Some low-key, late summer flowers that pollinators cannot resist
Often in late summer gardens, it's the big flashy flower blooms that steal the show. Flowers like phlox, hibiscus and hydrangea boast large blossoms, height, movement and bright color.
Another perennial blooming right now has smaller flowers and not-so-showy color but the pollinator pay-off is huge.
Helenium, also known as "sneezeweed" is a hardy, clumping perennial in the daisy or aster family. And the "sneezeweed" moniker isn't because this flower contains allergy-inducing pollen! Its petals were dried and crushed and used as snuff.
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Pollinators of all sizes love helenium and its flower shape is a perfect landing pad. In a late summer garden, these blooms make a great nectar plant for bees, butterflies, moths, and beetles.
Helenium is a clumping plant and its blossoms grow in clusters, with a large, raised center disc surrounded by multiple petals. Some varieties can grow to five feet tall and come in beautiful autumn colors, like yellow, orange and rust.
If you'd rather plant a helenium of shorter stature, try "Short & Sassy" or some in the "Mariachi Siesta" series, as those stay under 2 feet tall when fully grown.
Helenium are also good companion flowers to add in next to other late summer and fall bloomers, like asters, sedums, and rudbeckia or coneflowers.
If you fall in love with easy-to-grow helenium and decide you'd like more, this plant is easy to divide next spring. Just dig up the clumping plants, divide and add them in to other places in your landscape.
A listener wants to know what is safe to consume from a home garden, post-flood
Q: Regarding garden produce after being flooded: Can I take off leaves of basil, chard, kale, etc. that may have been touched by the floodwater and eat the new growth? And if broccoli formed before the flood but was not touched by the floodwater, is it safe to eat? - Joyce, via email
A: The best rule to follow here is if floodwaters touched the part that had already formed — whether it be an herb or lettuce leaf, a broccoli head or a fruit — you really should not eat it. Some of those floodwaters could have splashed on it and may be contaminated.
More from Vermont Public: A fall harvest awaits Vermont gardeners who can replant certain crops now
If some of your plants, like squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, or peppers, formed fruits after the floodwaters receded, then those fruits should be okay. And, it's not too late to replant.
A question on planting in rain-impacted gardens
Q: Re: replanting rain-impacted gardens. Can gardeners/farmers plant safely in areas that were covered in floodwater that contained contaminants? - Ann, in Norwich
A: It depends upon how long that floodwater was there. A soil test can show if there are certain contaminants present. The University of Vermont Extension has a lab where you can test the soil for heavy metals. If the tests come back negative, go ahead and plant.
Introducing organic material like compost and mulch back into the soil should be a first step before replanting. Planting cover crops can also rejuvenate once-flooded soil. Let a cover crop grow into the fall. Then in spring, till the cover crop under and then plant vegetables, herbs and flowers into the soil as you normally would.
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