Friday, August 15, 2014

The Color of Sunshine

I love yellow.

Yellow is the color of those cute little smiley face icons we add to our email messages, of rubber duckies, of bananas, and pollen. It's a happy color.

It is the color of sunshine, the color of Florida.

I didn't realize just how many yellow wildflowers are in my butterfly garden until last week. The butterfly bed -- a narrow space packed with flowers for pollinators -- is aglow in yellow.

Many of the flowers look like daisies, with multiple ray-like petals encircling either a yellow or dark center disk. 

There is black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta).

And rosinweed (Silphium astericus).

Gulf fritillary on rosinweed

And the lovely cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), perhaps my favorite.
Green sweat bee on cutleaf coneflower

Earlier in the summer, I had tickseed (Coreopsis spp.) though it has died back in my garden now.  I saw more tickseed in pastures, ditches and along roadsides this year than I can ever recall -- seas of egg-yolk blossoms that never failed to make me slow down and soak in the sheer beauty of these "fields of gold."

Tickseed meadow, Myakka River State Park
 in June 2014
A closer look at tickseed 

And soon I will have the tall stalks of goldenrod (Solidago spp.) and the prolific narrow-leaved sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) that reach heights of 8 feet if I don't cut the stems back in early July, before flower buds start to form.

 Narrow-leaved sunflowers,
 October 2014

All of these species are native to Florida. All are perennials -- meaning they return year after year to shine in your yard (although tickseed is an annual for me, and every spring I transplant a few from a nearby vacant lot). 

Several, like goldenrod and narrow-leaved sunflowers, reseed with abandon, multiplying over time so you can share them with friends. 

Maybe it's not a coincidence that the Sunshine State has so many sunshine-colored wildflowers! 



  1. What a beautiful array of yellow! We have lots of it in our garden too. Isn't it just wonderful to awaken each morning and see the sun shining from the garden?!
    Is there another name for those narrow-leaved sunflowers? I didn't know there were any perennial sunflowers.

    1. They are also called swamp sunflowers, Daisy. They are a native perennial. I warn people that they reseed prolifically, so 2 or 3 will be 12 or 15 the next year, and more each year after that! But I just pull up the ones I don't want -- or give them away. They really will get very tall if I don't cut them back to about 24 inches in early July. They usually start blooming in early September, and they make great cut flowers for arrangements.

  2. The pictures are stunning! You really have a way with words.

  3. I love the color yellow too, especially in the backyard. It adds a such a bright and refreshing feeling. Next spring, I'm renovating my landscape, and yellow will be the first thing I add to the new plans!

    Sara Welsh |