By Joyce Arleen Corson
SYRACUSE — Parting is such sorrow when summer ends and school begins. For me, in 1950, summer ended the first week to the middle of September after the crops were harvested. The entire family, including the children participated with harvest, no time for school at this point. Then we will enjoy the fruits of our labors and plant the winter garden.
Time changes, just like the weather and school now begins nearly the middle of August, but we still have the Autumn joy stonecrop (hylotelephiium ‘herbstfreude’/sedium spectabile) to enjoy however it will need to be planted in spring but its perennial personality will be enjoyed all year long and greet you next summer.
They are drought-tolerant natives to Asia, Europe and North America, hardy in Zone 3-8 and get their name from their habit of growing in stony ledges and rocky outcrops. “Autumn joy” prefers soil of average to poor fertility, dry to medium moisture, excellent drainage and full sun.
Bees and butterflies love Autumn joy and it can be used in the front of beds and borders, grown in alpine or rock gardens, planted en masse, or grown in containers. Left in place, they also add interest to fall and winter gardens.
It’s already past the half way point of summer in Indiana and if your garden is anything like mine, it’s starting to show a little wear and tear from the summer sun. Is your lawn struggling through the long, hot summer? It might be time to trade it in for a more eco-friendly alternative, such as natural meadow gardens.
Even replacing just a portion of your lawn with more diverse planting can made a big difference in helping pollinators and other wildlife.
After studying native plans for the prairie from my wetland I have adopted the compass plant, silphium lacinatim, from the aster family and ironweed, genus vernnia, plus wild lettuce, lactuca virosa, well over my head and up to 12-feet. Cup plant, sillphium perfolattum, has succeeded as a winner, casting seeds growing ready for gift giving. They have nearly circled the high areas in the wetland. One that is in its second year of growth, the compass plant, silphium lacinatrum, is strong in its second year, but still needs steady growth to reach 6 feet.
Not that I’m encouraging rabbits and deer to visit your garden but they are hungry too! Discover design ideas that include food for all (gardendesign.com/eco-friendly/lawn-alternatives). By replacing a traditional lawn with other plans or hardscape, you can reduce the amount of lawn care needed and hence your carbon footprint.
Not only do other plants such as natives and drought-tolerant varieties take less fertilizer and water, they offer attributes such as ornamental interest and food shelter for wildlife. Try some clover and sunflowers that are food for all.
Get plant suggestions by joining a national garden club in your area. Learning to identify the invasive plant species to avoid, and get started on your own lawn replacement project.
Winter garden will be October.