Sunday Morning Musings

Dahlia sp.

Brief though it was I just experienced my first earthquake.   I noticed, wondered, then forgot all about it until I saw some news reports that confirmed a magnitude 5.1 earthquake was reported in Sparta, North Carolina, and felt across the Triangle at around 8 a.m. According to the U. S. Geological Survey database the this is the second strongest earthquake to occur in NC since 1900. The strongest was a 5.2 magnitude earthquake near Skyland, NC in February 1916.

The earthquake bookends a week that began with approaching Hurricane Isaias.  Here in central North Carolina we were spared any problems. We had some rain, mostly on Monday, the day before the hurricane made landfall on the coast. By Tuesday afternoon with the weather cleared, the only affected area in my garden was the Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower). Its stems were bent horizontal and its yellow petals had been stripped, leaving exposed the green cone heads.

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

We continued to have brief thunderstorms through the week. On Wednesday morning the flowers which struggle so much during the hot days looked much refreshed. Cerinthe, for example, is much wilted by day’s end but gives no sign of the stress after nourishment from the rain overnight.

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

Rabbits are still driving me crazy but from a second planting of zinnias I finally had one flower open yesterday from a second sowing.

Zinnia (first of 2020)

There is a 15 by 3-foot strip along the fence that was supposed to host the zinnias. Can you see the rabbit sitting in the very spot the seedlings were nibbled to oblivion? I think this is a descendent of the original culprit. I don’t know how many generations there are in one summer but I found two the day I took this picture and one was really tiny.

Run, Rabbit, Run

There is not much satisfaction in chasing the rabbit. It only goes a short distance and waits. He did at last “high tail it” to the other side of the garden!

Run, Rabbit, Run

There were a few Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in the garden, lingering longer this week than last among the butterfly bush, verbena bonariensis and lantana. This one on purple coneflower seems to illustrate “life ain’t been no bowl of cherries.” I once was given that title as a prompt for a writing assignment. The expression is stuck in my head lately after recently receiving a surprise in the mail—a packet of themes returned to me by my ninth grade English teacher. Though the “bowl of cherries” paper was not among them, still that phrase crops up every once in a while, as it did when I spotted the poor swallowtail.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Here is the dark form. They both are female.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

I’ve seen a lot of Fiery and Ocola skippers this summer and finally spotted one that looks a bit different.  I think it is [ 8-9-2020 update: Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)  Lerema accius (Clouded Skipper).]

Lerema accius (Clouded Skipper)

A duskywing raced among verbena bonariensis flower heads (I couldn’t get a decent photo). Tentatively I have identified it as Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae).

Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae)

This Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) perched on the favorite bamboo stake near dahlias, steering clear of me as much as it could until it finally allowed a few shots.

Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)

Nearby on the fence sat a strange insect, rather large and ominous.   iNaturalist is very helpful in identifying most of the visitors that show up in the garden. This is Red-footed Cannibal Fly (Promachus rufipes), a species of robber flies.

Red-footed Cannibal Fly (Promachus rufipes)

I saw four social media posts this week featuring a new introduction, Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana’. All reports indicate this lavender pink phlox is truly a butterfly magnet. I looked it up and found also in its favor is its excellent resistance to powdery mildew.  I would like a color other than pink but maybe I will give this one a try. I have failed multiple times to establish garden phlox in colors other than pink P. ‘Robert Poore’.  Never have white-flowered P. ‘David’ or ‘White Flame’ nor the dark magenta purple P. ‘Nicky’ made it through one season in my garden.

Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Garden phlox)

We watched an interesting movie this week called The Gardener, which is a lovely tribute to Frank Cabot’s vision and passion in creating a twenty-acre English style private garden in Canada. Cabot founded the nonprofit The Garden Conservancy.

Gardens bring surprises. A single rose bloomed unexpectedly this week on Virgie’s passalong.

Virgie’s Rose

Most of the flowerheads on Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea) turned completely brown during July’s searing heat and no rain. It would be nice to see it one year covered in flowers turning red.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Hummingbirds are becoming even more plentiful lately. They used to make morning rounds to sip from salvias and now show up more frequently throughout the day. This redbud branch is a favorite perch. Sometimes when I am in the garden I forget to look up. Do you know that feeling when you finally do glance skyward?


21 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Musings

  1. theshrubqueen

    I experienced one earthquake in Atlanta; I thought it was my big dog sitting down really the butterflies – am going to look up robber fly? It has been raining off and on here today, thank goodness. Beautiful photos as always…I have been looking at reed fencing for rabbit abatement. The rabbits are getting bigger, don’t know what they are eating now. , but I am sure my vegetables will be devoured as soon as I plant them if not fenced.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      My neighbor was going to help me add some rabbit fencing but it’s been hard to even find materials. Everyone must be having rabbit woes this year. That’s hilarious about the dog!

  2. NewEnglandGardenAndThread

    You had a busy week and your garden is looking lovely. Hurricane Isaias brought wicked winds that took our power out along with many others, but we only received about 1/16th of an inch of rain. The lawns are brown here. I’d never heard of a robber fly so I just spent some time looking online. He’s quite a character, and I hope I don’t run into him. Sorry about the rabbits. I have squirrels and chipmunks and just had to take out all my squash plants because they took one bite out of each squash before it was fully ready for picking. Gardening is hard work. 🙂

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Sorry about the squash. I love them and I’m sure you were sad to lose them. Isaias could have at least brought some rain since it caused enough disturbance. We really didn’t get much from it either.

  3. tonytomeo

    We get no hurricanes here. Much of California has a chaparral or desert climate. (My former neighborhood got about a foot of rain annually.) However, all the rain arrives within a very limited rainy season through winter. It saturates the steep hillsides, and can cause mudslides. Even a slight earthquake while the hillsides are saturated would likely be a serious problem!

      1. tonytomeo

        Except for about two and a half months in Oklahoma, I lived my entire life in California, but have never experienced more than a mild earthquake. They happen after I leave a region. (The Loma Prieta Earthquake happened about two hours after I left San Jose. The 1994 Northridge Earthquake happened the morning after I left Beverly Hills. etc. The earthquakes in Oklahoma started right after I left Oklahoma!)

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      I like the cerinthe too but thought it was going to be the one like yours with the rich blue and purple. Still hoping it might develop more color when days get cooler. I read that could happen.

  4. Cathy

    Lovely photos. My wrath is directed at mice rather than rabbits but at least we both still have flowers and beautiful flying creatures visiting. 😃 Your butterflies are very pretty.

  5. automatic gardener

    It is hard to believe the East has been hit by a hurricane and an earthquake. You have really helped me, as I have a post ready to go and I couldn’t identify the bug. It is your Cannibal Fly. It is one weird creature.

  6. Eliza Waters

    I read about the earthquake and wondered if anyone I knew felt it. I’ve been through a couple bigger ones while traveling and they can be rather disconcerting (okay, the first time I was terrified!) but luckily, experienced no damage. It is weird when terra firma is NOT firm!
    I’ve noticed the hummers are feeding more zealously of late, too. They do have a long journey ahead of them and must nearly double their weight in order to fly across the Gulf. Luckily, I have lots of things in the garden for them to sip!

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Being in an earthquake was not really on my bucket list but if I was to have the experience, glad to have experienced the very mild form. Enjoy the hummingbirds. Yesterday I was faced with one plus 2 swallowtails. No camera handy but that freed me up to actually enjoy the moment!


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