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'

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

After the Sun Game Out and Plant Suggestions Please -- updated

Last Tuesday after the sun came out..

I'm happy with the Bidens to the left, but feel like there needs to be something of intermediate height added to that space. Something independent and non-fussy, that will grow big enough not to have to be rescued from vines every year. The intermediate sized stuff at the middle left in the picture is naturalized Chinese privet and somehow it doesn't count. I'd like to get rid of all of it all. The tree and bushes growing in the distance to the left are wax myrtle, coastal pepperbush, American beautyberry, and swamp titi. I have several small serviceberries that I found them growing wild in various places and potted up last year that can go out next year. I also have 3 redbud seedlings that should be ready to go out next fall. Although that stretch to the left is low, it's often quite dry in the summer. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Edited to add this picture.
The plan is to clean out the privet from the wood's edge and add one or two American hollies and some understory trees/ large shrubs. I already have several wax myrtles in front of the manure pile (out of sight in the above picture) and along the ditch. I thought about the plantings at the Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill and consulted my copy of Gardening with Native Plants of the South and came up with many choices, in addition to the aforementioned serviceberry: possamhaw (Ilex decidua), wild olive (Osmanthus americanus), silverbell, sweetbay, sourwood, blackhaw, sweetleaf, native witch hazel, and native azaleas. I collected a bunch of sweetbay seeds from trees here (including one that I started from seed 8 years ago) so I should get at least one sapling from those.

To the strips of Bidens I want to add tall perennials, something that I can mow over with the tractor early in the growing season to keep vines and woody plants down. The plants need to be able to tolerate drought as well as short-term flooding. I know that swamp sunflower fits the bill. The Joe Pye that grows wild here really likes a lot of moisture, growing in ditches or even in standing water, so I don't think it would thrive there. I think groupings of white Hibiscus coccineus could work. Perhaps ironweed or green coneflower too.
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