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tolly-beckWritten by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.

What’s In Bloom

Shrubs 
common heather   Calluna vulgaris
Hydrangea spp. and cvs.

Perennials 

black-eyed-Susan  Rudbeckia hirta
bloody cranesbill   Geranium sanguineum  
bluebeard   Caryopteris clandonensis ‘Blue Mist’  
garden phlox  Phlox subulata   
goldenrod   Solidago spp.
Japanese anemone    Anemone x hybrida
Joe-Pye-weed  Eupatorium spp.  
monkshood   Aconitum napellus 
New York aster  Novi-belgii
plantain lily  Hosta spp. and cvs.
purple coneflower   Echinacea purpurea
yellow corydalis   Corydalis lutea

Late Season Goldenrods

As our summer gardens begin to fade, late season perennials like goldenrod come into prominence. Native goldenrods (Solidago spp.) not only provide much needed color for our gardens, they also provide late season nectar and food for many of our pollinators. Butterflies, bees and birds all benefit from goldenrods. 

There has been some hesitancy to plant native goldenrods as many people fear it will create allergy problems. Fortunately, this isn’t true as the real allergy- causing culprit is ragweed. Both ragweed and goldenrod flower at about the same time and grow in similar locations. Ragweed depends on the wind to disperse its’ lightweight pollen. The pollen grains of goldenrod, however, are heavier and rely on pollinators to disperse them. Pollen allergies most commonly are caused by pollen carried by the wind.

Two native goldenrods that have become real favorites are Canadian goldenrod (Solidago Canadensis ‘Fireworks’) and wrinkleleaf goldenrod (Solidago rugosa ‘Golden Fleece’). They both have bright yellow flowers. Fireworks, a Canadian goldenrod grows to about 4-5’ and has a beautiful arching flower display that accounts for its name. Golden Fleece, a wrinkleleaf goldenrod is shorter growing to 2-3’ and has a denser more upright flower display. 

Goldenrods are easy perennials to grow. Most want full sun, including the cultivars Fireworks and Golden Fleece. They will tolerate a variety of soils as long as there is decent drainage. Bloom generally extends from late summer to mid-fall and beyond. Their bloom time proves to be especially beneficial to our pollinators who have fewer choices for nectar as fall arrives. Do your garden and your pollinators a favor and plant some goldenrod. Goldenrods are deer resistant so you will get to enjoy the beauty of their bright yellow flowers as autumn approaches.