“Lantana is the saving grace of the fall borders. The dark leaves keep their color until frost, and the flowers bloom on and on. I noticed that butterflies return to them again and again, after short trips to other flowers.”
“For late summer I depend on lantana to fill in the gaps left by the earlier perennials that have finished blooming. It blooms best when the nights are cool, and comes into its own when its fresh foliage and gay flowers are most needed. Some years it blooms until Thanksgiving….
“Some people dislike the gaudy orange and pink that is the characteristic color of the flowers, but by choosing among plants already in bloom, you can get a creamy white, a clear cool yellow, and a very good pink….
“Lantana grows very fast and needs plenty of room to spread for it takes up at least three or four feet by the end of the season. If it is grown from seed, they should be sown under glass in February.”
This is the first of four posts featuring photos of several lantana plants in my garden, taken in August through mid-September. Mine don’t usually bloom through November, but may — if October isn’t too cold — push out a few new blooms until Halloween, after which I cut it back to nearly ground level then patiently wait until spring for the first appearance of tiny leaves on its very stiff and woody stems. Cutting it back is probably optional — and some gardeners don’t even recommend that — but I always prune mine to control its rapid and potentially explosive spread… and it doesn’t seem to mind!
Of the photos that will appear in this series, those in the galleries below show the smallest of the blooms, wee pinwheel shapes about an inch in diameter, demonstrating the flowers’ unique symmetry.
“Study a book on wild flowers… or for that matter walk out into the woods and fields, and you wonder why you go to the trouble of sowing seed, ordering plants, when the countryside is alive with flowers that are identical with or sometimes superior to their domesticated cousins.
“Wild flowers are never vulgar. [They] have an elegance and restraint to their design that ought to give the hybridists pause as they go about their work….”
So I went exploring for a little fall color yesterday, but unsurprisingly found that it’s way too early for any of the trees to have started that transition here. Yet I was just as happy to come across a nice big batch of late-summer/early-fall blooming wildflowers … all busy attending to bees and butterflies going about their pollinating business. The galleries below include the images I took, a variety of different colored blooms followed by pictures of a particular butterfly that seemed to like posing (though not sitting still!) for the camera.