Goldenrods add a showy splash of golden beauty to fall gardens
The countrysides of Northwest Ohio are now aglow with the colors of fall wildflowers.
Shades of royal purple, pure white, and bright gold give us an autumn show before the stark, gray days of winter set in. Brightest of these fall flowers is the regal goldenrod.
These wild beauties have been domesticated and improved, and are now available in many varieties to be grown in your perennial gardens. Domesticated varieties are available from nurseries, garden centers and plant catalogs and range from a few inches tall to several feet tall. In form, these domesticated types come in upright with branching stems and spikes of tiny golden flowers, plumes, or loose clusters of blooms. Like their wild cousins, these goldenrods will grow in poor soil, but they thrive abundantly in good soil. They are also drought-tolerant and do not need staking.
When choosing goldenrods for your garden, be sure to check the various types carefully. Some domestic versions are “clumping” varieties and will grow in one spot for years without needing to be divided. Other types may be invasive and will spread through the garden crowding out other plants. Also, give attention to the height of your selection as some types will grow several feet tall.
Tallest of the domesticated goldenrods is Solidaga rugos, often called wrinkled goldenrod. This variety has large, rounded leaves and hairy stems. Its golden-flowered panicles are held erect over its tall stem and foliage. This is a fine specimen variety that can be placed at the corners of a deck or patio. Or, it makes a great focal point in the center of an island bed or at the back of a tall growing perennial garden.
A very showy goldenrod is Solidaga speciosa. It grows to about three feet and has long, billowing, golden plumes. It is somewhat invasive but does well in a fall bed with mounding flowers such as mums or low-growing shrubbery.
Solidaga rigida is called “stiff goldenrod.” It grows to five feet and bears flat sprays of pale, greenish-gold flowers. It forms clumping roots and is not invasive. Rigida is lovely in a display of red, yellow, and orange flowers (hot colors), or with contrasting blooms of blue and purple.
Solidaga juncea bears plumes of flowered panicles and Solidaga odora is a scented variety of goldenrod.
For a “domesticated wildflower garden” look, try any of these varieties in a bed of Black-eyed Susans, asters, and coneflowers. This garden is a fabulous butterfly magnet.
Goldenrods generally have no serious pest or disease problems. Also, contrary to some belief, goldenrod pollen is not responsible for causing hay fever. This is caused by a plant called ragweed, which flowers and produces pollen at the same time as goldenrod.
Whatever variety you choose, goldenrods are an easy care, hardy flower that will add a showy splash of golden beauty to your garden in the late summer and fall months before the long, cold months of winter.
Whenever I see goldenrods begin to bloom, my taste buds remind me that it is time once again to start serving a favorite fall dish that I was first introduced to by a favorite aunt. She prepared this delicious treat for us as a Sunday brunch and she would wait until fall to serve it because the elegant golden garnish looked so much like goldenrod flowers.
Aunt Gladys called this dish “Autumn Goldenrod Eggs” and her recipe is:
6 boiled eggs
3 cups milk
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. flour
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
1 tbsp. paprika
6 plain, whole wheat, or multi-grain slices of toast, English muffins, etc.
Over low heat, melt the butter and blend in the flour and salt and pepper. Slowly add the milk stirring the mixture constantly until it thickens. Separate the yolks from the whites of the boiled eggs, chop the whites and add them to the sauce mix. Set aside and keep warm. Crumble the egg yolks. Arrange the toast, English muffins, etc. on plates for serving. Pour the warm sauce over the toast, sprinkle crumbled egg yolk and a pinch of paprika over the top.
Aunt Gladys always served her Autumn Goldenrod Eggs with homemade bread and eggs from her own chickens but I have to admit this dish is delicious, satisfying, and beautiful even with store-bought ingredients and, now that the goldenrod season is here, a nice treat for fall.
October garden tip:
October is a great time to plant bulbs for the spring to come. When planting bulbs, instead of planting them in rows, toss four or five bulbs on the ground where you want blooms in the spring. Plant them where they fall and enjoy a more natural looking display in the spring.
If you have garden questions or tips for other gardeners, send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.