Note: I think I'll throw this post out into the wild in its current incomplete form and hope I get some plant ID help. Update: (8/2) I've decided that it's P. labrosus, not P. rostriflrus. (7/31) I decided that my ID of Solidago was right based on a return trip. Update: (30 July) I have an ID for the "cute plant" courtesy of a nice reader. It's Horkelia. Also, I fixed a self-inflicted misidentification of Penstemon.
I'm not sure why my focus seems to be on the smaller herbaceous plants. Perhaps I can see myself more easily growing them at home. I'm looking for plant ID help on some of these - I'll willingly take your input and corrections.