Bees, Fungi, Grasshoppers and Hummingbirds

This is always a fun time to be taking pictures in the garden.  There are too many mosquitoes to want to do much weeding, but the garden it packed with pollinators on all the September flowers.

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Bee on Caryopteris.

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I have two caryopteris bushes that are covered with bees these days.  My best guess is carpenter bees.  I can count 6 bees in this picture.  They love the sedum, too.  The ornamental grass in the background is miscanthus ‘morning light.’

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The sedum has turned pink.  On the back left is the other caryopteris bush and on the right is the blue hill salvia that is blooming again after a hair cut earlier in the summer.  The sedum is most active when the sun is shining, attracting a lot of flies, skippers and bees.

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I zoomed in to take a closer look at the bold-faced hornet.  My research says this critter is in the yellowjacket wasp family that live in those big hanging nests in trees.  I wonder where the nest is.  If you are not in danger from bothering the nest these are considered beneficial insects due to their predation of flies, caterpillars and spiders.  Wikipedia says that adults also drink nectar which they feed to their larvae.  The designs on the body are really fascinating.

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I moved over to the blue hill salvia to photograph the busy bees there.

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But my camera wanted to focus on this mystery mushroom instead.

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Funky fungus

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Recently I noticed a large area of fungi.  I am not sure if they are the result of the deterioration of our old silver maple tree or if it is just from wood chips breaking up or what.  I am not really an expert on fungi, but the fungi area is five or six times larger than this picture.  It looks a little bit like wasp nests….

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Unknown critter on my plastic chair this morning.  Is it a wasp or a moth or something else?  There are so many unknown small creatures in the yard now.

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When I went to pick pole beans I found these two grasshoppers next to each other.

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In the little messy meadow there are a lot of little grasshoppers and damselflies these days.

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Next to the meadow the turtlehead flowers are in bloom and behind them the coral mums are getting ready to bloom in October.

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Russian sage and solidago rugosa goldenrod ‘fireworks.’

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Monarch on Russian sage.  I have not seen monarch caterpillars on my milkweed yet, but realize that some of the monarchs that have been visiting recently have been male.  I noticed that when I looked back at some of the pictures I posted in previous blogs that show the pattern when the wings are open.

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There have continued to be two monarch on the zinnias each afternoon this past week.  The goldfinches have continued to pick the petals off to get at the zinnia seeds.  There is a butterfly festival at Lake Katherine tomorrow, 9/18/16.

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Hummingbird at neighbor’s feeder.  There have been at least two hummingbirds very active in the yard the past weeks, as they live in the mulberry tree behind our backyard.  At least five times I have seen a hummingbird chase after a monarch to scare it away.  I suppose they share the same nectar in the flowers.  I did not believe it at first, but after multiple times I saw that the hummingbirds thought they were the boss and were trying to enforce it, not very successfully.  I think the ones I am seeing are female or immature as they have not had ruby throats.  We do not have a hummingbird feeder, like the neighbors on both sides of us, but the hummingbirds are busy in our yard every day.

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The flowers on the east fence are prettiest this time of year.  In bloom in orange, yellow and white are nasturtiums, alyssum, zinnias, marigolds and mums.

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I thought all of these mums I planted two years ago, I think, had died, but some have come back and started blooming now.

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Butterfly bush flower and nasturtiums.

If you have lasted through all these pictures, thank you!  I don’t blog as often now, so I seem to accumulate a lot of photos between each post.

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.

Rain, Reading, and a Clearwing Moth

It is a raining weekend.  There is a flood advisory out for the area.  Luckily our land is high and flooding has never been an issue.  Here are a few photos I took this week.

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This hummingbird clearwing moth has been visiting off and on at the butterfly bush.  It mimics the hummingbird, but is a moth and when I see it in the yard I check the tomato plants for tomato hornworms.  I love seeing the big green caterpillars chewing away, but they usually don’t last long with all the parasitic wasps in the garden.

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I usually ignore the hosta plants, but they are blooming right outside my office window now, so I had to go out and a picture in the dappled light.

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I was trying to capture the big bees that were visiting these hosta flowers.  This was a two mosquito picture.  The mosquitoes chased me inside before I got the picture I wanted.  I put caladryl on one or two mosquito bites after each trip out to certain parts of the garden.  If I don’t scratch the itch goes away in a few hours.

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We had three inches of rain in about 12 hours with another inch or more predicted for later today.  This morning the water was covering the patio.  It all went down quickly, though.  So much of our plant material has deep roots that open the ground up a little and draw the water down into the soil.

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My summer reading included this very interesting book – 40 Chances.  The topic is finding solutions for hunger in the world and deals with agriculture and philanthropy among other things.  It was interesting because I am an organic gardener, but the author farms in Illinois with GMO seeds and is not organic.  Nevertheless he seemed aware of the need to replenish the soil and concerned with the needs of small farmers and subsistence farmers who may not have access to modern equipment and chemicals. I thought it was a well-rounded book with a lot of practical insights.

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This is the book I am working on now – Farmacology.  The author, a doctor, talks about similarities in the biological needs of the body with the biological needs in soil.  I have not read it all but am enjoying it so far.  We are always trying to eat in a healthy way and I appreciate getting a variety of views on how to do that.

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This is what we had for lunch.  We eat a lot of one-pot meals.  Included in the meal from the garden are the first red potatoes, a big turnip and the turnip greens, yellow wax beans, green peas, kale, cauliflower leaves, swiss chard, and a small eggplant.

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Juvenile American robin and sedum.

Vegetables and Berries:  I picked the first small zucchini and a few cherry tomatoes.  The Jimmy Nardello peppers are green and eventually will be turning red and very sweet.  We still have a lot of turnips and cauliflower to eat!  We are still enjoying a handful of raspberries every day and the birds and I are still working on the mulberries, though the blueberries are all eaten.  Each year we should get a bigger supply of blueberries and that is fun to think about…

July Blooms

As the days heat up more flowers are starting to blooms.

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Liatris spicata – blazing star – is a prairie plant.  I added a number of new bulbs to the garden this spring.  In the background are Shasta daisies.

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Bumble bee on liatris spicata – blazing star.

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I was so excited to see a monarch butterfly on my butterfly weed this week.  I took this picture from the kitchen window because I did not want to scare it away.

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Today I saw a red admiral butterfly on the butterfly weed.

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First flowering of Buddleia buzz midnight – a butterfly bush I planted this year.  I am waiting for it to get a little bigger and for the butterflies to find it.  In front is lacinato kale.

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The zinnias I planted from seed are just starting to bloom.  I went out and bought a little wire fence to put around them so they won’t fall on the lawn.  Later I put down some mulch here and around the yard after I did some weeding.  These flowers are a real draw for the butterflies and the goldfinches love to pick off the flowers, too.

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The dwarf mums have been blooming 6-8 weeks already!  This color is called ‘bronze.’

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Coreopsis – Tickseed

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Cantaloupe flower.  Other yellow flowers in the garden now are on the cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and kale.

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These are the wax beans I picked over the past two days.  I boiled them with salt and pepper and added a little butter.  Delicious!

Cooking:  I also made a little pesto with basil, parsley, cashews, olive oil, nutritional yeast and lemon juice.  It was really nice on a little French bread!