Goldeneye (Viguiera dentata): A Seasonal Look

In November 2015, I wrote about the golden glory that is Plateau GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, or as I usually call it–Goldeneye.

RICOH IMAGING

A native to the Southwestern U.S., specifically Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, Plateau Goldeneye is a bright and sprightly autumn bloomer which graces the likes of roadsides, plains and valleys, and home gardens equally.

IMGP2126.new

In profiling this perennial for A Seasonal Look, I realize that it has a limited area in which it grows naturally, but it’s an interesting plant and if you garden in its range, it’s one that dry-garden gardeners should grow, especially those who wish to attract a range of wildlife.

IMGP1896.new

In winter after a  reasonable freeze, the plant is done for the year.

RICOH IMAGING

In milder winters (like that of 2016) there may still be some green leaves and canes,

IMGP4412_cropped_2958x3142..new

…and a flush of new growth in January or February.

I typically  leave my Goldeneye for as long as possible because I’ve read that finches will take strips of leaves for their nests as they prepare for spring breeding season.  Also, there are often seeds available throughout much of winter for birds to snack on–and they do partake of those seeds.  So, in spite of its skeletal, freezer-burned appearance, I keep mine around until mid-to-late February, or as long as I can stand to look at them.

IMGP4278.new

However, there arrives a day when it’s time to whack back the remains of the year’s growth.  And whack I do.

P1020761.new

Does that make me whackadoo??

Here in Central Texas, in normal winters with regular freezes, Goldeneye remain dormant until March. It’s a nice garden design practice if planted with evergreens or more structural plants as companions, but the dormant period isn’t all that long. Once spring warmth envelops Central Texas, the arrival of Goldeneye foliage is not far behind.

P1020760.new

P1030351.new

Plateau Goldeneye belongs to the Asteraceae family and shares the qualities of other sunflower-type perennials–lovely, cheery blooms coupled with  somewhat large, sand-papery leaves.The leaves are attractive for most of the growing season–they’re a rich green, especially in early spring, then border on grey/green later in the growing season.

RICOH IMAGING

The leaves grow opposite and full along the stems of the plant, leading to a bushy, upright growth habit for the individual plant. Throughout spring and summer, the plant grows,

P1040416.new

P1060038_cropped_2320x3507..new

…and grows.

P1050982.new

Goldeneye  plants  typically reach 3-4 feet tall in my gardens, but can grow as tall as 6 feet.

It’s exciting when I spy my first Plateau Goldeneye bloom, usually in August, but sometimes as early as June or July.

RICOH IMAGING

There are a smattering of blooms in summer, but only enough to hint at the beauty to come.RICOH IMAGING

In September, though the days are warm, the light changes and the buds of Goldeneye form.

RICOH IMAGING

The anticipation of those shorter autumn days, combined with the flowering Goldeneye, are  just compensation for the long Texas summer. And well-worth waiting for!!

IMGP1248.new

RICOH IMAGING

RICOH IMAGING

BOOM!!  Plateau Goldeneye flowers appear and brighten the world.

A variety of bees nectar and gather pollen from this nurturing plant.

IMGP2214_cropped_3036x2396..new

IMGP2213_cropped_3821x2917..new

Small carpenter bee, Ceratina sp., working a Goldeneye bloom.

Small carpenter bee, Ceratina sp., working a Goldeneye bloom.

Goldeneye is also the host plant for two butterfly species, Cassius BlueLeptotes cassius and Bordered PatchChlosyne lacinia.  I’ve seen Bordered Patch butterflies and their eggs on Goldeneye, but never the Cassius Blue.  I’ve seen butterflies of many species working Goldeneye blossoms, but oddly, never took a photo. My bad.

The Goldeneye sunshine show lasts for 4-6 weeks. It’s a plant that mixes well with other bloomers, too.

RICOH IMAGING

RICOH IMAGING

RICOH IMAGING

RICOH IMAGING

Sometimes my Goldeneye require staking, especially in a wetter-than-normal year. The bushy quality of Plateau Goldeneye lends itself to a lush, but well-appointed mien throughout summer, which is deceptive because once the fall growth spurt occurs and the masses of blooms develop and open, the weight of those blooms can cause the plants to lean over.

In more shade, the plants grow taller, thinner, and they lean more. In fuller sun, the plants remain upright and generally keep their form,  even when the flowers appear.

IMGP2137.new

IMGP2139.new

Pruning Goldeneye in July or August by about 1/3 is one method of preventing Goldeneye floppiness and sloppiness once the October explosion of yellow flowery joy happens.  After a light pruning, the plant continues growing, but more compactly and seemingly able to handle the onslaught of flowers.  But if there are heavy fall rains during the height of blooming (which happens here in Central Texas) the floral-laden Goldeneye stems tend to flop over and sometimes break at the base of the plant. I boost the stems by staking if I can and don’t fret about it if I can’t.    For those gardeners who want a totally tidy plant, you’ll need to prune in mid-to-late summer.  If you’re fine with some seasonal fall wonkiness, just let the plants do what they want.

IMGP2772.new

Every fall, the bloom decline seems sudden, though it’s probably because I enjoy the flowers so much that I’m sorry to see them go for the year.

IMGP2226.new

IMGP2277.new

IMGP2539_cropped_3691x3101..new

However, once seed development is in full swing,

Male Lesser Goldfinches feeding on Goldeneye seeds.

Male Lesser Goldfinches feeding on Goldeneye seeds.

…a second wildlife performance is definitely worth watching.   Entertaining and biologically important, feeding finches of several varieties adore the seeds.  In my garden, it’s usually the Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria,  who are the main, though not the only, visitors of the Goldeneye food bar for weeks. Eventually, the finches clean out the seeds and/or move on to riper pickings and the plants are left to the whimsy of  colder temperatures.

The two major problems I find with Goldeneye is that they re-seed prolifically, especially in wet years, and the aforementioned flopping over once the blast of blooms appear.  I haven’t found the seedlings onerous to weed, and timely, judicious pruning mostly takes care of the wayward limbs.

IMGP2140.new

Plateau Goldeneye is an extremely drought tolerant plant–very appropriate for someone who doesn’t want a water-needy perennial.  Because it’s such an attractive plant for so many species of wild critters, it’s a must-have addition for a wildlife garden.  It’s casual growth habit could be an issue for those wanting a more formal garden,

RICOH IMAGING

…but placing plants at the rear of a bed, fronted by other shrubs and perennials can solve the issue of their loosey-goosey growing nature.

According to the Lady Bird Johnson plant database, Goldeneye have only “minimal” deer resistance.

In Winter,

IMGP5112.new

RICOH IMAGING

IMGP4002.new

Spring,

20140508_37.new

Summer,

RICOH IMAGING

RICOH IMAGING

Autumn,

RICOH IMAGING

IMGP2228.new

IMGP2194.new

IMGP2120.new

…Goldeneye is a tough survivor, beautiful bloomer, and a valuable resource for wildlife.  If you live in its native range, try this perennial in your garden.    It grows easily by seed or transplants.  Commercially, you’re most likely to find seeds or seedlings at a locally owned nursery, or if you live near Austin, Goldeneye are usually on sale at the LBJ Wildflower Center’s fall or spring plant sale.  Goldeneye is also a common passalong plant in its native range.

IMGP1918.new

Plant and enjoy these gleeful blooms!

Golden Glory

As its blooming season winds down, I’d like to give a blogging shout-out to a stunning native wildflower, Viguiera dentataalso known as Sunflower Goldeneye, Plateau Goldeneye, Toothleaf Goldeneye, and because I like to keep things simple, my personal favorite common name for this plant: Goldeneye.

IMGP1275.new

A most photogenic flower,

IMGP2222.new

…the Goldeneye brightens the late summer and fall garden with masses of sunshine-cheery, little ray flowers adored by pollinators and gardeners alike.

IMGP2031.new

Growing as tall as  5-6 feet, this is a hardy native of Central Texas, but also grows westward to Arizona and southward into Mexico and Central America.   A favorite landscape and wildlife perennial of mine,

IMGP1236.new

…Goldeneye should have a place in all Central Texas gardens. I grew my plants from a few seeds, which have in turn reseeded.

IMGP2278.new

I don’t mind.  I let them pop up, filling in spots where other things might not grow.  I transplant individuals where I want something that is low-to-no-maintenance and that will bloom beautifully, seed out, and provide food and cover for wildlife.  And if I don’t like where one plants itself (has that actually happened?), I can always pop it out and pass it along to another gardener.

IMGP2776.new

IMGP1039_cropped_4373x2632..new

The sprinkling of yellow flowers in late summer, followed by the blast of that same yellow in October, adds some fun and  whimsy to the garden.  And you want some fun and whimsy, don’t you??

IMGP1118.new

IMGP1009.new

There is nothing like the joy of yellow sunflowers in the garden and this one is a real winner.

Goldeneye pair nicely with all other flowers, too.

IMGP1910_cropped_3480x3277..new

IMGP1234.new

Not only do bees, honey and native,  like Goldeneye,

IMGP1246.new

IMGP2149_cropped_2857x3116..new

…but it’s a major source of seeds, winter food, and nesting material for the ever-darling Lesser Goldfinches.

IMGP1939.new

IMGP2800_cropped_3853x3286..new

 

I’m always thrilled with the first buds appear in late summer.

IMGP1209.new

Conversely, I’m sorry as the flowers conclude their flower show.IMGP2225.new

..and go to seed.

IMGP2133.newIMGP2771_cropped_3461x2987..new

But of course, birds show up for the seeds and that means more Goldeneye are spread to far-flung places, or maybe just the neighbor’s house, plus I can look forward to more Goldeneye.

A certain amount of tolerance for rangy plant behavior is a requirement with this lovely wildflower because it does grow large and is top-heavy with bunches of blooms. But considering the garden show and the value to native wildlife, a too floppy plant  is certainly something that I can live with.

I plan a more comprehensive A Seasonal Look on Goldeneye in the not-too-distant future, but for now, enjoy!

IMGP1044.new

IMGP0836.new

I’m joining with Gail at clay and limestone who promotes natives and wildflowers for the home garden through her Wildflower Wednesday gardening meme. Thanks to Gail for hosting and teaching others about the importance and beauty of wildflowers.

For my American readers, I wish a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday–full of love, family, and friends–and of course, pie.

IMGP2456.new

Sunny, Summer, Sunflowers

It’s not been a particularly sunny summer here in normally sun-blasted Central Texas. If it’s not vomiting rain, it’s cloudy and threatening to open up.  A break from the Texas sun is okay with me, though having grown up in the Sun Belt, I must admit I’ve grown weary of the dreary.

The volunteer sunflowers haven’t though.

IMGP8586_cropped_3317x3401..new

For days on end this summer, these fun annuals have invited sunshine into my garden.

IMGP8881_cropped_3447x3364..new

These four–Moe, Larry, Curly–and Shemp–planted themselves on the edge of my front garden.

IMGP8748.new

Acting as Guardians of the Gardens, they’ve grown to height and bloomed, rain or shine, and they will do so until they seed out for the birds–and next summer’s bounty.

The sunflowers along the driveway are growing in hopscotch fashion, spreading their happy flower ways,

IMGP8752.new

…reaching to the sky,

IMGP8754.new

…and leaning into the drive to wave a friendly welcome home to me.

IMGP8753.new

These sunflowers are planted by birds who visit my black-oil sunflower-filled bird feeders. Early each spring, MANY germinate in my gardens and pathways.  Actually, only a few seedlings germinate in the gardens proper because I mulch thoroughly, but in the rock walkways, scads of nascent sunflowers develop, most of which end up in the compost. One of the first chores after winter perennial pruning is weeding the dozens of sunflower wannabes.  I leave a few, sometimes transplanting one or two to more desirable spots. Then I enjoy the show in late spring and summer.

This year, there’s some variety in flower form, like this giant bloom, caught toward its end,

IMGP8548_cropped_3253x3082..new

…or a few that are channeling zinnias,

IMGP8503_cropped_3872x3291..new

IMGP8542.new

…and finally, the well-known and loved ray form of this summer staple.

IMGP8541.new

 

And do they feed anything, you ask?  Why, yes they do, as a matter of fact! My honeybees are especially fond of these flowers.

IMGP8552_cropped_3566x2746..new

IMGP8551_cropped_3290x2995..new

IMGP8793.new

IMGP8888_cropped_2683x3918..new

Honeys buzz around the sunflowers all day/everyday, but native bees and flies nectar too, as well as butterflies of all stripes and dots.

IMGP9084_cropped_2650x2456..new

IMGP9086_cropped_2710x3359..new

Once the flowers are finished, the local finch gangs will come a callin’ to gather their share of nutritious seed,  assuring a future sunflower crop for my garden and  surrounding areas.

In addition to the non-native, who-knows-where-they-came-from sunflowers, my beloved Goldeneye, Viguiera dentata,  have made their floral debut for the year.

IMGP8545.new

Their bloom time is toward the end of summer and gloriously, early fall, but there are June and July previews of the autumn show.  Goldeneye feed the same critters as the larger sunflowers with both pollinators and seed spreaders.

Once the birds have eaten their fill of the annual sunflowers and have moved on, I’ll cut down the huge stalks,  relegating the remains to my compost bin or yard waste for pick-up to produce Dillo Dirt, a City of Austin soil conditioner.

 

Summer sunshine.

IMGP8543.new

Even when it’s rainy.

IMGP8757.new

Sunny sunflowers!

IMGP8539_cropped_3309x3382..new