Don’t Hate Me …

Dwarf Goldenrod w/Sumac in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Dwarf Goldenrod with Sumac (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

…because I’m goldenrod!  Goldenrod gets a bad rap from allergy sufferers all over the country, when in fact the real culprit is ragweed.  The pollen of goldenrod (Solidago sp.) is actually too heavy to become airborne, instead pollination occurs from the traveling insects and butterflies that visit the plants. Ironically, goldenrod is used as a remedy for seasonal allergies; by brewing a tea with a teaspoon of dried flowers in a cup of boiling water.

A wide variety of insects also feed on solidago including bees, wasps, beetles, flies, moths and butterflies.  You may have noticed spherical galls in the stems of goldenrod, these are caused by the goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis).  Many birds enjoy the seeds as well, including Eastern Goldfinch and Swamp Sparrow.

Native Goldenrod in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Native Goldenrod (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

So, now that you’ve heard its many biological and medicinal benefits, let’s talk about the aesthetic virtues of Miss Goldilocks!  The strong upright stems of the goldenrod are worthy of adoration alone, but it’s the vivid golden sprays of color brightening the fall landscape that attracts my attention.  Mixed in the native border of asters, eupatorium and ironweed that thrive along the stream winding through my backyard, solidago stands out like a beacon in the fog.  The flower heads are unlike any other plant I can think of.  They are not clusters, florets or individual blossoms, but rather masses of yellow fingerlings that hang nonchalantly from the tops of erect stems attracting bees and butterflies by the dozens.  They are a happy plant, always welcoming visitors to stop by.

Dwarf Goldenrod in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Dwarf Goldenrod with Sedum (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

In the garden bed, I love the cultivated dwarf goldenrod, Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’ mixed with sedum or in between shrubs at the front of the border.  With a height of 18″ and a spread of 30″, dwarf solidago reaches up and out pleasantly illuminating the area with it’s decorative golden fronds.  When I planted a dwarf sumac Rhus aromatica ‘Grow Low’, there was an area between the base branches that just called out for something bright to drape itself over the spot.  In another garden, Golden Fleece is mixed in with dwarf calamint Calamintha nepeta, Sedum telephium ‘Autumn Joy’ and the evergreen variegated Euonymus fortunei.  The delicate white flowers of the calamint, combined with the burgundy flowers of the sedum and the glossy leaves of the variegated euonymus provide a smorgasbord of contrasts when highlighted with solidago’s gold.  In a sunny, well drained garden zoned 4 – 9, these trios will certainly delight you through the fall finale and beyond.

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