Forgotten blooms, butterflies swarm

One of the highlights of my garden in September is the Liatris aspera, or rough blazing star. It's the end of the season counterpart to the June-blooming and more common Liatris spicata, or gayfeather.

What makes the blooming of the aspera such a special time is the butterflies. When the gayfeathers bloom there are a few around maybe, but when the aspera blooms they're everywhere in the garden. They literally flock to the purple blooms, especially in the warm afternoon sun.


Even though I do so look forward to seeing this plant explode in blooms, scheduling and weather combined this year and I missed my opportunity to get all of the photos I wanted to. You can take a look at last year's photos, but this year you'll have to settle for a single video I took.

Every sunny afternoon during the peak of blooming the plant would be swarming with butterflies. I was never able to count exactly, but I estimate there were around 30 butterflies on the plant at once. Most of them were skippers: Silver-spotted skippers were quite prevalent, as were Fiery skippers and those that look pretty similar. There was at least one Buckeye here though.

Actually, I just remembered that I posted about some of these a couple of weeks ago. Here are a few select photos from that post:

In any case, the Liatris aspera has stopped blooming now. I really should remember to collect some seed this year and start a few more plants next year. I'm actually surprised I don't have volunteers of this one growing all around. The gayfeathers reseed readily, why don't these?

Maybe there's not enough bare soil in this bed -- it does have a lot of grasses taking up all of the space. Weeds still manage to find spots to grow in though. Hmmm...

I definitely need a few more of these plants in my yard. Just imagine the number of late-season butterflies I'd attract then!


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