By Phran Novelli
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There’s a lot to be said for late bloomers. Bursting with blossoms at the end of summer when few other plants do, they feed our precious pollinators like the bumblebees currently enjoying my Franklinia flowers. Franklinia alatamaha is a tree that grows about 15 feet high, so it’s easy to see its large flowers when they open in August and September; bright white petals with yolk-yellow centers that beckon bees to tuck in for a meal – and they do! (Check out the photo of my Franklinia flowers with a bee snuggled into each one.)
In fall, the leaves turn a scarlet red – so the flowers are just the start of the show. Late bloomers like Franklinia aren’t just pretty, they’re pretty important – by feeding bees when little else is in bloom, they help them stay healthy so they pollinate crops too.
With some sun, a little protection from the worst winds, and soil that drains well, Franklinia grows to be a great little specimen tree that attracts not only pollinators, but plenty of attention from passers-by too.