22 November 2011

Fall Mists

One of the greatest joys of fall gardening in Central Texas is that it's when the mistflowers bloom. There are two natives that are pretty common in the garden trade around here, Gregg's mistflower (Eupatorium greggii) and white mistflower or shrubby boneset (Eupatorium havanensis). And there may be more that are native to the area.

Both are massive butterfly and bee attractors. In a normal year in October and November one can find queens, monarchs, and any number of zillions of insects buzzing around the mistflowers. Queens and monarchs, in particular, love them.

Alas, this is not a normal year, and the mistflowers mostly stand quiet. There are a few bees, but almost no butterflies. I surprisingly found this male monarch butterfly sipping on the Gregg's mistflower this week.

He probably recently eclosed somewhere in these parts and may try to catch up with the monarchs gathering now in Mexico. (There were late monarch caterpillars munching on the tropical milkweeds here about a month ago.)

I like Gregg's, because it is a low sprawling groundcover. It spreads, but not too aggressively in my yard, and is really easy to pull up.

But I LOVE the boneset, because it smells fantastic. Its light spicy scent always catches me off guard when it sweeps over me in the autumn breeze. Boneset has a nice low shrubby form, beautiful white flowers and can sometimes stay evergreen if we don't get a crazy freeze. Also drought tolerant. Highly recommend it.

White mistflower is an edge species found just along the edges of the Edwards Plateau. I've been trying to plant it around the yard in the habitats that are forest edge-like, or will be some day.

Oh, I spied this green caterpillar munching on the Gregg's too. Wonder what it is?

1 comment:

Tina said...

The mistflowers are lovely--they have been lovely in my gardens as well. Enjoy!