It has been a challenging garden year. The warm spell in March fooled the trees and other plants, which flowered weeks before their usual time. May and June brought heat and dry weather, forcing us to water not only annuals, but also on occasion our native plants. With the gardening year winding down, it’s time to take stock.
Success stories: The only annual flowers I planted were zinnias and a gailardia. Both are still blooming and have attracted many insects during the summer. Goldfinches also love to eat zinnia seeds. That’s why I don’t deadhead them.
False indigo, blazing star, purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, cardinal flower, Joe-pye weed, goldenrod, and asters performed very well and attracted many insects. Our pannicled aster is blooming right now and buzzing with life. The butterfly weed did not have a great year. Perhaps it was too dry. It has also not been a great year for Monarch butterfly sightings.
Failures: The Mexican sunflowers we planted in early summer grew extremely tall, but haven’t produced any flowers yet. The probably put all their efforts into growing huge leaves. Our biggest disappointment were our tomatoes. Even though we planted them in a new location, they all suffered from some form of blight (or stinkbug attacks). The few that we could actually eat were rather tasteless. In fact, the only tasty tomatoes we ate were heirloom tomatoes that came up on their own from last year. Go figure!
Overall, we’re seeing more species of insects every year. If that isn’t a testament for planting native plants, I don’t know what is.