Saturday, July 23, 2016

Shots in the July Garden - A Bevy of Blooms for Bees and Butterflies!

It's been a bit of a challenging year to garden so far.

We had a really dry spring (a 7 inch rainfall deficit at one point).

Then we made that up with torrential rains in July, but we've settled (like much of the country) into an uncomfortably hot and humid weather pattern.

So even though I don't want to toot my horn, I must say I'm rather pleased that the garden has been looking pretty good - - and with very little supplemental water (I think I've only watered with a hose about 4 times this year, plus other occasional spot waterings with a can.)

Without further ado, here are some scenes that caught my eye when I was in the garden on July 20th.

Lantana camara

Gaillardia x grandiflora and bumblebee

Gaillardia x grandiflora and a teeny-tiny bee (not its real name)

Hibiscus moscheutos, this is the straight species version of our native hibiscus. (I also have the 'Luna Pink Swirl' hybrid or cultivar of H. moscheutos.) This is my first year growing the straight species. It's in full sun on an unamended clay hillside and seems to be thriving, despite the fact that it would probably prefer wet-to-moist conditions.

Perovskia atriplificolia, Russian sage. I moved three Russian sages to more of a full sun location and generally they seem much happier and more floriferous in their new spot. That said, I've still seen some of the yellowing foliage and even wilting of entire branches that I've noticed when they were in partial shade. It's my opinion that they do not like our humidity (which has been especially high this summer) or the heavy clay soil. The Russian sage flowers seem highly attractive to pollinators, especially honeybees.

Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb', attracts lots of little pollinators

French marigold, Tagetes patula 

Hibiscus syriacus, rose of Sharon, 'Diana' cultivar

Cosmos bipinnatus and bee.

Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop) and bee

'Red Rocks' penstemon and bee. I have three of these Red Rocks penstemons. I cut back two of them after the main bloom and left the third one (this one) uncut. They're all starting to rebloom a little now, which makes me think that it may not make any difference (at least in terms of stimulating more flowers) whether or not you cut them back. That said, I'll keep an eye on the plants over the next month or two to see whether there's any difference in terms of flower quantity or overall form between the penstemons that were pruned and those that were left au naturel.

Lagerstroeima indica 'Natchez' (crape myrtle). In bloom for about two months now. The flowers attract lots of pollinators. (Not every crape myrtle seems equally attractive to pollinators. I rarely see any pollinators on my pink-flowered crape, but these white-flowered Natchez crapes are often buzzing with bees all day.)

Cosmos bipinnatus with skipper butterfly. White-flowered 'Diana' rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) in the background.

Glandularia canadensis (rose verbena)

Large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) on rose milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

More Cosmos bipinnatus with bumblebee

If you look very closely, you can see lots of pollinators crawling through the flower cluster on this Asclepias incarnata (rose milkweed). Oh and there's a large milkweed bug hanging out beneath a leaf in the lower part of the picture! 

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf coreopsis)

Coreopsis tinctoria (plains coreopsis) with pollinator

Heliopsis helianthoides (false sunflower) with bumblebee

Polanisia dodecandra (redwhisker clammyweed)

Helianthus annuus (sunflower) with bees

Ailanthus webworm moth on Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop)

Aralia racemosa (American spikenard), those are the tiny greenish-white flowers -- not very showy, but they do seem to attract a lot of little pollinators. The plant itself is in morning sun and afternoon shade. It's hanging tough, but it doesn't seem all that happy. I plan to try to transplant it to a shadier spot this autumn.
Just a pretty, colorful tableau - sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) in the front, 'Rozanne' cranesbill geranium behind it and a few blue balloon flowers (Platycodon grandiflorus) peeking into the upper left corner.

Hope you enjoyed this quick tour through the July garden.

What are some of your favorite summer flowers blooming in your garden right now? 


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