A note from Sandy Morrissey, a great birder (and gardener) in Hartsdale; her photos:
I, too, am enjoying many blooming plants in my fall garden – even now in November.
A favorite – and one that many may not have – is pineapple sage (Salvia elegans). It does not bloom until late October but it is well worth waiting for. It can continue to bloom until December if there is no severe frost. At maturity, a single plant is almost 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It has spikes of tubular, red flowers. From my kitchen window, I see just the airy blooms swaying in the breeze and images of 4th of July fireworks are evoked.
Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)
10” spikes of tubular red flowers open in late October
Like all my favorite salvias, this plant is a tender perennial and you might have to buy it each year. However, I have had it come back twice, so it has a better record than my beloved Salvia guaranitica. All the plants in my gardens have to make-do with part-shade light because I have so many mature trees, and the pineapple sage does well with its dose of afternoon sun.
I got this plant because I heard it attracted a rufus hummingbird to Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers. We only have the ruby-throated hummingbird in the East, but occasionally the rufus, which is a Western species, will stray off its range during migration. Here is a link to the story about the rufus at Lenoir Preserve in 2001: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/rufous_hummingbird.htm. You can also find reports of it returning to Lenoir in 2002 and 2006 on the web.
As you know, I am a big hummingbird fan, so I added this to my collection of plants I have for the main purpose of attracting hummingbirds. Sorry to say, the rufus hasn’t arrived in my garden – as far as I know – but if it does, it will not only have the pineapple sage to sip, it will have several other blooming salvias. It must be a trait of salvias that they continue to do well in cold temperatures.
Near the pineapple sage, I also have planted Salvia coccinea ‘Lady in Red,’ Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’ and Salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue.’ Any hummingbird that shows up will be well fed.
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue’:
Four salvias: Pineapple sage, Lady in Red, Victoria Blue, Salvia Guaranitica Black & Blue
I do keep records of when birds are in my yard, and I usually see my last ruby-throated hummingbird around Oct. 15. A November visit from a rufus hummingbird would be quite a Thanksgiving feast!
Best blooms to you,
Thanks Sandy! All of my hummingbirds took off by mid-September this year.