A Golden September

It’s a good year for goldenrod and I’m loving the bright yellow blooms all over the yard.  This time of year, with most perennials and shrubs done for the season and foliage starting to turn brown, the cheeriness is especially welcome.


In the Garden

It’s even better that almost all of the goldenrod in the yard is wild.  My only job is to identify the seedlings that proliferate around the yard, decide where to let them stay, and edit out the rest. I tend to leave them in clusters in key spots and be ruthless about all other seedlings.  I’m not worried about editing too hard – there will be more seedlings next year!

Here are a few shots of where they are blooming now.

By the side door, in front of the Montauk daisy and mixed in with cotoneaster, silver artemesia and sedum Autumn Joy


In the side yard next to the work area and compost pile


At the base of a stand of beach rose (Rosa rugosa) and emerging winged sumac (Rhus copallina)


In the woodland garden, nestled within a stand of wild cherries (Prunus serotina)


Growing around Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica ‘Henry’s Garnet) that is already turning red


Identifying Goldenrod

You might notice there are several different shapes of the goldenrod blooms.  Turns out there are many different goldenrod (Solidago) species – Native Plant Trust lists 8 species in their Plant Finder.  In my yard, and around town generally, there are two that are most prevalent: Rough goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) and Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis).

Rough goldenrod (S. rugosa) on the lower left and Canada goldenrod (S. canadensis on the upper right

I’ve been consulting the gardening books and websites to make sure I’m identifying them correctly, and I think I have it figured out, at least for these two species.  The S. rugosa has a more open plume and leaves with veins that curve like feathers.  The S. canadensis has a tighter plume at the top, and the leaf veins run parallel to the center vein.

The third type of goldenrod often seen here is seaside goldenrod (S. sempervirens).  It will survive in salt marshes and even in the sand near the beach. It also pops up in untended areas around town – here’s one just a few blocks from downtown. You’ll see that the leaves are very long and thin, almost leathery, and the large bloom is a single club shape at the top of the stem.  All goldenrods are magnets for the bees as you can see here.

Seaside goldenrod, Solidago sempervirens

And finally, there are some new goldenrod “nativars” being sold by the nursery trade.  This one, just coming into bloom, is Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’, a variation of the wild S. rugosa with a wide-spreading bloom that does indeed look like fireworks.  This is its second year in my pollinator garden. So far it’s done well and the pollinators are liking it too.

Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’


  1. Thanks for this! It’s so inspirational to see how you’re using native plants. Beautiful displays!!!


    Sent from my iPhone



  2. We love goldenrod and all the pictures in this blog post were so beautiful. Our garden has some new plants that did bloom this year, but not much. So glad your blog is called Goldenrod … so cheery and surely one of the premiere plants in your Cape Cod garden!


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