Mid-August Garden—Up Close

Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower) with unknown visitor

Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower) with unknown visitor

Checking out the flowering progress of the Orange Coneflowers today I discovered a pretty visitor. If anyone recognizes it I would be grateful for the identification. [Update: Thanks to Annette at Annette’s Garden for help with the name: Celastrina neglecta Summer Azure.]

The day began cloudy and cool. After a pleasant breakfast on the porch overlooking the garden we lingered, relishing the quiet respite from the normal hum of air conditioners and mowers. Sounds of Bluebirds, Cardinals, American Gold Finches,  Hummingbirds, and Mourning Doves filled the air and occasionally the wind stirred, initiating and sustaining gentle tones from the new wind chimes in the meditation circle.

By early afternoon the sun was shining. With the temperature only in the mid-seventies, well below normal for August, at last it was a perfect day to weed and trim and enjoy the work of the garden. Hungry birds and pollinators made fine company and we each concentrated purposefully on the flowers, stalks and seedpods.

In the southern border Lantana camara (Common lantana) has finally come into full bloom. Reaching that stage seems to have taken longer than usual, but the timing suited very well a Hummingbird Moth, Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe).

Hummingbird Moth, Clearwing Moth at Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Hummingbird Moth, Clearwing Moth at Lantana camara (Common lantana)

It has a long proboscis (tubular mouthpart) used for feeding, which is coiled up while it searches for nectar.

Hummingbird Moth hovering over Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Hummingbird Moth hovering over Lantana camara (Common lantana)

The proboscis is uncoiled to sip from these Phlox Paniculata (Garden Phlox). The antennae are distinctive and as the term Clearwing Moth suggests, part of the wings are clear.

Hummingbird Moth sipping nectar of Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Hummingbird Moth sipping nectar of Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Following a prolific floral display in Spring, a few Chuck Hayes Gardenia blossoms have appeared throughout the summer. The foliage has stayed green and healthy thanks to all the rain this year.

Gardenia jasminoides 'Chuck Hayes'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Most of the Shasta Daisies have gone to seed, but there are a few fresh flowers.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

I enjoyed Obedient Plant for years at my former shady garden, but it spreads too much in this sunny setting and sends out long-reaching runners. This has just begun to bloom recently. I pulled some up elsewhere but decided to enjoy this for a few days.

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Upon closer inspection one can see a couple of ants are at work on the Obedient Plant.

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)-Detail

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)-Detail

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop) is looking strong this year.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Growing among the ‘Autumn Joy’ are a few stems of Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage). The ‘Blue Sky’ attracted one of the few bees seen in the garden this year. Last summer it was hard to photograph the flowers without capturing multiple bees in every frame.

Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage), Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage), Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

One other bee sipped nectar from the Zinnias that volunteered from last year.

Bee and Zinnia

Bee and Zinnia

I particularly like the color of this orange Zinnia.

Orange Zinnia

Orange Zinnia

The Zinnias also attracted a colorful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the state butterfly.

Swallowtail and Zinnia

Swallowtail and Zinnia

By following the Swallowtail I discovered Phytolacca americana (Pokeweed) has set up camp next to the fence. I like the looks of this plant, but I know it would be hard to get rid of if I let it stay.

Swallowtail and Zinnia

Swallowtail and Zinnia

Another unidentified pollinator was attracted to the Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena). The American Gold Finches are fond of it too.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

19 thoughts on “Mid-August Garden—Up Close

  1. Cathy

    I’m afraid I can’t help with identification, but the butterfly is very pretty. Your hummingbird moth looks very similar to ours, perhaps a little bigger. We have several kinds of them some years, but only the small ones turned up this summer. My lantana (in a pot) is also only just flowering, and rather sparsely. I feel its days are numbered as I don’t have space to overwinter it in a larger pot!
    Lovely blooms and butterflies Susie. Enjoy the gardening weather!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      This hummingbird moth seems larger than usual but I read there are three species of them in North Carolina. (Hope I’ve identified it properly.) It’s another beautiful day here and cool again. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  2. Annette

    The butterfly seems to be a Summer Azure Butterfly, as for the moth, can’t help you, sorry. But beautiful pics of flowers and wildlife as usual. Have a nice weekend 🙂

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Annette, thanks for the name of the butterfly. I found photos and information that match and indeed, Summer Azure Butterfly is widespread in North Carolina. Plants are much easier for me to remember! Hope you have a nice weekend too. Susie

      Reply
  3. Judy @ GrandparentsPlus2

    Your flowers look beautiful. The gardenias are something beyond beautiful, and I could imagine the wonderful fragrance. You also captured some nice butterfly shots. You’re lucky because we aren’t seeing any which is very concerning.

    Reply
  4. bittster

    Things look great there and it sounds so relaxing. That Tiger Swallowtail looks so fresh and healthy, nice picture!
    I always call those little brown butterflies ‘skippers’ that’s as far as my ID goes though….

    Reply
  5. Christina

    What a treat for the eyes and for the nose if all the pollinators are anything to go by. Great colours, your garden is so alive in August, while mine wants to sleep.

    Reply
  6. Pauline

    Lovely pictures of flowers and insects. Your butterflies are beautiful and your hummingbird moth is different from ours, it’s always interesting to see what visits other gardens in their search for food.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thank you Pauline. That particular day seemed to be a heavy feeding day and it was fun to watch them all. I’ve seen hummingbird moths before but not often and this one looked a little bigger to me than I’d remembered.

      Reply
  7. Stepheny Houghtlin

    Your garden is beautiful. I LOVE your photographs and posts. I thought I was ‘following’ you, but discovered, maybe not????? Anyway, I have clicked on ‘Follow” and hope for the best. You deserve an award for this beautiful garden and your webpage about it.

    Reply

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