Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July's Wildflower Wednesday

We are now experiencing the time of the season I always look forward to, with so many plants in bloom, but now that it's here, I'm not ready for so many to be finishing up like they are.  It sure has been hot and dry.  It was good to get almost an inch of rain this morning.  While walking around, I decided to do my Wildflower Wednesday post, hosted by Gail, of Clay and Limestone, on the different Mountain mints I have.

This first one, which is growing on the east side of our house, is not native to Nebraska, but to states south of us.  The USDA Plant Database calls it Clustered mountain mint.  Other sources call it what I do, Short-toothed mountain mint, Pycnanthemum muticum.

Here's a closer look at it.  This one has not spread as much as the others here.  It does develop roots along the stems that end up on the ground in the spring.  I have been picking them up, and the clump has not gotten larger than I have room for.  Bees and wasps frequent these.

Virginia mountain mint, Pycnanthemum virginianum (with some other letters and words after it) is native in Nebraska.  This one is a spreader, but I read that after a few years, it will calm down and not spread as much, and this one has spread less the last couple of years.  It's on the east side of the vegetable garden.

The pollinators weren't out much yet, since it had just rained, but they love the white blooms of all of the Mountain mints.  These blooms are smaller than the Short toothed ones.

 This Narrowleaf mountain mint, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium Schrad, is another one native to Nebraska.  It's shorter than the Virginia mountain mint.  This one in the west front yard, near the light pole, and I'm not sure what is going on with it.  Parts of it are turning brown, and it's separating in the middle.  It seems to be the favorite of the black wasps.  I hope it's OK.

I have two more photos of this one.

Now, this one is a mystery to me.  It is right next to the sidewalk that goes from the street to the house, and you can see the Joe Pye weed right there.  I am forgetful, and do not remember whether I planted this or not.  I wonder if the different varieties of Mountain mint can cross pollinate.  

I think it's a good looking plant.  The blooms are smaller than Short toothed, and larger than Narrowleaf.

I decided to share a few more wildflowers that are blooming, some of which will be finished by the next Wildflower Wednesday.  Do you see all three bumblebees enjoying the Wild senna?

I have Butter and eggs, a Toadflax of some kind, in a wash tub because it is too much of a spreader here.

The Cup plant is loaded with blooms!

False sunflowers are the first perennial we bought when we moved here.  Larry and I both liked them, and I thought it was cool that they are native to Nebraska.

I'm not sure if this is the same swallowtail caterpillar I saw on a leaf of a Golden Alexander plant, but if it is, it moved to this stem during the day.   I deadheaded these plants last year, hoping they would bloom again, but they didn't, so this year, I have left most of them on, and they are looking good on the plants so far.

I'm glad there are some flowers, like Monarda fistula now blooming that the bees like, because I need to deadhead the Culver's root, which they had been favoring.

This is my first time growing Sweet black eyed susan, and this one bloom has taken a couple days of showing color to start opening.  I am excited to see all of the blooms open.

I hope you are learning more about plants that are native to your areas, and are able to find some to plant.  It sure has been a fun experience for me, although there have been challenges to finding some of the plants I wanted to try.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Getting Sidetracked can be Fun! (Black Swallowtail Pics)

I have a multitude of things I need to do today, but I saw something I've never seen before, and want to show you.

I always use any unfinished water, tea, or coffee to water plants with.  This morning, when I went out to do that, I saw what I think was a hoverfly, different from the others I've seen.  I went in for my camera, but it flew off before I could get a decent photo.  Then, a black swallowtail butterfly caught my eye, and tolerated my picture taking for a good amount of time.  (My friend, Dan, aka Dan the Butterfly Man thinks this is a spicebush swallowtail.  Either way, it's a beauty!  Thanks, Dan!)

I always start out from a distance, and use my zoom before approaching, just in case whatever I am trying to get photos of flies off.  I also am careful not to cast a shadow, so I won't scare them away.  It was fun to get a photo of this one flying.  I wish both wings were visible, though.

From the information I looked up, I'm pretty sure this is a female black.  I see there is a bee or hoverfly on another bloom.  There were different flying things bugging this butterfly some.

I was pleased when the butterfly landed on a flower that was near where I was.

There is another creature that I did not see when I took this photo.  You probably can't see it, since you don't know what it is, but it's between the petals of the flower the butterfly is on.

Can you see it in this photo?  My heart is pitter pattering looking at how close they were to each other.

Look!  It's a crab spider!  I got excited, and told the butterfly to be careful.  I was ready to intervene if I saw movement.  The butterfly flew off, not liking my commotion. 

No meal for you this time!

Some information I found called crab spiders beneficial, but they eat insects that are beneficial, so I have mixed feelings about them.  I also read that they stay in one spot, sometimes several days or more, waiting for their prey.  Grace, I didn't take it off, but am thinking about going out to see if it's still there.  Others who read this, do you remove crab spiders?  I try to take a hands off approach as much as I can when it comes to these things, but I may have saved this butterfly's life, and part of me wants to go out and make sure this one cannot take another.  Oh, the drama of gardening!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trying to Wake up Photos

I've been going out and looking at the first page of each section of the newspaper on the porch in the mornings.  It takes me longer to wake up than it used to.  Yesterday morning, as soon as I went out, I spotted a goldfinch on a Narrow-leaf coneflower, and went in for my camera.  I sat back on the porch to take pictures, but still, the second one I took was of it flying away, so I'm glad the first one turned out OK.

After the bird flew away, I stayed sitting on the porch, and had fun taking photos from there, at times, using the zoom.

I decided to get up and take some other photos from the area where the tree used to be, on the west side of the yard.  I was tickled to see the Cup flower blooms showing color.

I've never noticed the little flap like things on the sides of the head of a wasp before.  The two Swamp milkweed plants that I got as nice sized plants this year are blooming and looking quite lovely.

This is not the best picture of the Culver's root, but this is the one that showed the bee the best.  The Culver's root blooms have been very popular with groups of bees of different sizes.

The Wild quinine blooms are a little larger this year.  They had lots of bees and wasps last year, but I'm not seeing as many on them this year.  I'm not sure what these little critters are.

I hadn't decided yet that I was going to do a post on the area where the tree used to be, so we are skipping around rather than going in order like we usually do. I was excited to see a bee enjoying the newly blooming Wild senna.

I deadheaded the Lanceleaf coreopsis a week or so ago, and am pleased to see a new flush of blooms.  I believe this is a hoverfly on one of the blooms.

This is the other Swamp milkweed.  I bought this at a different nursery than the other one, and was concerned when I saw the leaves on one were narrower than the other, and wondered if one was really 'Cinderella'.  There could be a different reason for the difference, though.

Whorled milkweed only gets to be about 15 inches tall here.  It's another of my favorites.  It seeds itself around, and is a nice space filler.

I don't think I realized this was Tall poppymallow when I got it, but I don't remember for sure.  It is native to some places farther south.  I sure enjoy seeing it with the Gray-head coneflower and Liatris getting ready to bloom.

The Gray-head coneflowers were not blooming the last time I did a post in this area.  I sure love them!

I trimmed back the Joe Pye weed, but it is blooming early anyway.

This second clump of Culver's root was planted after the first one, and the blooms opened later and are smaller.  I don't know why they are turning brown as the blooms fade.  I deadheaded some of the first clump, though, and they look like they will bloom again.  I'll get to this one soon.  (Can you see the bee on this one?)

I can't remember which Clematis pitheri this is, but I sure love it!

The Rigid goldenrod looks like it will be blooming soon.  I need to look back to see when some of these plants boomed last year.  Even though spring was late in coming, and the spring bloomers were late in blooming, it seems like the normally later summer bloomers are opening earlier than normal.

I am pleased at the growth of the Illinois bundleflowers that I was given early this spring.

They are even blooming!

Oh, look, here's the view from the sidewalk, right next to the porch.

I guess we are walking toward the street now.

Last year, I deadheaded the Golden Alexanders, hoping they would bloom again, but they didn't, so this year, I am leaving any seedheads that don't flop over into the paths or sidewalk.

I am in awe of the Cup plant's size and shape.

I am also tickled that the rabbits have not eaten the Purple prairie clover so far, and they are all blooming.

I even got a photo of a fly on a bloom!

The Monarda fistulosa is just opening its blooms.

Just a couple kinds of Liatris are blooming so far.  I think this may be squarrosa.

Yes, the area is starting to fill out, but there are still some gaps, especially in the area next to where a sidewalk would be.

We are turning around and going back toward the house.

There's that tall Meadow rue, taller than the Cup plant!

Later in the day, I took a photo of these plants that I've shown as tiny seedlings to see if anyone can identify them for me now that they've grown to this size.  A couple gals from my Facebook group, Gardening with Nature in Mind came over to see the flower beds a few days ago, and we got to wondering if these may be Gray-headed coneflowers.  The leaves aren't exactly the same, but that may yet change as they grow.

While out, I took a photo of a Cup plant bloom, which had opened since the morning.

Well, we made it to the end of a bit of a hodge podge post. I am continuing to have trouble making good use of my time, but am getting some gardening done.  I hope all is well with you.