The Parklands

What’s Blooming: Fall Edition

It is a constant. The days gradually become shorter and the air slowly becomes a bit crisper—two given facts that the autumn season is close at hand. As we welcome fall, we also welcome the new flock of color that is dancing in the meadows and the garden beds throughout The Parklands. Gardener, Kayla and I have once again compiled an album and brief description of what a Parkland visitor may discover with a visit to one or more of the four parks that make up The Parklands. We hope you enjoy the album, and we look forward to seeing you out in the park.

~ Karen Mann, Head Gardener

Sulphur Cosmos

Sulphur Cosmos is a popular garden annual, also known as yellow cosmos. The species of Cosmos is considered a half-hardy annual, although plants may reappear via self-sowing for years. Cosmos are used along roadsides and in meadow plantings. This year, we have two Sulphur Cosmo locations, one small planting at Creekside and a larger eye-popping planting at the entry to the Woodland Garden. The Cosmos have been a welcome attraction for the remaining butterflies and hummingbirds as they ride out the season. 


Rudbeckia is a plant genus in the sunflower family, they are often called black- eyed Susan or coneflower.  Certain species of Rudbeckia are often confused with certain species of species Echinacea which is also called coneflower, making this a difficult flower to identify.  Therefore, for ease of identification, Rudbeckia is often orange or yellow with a black or yellow center. Due to its coarse, hairy stem, it is commonly identified as a Coneflower; however, the Purple Coneflower is known as Echinacea. I am sure I have totally confused you. Remember, Echinacea is usually purple or pink, while Rudbeckia is generally yellow or orange. Rudbeckia is known to self-seed. Although the original plant will only last a few seasons, allow the seedlings to develop and this plant will last for years. Rudbeckia is often used in prairie restoration because it attracts butterflies and birds. Many types of birds enjoy gathering the seeds from the seed heads of Rudbeckia, it is for that reason, that we leave the seed heads standing in our gardens in meadows throughout the winter. This particular rudbeckia was found in the meadows at Seaton Valley in Turkey Run Park.


Common chicory is a perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family, usually with bright blue flowers. Chicory leaves are used in salads and the root can be used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. It can also be grown as a forage crop for livestock. Only a few flower heads open at a time and each last only a day. Chicory is a wild plant on roadsides and meadows throughout North America. Bees are the primary pollinator of the chicory flower, although beetles and flies are also known to visit chicory. These pollen collectors and transporters can be seen covered with white, chicory pollen grains, leaving behind the seeds for the goldfinches as well as other seed-eating birds. Chicory can be found in any of our meadows in both the North and South parks.


Jewelweed blooms from May to October in the eastern part of North America and Canada and in the northern part of Florida. The bloom has a trumpet shape and hangs from the plant as a jewel does from a necklace. Pale jewelweed has yellow flowers and the Spotted Touch-Me-Nots have orange blooms with red spots. The seeds will “pop” when touched. Spotted jewelweed is commonly used to treat poison ivy rashes. It is found most often in moist woods, usually near poison ivy or stinging nettle. It is commonly said that wherever you find poison ivy, you will find Jewelweed; however, this is not true as Jewelweed will not grow in dry places for long, and does not thrive in direct sunlight. Poison Ivy will grow in sun or shade.  Jewelweed often grows on the edge of creek beds. There is plenty of jewelweed in the wild, and it is not hard to find once you learn to identify it. Jewelweed can be found throughout the park in moist shady areas, this particular plant was found in The Strand.

Tall Phlox/Garden Phlox

Tall Garden Phlox is an old-time garden favorite. Gardeners have been counting on tall garden Phlox to provide a colorful summer display. However, unlike its cousin creeping Phlox, tall garden phlox is an upright perennial that grows in clumps with fragrant tubular, pink-purple to white florets. Butterflies are very attracted to tall garden Phlox. The genus name comes from the Greek word phlox, meaning “flame” in reference to the intense flower color of some varieties. At The Parklands, tall garden Phlox can be found in the garden beds at Cliffside Sprayground and Playground in Broad Run Park.

Canadian Goldenrod

The Canadian Goldenrod is a North American species of flower plants in the sunflower family. It is widespread across eastern and central Canada and the eastern and central United States. Goldenrod is a rough-leaved perennial herb over 6 feet tall, spreading by means of underground rhizomes. One plant can produce as many as 50 stems, each with 50–1500 yellow flower heads. The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract a wide variety of insects, including small bees, wasps, flies, small butterflies and beetles. The caterpillars of many moth species feed on various parts of goldenrod while several leaf beetles feed primarily on the foliage. Other insects that feed on goldenrod include various plant bugs, stink bugs, lace bugs, treehoppers, and leafhoppers. Insect-eating birds benefit indirectly from goldenrods because of the many insects that they attract. Other birds feed directly on goldenrods, including the Indigo Bunting (seeds), Eastern Goldfinch (seeds), Swamp Sparrow (seeds), Ruffed Grouse (leaves), and Greater Prairie Chicken (leaves). White-Tailed Deer and Cottontail Rabbits will feed on the young foliage. Given the above-mentioned benefits, it is obvious why Goldenrod is such an asset to The Parklands. Goldenrod is abundant in all the meadows throughout both the North and South parks.


Tall Ironweed is a native of North America. Named for its tough stem, Ironweed is able to stand tall and offer excellent late season color. The bright purple-crimson color is very attractive to pollinators, especially butterflies. It is an excellent host for the American Painted Lady butterfly. Tall Ironweed habitats include open woodlands, woodland borders, thickets, areas along woodland paths, swamps, river bottom prairies, seeps and springs, pastures, and abandoned fields. Many of the meadows in The Parklands, which were once farm fields, are heavily populated by Ironweed, given that the seeds are dispersed naturally by wind. Although it is beginning to fade, Ironweed can be found in all meadows. You can find a large stand in Pope Lick Park, along the side trail form Day Bridge to the Fitness trail.

Mist Flower

Mistflower is a member of the Aster family, it is a native to eastern North America.  It is also referred to as Hardy Ageratum or Wild Ageratum. It is primarily found in low wet woods at bluff bases and in moist ground along streams. It is low growing and creeps rapidly by rhizomes. The flowers of the Mistflower attract many pollinators for very specific reasons. Bees, butterflies, flies, moths, and beetles all seek different parts of the plant to satisfy various needs. It also is a great source of late season nectar. While it can appear weedy early in the growing season, Mistflower redeems itself in the fall. Fitting in both naturalistic gardens as well as gardens with a more formal design, the purple-blue flowers often last until frost. Mist flower can also be found in areas throughout The Parklands, we often see it on the Louisville Loop throughout Turkey Run Park.

Partridge Pea

A member of the pea family, Partridge Pea is an annual, it completes its life cycle during one season.  It is a producer of valuable cover and food for upland game birds, waterfowl, and various small mammals. It is found across a large portion of the whitetail’s range and provides deer with moderate to preferred browse during the summer and early autumn months. It is a native to most of eastern North America; it has large yellow flowers, which are favorites of bees and other pollinators. Partridge Pea is a legume, legumes are unique because they have the ability to work with bacteria to actually store nitrogen, this is referred to as nitrogen fixation.  The nitrogen is stored in nodules and when the legume dies and decomposes, the nitrogen is released into the soil.  The nitrogen is then used by subsequent plants/crops. Partridge Pea is a dominant fall bloomer at the Parklands, especially heavy in our Northern parks. 

Purple Passionflower

Purple passionflower, also known as maypop, is a great plant that is native to much of the eastern United States. With interesting and beautiful blossoms, this climbing vine looks attractive as it winds around trellis wires. It feeds not only local pollinators such as the bee pictured here, but also people who enjoy its edible fruit. Historically, the plant has been used as an herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia. The dried, ground herb is frequently used in Europe by drinking a teaspoon of it in tea. It’s also used as a sedative chewing gum and has a number of potential future uses, for example, extracts can be used to produce organic sunscreens with a protective defense against UV radiation. On your next trip to Broad Run Park stop by Big Vista Overlook and notice the cable fencing. Here you will find a nice crop of the passionflower. 


Joe-Pye Weed

One consolation of the end of summer is always the arrival of Joe-Pye weed.  Its dusty rose-colored flowers will bloom for many weeks in July and August, becoming magnets for dozens of species of butterflies. These native perennials grow easily and well. Joe-Pye weed is a native to eastern North America and is often found growing in thickets and open woods. It also makes a marvelous addition to a butterfly, hummingbird and bee garden. The flowers smell sweet with a scent of vanilla, which is extremely attractive to beneficial pollinators.  Joe-Pye weed is especially attractive and can support Monarch butterflies. Other butterflies, especially those that are attracted to Joe-Pye weed flowers, include black swallowtails and Tiger swallowtails. Since it’s not very abundant in The Parklands, consider yourself lucky when you spot Joe-Pye weed in the gardens at Cliffside Center in Broad Run Park or the gardens alongside Hockensmith Barn in Turkey Run Park.


Milkweeds attract many pollinators, including bees and butterflies. There are dozens of Milkweed (Asclepias) species native to the United States, some of which are highly endangered. For monarch butterflies, these are must-have plants because monarchs will only lay their eggs on milkweed. As many as half the monarchs overwintering in Mexico this past year did not survive. It is imperative that each of us plant Asclepias to help the monarch population recover from this crash. The most common types of milkweed found in our park are listed below, with the exception of Common milkweed. Common milkweed is also found in our park; however, we have not included a picture. As with all milkweed, take caution when allowing the establishment of milkweed as the leaves are poisonous to humans and pets.

 Butterfly milkweed

Butterfly milkweed is often referred to as orange milkweed. Butterfly milkweed serves as a host and a nectar plant. It attracts a wide range of beneficial pollinators and is a popular nectar source for many butterflies, such as Monarch, Swallowtails and Painted ladies. The thick, rugged leaves present a good place for chrysalis (the hardened outer protective layer of a pupa) formation. Butterfly milkweed can be spotted along the Louisville Loop from Broad Run Valley to Limestone Gorge.

Swamp milkweed is one of the most beautiful perennials and is under used in the average garden. True to its name, swamp milkweed prefers consistently moist soil but will perform in average well-drained gardens. Swamp milkweed is also very popular with pollinators; the leaves are a preferred food source for caterpillars of both the Monarch and Queen butterflies. Milkweed sap is the sole food source of the Monarch butterfly larvae. When Monarch larvae, along with other caterpillars and beetles, ingest the sap, the cardiac glycosides give their blood a toxic character that protect the insects against predators. You can find Swamp milkweed at Seaton Valley, alongside various fences.

Bull Thistle

Bull thistle, grows wild in all parts of the United States. The biennial plant produces spiny leaves, or rosettes, in its first year. Buds and purple or pink flowers appear on the plant the next year. Bull thistle tolerates all types of conditions, and so it spreads easily. Bull thistle reproduces only from seeds.  If left alone, it can take over a large pasture or any section of open land. The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract many pollinators and provide important habitat and food sources. Many insects feed on the leaves, stems, flowers and seeds, while some songbirds also feed on thistle seeds. Thistle is often misunderstood. While it is often considered a weed because of its spikey appearance, thistles help to support healthy populations of beneficial insects that will also consume non-native thistle. This particular Bull Thistle can be found on the Louisville Loop in Turkey Run Park.


Sometimes referred to as Yellow Ironweed, Wingstem is a perennial that can reach 13 feet tall. Before the blossoms appear, the plant resembles Ironweed, thus given the additional common name, Yellow Ironweed. The large yellow flowers appear drooping and can be compared to a pincushion or a mop head. It is primarily a weed of pastures, hayfields, fencerows and roadsides. Pollinators are attracted to Wingstem as it is a late season nectar source for many insects, as well as a seed source for many species of birds. Wingstem can be found along the park roadsides, we spotted this plant alongside the road on Turkey Run Parkway.

Oxeye Sunflower

A relative of the Sunflower and often referred to as False Sunflower, the Oxeye Sunflower is a native prairie plant. Blooming occurs through most of the summer and into early fall. They are usually found in woodland borders and clearings, grassy meadows, tallgrass prairies and streambanks. False Sunflower is not considered a true sunflower because both the ray and disk florets of its flower heads can produce seeds. In contrast, only the disk florets of sunflowers can produce seeds. Another factor that distinguishes the false sunflower from the true sunflower is the false sunflower flower heads stand upright while the Sunflower species have flower heads that nod sideways.  The nectar and the pollen of the Oxeye Sunflower attracts a wide variety of pollinators, including honeybees, beetles, wasps and butterflies. Songbirds and hummingbirds also frequent the Oxeye Sunflower. You can find these flowers throughout The Parklands meadows, with this specific flower found at the Schnatter Bridge in Broad Run Park.

Tickseed Sunflower

Upon entering Turkey Run Park there is no doubt a visitor to The Parklands would have noticed the meadows swaying with the bright yellow blooms of the Tickseed Sunflower.  The Tickseed Sunflower is a native annual wildflower, it completes its life cycle in one year, but it will reseed. The flowers are slightly fragrant, and in large colonies, the smell can become quite noticeable. These flowers are a popular nectar and pollen source for late season bees and butterflies and several use the plant as a host for their caterpillars. This beauty is very abundant now and can be found in the most of the meadow throughout the North and South parks, especially in Seaton Valley. However, once the pretty little blossoms are gone, the seeds have a unique way of hitchhiking to new locations. Each seed has two little curved ‘horns’ at the tip that act just like Velcro.  They attach themselves to clothing, animal fur, leaves and just about anything that rubs up against the plant. Maybe you have seen or been the host to these hitchhikers???          


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About the Author

Picture of Karen Mann

Karen Mann

Karen has worked at the Parklands of Floyds Fork in many capacities. Originally hired as an Attendant in 2013, she has also worked in the PNC Achievement Center at the front desk and The Gheens Foundation Lodge as an Event Concierge. As of September 1, 2014 she has taken on the position as Head Zone Gardener. Karen is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor degree in Technical Horticulture and a minor in Floriculture. For the past fifteen years she has been actively involved in providing a hands-on atmosphere for her husband and three children. During this time she maintained a successful, profitable small business as a lawn maintenance contractor as well as a private residential gardener. Along with a passion to make a difference, Karen shares the same enthusiasm as her colleagues, as they continue to contribute to the growth and progress of The Parklands of Floyds Fork. When not at the Parklands, Karen enjoys spending time with her family, pets and just being in the outdoors.