summer’s end

Both the calendar and the shortening days tell us that summer is coming to an end. I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at some of my favorite wildflowers that were so beautiful only a few weeks ago, but are now gone until next season. Some of the pictures include one of the flower’s associated pollinators. As always, feel free to correct me if I have made an incorrect identification.

Zebra swallowtail on autumn olive

Even though the autumn olive bush is an introduced species, I included it because of its importance to pollinators such as honey bees and butterflies. In early May, I saw a dozen different pollinators enjoying the nectar.

Bergamot patronized by a hawkmoth

Bergamot is also wildly popular with pollinators including honey bees, bumble bees, and hawkmoths. Most of those pollinators visited other wildflowers, but the hawkmoths remained loyal to the bergamot until it stopped blooming (makes perfect sense to me – I have that kind of loyalty to pasta!).

Monarch butterfly on joe-pye weed

Joe Pye, an Indian healer from New England, used E. purpureum to treat a variety of ailments, which led to the name Joe-Pye weed. I don’t like the suffix “weed” because of its negative connotation and I think it, generally, shows a lack of creativity, but that’s the popular name for this beautiful plant that is an herb, a wildflower, a butterfly magnet, and an ornamental in the garden – not bad for a “weed,” huh?

Bumblebee on a purple coneflower

Common milkweed visited by a spicebush swallowtail

Common milkweed is another wildflower that attracts a host of insects, including bees, wasps, flies, skippers, butterflies, and moths, which drink the nectar. It is also the host plant of the larvae of the monarch butterfly.

Green-headed coneflower

And two of my all-time favorites because they are so closely associated with the ridges and valleys of the Southern Appalachians…

Catawba rhododendron

Catawba rhododendron is native to the eastern United States, growing mainly in the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia south to northern Alabama, splashing its lovely pink blooms up and down the hillsides and along the creek banks every spring.

Mountain laurel

Part of the appreciation of these flowers of wood and field is that we have to wait so long to see them from one season to the next. They emerge, grow, blossom, and decline in just a few short weeks, then disappear for another year. We are fortunate indeed to be able to capture their beauty on camera and enjoy them, if only virtually, when the days get short and all of nature is in slumber.


4 thoughts on “summer’s end

  1. Some of these pictures are lovely! Thanks for sharing the world through your eyes. Summer is certainly fading, but I find that autumn is a wonder of its own. Living in Finland has taught me to appreciate the beauty of each season in its own time.

    • I will miss the wildflowers and the birds’ song, but would I so appreciate the mating song of the wood thrush or the sweet smell of honeysuckle if I had it the whole year through? Each season has its own beauty, but the somber quiet of winter makes me anticipate the season of renewal all the more.

  2. Although many of the wildflowers are waning, the leaves are starting to change and there’s still lots going on with nature. Thanks for commenting!

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