Summer Flowers Bring Pollinators

Summer Flowers Bring Pollinators

The information below was originally posted last weekend.

A lot of flowers are blooming in the garden now and they are looking pretty good because we have not had many thunderstorms to knock them over nor have we had drought. This is the time of year that you can hear the cicadas and crickets, and start seeing more butterflies and bees on the flowers.

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Monarch butterfly depositing eggs on swamp milkweed.

IMG_9611Swamp milkweed in bloom. I am watching for the Monarch caterpillar, but am not too hopeful as we have a lot of predators around, such as wasps, that hopefully keep a check on the cabbage moth worms

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Agastache ‘blue fortune’ giant hyssop’ in the front, with a visiting bee. The yellow flowers are Heliopsis helianthoides false sunflower ‘summer sun.’

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Black-eyed Susans are cheery in front of the ornamental grass Miscanthus ‘Morning Light.’ The Russian sage on the right is flowering a lavender color and the pink hydrangeas are having their best year.

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Close up of Black-Eyed Susans

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A view of the yard mid-summer. The chinquapin oak tree has tiny acorns on it and it keeps growing each year. The pole beans are climbing the bean structure and starting to produce. Vegetables and flowers are doing their thing around the yard.

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The coneflowers seem to have multiplied around the yard and I love it. Liatris spicata blazing star flowers are blooming in the background.

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Joe Pye weed and coneflowers in a pink part of the garden.

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I have not had time to investigate what insect is sitting on this coneflower. I can see its little claws and it has wings as well.

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A question mark butterfly sunning on the laundry rack.

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Closed wings on question mark butterfly.

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The first and only nasturtium flower in the garden so far this year. I planted two packets full of seeds, but some of the other plants are very small, probably due to lack of rain. I am too lazy to water this time of year….

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Pink flowers of the yellow wax bean plants.

IMG_9608Zinnias and dill. Both are great butterfly plants. The dill is a host plant for black swallowtail caterpillars and the zinnias attract butterflies, bees and goldfinches.

Indian Summer

The weather has been warm this October.  After the frost last weekend some of the plants are finished, but some are sending out beauty into the autumn days.  Will we have more warm days?

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A slow-moving moth on agastache hyssop blue fortune.

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The agastache is looking pretty dried out, but the bees and other pollinators are still visiting.

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Pink mums are blooming now.

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The pollinators seem to like the flowers past their prime.

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Still a few yellow mums left.

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Another unknown yellow flower is blooming in our meadow.  It looks like a sunflower, but not sure what it is.

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Marigolds were still giving a fine show last week, but have pretty much finished now.

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One more yellow spot – spice bush leaves.  The bushes in the yard are turning various colors now.

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Bee balm in fall colors in the little meadow.

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The parsley plants are so full.  I keep grabbing bunches, chopping it up and freezing it.

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There have been strawberry blossoms all over the yard these days.  But without much water and not enough sunlight I have a lot of green strawberries that will probably never ripen.

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Pearl crescent on butterfly bush.

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I finally zoomed in to catch a picture of the chipmunk who has been resident in our yard.  I have seen quite a few in the neighborhood.

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Sunset at Lake Katherine last night.

Summer Birds, Flowers, and Travel

Starlings, robins, house sparrows, and house finches are pretty common in our yard this summer.  It has been fun to see other birds, too.  If I have identified them incorrectly please let me know.

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I believe this is an eastern kingbird, because of the white terminal tail band.

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At first I thought the eastern kingbird was eating crabapples, but I think it is just the red color in his mouth.  Those crabapples are not very good this time of year, but there may be some good bugs around.  There were two of these birds flying between the viburnum and the crabapple tree.

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I took a picture of a brown bird making noise at the kingbirds, and now that I have it on the screen it looks like a female rose-breasted grosbeak.

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These are the two birds mentioned in my last blog that I think are Baltimore orioles.  The bird bath has really been fun to watch recently.

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Every morning the house wren has been singing up a storm.  I have not been able to zoom and get a good picture, since my zoom can’t get a good picture of this small bird singing way up in a tree.  Here the house wren is looking for a meal in the garden bed.

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Here is a shot of the backyard recently, where the birds have been visiting.

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The rudbeckia – black-eyed susans – are at their peak this week. In the back is miscanthus morning light and Russian sage.

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Agastache hyssop blue fortune is attracting the bees now.

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Sunrise through a collard leaf.  I took this last week.  This week many of the leaves have small holes where they have been chewed.  Those worms are good bird food.

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We visited Spokane for a wedding this past weekend.  Many places were very brown and dry, but the clouds were really fun during the weekend and the evergreens were everywhere.  It would be fun to visit again when we have more time to explore.  I believe this was Palisades Park.

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This wheat field was right next to the wedding venue and we watched a beautiful sunset as the young people danced away the evening.

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I read Orphan Train on the plane and just finished it.  I really enjoyed it!

Bird sighting:  I just saw a great egret wading near the shore at Lake Katherine.  I did not have a camera with me, but enjoyed watching it catch its supper.

Grasshopper and Pink Turtlehead flowers

Each week there is something new.  While picking bush beans a week ago I discovered this grasshopper.  It has to keep well hidden with all the birds around.

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I have always enjoyed grasshoppers.  Now that we have some tall grass in the meadow there are quite a few grasshoppers and crickets around.  But I enjoy these bigger more colorful ones.  When you go outside the summer insect sounds are loud and varied.

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The pink turtleneck flowers are just starting to bloom.  I cut down all the dead joe pye weed behind it so that the area will look nicer.  Soon we will have goldenrod and sedum blooming.

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Robin and berries of viburnum ‘Chicago Lustre.’

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Soldier beetles are everywhere.  These beetles were mating on the agastache today.

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After the rain I took a closer look and sure enough we have a cantaloupe growing now.

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Our ten foot sunflower started to open today!Garden 08 24 14 003

On summer mornings it is just nice to sit and look at the clouds.

Butterflies on Zinnias

It rained over 5 inches in 24 hours earlier this week and now it is hot and humid.  The vegetables like that.  It is also a busy time for the butterflies.  From my desk I can look out the window at the zinnias and it is fun to watch the visitors.

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This looks like the eastern tiger swallowtail that I was taking pictures of a few weeks ago on the agastache.  Most of the butterflies are looking somewhat tattered now.

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The zinnias in back are one variety that are 3 – 4 feet tall.  The ones in front are 2 – 3 feet tall.  The goldfinches have removed the petals from many of the flowers.  If you looks closely you can see both the eastern tiger swallowtail and a silver spotted skipper in this picture.

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Silver spotter skipper on zinnia.

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Silver spotted skipper on yellow nasturtium.  Here you can see how furry the back and legs are…

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Goldfinch feeding on zinnia.  Sometimes more than one goldfinch is working away at these flowers.  I guess they are getting something nutritious here.

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Once while I was taking pictures of butterflies this goldfinch landed nearby and then spotted me.  He kept and eye on me for a while, trying to decide whether to fly away or get a snack.

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I have seen the monarchs in the garden off and on this week.  This one’s wing is ripped, but it still enjoys its feast.  Often I see the butterflies flap their wings to get rid of bees and flies that are buzzing around them on nearby flowers.  Under the zinnia you can see a soldier beetle.  They are everywhere in the garden now.

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This is a picture of a monarch butterfly that I took maybe a month ago on a coneflower.  You can see how fresh and delicate the wings were at that time.  Maybe it had just emerged that day…

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On Monday there were several monarch butterflies on the agastache.  Look at all the pollen on the body.  When we had the 5 inches of rain the agastache tipped over.  I am currently leaning it against several lawn chairs and trying to get it to stand up again.

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Carpenter bee and monarch butterfly on agastache ‘blue fortune’ – giant hyssop.

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I believe this is an orange sulphur butterfly.  It looks like the cabbage whites, but with the pretty yellow color.

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The summer solstice zinnias are just starting to bloom now and will bloom until frost.  They are tiny yellow and orange flowers that really attracted the butterflies in the past, so I planted them again along the east fence, which is a sunny afternoon spot.

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My brother was another welcome visitor to the garden this summer.  Behind us you see the zebra grass which is showy now.

Swallowtails and Dragonflies

The agastace is in full bloom now and attracting butterflies and bees of all types.  I should have studied entomology!  I just checked out Sue Hubbell’s book about bugs, “Broadsides from the Other Orders.”

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I think this is a female eastern tiger swallowtail on the agastache ‘blue fortune’ giant hyssop plant.

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Here is a side view of the eastern tiger swallowtail on the hyssop.  I like the striped body.  It looks like she is using her proboscis to sip nectar.  Is that kind of like a straw?

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Limenitis arthemis – red spotted purple butterfly, I think, on agastache.  At first I thought it was a black swallowtail, but it does not have a tail.

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Here is a closed wing view of the red spotted purple butterfly on agastache.  You can see the pollen on its body.

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Just below the agastache a black swallowtail caterpillar is resting in the parsley.  There are a lot of hungry birds in the yard, though, so I am never sure if these guys will survive.

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Agastache ‘blue fortune’ giant hyssop.’  On the left is heliopsis helianthoides ‘Summer Sun.’  The agastache plant is really buzzing, mostly with bees and flies.

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I think this is a carpenter bee on the agastache.  In any case it is a very big bee.

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Here is a different kind of bee.  It looks a little more like a honey bee of some type.

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Red admiral butterflies are fairly common in the yard.  Here on Echinacea purpurea – purple coneflower.

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There are small white cabbage moths all over the yard.  Here on Russian sage with miscanthus ornamental grass in the background.

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One day I was looking out of the living room window and I saw something slide out of the bottom of the big silver maple tree.  I went outside with my camera and saw this yellow caterpillar with black spikes coming out of its back scurrying across the lawn.  Looking it up online I found that it is an American dagger moth caterpillar.  Apparently they leave the tree and look for a good place to make their cocoon.  The spikey hairs are poisonous.

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Red dragonfly on liatris spicata – blazing star – a native plant.  I saw a number of red dragonflies around the garden yesterday.  In Japanese the name is “aka tombo.”  If you look that name up on line you will hear a famous Japanese song.

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I was having lunch outside one day this week and almost did not see this big green dragonfly that rested on the butterfly weed near where I was sitting.

Praying Mantis update:  I have not seen any praying mantises in the yard this year.  Considering that I found 6 – 8 praying mantis egg sacs from last year I expected more.  It may have been the very cold winter or it may be that we really have a lot of bird in the yard this year eating the babies.  Or it may be some other reason.

Standing on Holy Ground

Sometimes stepping into the garden on a summer morning is a little like stepping into something holy, or sacred, or mystical, or magical, or whatever word you would use.  I like being out around 9:00 am once the dew has mostly disappeared and the bees and butterflies are actively feeding on all the sunny flowers.  It’s full of life.

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  Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Summer Sun’, Agastache blue fortune – anise hyssop, and Russian sage.  It might be a metallic green bee on the heliopsis.  The bees and flies are starting to discover the agastache – which will soon be a huge attraction in the garden.  This arrangement is in my “drought garden” right off the patio.

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If you want to see butterflies, moths, and other interesting creatures head to the northeast corner of the garden where coneflower, joe pye weed, and liatris spicata are blooming.  These native flowers are always buzzing with life.

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Joe Pye Weed ‘Gateway.’  Once the bees start working the flowers they look a little frazzled.

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Quite a few times this week I have seen clearwing moths – hummingbird moths – on the liatris spicata.  It is hard to get a good close-up.  They move quickly!

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A small brown moth was carefully working over this purple coneflower – Echinacea purpurea.  Can you see the tiny yellow flowers at the tips of the cone spikes?

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It looks like some kind of skipper butterfly is resting or sunning itself on a bok choy leaf.

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The black-eyed susans are starting to bloom now.  Here a fly is resting.

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Speaking of flies..  In seven or eight spots on the asparagus plant the flies seems to be having some kind of orgy or group experience of some kind.  They have been in this position for the past 24 hours….

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Juvenile robins being territorial or bossy.  I usually post pleasant pictures at the birdbath, but there is a lot of ‘king of the hill”  that happens here.  As I sit in my home office during the week I have a good view of the birdbath, and it is interesting to see who is waiting in line and who is being bossy.

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These zinnias are also easy to see from my office window.  I have both shorter and taller zinnias planted here.  They bring in gold finches and butterflies, but right now they are not nearly as exciting to the wildlife as the native flowers.  Still their beauty across the yard really cheers me up while I am working and they bring beneficial insects near the vegetable garden.

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The vegetables need to be picked and dealt with every day now.  This was probably the fifth huge cauliflower we picked and cooked.  It is purple from the nearby mulberries where the birds had been visiting.  Today I had a big bowl of cauliflower soup with new potatoes, kale, and green beans from the garden, mixed in with some cans of beans and a few other ingredients.

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We still have some everbearing strawberries blossoming, since we have had a lot of cool, wet weather.  The delicate colors caught my eye as I walked by.  Most of the berries are done now, though I have still been trying to forage for mulberries in the easement each morning for my cereal.

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I picked up a cheap white table on sale yesterday to put under my umbrella.  Now I can sit and read in the shade at lunch without balancing things on my lap.  I also repotted some of my house plants yesterday.  It was a good day to play with water from the hose as I cleaned up.  No problem having a green lawn this year.

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Ducks at Lake Katherine, where I take walks several times a week.

If you have made it this far you know that I put in a lot of pictures this week!  This was because I did not blog last week, so I was choosing from 179 photos that were on my camera.  It is a beautiful time of year and impossible to capture and share everything that is going on.