This time of year, there are quite a few asters flowering, both in my woods and in sunnier areas near the creek. They provide food to lingering pollinators like flies, wasps, butterflies, and this bee, shot with a slower shutter speed to catch its busy blur. Asters provide welcome sources of pollen and nectar as other flowers fade. Their seeds also provide sustenance for many animals well into winter.
Years ago, I went to a garden in Vermont with my parents in early autumn and was impressed by the abundance of blooming asters. I was surprised how many pollinators were still around since it was so far north. We especially enjoyed watching the monarch butterflies, fueling up for the long journey south.
I have planted asters in most of my gardens knowing how beneficial they are to so many small creatures. Here the vast majority are wild, growing long before I arrived. They seem to really like my yard. I have thousands of individuals of half a dozen species flowering now. Some of these will bloom even after temperatures dip below freezing, until there is a hard frost. They stretch the garden season for me and the insects at a time when they are most needed. Already we have dipped into the 30s overnight more than once since the start of fall, and frost may arrive soon. In the meantime, I enjoy the clouds of flowers and the buzz of insects extending the feel of summer a little longer.