This week in flowers: September 7

Slowly but surely, summer is giving way to fall – or winter, really, considering Tuesday night’s forecast. From a high today of just above 90, the thermometer will plummet sixty degrees to a projected hard freeze Tuesday night, and possibly snow, too. This shockingly early first frost (it usually occurs in the first or second week of October) is on-brand for the utter debacle that is 2020, and it will likely kill all of our tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, flowers and delicate herbs. None of these plants are even close to finished for the season, so our overall yields will be cut in half, at least. It’s a terrible, heartbreaking situation for any farmer, and we’re no exception.

At the moment, though, we still have lots of blooms on the farm, and it’s fascinating to watch the flowering plants shift with the seasons. Here are a few we’ve spotted recently (see blossoms from earlier this season here and here). After Wednesday morning, all of these will have vanished.

Flowers 06 sml

I’d planned on tearing out the fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and replanting the bed, but when I found it covered with pollinators – and there aren’t many other flowers for them to visit right now – I decided to leave it. If we were collecting honey, I imagine it would have a lovely light licorice flavor.

Flowers 07 sml

I think I grow purple basil (Ocimum basilicum) more for its intense, regal appearance than for its usefulness in the kitchen. Although it’s gorgeous fresh on a tomato salad, I’ve learned the hard way that it doesn’t work well as a dried herb, since it tends to create unappetizing inky streaks in crackers and focaccia. Also called opal basil, it makes a nearly black pesto, which is…interesting from a visual standpoint. Still delicious, though! I plant it every year and dutifully save the seeds; that rich, saturated indigo color isn’t often found in a high plains desert, so it’s worth the effort.

Flowers 08 sml

The assorted calendulas (Calendula officinalis) we planted in the raised beds have added such eye-catching energy to the growing season. They came up in a riot of different colors, each a total surprise. I’ve had good luck saving these seeds and will hopefully do so again this year, if the strong winds we’re experiencing don’t scatter them first.

Flowers 12 sml

I planted borage (Borago officinalis) for the first time this year, primarily to attract bees but also because I was intrigued by these edible cucumber-flavored flowers; they’re commonly used in teas and often frozen into ice cubes for use in summery drinks. Borage flowers were long the traditional garnish for a classic Pimm’s Cup cocktail, since the plant self-seeds readily in the UK, but nowadays a thin slice of cucumber peel is typically used. I’m uncertain whether borage will self-seed in our climate, but it’s worth growing again for its lovely appearance and its pollinator appeal.

Flowers 09 sml

Despite the waning of summer, our zucchini plants continue to blossom. It’s probably best that only three plants are producing, as we’re inundated with zucchini! Squash blossoms tend to only be open in the cooler mornings, and more often than not, bees are spotted inside. If you’re harvesting squash blossoms for culinary use, always harvest early in the morning and check for trapped bees before you bring them into the kitchen!

Flowers 11 sml

Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is another plant I chose to attract pollinators, and I also plan to dry the leaves for warming winter tisanes. Anise hyssop is a perennial in the mint family, so I’m hoping we’ll see it appear of its own accord next spring; thus far, it hasn’t spread aggressively like other mints often do. It’s advertised as deer-resistant – anyone who lives with deer knows there is no such thing – but the plant was in an unprotected area and the deer didn’t touch it. Drought-tolerant, pollinator-friendly and deer-resistant? It stays, for certain.

Flowers 10 sml

And finally, this was also our first year with scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus). I planted these for visual appeal, and the bright flowers didn’t disappoint. Although the plants didn’t produce much in the way of edible pods, the hummingbirds adore the red blossoms, so these will be making a return appearance next year, too.

With that, we’re off to harvest everything we can and hopefully save a few things with frost blankets and tarps. We hope you spot something beautiful in your natural environment this week, friends. Take good care of yourselves.

6 thoughts on “This week in flowers: September 7

  1. “So sorry for your loss”, I’m lamenting for myself as well. Collecting as many green tomatoes as I can, carrots, beans, my seed bearing zucchini (as long as my forearm), collard greens, and hopefully the cucumbers are protected enough! They were in late and are very small but maybe … I’ll find out in a few days. Have a nice chocolate in front of the fire while you’re waiting! 😉


    • Susan, it’s such a difficult situation! We were having a terrific season up until we ran straight into this brick wall. Such are the joys of farming in Colorado. Hope you have a few things survive!


  2. Anise hyssop is one I should try. There are not many herbs in my garden, and most are just incidental. (They were planted because they were pretty, or just showed up on their own.) Fennel used to be naturalized in the Santa Clara Valley when it was more suburban. I can not remember the last time I noticed it growing wild. I will grow it too eventually, just because I miss it so.


  3. Pingback: Farm update: October 26 | Finding Quiet Farm

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