Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

nativebed9-13

Can you spot the rayless sunflowers in this bed? There are about 20 flowers blooming.

As I discussed in Adventures in Creating a Native Garden back in June 2013, Id planted some rayless sunflowers (Helianthus radula) as part of the native garden.  Now that they are blooming, I have to say that Im a bit underwhelmed.  Their beauty is too subtle to enjoy from afar and they do not stand out in this bed.

I do like the look of this native bed in this fall.  The Elliots love grasses (Eragrostis elliottii) have filled in, blue curls (Trichostema dichotomum) are dazzling in the mornings and the volunteer goldenrods (Solidago spp.) provide an excellent backdrop.

The Florida flame azaleas (Rhododendron austrinum) that had six-inch root balls did not do well. I watered them extensively for several weeks, but then we were away during the heat of the summer. Id hoped that the summer rains and our area-wide irrigation would keep them going, but one is dead and the other may make it, but its lost all its leaves and has leafed out again on some of the branches.  So Ill try again with a native azalea or two later this fall.

A native bee collects pollen from the disc florets of the rayless sunflower.

A native bee collects pollen from the disc florets of the rayless sunflower.

Rayless sunflower

Rayless sunflower (Helianthus radula) is unique among Floridas many sunflower species because its missing the showy ray florets that look like petals.  While these flower heads may not be especially attractive to us, you will find that they are attractive to butterflies, native bees, and other pollinators.  To them, nectar is much more attractive than physical beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Rayless sunflower occurs throughout Florida in a wide diversity of habitat types; from well-drained sandy uplands to seasonally wet pine flatwoods and savannahs.  They do best in open areas with ample sunlight.

In addition to Florida, the rayless sunflower is also native from South Carolina to Louisiana.  So if you garden in the deep south, add these carefree pollinator plants to your native garden spaces.

The mixture of floral types is attractive. In this photo you see the blue stem grass, the scarlet sage, the blue curls and the rayless sunflower.

The mixture of floral types is attractive. In this photo you see blue stem grass, dotted horsemint, scarlet sage, blue curls and the rayless sunflower.

Blue curls are glorious in the morning and are swarming with native bees, but they are gone by early afternoon.

Blue curls are glorious in the morning and are swarming with native bees, but by early afternoon they are gone. Its a prolific reseederall the blue curls in this bed volunteered.

A green anole climbs the stem of the rayless sunflower looking for a meal.  Notice the hairy stems and basal leaves--this is why the species name is "radula."

A green anole climbs the stem of the rayless sunflower looking for a meal. Notice the hairy stems and basal leavesthis is why the species name is radula, which means rasping or rough.

There is only one dotted horsemint plant (Monarda punctata), but it attracts a wide variety of pollinator including this 1.5" long Scoliid wasp (Campsomeris quadrimaculata). See http://bugguide.net/node/view/34201

There is only one dotted horsemint plant (Monarda punctata) in this bed, but it attracts a wide variety of pollinators including this 1.5 long scoliid wasp (Campsomeris quadrimaculata).

The goldenrods are just starting to open.  When they do, the pollinators will have even more choices.

The goldenrods are just starting to open. When they do, the pollinators will have even more choices.

Be sure to visit my June post, Adventures in Creating a Native Garden, for how I removed a 12 x 14 foot section of lawn to build this beautiful and effective pollinator garden.  But of course, the pollinators dont care if I think its beautiful; from their compound eyes it is.

Fall is a great time for gardening projects like removing lawn, so what are you waiting for?

 

© 2013, Ginny Stibolt. All rights reserved. This article is the property of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. If you are reading this at another site, please report that to us

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Ginny Stibolt

Ginny Stibolt, a naturalist with a master's degree in botany, lives in Green Cove Springs in northern Florida.  She's written 2 Florida gardening books, Sustainable Gardening for Florida and Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida , both published by University Press of Florida.  Her website, Green Gardening Matters contains a six-year log of Florida gardening, nearly 100 articles, and links to more than 100 podcasts about gardening in Florida.  She's an active member of the Florida Native Plant Society and is one of the primary FNPS bloggers.  She is also an active member of the Lawn Reform Coalition.

Comments

  1. Ellen Sousa says:

    Wonderful Ginny! Plenty of food and sustenance for pollinators in your gardens! The rayless sunflowers are kind of interesting that is a new one to me. Happy to say I will be helping a client next week smother her remaining front lawn to install gardens she never wants to mow again. Bye-bye to another lawn, hello to a beautiful new pollinator-friendly garden!
    Ellen Sousa recently posted..Reasons Not To Spray

    Reply
    • Ginny Stibolt says:

      Hi Ellen, This sunflower grows only in the deep south so you wouldnt have it up there in New England. But wherever you are, less lawn is a good thing. Thanks for helping to implement lawn removals.
      Ginny Stibolt recently posted..An early fall compost pile

      Reply
  2. Loret says:

    Lovely, lovely! I love seeing the changes you have implemented. The lot up the block has the rayless sunflowers. I think maybe I need to stop by my neighbor and borrow a cup of seeds :)
    Loret recently posted..New Love, Good Karma

    Reply
    • Ginny Stibolt says:

      Thanks Loret. Yes, I love sharing plants with neighborsits like having a seed bank in case something happens to your plants.
      Ginny Stibolt recently posted..An early fall compost pile

      Reply
  3. sue dingwell says:

    Ginny, what a wonderful harvest of plants and ideas! I loved seeing both the bee and the anole benefiting from your effort. The design and texture of the space provide plenty of attraction, in my opinion; and then when the viewer comes closer, a whole new world is revealed.

    Reply
  4. Ginny Stibolt says:

    Thats true, Sue. Maybe the showier plants play the role of drawing us in for a close look. And of course, as native gardeners we are always interested to see whats in the gardens in addition to the plants.
    Ginny Stibolt recently posted..An early fall compost pile

    Reply
  5. Carole says:

    Glad to see a pic of the mature lovegrass. I bought some starts, discounted, at the end of the season last year and wasnt sure what they would look like.
    ct

    Reply
    • Ginny Stibolt says:

      Hi Carole,
      Love grasses are floppy, which is why they should be a full three feet apart. These should fill out more in a few years and I like that they are a light green to contrast with the rest of the garden.
      Ginny Stibolt recently posted..An early fall compost pile

      Reply
  6. Pat Sutton says:

    Ginny, simply glorious. Thank you for showing some of the many visitors to your jam-packed 12 x 14 unlawn. WOW!
    Pat Sutton recently posted..Monarchs, Where are They in 2013 ?

    Reply

Speak Your Mind Cancel reply

*

CommentLuv badge