Late summer in Rugby means finding a lovely array of beautiful wildflowers that await you including hearts -a- bustin’, virgin’s bower clematis and cardinal flower! But there are also dozens of other wildflowers blooming at this time of year including New York ironweed, a tall plant with thatches of tiny violet flowers on the top of its tall stalks, several different species of goldenrod that grow on the Plateau (and are often mistaken for highly allergenic plants like sneezeweed), hardy ageratum with its tufts of soft lavender-blue flowers that evoke the common name ‘Mistflower’, and many different types of native asters that range from shades of lavender to white, and, of course, the many helianthus plants with bright yellow petals in the same genus as the sunflowers we know so well. These flowers are almost always found in moist meadows with lot’s of sunlight (but, with some shade too. However, the woods are full of surprises this time of year, too! Come hike our Rugby trails and see what you can find. There is so much for you to discover in the area! More info on hiking in Rugby is found in our The Outdoors link and for outdoor adventures farther afield but still close enough for a day’s drive from Rugby check out the Area Attractions page.
Hearts -a- Bustin’: Also known as ‘Strawberry Bush’, this plant is in the Euonymus genus-which includes the well known Burning Bush with leaves that turn a beautiful bright red color in the fall- and is used all over the southeast as a landscaping plant . Burning Bush is now considered to be an invasive species! Sigh! Doesn’t that happen with so many plants we love? The latin name for Hearts-a-Bustin’ is Euonymous Americanus and denotes its status as a native plant. While the native euonymous is a lot less showy than its cousin, it does sport spectacular seed pods in the early fall. The spiny pods range from pink to fuchsia in color and are complemented by bright, shiny orange to scarlet red seeds. The color combination is extraordinary and is reminiscent of the unusual and bright color combinations found in the folk art of Mexico and India! Why would a native bush with a rangy, open habit and not many other distinctive features develop such colorful seed pods? So the birds will spot them and disperse them, thereby ensuring the plants survival! Remember the seeds are poisonous if ingested.
Autumn Clematis/Virgin’s Bower: This beautiful vine that blooms in the late summer and early fall is in the clematis genus and has many different common names including ‘virgin’s bower’ and ‘woodbine’ and is often confused with the non-native ‘Sweet Autumn Clematis’ which is now on invasive plant lists. The native clematis’ latin name is Clematis Virginiana and it blooms earlier than the asian look-alike (usually in August). It makes a great shelter and provides food for some migratory birds such as goldfinches and indigo buntings. It has a light, sweet smell, but all parts of this plant are poisonous and handling the plant can cause skin irritation in some people. Look for it on the road to the Laurel Dale cemetery across from Martin’s Roost and Oak Lodge.
Cardinal Flower: Everyone loves this fabulously showy native plant-from humans to hummingbirds! It is an easy plant to grow, loves a ‘wet foot’ and blooms from August to September, and sometimes longer. It can actually get quite tall in the wild- up to 5 ft. and more- although in gardens it seems to average about 3 to 4 feet. The butterflies love it and the hummingbirds can’t get enough of the tubular red flowers which fit their unusually shaped beaks perfectly. It has been seen around the pond at Newbury and also down by the Meeting of the Waters where it grows on a sandbar that is submerged in water part of the year. The common name for this plant is Cardinal Flower but many people think it is called Indian Paintbrush (another red flowered, sumer blooming plant) or Firepink, which is actually an early spring blooming plant that grows low to the ground and also has bright red flowers.
Another beautiful native lobelia is the Great Blue Lobelia which has the unfortunate Latin name of Lobelia siphilitica because it was once thought to cure syphilis, but is a gorgeous plant on its own! It also likes a moist environment, tops out at about three feet and blooms in the late summer. It has one of the truest blue colors in the plant kingdom.
Come and visit us in the late summer and see how even a short sojourn in a lovely, quiet place like Rugby, as summer winds down, can be restorative for the soul and prepare you for the busy fall and holiday season that is quickly approaching! Enjoy the colors of the late summer/early fall plants and use them for inspiration whether you are a photographer, artist, or just like to be inspired by the huge variety of late summer wildflowers we have in Tennessee! Stay with us in our lodging to enjoy this very fleeting but enjoyable time of year before autumn begins and everything changes! Check here for information on Rugby Lodging.