Fall reminiscence

After four days of the white stuff raining down on us, I need a shot of color from the brilliant hues of this past Fall season.  

Late in the summer and early fall, the dominant color in the prairie garden changes to yellow as several species of Goldenrod bloom. The yellow blooms and rust-brown grasses of this prairie are accented by the flowers of several aster species in shades of blue to purple.
Here is a feast of nectar and pollen for bees, and the flowers blooming this late in the summer and fall have their undivided attention.
Five-foot tall Maximillion sunflowers are just one of many sunflower species that bloom in the fall.
A New England Aster blooming along the sidewalk to my front door was a magnet for bumblebees, honeybees, and at least two species of syrphid (hover) flies.

One way to ensure seed set in a plant is to capture as many pollinators as possible, and this seems to be the strategy influencing the flowering times of Goldenrod and Aster species. By blooming so late in the summer and early fall, they are pretty much the only pollen and nectar sources around.

And to ensure that bees do visit their copious numbers of flowers, the plants need to advertise themselves with the colors that are most attractive to bee eyes — yellow-green and blue-purple. Bees also key in on light that is a combination of yellow and ultra-violet, something humans can’t detect, but probably marks landing platforms or serves as nectar guides on flowers.

Summer’s brilliant colors fade in the fall as the landscape transforms. It will be another 8-10 months before I can enjoy scenes like this again.

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