Ask the Experts

Rob Zimmer
Special Contributor
Hummingbirds have begun showing signs of readying for their annual migration.

Q: I've seen many hummingbirds at my feeders the last week or so. Has migration started? 

A: Yes, it appears that the ruby throated hummingbird migration has begun in our area. I have also seen numerous hummingbirds, especially adult males, visiting feeders throughout the area. This is a good sign that they are beginning to move south. So be sure those feeders are full and your yard is filled with colorful blooms. 

Q: What are the extremely tall, white thistles that are growing everywhere along the highway?

A: You are probably seeing Teasel, a tall, thistle like plant with white flower clusters at the tips of the stalks. Teasel has been classified as an invasive species in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, like many others, it rapidly spreads and goes uncontrolled in many areas. If you find it on your property, shear back the stalks before the flowers go to seed to help curb the spread.

Q: I'm looking for a few shrubs for fall color and texture. Can you recommend any?

A: Highbush cranberry viburnum is one of my favorites for is scarlet red leaves and berry clusters in fall. All of the viburnums feature spectacular fall color, ranging from orange to gold and scarlet. Native Red Osier Dogwood is another excellent choice with blood red leaves in late summer and fall. Witch hazel features bright gold foliage in late fall. All of the hydrangeas feature beautiful fall color, as well. Many of the miniature and dwarf conifers feature beautiful color year round, especially the gold and powder blue varieties.

Q: What are some perennials that bloom in purple for summer?

A: Purple is quite popular for mid summer blooms, just starting in many areas. Joe- pye weed is a wonderful plant that features plumes of light lavender to pink flowers. Similar, but in much deeper purple, ironweed is an extremely beautiful plant. Wild bergamot, or wild bee balm, as well as several other bee balms in shades of purple, also bloom throughout summer. New England aster features masses of rich purple blooms late in summer and fall. The many varieties of Blazing stars, or Liatris, or another spectacular summer purple.