August is what I call "the hard core month of summer." It's what summer really boils down to—the peak month for hot, rainy, humid weather, and the height of the growing season. The landscape becomes lush and plush with leaves, grass and lovely flowers that could make a snowman blush. It all comes together in August to once again prove what summer is really all about. It's the time to ripen and mature and gather strength in seeds for the future. It is the time for coming and going, as new lives begin and old lives move on.
I'll never stop seeing the beauty that August brings to my life; all I have to do is look out a window. The rural roadsides come alive with the colors of August. Many of the colorful flowers I enjoy are non-native species that are frowned upon as weeds, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are also a few wildflowers that are native to the area that have survived in small numbers along the road. There will always be a place in my heart for the striking orange daylilies that bloom at the edge of the road. They are always part of my bouquets for the house this time of year.
The purple-topped thistles are also eyecatchers when I pass by. The fuzzy-looking thistly flowers provide some of the best close-up viewing—not just because they are so pretty, but because they attract so many visitors. So many bees and butterflies take advantage of the sweet flowers, and small grassland birds will eat the seeds in the fall. The little goldfinches prefer to line their nests with the soft white thistle down. Funny how a plant with a thorny attitude can be such a good provider.
It's the time for flowers of yellow, some bright—some mellow. There are around 100 different kinds of goldenrod in North America. It's the dominant yellow flower that blooms in mid to late August along most country roads. There's no doubt that these beds of rich yellow can be very beautiful, and they also provide food for many insects. Goldenrod has been blamed for giving allergy sufferers a bad time, but the truth is over 90% of the pollen that affects those with allergies actually comes from ragweed.
This is when the tall sunflowers bloom, and there are many different kinds to enjoy. The cup plant, named for the large leaves that form a cup at the stalk, is one of my favorites. Most of the wild sunflowers can grow six to eight feet tall, and have bright yellow flower tops.
There are some other beautiful colors to be seen along a mid-August roadside. The showy Joe Pye weed and Marsh milkweed are beginning to show their purple and pink flower tops. They may grow four to six feet tall, so they are easy to spot. In fact, they often jump right out at you, they are so pretty.
There are many stretches of roadside ditches that may appear snow white. The large white flowerheads of Queen Anne's lace may grow by the hundreds, each plant having several large white flowers that look like palm-sized snowflakes. Queen Anne's may also find themselves in one of my late summer bouquets.
The little Daisy fleabane starts to bloom early in the summer. They are a favorite snack for the white-tailed deer, who nibble off just the tops. This gives the fleabane a second chance to send out new branches full of tiny white flowers, which are now in bloom.
Just a few of the other roadside flowers I've noticed this week include the Rosinweed, Tick trefoil, Evening primrose, Blue vervain, and burdock.
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