweed (often confused with morning glories) and another favorite fall white flower, white snakeroot. As a teen my father would take me afield looking for deer “sign” and in the field edges we frequented in late September/early October, nice patches of this 2- to 3-foot plant complemented the goldenrods growing near and among them. They bloom until the first frost halts their growth. Sparrows and juncos later will feed on their seeds.

Nature provides so many opportunities to see and smell the variety of wildflowers around us. Take advantage of what our region has, and get out there!

In a few weeks, tens of thousands of these birds will be migrating in loose flocks across our region yet many can still be found at your feeders this fall and winter. A. blue jays, B. northern cardinal, C. tufted titmice.

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: Spiders indeed have eight eyes.

Contact Barry Reed at breed71@gmail.com.

Two beautiful spikes of cardinal flowers grow feet from the waters of Pohopoco Creek and grace stream sides from late August into September. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Woodland sunflowers brighten field edges and forest clearings with their bright yellow petals.
Adding color to damp roadsides and fields are the fall-blooming New England asters.
Blooming now until the first frost are white snakeroot and goldenrod.