Always, in September, I can count on the Conoclinium coelestinum (a/k/aEupatorium coelestinum) to bloom throughout my garden. Wild blue ageratum is hardy here and many other places since it is grown from USDA Zones 5(a) to 9(b). Like many wild plants it is much beloved by butterflies and bees. I especially like its other common name blue mistflower, because it does weave through my shadier beds like a mist of sky blue.
This afternoon, as I took photos, I found the first Monarch I’ve seen in the garden feasting upon its nectar. Monarchs are more patient subjects than the sulphur butterflies. As long as I don’t move too quickly, they will pose in a queenly fashion while I snap portrait after portrait. The sulphurs, on the other hand, rush to and fro as busy as a mother of toddler triplets. I never come upon them unawares.
The mistflower is also beloved of other butterflies and hummingbirds. In fact, while on my knees, I heard a loud chirping behind me followed by the beating of wings so fast, it sounded like a large bumblebee. I turned, and a hummer helicoptered next to me, tilting his head before dipping his wings and flying off.
Now for the facts about Conoclinium coelestinum courtesy of Floridata:
“Mistflower is a herbaceous perennial which spreads by creeping rhizomes and covers the ground with a mat of opposite, wrinkled, coarsely toothed, triangular leaves 1-3 in (2.5-7.6 cm) long on short petioles. In autumn mistflower produces branched stems 1-2 ft (0.3-0.6 m) tall that bear dense, flat clusters, 2-4 in (5-10 cm) across, of irregular fuzzy flowerheads – 30-70 flowerheads per cluster. There are no ray flowers, only disk flowers, and it’s their long stamens that cause the fuzzy appearance.”
Conoclinium coelestinum can outstay its welcome because it spreads so easily. Here, it grows without any assistance in both sun and shade, and I pull out handfuls in the spring. However, when the monarch posed so prettily, I was glad I’d left plenty to sustain him on his voyage to Mexico.
My friend, Gail at Clay and Limestone often does Wildflower Wednesday, and this week I decided to join in. What wildflowers do you grow in your garden?