About this time a number of plants bloom to get their seeds ready for winter. One of the neat shrubs is the OAKLEAF HYDRANGEA (Hydrangea quercifolia) whose hanging blooms start out white and then become pink, then to brown and hang on all winter. They can get down around zero without damage to next years bloom, but need to be in a protected spot as it blooms on old wood.

          BUTTERFLY BUSHES are now at their best. They are covered with BUTTERFLIES. They come in black, purple, white, pink or yellow flowers. In our Zone 5 they may have some winter damage so I wait until spring to see where to prune. In a bad year it may be clear to the ground and in others they may start out quite tall. New growth makes the biggest blooms. Our winds have a great deal to do with winter damage.

          The tall SEDUMS are now setting on buds that will soon be opening. I like to cut them back at least half by July 4th so the stems will not be so tall and flop with the heavy flowers.  MONARCH BUTTERFLIES on their way south use them as overnight parking to stretch their wings to warm up in the morning.  Those big heads make nice winter bouquets. I like to hang them upside down so the stem dries straight. The clumps will catch and hold snow in winter.

          ASTERS are about ready to bloom and new plants are always available in the garden centers. A number of colors will be available. Make sure you check which variety you get as some may reach 4 feet tall such as the New England ones. They are not bothered by a light frost.

          MUMS are beginning to appear in the Garden Centers. Tall ones, short ones, and many colors. They too are not hurt by a light frost and plants that are put in early will root down and appear next spring. Check the label to make sure the one you get is hardy in zone 5.

          BLACK EYED SUSANS (Rudbeckia sp.) are now at their very best. The clumps from last year are now bigger and brighter than ever. Many plants use this name so check the labels!!

          BJ planted several clumps of grass this spring that are about 3 feet tall and wide. As fall approaches the blades are turning red.  They make a good background for smaller plants such as the short ZINNIAS and VINCA.  CHEYENNE SKY (Panicum virgatum) is one of the species you can get.

          A bold plant about 3 feet tall that comes in the fall colors of orange, red, and yellow with dark centers will soon be in bloom is the HELENIUM. It is sometimes called SNEEZE WEED but that is not true. It does not send pollen like GOLDENROD which blooms at the same time and is the true cause of fall sneezing. Some people are allergic to the foliage, and all parts make you ill if you eat them.

          DAHLIAS start blooming the latter part of August and keep on until hit by frost when they must be dug. BJ puts the entire root with its long parts containing next years buds in wood shavings in the garage (it does not freeze). They are from South America and you have a wide choice from the 30 different species, and 20,000 cultivars. I like to have them in cages to help those limbs trying to hold up the big ones. There is practically any color, with many combinations of colors, and different types of petals. There are also seeds you can buy. Usually in the small size blooms.

          A big, tall, fast growing, bright orange plant is the MEXICAN SUNFLOWER (Tithonia rotundifolia). Seeds are easy to find in the spring. But do not plant too early as they like heat. Keep them about 2 feet apart and in the back. A couple of rows make a good looking hedge. Since they are from Mexico they do not need a lot of water. PAINTED LADIES BUTTERFLIES and MONARCH BUTTERFLIES like them!

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