Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wildlife in the Corner Garden

Pam, at Digging had a post about gardening with wildlife in mind that I enjoyed reading Friday.  She said the Garden Designers Roundtable had that for a theme this month, so I checked that post out as well.  One of the things they mentioned is that some of the posts will be about trying to acheive an ecological balance.  That is something I think about sometimes, wondering if one really can live in perfect harmony with the wildlife around them.  I do plant things with wildlife in mind, and try to keep fresh water down, but there are times I don't have positive feelings toward some of the critters.

Some people are afraid of anything not human.  Others just don't like them, and want to kill all insects and snakes on "their" property.  When I was out taking photos this morning, a neighbor boy said, "Aren't you afraid of bees?  Do they ever sting you when you get so close to them?"  I do get close to them, and wasps as well, and have never been stung.  I've had bees fly up in irritation when they got tired of me hanging around, and then back off, but have only been stung in my youth when I stepped on a bee while going barefoot.  If I was allergic to stings, I would probably keep my distance, though.  I am thankful to have garter snakes on the property.  They like all the cover here and there, including the compost piles.

As far as harmony and balance go, I plant extra lettuce for the rabbits each year, but they still eat other things I don't want them to.  I am going to have to get some rabbit fencing in order to get home grown veggies.  I don't use pesticides, except once every few years, when the slugs are bad, I'll use a pet safe product once or twice that season.  (I found beer didn't work so well, and got really gross if I didn't take care of it often.)  I would rather not have rabbits around, but they are there, so I have to learn to deal with them better.  And then, there are the squirrels...

I don't grow squashes much because of the stem borers.   Beetles eat my cucumber vines and give them a disease, but at least I get a harvest of cucumbers before the plants die.  They also eat the bean plants that haven't been finished by the rabbits yet. 

I'll have to check more of the gardening for wildlife posts out after I catch up a bit on visiting the blogs of those who have left comments on my recent posts.  I want to achieve balance as best I can.  I decided to talk about some of the plants that attract insects and other wildlife to my yard and my garden across the street for my Camera Critters post.

This photo was taken August 22.  There are two walnut trees across the street, which are not good to grow vegetables around, but the squirrels spend a lot of time there.

On August 25, some insects had found the rough goldenrod blooms opening.  I grow several kinds of goldenrod, but not the wildest invasive kind.  They always have a variety of insects on the blooms.  (Thanks to those who told me these are soldier beetles, and they eat other insects.)

The next door neighbor kids know I like butterflies and caterpillars.  They brought this over when I came home from work and a dentist appointment, hungry, and wanting to get right inside to eat.  They wanted to find a spot for it in my yard.  I told them they could put it in an empty pot on my driveway.  The put some things in there for it.  Do you know what that is?

When I first started growing this kind of agastache, which may be honey bee blue, it was sold as Mexican bee mint.  These are volunteers.  I think I had a couple different kinds, which may have crossed.  There are normally lots of bees and other insects on these blooms.

The heleniums are liked by insects as well.

I did go get my camera the day the kids brought the critter over when we saw these spiders.  They think the one on the right is a wolf spider.  I can't tell from the bottom.  I couldn't tell if the one on the left was alive.

Butterfly bushes are considered invasive in some areas, but not here.  I haven't seen as many butterflies at a time on this one as in the past, but it could be because I have more of them here and there now.

The rest of the photos were taken Friday.  I always let some verbena bonariensis grow in the vegetable garden because the butterflies like it.  I had a number of different kinds of skippers on it this day.  The dark colored swallowtail flew away as soon as I entered the scene.  I saw a silver-spotted skipper when I got home from work, but didn't get out right away with the camera.  These skippers let me get quite close.  There are 3 in this photo.  I think the open winged one may be a female common checkered-skipper.

I wonder if this is a fiery skipper. 

I can't tell which this looks like in my book, but I'm thinking the Leonard's skipper may be what I've had in the past.  (Randy E. says this is a female Sachem skipper.  When I looked back at an older post, I saw he had identified one as this, too.  They must like it here.  Thanks Randy!)

I can't remember if this one is one of those in the other photos.

The tithonia, Mexican sunflowers, are finally blooming in front of the vegetable garden across the street, and the monarchs have found the two blooms they have so far.  Last year, they bloomed much earlier, and I had more of them planted.  The monarchs love them, and last fall, there were days I counted more than 14 at a time on and around them.  It was awesome!

We have a variety of trees in the neighborhood.  This 4 foot locust tree is growing in the neighbor's side yard next to the flower bed by their house.  It's more their responsibility to cut down, but since I take care of the area right next to it, I'll probably take it down.  I couldn't find any flowers on it, but the monarch spent some time on it.

When we went to the zoo with our grandson last week, I noticed they had some pokeberries growing here and there.  I let this one grow across the street for the birds, but pulled the others.

I need to do a search for mulberry trees to decide if I want to leave this one (across the street) for the birds, and maybe try to get a few berries from it as well.

I have reduced the size of the brush pile I was intending for the butterflies to take shelter in.  The rabbits have taken it over for their nest.  Speaking of rabbits, their favorite foods here are the leaves of peas, green beans, sweet potatoes, and romaine and buttercrunch lettuce.  They'll eat all kinds of lettuce and this year, included more leaves from flowers in their diet, which they eat to the ground.  Some of the flowers have recovered, and some of the sweet potatoes are trying to, but the peas and beans did not, and more of the lettuce than usual was eaten too far down to recover.  If I plant them, they will come!  (When I first posted, I forgot to point out the stand of lamb's quarters that I left for the ladybugs, which we didn't see as many of as last year.)

When I learned that fennel blooms attract predatory wasps, they were already forming seeds, so I didn't cut them back.  I've seen a few swallowtail caterpillars on the fennels, dill, and parsley this year, not as many as some years.  I didn't make it out to the gardens as much as usual, though, either.

Back home, the veronica, 'Sunny Border Blue' has bloomed all season, with some deadheading, and always has bees and/or butterflies on it.

I cut a few springs of this winter savory in the curb bed to dry for cooking each season, then enjoy the blooms along with the bees and such.  There were at least 5 bees on this 12ish inch wide plant when I took this photo.

The Joe Pye weed, 'Gateway' seems to be drawing bees.  This is the first year for this plant.

I think it's a butterfly bush leaf this insect is on.  Do you know what it is?

If you haven't looked in your yard lately, see what kinds of critters you can find near you.  Visit Camera Critters, hosted by Misty Dawn by clicking the link in my sidebar.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday

I haven't been online as much since going back to work as a high school special education paraeducator.  Since I'm still eating soft or liquid food to prevent/reduce jaw pain, it takes longer to get my lunches ready.  Plus, I have been having trouble staying awake on the computer in the evenings.  I am struggling right now, in fact.

I have been going around taking photos for posts that I haven't gotten to.  I remembered today is Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail, of Clay and Limestone, so I went out this evening to take some photos.  Before I post them, I want to tell a little story. 

A couple years ago, I noticed a young man sitting on the curb.  This was before the flowers went clear across the yard.  I went out to see if he was OK.  He stood up right away, and in broken English, apologized, pointed to his wife, who was taking photos of my flowers, and said they would leave.  I told him it's OK for her to take photos.  They stayed a little while, then left.

This evening, while I was taking photos for this post, a woman was walking down the street, and stopped to tell me she likes my flowers.  I asked her if she is the woman who took photos, and she said she was.  I asked her if she understands much English, and she said just a little.  I asked where she was from, thinking it might be South Korea, but she said she is from Vietnam.  She told me where she lives, which is 2 blocks away.  I asked her if her house is one of those with the flowers, and she said it was, and that she loves flowers.  She went around asking me what some of my flowers are, and whether they come back each year.  I wrote whether they were perennials, annuals, or annuals that reseed.  I also put marks by the ones I could share with her in the spring.  By the time we finished, there wasn't enough light left to find more wildflowers to photograph.  Some are about finished blooming anyway, and others are not blooming yet.

The rough goldenrod is just starting to open its buds.

The false sunflowers have had a major deadheading, and are blooming again.

I'm not sure if variegated false sunflowers are wildflowers.  Gail, was it you who wanted some seeds from this?

The boltonias are just starting to open a few buds.

Rattlesnake master looks good all season.  I also wanted to show off the love lies bleeding that is doing so well, even though I don't think it's a wildflower.  There are also a couple dried up drumstick alliums in the mix.

The ironweed is a bit floppy, but the insects and I are enjoying it.

Last I looked, there were 12 entries to Wildflower Wednesday.  That was after work today, so there are probably more by now.  Go check it out.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Time for Critters

I forgot to include a photo of a cicada shell last week.  I counted a bunch of them in the general area last Fridayish.

The next 2 photos were taken last Saturday.

I saw this question mark or comma butterfly on a plant first, but the photo of it I quickly took did not turn out.  I was glad it landed back where I could take a photo after I scared it by my presence.

I was glad to see a bee on the kiss me over the garden gate.

The next photos are from the 18th.

Now that I looked this up, and found it is a male black swallowtail, I'm realizing it's the female I've seen several times that disappeared when I came back out with my camera.

I had to include one more, because I love the view of the legs on the flower.

These may be fall webworm adults, but they also look like the photo I saw of an adult satin moth or yellow woolybear caterpillar.  When I first started taking the photos, I didn't realize there were two of them.

It looks like I interrupted something.

I saw another dark colored swallowtail Friday, when I got home from work, but by the time I got my camera it was gone.  I did see some other critters.

The name of this daddy long legs always leaves my brain.

The butterflies have finally noticed the biggest butterfly bush is blooming.  I counted 5 painted ladies on it, and got photos of 2 of them.

There's a skipper staring at us on the right of the painted lady.

The short toothed mountain mint was very active with insects, too.  It was fun to watch them move around and share the feast.

I think this is a huge wasp, but in looking for something else in a book I have about insects, it also looks similar to an adult of a webspinning sawfly.  Do you know?   I don't recall seeing it around before.

I do think it's probably a wasp.  I want to get out to the garden, so  I'll do more checking later.

It looks like I got a bit carried away with putting photos in this post last night.

This wasp looks to be a little larger than half the size of the other one.

I hope you are having a good weekend, and enjoying peace with the critters.  Click on the Camera Critters link in my sidebar to see more critter photos.  Misty Dawn is the host.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Foliage Follow-up

Pam, at Digging, posted some very cool foliage for her follow-up to GBBD, and I am joining in to link some of mine that I had taken for today.

The pink betony is finished blooming, and the foliage is continuing to look pretty good.

The bear's breeches I planted last spring hasn't bloomed yet.

The amsonia hubrechtii foliage is starting to turn colors.

The amsonia tabernaemontana has bushed back out after its trim awhile back.

The rue is looking pretty good.  Swallowtail caterpillars like to eat it, but I've only seen a couple on them the several rue plants I have.

This is a white blooming cypress vine on the veggie garden fence.  This is my first time growing this color.  This one escaped being eaten by rabbits.  The red blooming ones in the front are starting to come back after being chomped to the ground.

The name of this dusty miller that I believe is new this year isn't coming to my brain right now.  I think I have it named in another post somewhere.

These coleus plants have grown quite tall, and have only had a few flower buds that we've removed so the foliage will stay nice.  I think I'll try taking some cuttings and see if I can keep some over the winter.  (That's morning glory foliage to the right.)

I planted ornamental sweet potatoes without flowers to see if there would be more tubers to eat.  There are people who find my blog by looking online to see if ornamental sweet potatoes are edible.   There is not much information that encourages folks to eat them.  What I can't figure out is if any are actually not edible, but so far, the ones I've tried were fine to eat.  I plan to try all of these.

I hope you are experiencing cooler temperatures like we are.  I just hope it rains tonight.  Thanks for stopping by!