Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday

One of the first signs of fall here is when the wild persimmons trees turn... purple. Laurrie, of the blog "My Weeds are Very Sorry" has a wild persimmon of the same species that turns a bright golden orange, almost like a pumpkin. Very seasonal. Who wouldn't love a tree that turns that color? (Although she doesn't post on that blog anymore, she still has an online gardening journal that I read regularly.)

Persimmons are a common understory tree on our farm. They are handsome, striking even with their layers of slightly drooping dark green leaves; their leaves often look a though they are hung in festoons rather than on branches they are so thick. I sometimes think that a bomb would be necessary to kill one. One keeps shooting up in the pony's old stall in the shelter down in the pasture...for the past 14 years. Occasionally I see fruit but the leaves often hide them. As a kid Gene tried a persimmon from a tree on his grandparents' tobacco farm, picked too early from his description of the taste as the most sour thing you can imagine.
See? Purple. Or at least purplish. I like the purple. It's unique. The sweetgums turn purple too but usually more in shades of wine and burgundy before changing to red orange and yellow. But I wouldn't say no to a gold or orange persimmon tree either. If persimmon trees weren't so common I would buy one to see if I could get that pumpkin fall color, but they are literally weeds here.

The persimmons pictured above are next to the shelter paddock, and there are several next to the floodway fields too. The floodway fields have quite a lot of flowers this year thanks to plentiful rainfall over the last two summers. I won't mow these fields until early March. It's difficult to find a window to keep the saplings down and not mow the flowers and cover for wildlife.

From July: Rosepink (Sabatia angularis), an annual that blooms in midsummer and has very sweetly fragrant flowers. I've seen it blooming just 3" high in the ditches next to the grass road between the pastures, and this year 2 feet high in the field with the pond.

Meadow beauty grows all over the farm, from the edge of the woods up top to the floodway fields. Two different species grow here and their flowers in colors from pale to bright rose pink, Maryland meadow beauty (Rhexia mariana) and Virginia meadow beauty.(R. virginca). This is Rhexia virginca. R. mariana has thinner leaves and generally paler flowers. One of its common names is pale meadow beauty. Meadow beauty blooms from June/July to October.

Gerardia, goldenrod and Bidens. These pictures were taken in late September and early October.

Gerardia with rugose goldenrod.

Gerardia and downy lobelia

I am always saying that I love things, and that they are one of my favorites, but I really do love Gerardia. Even if the name does sound like a dread disease. It's an annual that grows wild on the farm. It's part of a select clique of natives that grow here that I have not succeeded in growing in the garden and includes our native crabapple (Southern Crabapple Malus angustifolia), Sabatia, downy lobelia, and a lovely blue gentian called soapwort.

Gerardia tenufolia, so called because of its delicate wiry stems that turn burgundy as the flowers age, is also known as slender gerardia and false foxglove.

The sulfur butterflies and skippers looked to be feeding preferentially on the lobelia.

Silver-spotted skipper

Sulfur on lobelia

and on these pale butter yellow daisies.

Today I am joining Gail at clay and limestone for Wildflower Wednesday.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Monarch Butterflies

Unlike last year, when I saw a grand total of 2 Monarch butterflies, I am seeing a lot of Monarch butterflies this year. They especially love Buddleia 'Potter's Purple'. On Wednesday I saw as many as 15 the two butterflies bushes in the big bed. They must have fueled up and moved on, as I didn't see many again until today.

Why were there so few last year and seemingly normal numbers this year I wonder?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

First day of fall

The official start of autumn felt like fall here, cool and drizzly. Normally I don't think pictures turn out very well on dull days but I noticed when I turned the horses out that the colors were really popping in the gray mist, so I took the camera out.

A dahlia that I bought from a lady who lives in the NC mountains.

Frost aster, Bidens, gerardia and goldenrod by the pasture fence.

Slenderleaf gerardia (Agalinis tenuifolia) is a very showy annual that I have not been able to establish
in the garden, but it always pops up in the ditches alongside the pastures and in the floodway fields.

It's time to mow the pastures again.

Sugarcane plumegrass

The more delicate bloom of purple muhly grass

American beautytberry and river oats near the hay shelter

The Bidens are starting to fade but still colorful with 'Autumn Amethyst' Encore azaleas.

Seasonal pumpkin orange cat

Anemone 'Honorine Jobert'

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