Tag Archives: autumn garden

Butterfly Journal For 11/19/2021 – 11/28/2021

American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis

Since my last Butterfly Journal report I recorded a single observation, bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total for my garden to 600 (30 species)*.

[*Including a Painted Lady seen in town the overall 2021 annual butterfly total is an 601 (31 species).]

Butterfly Sightings 11/19/2021 – 11/28/2021

11/28/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1

A fortuitous glance out the window and a flash of orange led me outdoors just to double-check and yes, it really was a butterfly in late November nectaring on dandelion. There was time only for two quick snapshots.

American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis

American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis

What might December bring?

Butterfly Journal For 11/13/2021 – 11/18/2021

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) on Cleome

Since my last Butterfly Journal report I recorded 2 observations, bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total for my garden to 599 (30 species)*.

[*Including a Painted Lady seen in town the overall 2021 annual butterfly total is an even 600 (31 species).]

Butterfly Sightings 11/13/2021 – 11/18/2021

11/13/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 1
11/13/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1

Last Sunday, November 13, was our first morning waking up to temperatures below freezing. It was also the only day of butterfly activity detected in my garden this week. A glorious late-morning sighting of a fresh, male monarch sent me outdoors to document this late arrival.

The butterfly flew in and among the beds tasting a number of plants along the way, including dianthus.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

For a time it settled in the meditation circle attracted to verbena bonariensis and eventually to cleome. Determinedly fighting a gusty wind the butterfly resembled someone in a storm wrestling an unwieldy umbrella.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Throughout the week the thermometer readings dipped a few times again below 32F, but ironically we had beautiful and warm days with highs reaching to mid-70s. Seeing the monarch Sunday lifted my expectations that a few more stragglers might wander through, but searching most days among the remaining flowers yielded no further butterfly treasure.

One afternoon I saw a good number of yellow jackets reigning over the camellias, while two sluggish carpenter bees had the chrysanthemums to themselves.  Lady bugs flew by (some are creeping into the house) and, so it goes.

Eastern Carpenter Bee on Chrysanthemum

After spending months looking so closely inward toward the garden, in the early hours of this morning my attention focused skyward to observe the full Beaver Moon of November 2021 in the longest partial lunar eclipse in 580 years. Around 4 a.m. EDT, near the peak of the eclipse,  I joined my fellow curious humans to observe the moon 97% covered by the Earth’s shadow. Bathed in a reddish glow our planet’s natural satellite was resplendent as it cast light over this little garden.

Hope awe and wonder filtered through your life this week.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Butterfly Journal For 11/05/2021 – 11/12/2021

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Since my last Butterfly Journal report I recorded 6 observations, bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total for my garden to 597 (30 species)*.

[*The overall 2021 annual butterfly total to 598 (31 species).]

Butterfly Sightings 11/05/2021 – 11/12/2021

11/9/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
11/12/2021 Cabbage White – Pieris rapae 1
11/12/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
11/12/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 3

From a window on Tuesday I spotted a Cloudless Sulphur floating above the garden for a minute or two, but it quickly moved on without making a stop. There are still a few floral enticements it might have tasted: saliva, lantana, a few zinnias and cosmos. Or how about some fresh button chrysanthemums?  Yesterday a Fiery Skipper found a sunny spot to pause among the flowers of this passalong plant.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

After a busy week it was a relief to spend some time in the garden yesterday afternoon. The day was sunny and mild. I planted narcissus, hyacinths, muscari and allium yesterday—still a few more bulbs to place.

A butterfly drew me outside. I had spotted it earlier but it didn’t stay. When it returned (presumably it was the same one) it paused among a large planting of shasta daisies before moving through the garden. I couldn’t get very close to it but I don’t think I have ever been so pleased to see a Cabbage White! This was the tenth one of 2021 and the first one here since mid-July.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

While trying to photograph the Cabbage White I noticed skippers in front of me. I shifted the camera toward them just as the Cabbage White took off and felt their touch. I’ve never had a butterfly land on my hand before, much less two. It was a sweet moment but the timing was decidedly awkward.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

I helped them settle back onto lantana.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Autumn color exploded this week and throughout the neighborhood and along our routes around town the views have been spectacular. The last time I wrote a butterfly journal entry there was a prediction for our first freeze that never materialized.  Tomorrow (Sunday) a hard freeze (30°F.) is expected.

 

Butterfly Journal For 10/29/2021 – 11/04/2021

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) at Fresh Market

Since my last Butterfly Journal report I recorded 1 observation in my garden, bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total for my garden to 591 (30 species).

Also I had a first-of-year sighting in a commercial landscape planting at the grocery store this week.  I have been on the lookout for a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), but it is a little bittersweet that I finally saw one this year away from home and not in my garden. I am excited nevertheless; this encounter brings my overall 2021 annual butterfly total to 592 (31 species).

Butterfly Sightings 10/29/2021 –  11/04/2021

10/31/2021 Clouded Skipper – Lerema accius 1
11/2/2021 Painted Lady – Vanessa cardui 1   FOY [not in my garden]

A Clouded Skipper frequented the back garden for much of one day. I also think I saw another one nectaring at the sasanquas but I could not get a photograph of that one for verification. This one landed on Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ .

Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)

It was nice to capture an open-wing view of the skipper taking off among coreposis leaves.

Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)

There is a freeze warning for tonight, our first this fall. Butterfly season is waning but I intend to keep an eye out for any late activity.

Butterfly Journal For 10/22/2021 – 10/28/2021

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Since my last Butterfly Journal report I recorded 7 observations (2 species), bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total for my garden to 590 (30 species).

Compared to the previous report this is 3 more observations but 2 fewer species. Nectar sources are still available for any last minute guests but the butterfly party is closing down for this year.

Butterfly Sightings 10/22/2021 –  10/28/2021

10/22/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 3
10/24/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 3
10/27/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 1

Frequent visitors to the garden since mid-June, Fiery Skippers are uncommon now.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

On October 22, 2021, I was particularly happy to see 3 monarchs feeding at the lantana. This male had a unusual light coloration on it’s right upper wing.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

At one point it moved perilously close to ensnarement by a huge orb spider. Alarmed, I disassembled the web quickly but was unable to relocate the spider. A master at escape, it simply dropped out of sight.  The next day it’s web was rebuilt and once again I took it down. One thread of the web is visible in the lower left quadrant of the photo below.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Butterfly season has been an enriching time here in my little garden this year. Thanks to all for sharing this little adventure.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Butterfly Journal For 10/15/2021 – 10/21/2021

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Since my last Butterfly Journal report I recorded 4 observations (4 species), bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total for my garden to 583 (30 species).

Butterfly Sightings 10/15/2021 –  10/21/2021

10/15/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
10/15/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
10/16/2021 Pearl Crescent – Phyciodes tharos 1
10/21/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1

None of the butterflies stayed around long enough for more than quick snapshots. With the Pearl Crescent the time was only enough to recognize and record its presence with an obscure image.

Last weekend there were promises and some reports of rain throughout the region but nothing more here than a brief splash. Though there are still plenty of flowers on the Lantana camara (Common lantana), skippers have all but disappeared from their favorite nectar source in my garden.

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

In mid-October despite their now deeply mildewed foliage, zinnias continue to provide a resounding zing of color to the borders. I’ve been in no hurry to clear them, preferring to enjoy for myself the pops of pink, orange and yellow that dominated this year’s crop, knowing too butterflies might enjoy them. Yesterday I embodied an old clichéd phrase: my heart soared when I spotted a fresh female monarch nectaring on the zinnias.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) -female

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) -female

Occasional sightings are possible into next month but butterfly season here is coming to a close.

Wordless Wednesday—Angelonia In The Meditation Circle

I used this angelonia in my vase on Monday and several readers were unfamiliar with it. An annual here, it blooms all summer until first frost without deadheading.

Angelonia AngelMist ‘Spreading Berry Sparkler’

Angelonia AngelMist ‘Spreading Berry Sparkler’

Angelonia AngelMist ‘Spreading Berry Sparkler’

Angelonia AngelMist ‘Spreading Berry Sparkler’

Angelonia AngelMist ‘Spreading Berry Sparkler’

Angelonia AngelMist ‘Spreading Berry Sparkler’

November And December Collages

This summer I began participating in an Instagram meme hosted by Amy @newgatenarcissi with the idea of sharing a monthly collage of the garden. November came and went without its due representation. Yesterday I drew up its solution and for good measure completed one for December as well. December’s big surprise was finding Alyssum still blooming happily yesterday, despite many nights below freezing.

I may continue creating the collages only occasionally in the new year. They are time-consuming but I enjoy making them.

November 2020

November 2020

Starting top row, left to right:
Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed)
Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)
Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)
Gardenia Hip – Gardenia jasminoides
Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)
Button Chrysanthemum
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Zinnia

December 2020

December 2020

Starting top row, left to right:
Anthurium
Daphne odora (Winter daphne)
‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe
Alyssum (3)
Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)
Oak Leaves and Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’
In A Vase On Monday – December Etude (2)
Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’
Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)
Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow’ (after a freeze)
Daphne odora (Winter daphne)

A Snapshot In Time

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

While chasing a decidedly camera-shy Common Buckeye butterfly yesterday afternoon, I came upon a fleeting segment of natural wonder.

Beneath a patch of zinnias an asclepias seedpod was having a moment. Walls of the okra-shaped pod had separated, revealing rows of seeds attached to white, silky threads.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Patterns in nature are fascinating and here the seeds are aligned, held back by gentle tufts of silkiness.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

I went inside to grab some clippers imagining this would make a great focal point for a floral design.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

In my brief two-minute absence nature carried on with its script, sending the necessary amount of wind across the flower bed, releasing the seeds into the world. Wind dispersal sends seeds away from the parent plant, in this case carried atop silky parachutes. Stunned it had happened so immediately I failed to even photograph the mostly bare stems left behind.

Eventually I managed a distant shot of the butterfly, a satisfying consolation and another fine example of nature’s fondness for pattern.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’ (Hardy Chrysanthemum)

Happy Halloween

Dahlias From The Garden

Happy Halloween, inspired by pumpkins and peppers from neighbors alongside numerous fading Dahlia ‘David Howard’.

Dahlias From The Garden

These flowers were gathered and photographed two weeks ago. On this last day of October only an odd dahlia here or there is left in the garden, but it was a satisfying year for dahlias.

Dahlia ‘David Howard’

Next year I hope to try new types and colors. These are the ones grown this year and last.

Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Deco’
Dahlia ‘David Howard’
Dahlia ‘Tsuku Yori No Shisha’
Dahlia sp. (lilac is unknown variety)

Dahlias From The Garden

Dahlia ‘Tsuku Yori No Shisha’

Dahlias From The Garden

Wishing you a great weekend!

Wordless Wednesday – Yesterday

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Listen for liquid bird song at 16 seconds. Maybe Brown Cow Bird?

More of the liquid bird song.

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

Quick Autumn Color

Antirrhinum majus ‘Speedy Sonnet Bronze’ (Snapdragon)

Remember the TV show where a contestant was given the chance to choose and keep as many items as she could shove into a shopping cart in just one minute? That is how I felt Tuesday when I stopped in at a favorite garden center, Southern States, while my husband waited in the car.

I have grown some snapdragons from seeds for the first time, but was looking for the immediate gratification of fully blooming plants.

Antirrhinum majus ‘Speedy Sonnet Bronze’ (Snapdragon)

Antirrhinum majus ‘Speedy Sonnet Bronze’ (Snapdragon)

I took the last Erysimum on the shelf. I grew ‘Sugar Rush Red’ once before and it did well for a couple of years.

Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Red’ (Wallflower)

I have not planted pansies in recent years, though a few pop up in springtime from past lives. These will be bright and cheery and the white dianthus will make a nice companion.

Ultima Radiance Lilac Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)

At the end of five minutes my cart was full and I had to rush on. Sometimes you can buy a little happiness.

Corona™ White Dianthus (Dianthus chinensis)
Ultima Radiance Lilac Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)
Sorbet® XP White Viola (Viola cornuta) Common Name : Horned Violet
Sorbet® XP True Blue Viola (Viola cornuta) Common Name : Horned Violet
Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Red’ (Wallflower)
Antirrhinum majus ‘Speedy Sonnet White’ (Snapdragon)
Antirrhinum majus ‘Speedy Sonnet Bronze’ (Snapdragon)
Antirrhinum majus ‘Rocket Mix’ (Snapdragon)

On The Run Purchases

In A Vase On Monday – Autumn Glow

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement composed of materials collected from our gardens.

In A Vase On Monday – Autumn Glow

The weather continues to feel very summery but autumn reveals itself this week in the bright, yellow glow of Swamp sunflowers currently dominating the western border.

The sunflowers are the focal point of this Monday’s vase.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp sunflower)

A lichen-covered branch from the river birch out front is used for structure and visual texture.

In A Vase On Monday – Autumn Glow

This arrangement really is a lot of fun in person but its personality proved difficult to capture in photographs.

In A Vase On Monday – Autumn Glow

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp sunflower)

Materials
Flowers
Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp sunflower)
Lichen-covered Betula nigra (River Birch)
Container
Oasis Lomey 11″ Designer Dish, black, round
Three floral pins (frogs)
Black stones

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp sunflower)

The Swamp Sunflower has its attractors, including this Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus).

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower designs across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In A Vase On Monday.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – November 2016

Governors Park Foliage

Governors Park Foliage

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) is hosted monthly on the 22nd by Christina at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides.

Inside my autumn garden the foliage I wish today to note is this Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily). Flowers should precede the leaves, but sadly did not. These were planted a couple of years ago.

Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily)

Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily)

I thought I would share a couple of scenes from a recent walk around the neighborhood. For the longest time it seemed we would have very little fall color and the leaves would simply drop without marking the occasion. Suddenly last week trees along the highway and inside my neighborhood lit up to make it really seem like autumn.

Specifically there are lots of colorful red maples that have been planted in rows along the sidewalks. They have turned bright red and look beautiful in the glow of the sun. But I really love the older trees.

This post oak is one of the grand remnants of an old farm, an anchor to the past on the land where my subdivision now sits.

Governors Park Foliage -Quercus stellata (Post oak) North American species of oak in the white oak section. Native to the eastern and central United States.

Governors Park Foliage -Quercus stellata (Post oak) North American species of oak in the white oak section. Native to the eastern and central United States.

Many of our houses face an elliptical-shaped common area (the rest are tucked into cul-de-sacs). Within this loop are several groves of old trees, hardwoods as well as pines. The trees in the image below approximately mark the midway point of the loop. Behind the trees sits a pond where occasionally a blue heron spends time.

On Friday when I stood at the south end of our “meadow park” looking north, the sky was blue, yet eerily darkened by smoke from wildfires in the western part of the state.

Governors Park Foliage

Governors Park Foliage

When I reached the grove of trees pictured above I took a few more minutes to gaze upward through the treetops. As peaceful and lovely as it was, the scent of smoke was overwhelming and I hurried along home.

Governors Park Foliage

Governors Park Foliage

By Saturday morning shifting winds had cleared the air. Meanwhile the fires are partially contained but have scorched thousands of acres.

Many thanks to Christina at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for reminding us the important part foliage plays in our gardens (and surrounding environs). Check out her foliage and that of other gardeners across the globe.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – October 2016

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) is hosted monthly on the 22nd by Christina at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides. For the past two months my sun scorched foliage was largely uninspiring, but October brings a new perspective to the garden.

When I visited my cousin last weekend in the N.C. mountains she sent me home with a huge hydrangea, rooted especially for me from one that stood at my grandmother’s back stoop and filled my childhood self with delight many years ago. I planted it against the fence on the south border near some trees, where it should get morning sun and afternoon protection.

Hydrangea macrophylla (from my grandmother's)

Hydrangea macrophylla (from my grandmother’s)

Nearby and around the corner Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ is switching to autumn color.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers' (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

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

Much of the foliage of interest in the garden at this time of year comes from a flush of growth from plants that died back or fared poorly in the summer heat. Fresh leaves on columbine, candytuft, Lamb’s Ear, yarrow and iris all add to the garden’s recovery.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

 

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) and Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) and Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

I am excited to see Anemone coronaria returning, though this is not spreading as I had hoped.

Anemone coronaria

Anemone coronaria

A couple of different Chrysanthemums bring not only beautiful flowers this time of year but also some welcome green.

Chrysanthemum 'Sheffield Pink' (Hardy Chrysanthemum)

Chrysanthemum ‘Sheffield Pink’ (Hardy Chrysanthemum)

Chrysanthemum with Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Chrysanthemum with Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell) does not bloom well in its current location but after several years it is forming a nice mat of ground cover which I would like to extend to other areas of the borders.

Veronica spicata 'Pink Goblin' (Speedwell)

Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)

Betula nigra (River Birch) and Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle) are front yard trees with interesting bark.

Betula nigra (River Birch)

Betula nigra (River Birch)

Betula nigra (River Birch)

Betula nigra (River Birch)

Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)

Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)

I bought another Iris domestica (blackberry lily) in early summer but never got it planted. Looks like it really wants to survive. Also, see how green the fescue grass is? After aerating and reseeding, it no longer resembles its brown-patchy self from August.

Iris domestica (blackberry lily)

Iris domestica (blackberry lily)

Hedychium coronarium has bloomed poorly this year, but continues to form flower buds. The leaves are quite beautiful. I think I will move part of it to another location where it can have more water.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ brings reliable color and texture to the garden throughout all seasons.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' (Ascot Rainbow Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (Ascot Rainbow Spurge)

Planted along the corner of the front porch Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ is a great evergreen shrub for year-round enjoyment and has late winter, sweet-scented flowers as well.

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' (Winter daphne)

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne)

To wrap up today’s foliage review I chose this gardenia hip. The orange color will deepen in the coming days.

Gardenia hips - Gardenia jasminoides

Gardenia hips – Gardenia jasminoides

Many thanks to Christina at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for reminding us the important part foliage plays in our gardens. Check out her foliage and that of other gardeners across the globe.

Finding Connections

Seed pod of Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Seed pod of Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Needed to spend time in the garden this morning, just wanted the connection to the natural world.

Several asclepias tubersosa were reintroduced to the garden last year. The seed pods of this one are showier than the flowers were earlier this year and I got lost studying them for a good long while.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)-6

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)-9

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)-4

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)-7

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)-3

 

Eventually I moved on toward the front yard. For the past week the pair of crape myrtles at the end of the walkway have been shifting from green to rich orange and golden hues.

Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)

Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)

I do not have the right equipment for taking good bird photographs but this pair caught my attention. Northern red cardinals are generally very patient at the feeder and seem content to share. The small bird is, I think, a Carolina wren.

Northern Cardinal and Carolina Wren

Northern Cardinal and Carolina Wren

Behind the feeder is a passalong Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea) which lost its leaves a month or more ago for some reason. It usually has nice autumn color. Instead of leaves, random white blossoms brave the season at the tip top of the shrub.

Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea)

Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea)

Later in the morning, yoga class was overflowing so our mats were closely placed. During our practice we breathed in and out together, sharing our space and our energy, and connecting with ourselves and with each other.

These connections and the ones found in the garden in the early morning light carried me through the day.

Surprises Along The Southern Side Path

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

I have not shown the garden along the southern side of the house in a long time. The Southern Side Path is a narrow border with a winding stone walkway, that provides access from the driveway down to the main garden in the back yard. If you walk down the path, turn around and look back up toward the street, this is the view you will see.

Clematis 'Jackmanii' In Southern Side Garden

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ In Southern Side Garden

(Be careful not to turn your head to the right or you’ll see the neighbors’ house looming large.)

Standing in the distance near the street and not really part of the border, a Betula nigra (River Birch) is visible. This tree began losing lots of its leaves several weeks ago, but after some heavy rains came it decided to hold on to the rest of its foliage a while longer.

In the foreground, Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ usually has a few flowers this time of year, but the weather has been especially encouraging to it this autumn. Behind and underneath the clematis is Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass). In front (not visible) are planted Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris).

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

In between the clematis and the river birch are a host of odds and ends. A few are:

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)
Lavender
Iris germanica (Bearded iris)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)
Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Amazingly, these and other plants that grow here are all ignored by the deer which make their way between the two houses quite often.

Sitting along the path just in front of the dark green Wintergreen boxwood shrub, (Buxus microphylla var koreana ‘Wintergreen’), is the current star of the Southern Side Garden. It is the fragrant Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) .

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Last winter was exceedingly cold so when spring arrived I was concerned whether the Ginger lily had even survived. Fortunately by mid-May a few stalks had emerged. Through summer it never grew as full nor tall as it had during the previous two years, but finally today a flower opened.

I had been eagerly watching this tender perennial for quite a few weeks, hoping it would bloom before a frost could wilt it back to the ground. I was curious when it bloomed last year. In checking my photo records I noticed the set of dates when I took pictures of the flowering ginger lily. An unscientific but interesting observation is that for the previous two years the ginger lily had flowered much earlier than usual and for an extended period of time.

Dates Of Photographing Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) Blooms In My Garden
October 18, 2008
September 24, 2009 – October 25, 2009
2010 – ?
October 13, 2011
September 2 – November 2, 2012
August 10 – November 7, 2013
October 17, 2014

Leaving the Southern Side Path, turn around and come inside the main garden. Here yesterday, I again attempted to capture the elusive monarchs. This time a couple of the butterflies were nectaring on the Zinnias, which made it easier for me to get close and get a picture from the back with the wings open.

Monarch Nectaring On Zinnia

Monarch Nectaring On Zinnia

I particularly liked this image which not only captured the eyes clearly, but recorded pink reflections cast from the flower onto the underside of the wing and thorax of the butterfly.

Pink Reflections On Monarch Wings

Pink Reflections On Monarch Wings

Patterns In Orange And Black

Lantana and Monarch (detail)

Lantana and Monarch (detail)

A handful of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) arrived to the garden a week ago. Most often I have observed them dancing between the swamp sunflower and butterfly bush where it is difficult for me to get close.

This afternoon I set out to photograph three monarchs as they fed on Lantana camara (Common lantana) in the southern border.

Lantana and Monarch

They stayed put until I tried to move in, then each flew up high, away and settled again a few feet further, often on the opposite side of the fence where the lantana peeks through. When I switched to video the one in my viewfinder sat perfectly still until it sensed I had turned off the camera. I had to laugh.

I chose a few of the photographs and cropped them to reveal some of the detail.

Lantana and Monarch – 1

Lantana and Monarch – 1 detail

Lantana and Monarch – 2

Lantana and Monarch – 2 detail

Lantana and Monarch -3

Lantana and Monarch – 3 detail

First Morningtide—October 2014

Lantana camara (Common lantana) In Southern Border

Lantana camara (Common lantana) In Southern Border

Today’s early sky wore a draping, heavy fog. Dewdrops coated every leaf, flower and blade of grass. Would you agree the first morning hours are the the best time in the garden?

The lawn was covered with dozens of spiderwebs courtesy (I think) of Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider).

Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider)

Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider)

Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider)

Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider)

Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider)

Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider)

In the Southern Border everlasting sweet pea flowers continue to form.

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea)

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea)

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea) seems cheerfully content.

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea) seems cheerfully content.

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)  is new this year and has seemed slow to get growing. On the other hand, long established Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) is very aggressive.

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)  and Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) and Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)

An interesting and delicate-looking fungus popped up today. I could not figure out its name, but a friend who has been studying all things fungi identified it as Parasola plicatilis.

Parasola plicatilis

Parasola plicatilis

Tradescantia used to be one of my favorite passalong plants, admired for its pretty blue, three-petaled flower. It became roguish in my current garden so I am always trying to dig it out or at least cut it back to keep it from flowering.  It is much tougher and persistent than I am though. Tradescantia is growing all around the garden, but this happens to be in the northwest corner of the Western Border.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

I actually bought this white Tradescantia. Although white ones are found wild, this may be a hybrid. It does not have the tendency to wander.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

The dogwood leaves picked up some autumn color this week. A bird (presumably) found and chewed one of these red ripened berries. Next year’s new buds are forming.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy) has performed extremely well this year. Now its color is evolving through brick red and rusty hues. Notice the Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ shows up frequently around the garden.

Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage) and Hylotelephium telephium 'Herbstfreude' (Autumn Joy)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) and Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy)

Hylotelephium telephium 'Herbstfreude' (Autumn Joy)

Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy)

Roses need more care than is included in my normal “water twice and leave it alone” gardening philosophy. Rosa ‘Iceberg’ did poorly in the spring and I began thinking about taking it out of the garden altogether. This morning I found this excuse to delay.

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

New lupine leaves look very healthy.

Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

Though I have never seen one growing around here, I have always wanted to grow a lupine. It comes from long ago because of reading a book about The Lupine Lady to our young daughter. On a whim back in April I purchased a container of Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’  from a local nursery and for some reason (probably because the tag said it would be 5-6 feet tall) I put it toward the back of the Western Border where it was pretty much out of view. It did have several flowers but never gained its expected height.

May 15, 2014  Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

May 15, 2014
Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

If anyone can offer lupine advice I would appreciate your ideas. Did I end up with a dwarf variety or is this normal in the first season? Should I relocate it to the front of the border?

This photograph does not capture the foggy feeling but here is a view of the early morning garden.

Garden View With Fog In The Distant Sky

Garden View With Fog In The Distant Sky

Gravitating Back To The Garden

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower) in Western Border

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower) in Western Border

Autumn arrived this past week bringing a succession of cooler days and rain, lots of steady rain. Fortunately Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower), a native which reached over 10 feet tall before finally blooming about five days ago, managed to withstand the rain without falling over.

Yesterday the sun returned and I felt the pull to get busy in the garden again.

For many months I have often felt disengaged from my garden and as a result the flower beds have wandered through spring and summer with only minimal maintenance. But recently I took some time to enjoy the garden and my outlook changed.

Yesterday and today the weather was so pleasant, we ate every meal outdoors overlooking the borders. This morning while talking to our daughter in California, I sat in the garden on the bench next to a group of tall, colorful zinnias . As we chatted the birds chattered also and the chimes sounded gently in the breeze.

Looking around the last couple of days I noticed how things are still very green and how, despite my inattention, the garden continues to work well as a peaceful respite, at least when I take time for it.  Before long I really wanted to get to work, so this afternoon I spent a few hours cleaning up, trimming away some overgrown spots and pulling lots of weeds.  The time passed quickly and quietly—it was very satisfying. It is not that I have not kept up with some of the essential chores all along, it is rather that today I felt connected again.

Last spring I planted a dahlia at the back of the western border, thinking it was going to grow very tall. It grew slowly and soon got lost behind more aggressive players: Tradescantia, Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’, Physostegia virginians (Obedient plant), and a recently blooming, tiny white daisy-like flower I believe to be native Boltonia asteroides (false aster) or perhaps it could be native Symphyotrichum pilosum (frost aster).

Dahlia peeking out above Symphyotrichum pilosum (frost aster)

Dahlia peeking out above Symphyotrichum pilosum (frost aster)

I gave the dahlia some breathing room and placed a peony ring around it for support—better late than never perhaps.

Dahlia After the Cleanup

Dahlia After the Cleanup

Here is another embarrassing, entangled planting to the left of the dahlia. My goal was to pull up all of these plants today, but first I wanted some before images. As soon as I entered the border to take pictures I noticed a colorful orange and black butterfly that seemed not to mind the weedy, unruliness of this area.
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

As I moved in with my camera it alighted on an echinacea and I realized it was not a monarch as I had hoped it might be. I did not recognize this butterfly.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) Nectaring On Echinacea

I managed one more photo as it prepared to take off. Tentatively I identified it as American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis), but would appreciate help in confirming it.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) Preparing For Take-off

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) Preparing For Take-off

In the end I pulled up most of these plants, but the false aster (if that is indeed what it is) was teeming with wasps and bees, so I felt I should leave them some food.

Wasp on Symphyotrichum pilosum (frost aster)

Boltonia asteroides (false aster)

Symphyotrichum pilosum (frost aster)

I hope my gardening enthusiasm lasts for a while. Blue skies and lower humidity really help.

Early Morning Views and Notes

After several chilly nights today will be much warmer, reaching a high of 70°F. The time changed on Sunday, clocks set back, making the evening darkness felt more intensely.

The extra hour of daylight was reassigned to morning (sunrise today was at 6:44). At quarter past seven the suns glow on distant treetops was visible from an upstairs window. Still, the meditation circle and indeed the entire garden waited in shadow for the sunlight to reach.

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

Scenes From The Back Steps

At the southwest corner, growing too close to the ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress, is a Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud) sporting golden color.

Early Morning View

Early Morning View

The circle of soil in front of the bench is where we recently removed a small (but growing too large) Red Maple that was not in a good location. For now I will plant some daffodil bulbs and a spiral of pansies.

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

The Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) in the northwest corner lost many of its leaves when rain and winds passed through Saturday. Its scarlet leaves have been exceptionally colorful this year and the rusty-hued flowers of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop) further up in the border unexpectedly reinforced the strong red. I am trying to notice combinations like this to employ for greater impact.

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

The foliage of the Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) along the meditation path also works well in echoing the dogwood’s color.

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

The neighbors’ Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) has been unattractively brown all summer, due to a fungus, I think. Finally its brown hue seems more seasonal.

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

In the meditation circle itself the cream/pale yellow pansies stand out much more than the blue and purple ones, another effect to remember when planting here. Subconsciously I may have remembered the white Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) that bloomed effusively in the circle for a time.

Meditation Circle Early Morning View

Meditation Circle Early Morning View