Late summer is a brilliant time at The Quarry Gardens. Golds, blues, purples and pinks dot the landscape—and the butterflies are loving it. Here’s a Spangled fritillary enjoying one of the two species of thistle (Pasture, Circium pumilum, and field, Circium discolor) in the roadside savannah next to the Visitor Center.
Not all flowers are large. This Purple love grass, Eragrostis spectabilis, its blooms glowing in the late afternoon light near a wall at the Visitor Center (and elsewhere), is among the many grasses, sedges, and rushes that prove flowers don’t have to be large to be charming
The Purple passionflowers, passiflora incarnata, have climbed through the Quarry overlook platform fence to frame a view of the prairie just below.
Three low-hanging fruits nearly touch the floor; they’re about the size of lemons; when they ripen to yellow-green, they are said to be delicious; we’ll give them a try—if we get there in time. (N.b., we did not. Dratted deer.)
Fourteen species of Goldenrod, Solidago, have begun their annual parade through the landscape. These are by the road near the overlook platform. Here’s a guide to identifying them, prepared by our partners and friends at the Center for Urban Habitats. (link to goldenrod sheet-pdf attached).
Partridge pea, Chamaecrista fasciculata, continues the gold-yellow theme in dry, sunny areas of the gardens. As a legume, it thrives in recently disturbed areas, adding nitrogen to the soil and temporarily dominating while allowing other species to emerge.
Nearby, an Eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus Linnaeus, forages on one of the nine species of Boneset, Eupatorium, that may be found here. They are also sometimes called Thoroughworts or Snakeroots. “Boneset” derives from the plant’s historic use to treat the extreme pain of dengue fever, which caused sufferers to break bones.
Blue mistflower, conoclinium coelestinum, has scattered itself about. Here it joins Clustered mountain mint, Pycnanthemum muticum, and a bit of Flowering spurge, Euphorbia corrolata, to make a living bouquet.
The Euphorbia likes its high, dry, sunny spot by the quarry overlook. Peeking through the railing here, it is taller in stature and every bit as floriferous as the cultivars we see in garden centers.
Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, likes a damp footing. Here it lights up the shade in the Fern gully wetland.
Delicate Ladies tresses orchids volunteer in the most seemingly-unlikely spots. This is one of two Spiranthes species found here.
In the wetland between the two quarry pools, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are loving the Pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata.
At the overlook and elsewhere, the orange-red glow of Carolina Rose hips, Rosa carolina, forecasts the colors of autumn approaching.
We hope you’ll join us soon to enjoy the changing season as it unfolds.
You may also wish to join Piedmont Master Gardeners’ celebration of its 30th year of bringing the resources of the Virginia Cooperative Extension to area gardeners. For the public, they will have noted speakers on climate and landscape at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville on September 8. For more information: https://piedmontmastergardeners.org/events/