Sunday, November 23, 2008

Butterflies and 'Miss Bessie'

I keep 'Miss Bessie' off to the side in the garden, since she does wait
until so late in the year to bloom and has a bit of a wild look about her.

'Miss Bessie' with Rosa rugosa rubra, Muhlenbergia lindheimerii and red maples in the background.

Most of the butterflies are gone, but there's a few hardy souls left.

Common Buckeye

American ladies, skippers and variegated fritillaries too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fall Colors

We are not having a very colorful fall here in Johnston County, but
fall is a beautiful time of year whether there's a lot of color or not.

Musclewood is colorful this year, much needed as the red maples are not.
Carpinus carolinana seems to color best when young, for some reason, and is
a nice understory tree at woodland's edge. These trees are next to one of the horse pastures.

Musclewood's common name derives from its smooth gray trunks, which twist in such
a way that they really do produce the visual effect of muscles rippling under skin.

Wild Possamhaw (Ilex decidua) grows next to the pastures and along the creek that borders our farm. As the scientific name suggests these hollies lose their leaves in late fall, leaving a beautiful display a red berries. The leaves are still persisting but won't for long. The possamhaw berries have a striking shine to them, unlike American holly berries which tend to be duller.

Winged sumac and broomstraw -- they're just weeds, but they're actually rather striking together. I wouldn't plant Broomstraw in my garden but I do like the effect in a meadow. These plants are in a ditch next to the pasture that we only mow once or twice a year to keep the woody plants down. Our neighbor's pasture has a large stand of broomstraw that glows golden even after the sun has dipped below the horizon.

A view of the neighbor's pasture and trees, east of our house,
showing a three quarters moon in the middle of a fall afternoon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bees on Aster 'Miss Bessie'

This late in the year all of the pollinating insects descend on the few remaining flowering plants that are left. Honeybees, yellow jackets, bumblebees, carpenter bees, and the remaining butterflies all crowd together. The two plants currently in full bloom are aster "Miss Bessie" and groundsel trees, both of which we have in great number.

Aster 'Miss Bessie'

Bumblebee with skipper


Honeybee and hoverfly

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Garden in November

A view of the big perennial bed through the trellis, taken on Election Day.
The dahlia sprawling on the ground behind 'Cl. Old Blush' is 'Rothsay Reveller'.

'Miss Bessie' with 'Foxi Pavement' on left and Muhlenbergia filipes on the right.

A different view of the same part of the bed. The lavender flowers in the foreground belong to an aromatic aster. The brown stalks are the skeletons of Brazilian blue sage turned brown by frost, and the grass on the left is Lindheimer's Muhly.

The seedheads of Joe Pye Weed have a surprising sort of beauty. This is not a cultivar, but divisions of JPW that grow wild here. It comes in 2 colors, a light mauve and a darker mauve/ purple. In the background to the left are the roses 'Rosette Delizzy' and 'Foxi Pavement', and in the background aster 'Miss Bessie'.

Aster 'Miss Bessie' by hay shelter. 'Miss Bessie' can be a bit
gawky, but makes up for it by the lateness and color of the flowers.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Aster 'Miss Bessie'

Aster 'Miss Bessie' came to my garden from Niche Gardens. After reading this description, how could I not try it? This is from their 1998 catalog:

"A warning -- I am crazy about Aster 'Miss Bessie'! During the fall I watched this mysterious tall Aster budding up in our roadside garden and assumed it was Wild Frost Aster. On an overcast Halloween morning, buds opened into hundreds (thousands?) of 1" medium purple, star-like blooms, floating at 4' and weaving with the tops of ornamental grasses. Bloom lasted for 3 weeks through light frosts -- an incredible late treat in the garden. 'Miss Bessie' does spread vigorously; plant her in the meadow or back of the border with plenty of space to run, and pull out wanted shoots in spring. A foundling in a Deep South garden, 'Miss Bessie' is of questionable parentage."

Just starting to open up

Covered with dew

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Late-Blooming Perennials

Now that it's November, a lot of the garden is turning shades of taupe and brown as things die down for winter, but there are still some flowers around.

The white flowers of Chrysanthemum 'Venus' become spotted with pink from age and cold weather.

This is a bud of the purple intermediate iris 'Eleanor Roosevelt'. I don't
know if she's going to make it, having since been partially damaged by frost,
but if I can remember I'll bring it inside and see if the heat will coax it open.

Anemone 'Honorine Jobert' has been blooming here for two months now. It's
finishing up now but the remaining flowers are still beautiful. I am very
happy to have this old cultivar from the 1800's in the garden. I got mine
from Bluestone Perennials last year and it's spread quite a lot already.

White butterfly ginger has been in bloom for two months as well.
It's still blooming even though the foliage is now brown from frost!

Aromatic aster

Late season grasses are lovely with the late perennials, even
as they are turning brown and going to seed as this Muhlenbergia
and lindheimeri are in this picture.

The last remaining swamp sunflowers

Monday, November 10, 2008


I kind of like this shot, even though Tommy's head isn't completely in focus, because it shows him in a characteristic pose -- sticking like velcro. That's my pant leg in the left part of the picture.

Ten years ago Tommy showed up on our farm with his mother and sisters when he was about 4 weeks old. His mother and his sister Prissy were very friendly with people but 2 of his sisters -- who looked to have a different father from Tommy and Prissy -- we could not socialize at all. When they were old enough they were spayed and given to a friend who wanted barn cats.

His (adorable) little sister Prissy:

Here Tommy is stalking something, probably a grasshopper.

It's too bad the last two aren't in very good focus. Here he
reminds me of a horse about to take off before a big fence.

Here he is launching himself into the ditch. Only an animal as athletic as a cat could recover from a pose like this and not land on its head. lol He didn't catch whatever it was he was after. His sister is much smaller than he but quite the huntress. She catches a lot of voles and rats.

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