Tag Archives: Coneflower

Spring Garden Dreams


Milkweed seeds I harvested at my daughter’s house. They were outside, so I hope they might germinate.

This morning, rain threatened, but it was supposed to be sparse. So I took a few minutes before getting on my bicycle for the morning commute to sew a few seeds. They are Milkweed.

I’m happy to read that scientists say the Monarch Butterfly is rebounding, but no reason to stop support through flower planting now. In fact, I hope to add some plants that pollinators like to my gardens this spring—maybe some Joe Pye Weed (true, it is the name that attracts me) and some Bee Balm.

Anyway, Milkweed requires some “wintering” before it can germinate—packets of the seeds come with instructions on how to store them for some weeks in your Frigidaire before planting. Me, I am hoping nature took care of that detail—the seeds I sowed I gathered recently, they were wintered by spending the winter outdoors.

So, Milkweed represents the first planting of spring 2016. We’ll see if anything comes up.

In the meantime, the rain caught me this morning, but while I was getting soaked on the way to work, I at least could think the moisture might be doing my Milkweed seeds some good. And I’ve ordered, from Breckswholesale.com, some plants for spring planting:

They are Toad Lilies, Coneflowers in various colors, Phlox and Peonies. Images are all from Breck’s catalog.

My daughter who lives in a town a bit north of here already has crocus in bloom. I do not know why her crocus always beat mine every spring, but I guess it’s not a race.

I’m waiting to see how many of the bulbs I buried in the fall become spring flowers this year. I’ll try to clean the gardens off a bit this weekend, as spring seems to be arriving early in Iowa, and maybe will see some more coming up.

The web site I ordered from said my spring plants will ship in early April. It’s amazing I ordered so many sunny plants, but Peonies and Phlox are among my favorites anyway. Toad Lilies? They should do well in my shady gardens, I hope.

Spring! OK, I won’t even mind a bit of morning rain. March showers bring April flowers, or so I hope.


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What We Planted On Monday

A pot spray painted by my wife, who is planning to plant petunias in it soon.

A pot spray painted by my wife, who is planning to plant petunias in it soon.

Monday: Go to the office? I should, but my daughters, who plan to ride a day of RAGBRAI with me this year, are coming over for a bike ride this afternoon.

And I have plants to plant. The neighborhood HyVee Drug Store is starting to cut the price of its plants. My wife got some planters from her sister, who is going to put on a house on the market and is downsizing , getting rid of “stuff,” and so she wanted to get some annuals.

Me, I had my eye on some perennials. She bought a flat of petunias. I’ll list what I purchased below.

I don't think she planted these today, but here are some of the flowers my wife has put in the pots that decorate our deck and front stoop.

I don’t think she planted these today, but here are some of the flowers my wife has put in the pots that decorate our deck and front stoop.

So my free time this morning was spent doing one of the most pleasant of tasks, the season for which is coming to a close: Putting new flowers in the ground.

Monday morning--ready to plant.

Monday morning–ready to plant.

Here is what I planted:


Siberian Iris, above, Dwarf Yellow Iris, below.

Siberian Iris, above, Dwarf Yellow Iris, top

Four Irises: two blue Siberian Iris, two Dwarf Yellow Iris. As long-time blog readers may know, I have a somewhat troubled relationship with the Iris. I’ve planted many bulbs over the years, but have only a few clumps to show for the effort.

However, I have had more luck with plants than bulbs, so there is some hope. I put the Iris in a garden next to a pear tree by the clothes line. At this time of year, it only gets dappled sunshine, and Iris love sun. However, Iris also bloom in spring, and this is very sunny in the spring, turning shadier as the trees leaf out. And the garden does get some afternoon sun, even in the shady times, so I hope that’s enough.

This year's Holllyhock. Has buds so it should bloom this year. Please come back and bloom again.

This year’s Holllyhock. Has buds so it should bloom this year. Please come back and bloom again.

A “Queeny Rose” pink Hollyhock. I used to have some pretty black Hollyhock that bloomed in the garden by the house, but Hollyhock apparently is tender and tasty to rabbits, and in a couple of seasons they nibbled the old Hollyhocks to extinction. I planted some Hollyhock last year, and have not seen them this year. I feel duty bound to plant at least one each year and hope. This one went in the garden where the old Hollyhocks thrived. I have not seen a bunny in the yard this year—knock on wood.

Tag says butterflies like it. So we'll see if this flower can grown and bloom.

Tag says butterflies like it. So we’ll see if this flower can grown and bloom.

A Bradbury’s Monarda. I don’t know much about this plant, I have none of this in my garden, so this is an expteriment. It’s also in the garden by the house.

“Bloom in fall,” the tag on this Brown-Eyed Susan says. Yet, it is blooming now.

A Mini Brown-Eyed Susan. I have some Black-Eyed Susan in other areas, and assume this is pretty much the same, with a lighter center flower and slightly smaller growing habits.

Coral Bells failed to take off in this spot. We'll try again with a new flower.

Coral Bells failed to take off in this spot. We’ll try again with a new flower.

A Goldstrike Lady’s Mantle. This is marked as being a bit shade friendly, and I put it in a slightly shadier part of the garden where I put the Iris.

Eight plants, in total, in two adjacent gardens. We’ll see how this goes!

In other garden news, I noticed a Coneflower coming up in the Pear Tree garden. I’ve tried introducing this plant in that garden several times, using rogue plants, seeds and purchased roots. I don’t know whether this plan is from seed, a recent planting or the purchased roots, but I’m glad to see this flower in this garden. I’ve noticed lots of Coneflowers blooming in town, and some of my gardens, especially the east one beside the house, are going to be glorious with Coneflowers soon, although none of mine have bloomed yet.

At least this wet, strange summer seems to be friendly to my trees and flowers.

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The Bee’s Knees On Coneflowers

Bee looking at you on coneflower.

Bright-eyed native bee getting a drink of coneflower nectar.

I saw a butterfly on a coneflower today, and grabbed my good camera. I thought it might be a monarch, but couldn’t tell from the house—but when I got outside, it was gone.

What was still hanging around were some medium sized native bees. They make me slightly nervous because they’ll buzz at you and fly at you, and I just am not wild about being buzzed by a bee.

Hey, I'm not a butterfly, why are you taking my photo?

Hey, I’m not a butterfly, why are you taking my photo?

But I do like the coneflowers. I’ve tried planting other colors for variety, but so far only these purple ones have done well. I’d like to get a few other colors going, but honestly don’t mind that these spread. The side garden east of the house is full of blooms right now, and looks very nice.

Coneflowers are a bit prickly, but pretty, and also nice since they draw in so many butterflies and bees.

Bee with flowers

Showing a few more coneflowers.

I’ve tried collecting the seeds of this native plant to get a few started at the edge of the woods behind the house, with no success so far. Too much garlic mustard back there, I suppose.

But coneflowers looks pretty now, and will even be decorative over the winter when the stalks dry (which is one reason, besides laziness, why I don’t clean the gardens until late winter).

Bee flies away.

I’m out of here. Just be glad I’m not headed your way!

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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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Busy Drinking Butterfly Gone Wild

Coneflower on new wall garden in front (it's a volunteer from Katy's sidewalk).

Drinking makes you stupid. A good rule of life, but who knew it applied to butterflies and nectar?

A friend, a former student who goes by the nickname Mickey (due to her actual first name and the face that she does love Disney parks) posted a Facebook profile picture that shows a butterfly on a coneflower. In my most recent post about my gardens, I expressed some envy—I have shot mucho pics of coneflowers, but always sans butterfly.

Turns out if you can catch the bug on a coneflower, it may be so busy drinking it pays you no heed.

I like the blurry second flower in the background.

Ta-da! I was unable to catch this dude (or lady, with a butterfly, how do you tell?) with his/her wings open, at least not on the conflower, although as you will see below, a similar or the same creature posed more openly on a different flower, but the insect was obviously distracted enough by the sweet juice of the flower to be photographed many times.

I happened to catch this butterfly July 21, the same day that my wife and two of my sisters went to the Eastern Iowa Airport to see a B-17 on display there. Photos of that trip posted on Facebook (was a big camera day). Also shot photos of my wife’s mother’s 76th birthday, also posted on Facebook. And finally, a few of the flower photos (Mr. or Ms. B on a different flower, for example) were shot earlier that day.

None of these photos are cropped, by the way—they are presented as shot except for a bit of color correction. I like the shadow ones of the butterfly the best.

Anyway, this is another plant photo gallery blog entry, hope you enjoy the flower photos. If you have a clue about the mystery flower, please leave a comment.

July 25 Update: A lady Monarch showed up this morning.  She was not as cooperative–the bigger butterfly seemed skittish and quick, compared to this post’s darker drunken lout.  I’ll post her image below, many more on my Facebook page.

A dainty lady. I said in my blog "who knows" about butterfly gender, but with Monarchs, the males have a distinct dot on their hind wings. No dot on this girl. Slighty ragged wings, and I wish her well. She'll fly to Mexico in a few weeks, and I hope she comes back in 2011, but her front wings look a bit ragged.

What is it? New blooming flower near the back of my deck garden. It's about 2 feet tall on a single stalk--any ideas? If it's a weed, it's one that's welcome to stay.

The trumpet flower opens. One of two blooms, but there are a few more buds. According to what I've read, now I have to watch for and remove seeds before they spread ...

Hibiscus blooming in the retaining wall garden in back.

Rose in front wall garden. In case you wonder, yes, we'll get back to Mr. or Ms. B soon ...

Shadow, part 1

Shadow Part II

Just another photo, followed by a few more sans caption, followed by new coneflower, and finally, at the end, the butterfly gone wild.

Cate allowed me to take a few coneflowers from her garden. These pretty red ones have started to fade, so photo does not do it justice, but I'm happy to have a few completely different coneflowers for Mr. or Ms. B to pose on next year.

FINALLY: The butterfly gone wild. Don't know if it's the same one (this photo was shot a day before the coneflower photos) but the wings are partly open. This flower was not quite as distracting--the butterfly flew immediately after I snapped this photo.

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