Coneflower Season: Summer is Nearly Over


I like coneflowers, and have planted a number in my gardens. At the side of the house, where they get about two hours of sun in the middle of the day, they thrive.

Much of my gardens are too shady for them. And while I have tried a few other variations, such as pink, frilly coneflowers or double coneflowers, it’s the common purple ones that thrive.

These are native flowers that I like, so I’ve tried to get them going at the sunny edge of the woods behind my fence, but to no avail. They can spread like mad in the garden, but they can be finicky, too. Or many garlic mustard is just too fierce a competitor.

Anyway, in the final two days of July and today, the first day of August, I’ve photographed many of the flowers blooming in my gardens, which I present in the slideshow.

Besides flowers, I shot some crab apples growing on a new tree I planted this year, and some random leaves just because I liked the late afternoon sun on them. I also shot an apple leaf damaged by Asian beetles, although the beetles are not causing as much havoc this year as in most years.

I’ve in a mellow mood, but summer is ending and I won’t have much more time to contemplate the blooms in my gardens. Oh, well. Fall will bring a big bulb order this year, so there will be future planting.

And there was one recent, accidental planting. The week before RAGBRAI, I had stopped at HyVee to buy healthy food (doughnuts) for breakfast, just to surprise Audrey, and I noticed that they had only 4 trees left for sale,  for $5 each. These were trees originally priced at $50 or so.

Yes, I know. I don’t need more trees. But two were crabapples—trees that would remain fairly small. The other two were cherry trees that will grow big, but come on–$5.

So I told Audrey. Her reaction was, “let’s go look at them.” We decided we could plant some and give some to our daughters, so we bought them. When Audrey paid, the cashier asked if that closed out the trees, and Audrey truthfully said “yes,” and the cashier said “that’s another 75 percent off.”

So we got $200 worth of trees for $5.

We ended up giving one to a daughter, and planting three in our yard. We now have a new Prariefire crab apple, Coral burst crab apple and a Yoshino cherry.

We have many crab apple trees—there are two in front and four in back already, so this is crab apple numbers seven and eight. But we had none in our lower yard, and planted the other in a garden by itself.

I have no excuse for the cherry tree. It’s just crowded into the yard like a tourist on a Paraguayan bus. It may or may not survive—this Iowa climate is probably the extreme end of where it can live—but the Japanese maple and weeping cherry trees in back have survived, so maybe this will, too.

Anyway, I know it’s a bit crazy for us to plant more trees. But the ash borer has just been spotted in Fairfield, so if you feel the urge to plant a tree, just make sure it’s not an ash and plant, plant, plant.

Anyway, summer 2013 has been a blur. It’s over too soon. I actually have to work next week, and will spend much of the rest of August catching up on overdue reports and prepping for the fall semester.

It is some small comfort to look forward to what these new trees will do in the spring.

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