Tag Archives: zinnias

Summer In The Garden

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
(Papilio glaucus) July 26, 2019

Today I am documenting some highlights of my summer garden, focusing mostly on zinnias and butterflies.

With the removal of some diseased junipers in spring, the southern border is filled with sunshine once again. Black-eyed Susans planted in 2012 at last are coming into their own in response to the improved conditions. Basking in the sun, Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage), added in 2014, also has thrived for the first time.  I am not a fan of combining yellow and red, but there it is, undeniably red and yellow.  I must have planted the salvia at a time when the black-eyed Susans were failing.

For years there has been a circular cutting garden of zinnias in summer. This year even more zinnias fill in along the fence where the trees had stood. I don’t miss the trees as much as I thought I would. They were planted for privacy, but this year at least I’m enjoying the openness of the garden and the white backdrop of the fence.

Southern Border August 10, 2019

Sunlight enhances the Blue Sky Salvia as we look across toward the dogwood at the other side of the garden. This salvia is a favorite of bees. There are fewer bees this year, especially fewer honey bees. Large carpenter bees are present, though perhaps fewer of them as well.

Late Summer Garden August 10, 2019

Somewhere I saved this year’s zinnia seed packages but I have yet to record their names. They are various mixes. I am particularly pleased with some of the red zinnias this year. There are some gorgeous reds among the rainbow of colors.

Red Zinnia August 5, 2019

A yellow with red freckled zinnia and this one below that seems to be wearing a smear of lipstick on each petal are the only novelty ones in the mix. Elsewhere I have a few cactus zinnias.


I have grown zinnias for 40 years and value their cheerfulness and reliability throughout the hottest part of summer until the first October frost. Each year from mid to late summer they and a few key plants like lantana provide extra zing in the garden, attracting a wide range of insects.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

It has been a spectacular year for butterflies, especially for Eastern Tiger Swallowtails.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) On Lantana camara (Common lantana) August 13, 2019

Yesterday the lantana was a hub of activity as this 16-second amateur video shows.

Zinnias are very popular with the butterflies.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) August 12, 2019

A few other swallowtail varieties have been visible. They are exciting to discover and try to identify. In late May this Spicebush Swallowtail appeared just in time to enjoy white bell-shaped flowers of Husker Red Penstemon.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) May 28, 2019

In early July I recorded seeing this striking Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) just as the first lantana flowers were opening.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) July 1, 2019

Black Swallowtails have been active here this summer with multiple sightings. Here are couple of my favorite photos of them.

Male Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) July 26, 2019

(Female?) Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) August 10, 2019

I spotted a monarch August 10, 2019 and hope to enjoy more in the coming weeks. They usually pass through in September and October.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Historically the garden averages one sighting of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) each year.  Happily I have seen many the past few weeks.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) August 10, 2019

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) August 10, 2019

In previous years I have spotted one or two Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis), but this season they are often seen frequenting plants such as Verbena bonariensis (an all-around pollinator favorite), lantana, Buddleja and zinnia.

Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) August 10, 2019

Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis) August 10, 2019

No signs this year of Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe).  There are plenty of actual hummingbirds though. Sometimes I find myself face to face with one and we both pause for an instant, its wings and my heart pounding. My camera is never ready so I just stop and notice. I have never used a hummingbird feeder in this garden but the birds find reason to visit, making the same rounds through the flowers as the insects.

iNaturalist has been a great resource for help with identification of garden visitors.

Here are more entries from the summer guest book for pbmGarden.

Variegated Fritillary
(Euptoieta claudia) July 22, 2019

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) August 6, 2019

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) August 10, 2019

Eight-spotted Forester
Alypia octomaculata (Fabricius, 1775) June 12, 2019

Great Blue Skimmer
(Libellula vibrans) August 6, 2019

Blue Dasher
(Pachydiplax longipennis) August 6, 2019

Slaty Skimmer Libellula incesta) July 4, 2019

Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) June 26, 2019

Common whitetail (Plathemis lydia) August 12, 2019

Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) August 6, 2019

Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) May 27, 2019

In case you are not familiar with iNaturalist I cannot recommend it enough. It has been a great resource for help in identifying my garden visitors. There is an app and a website.

Partial List of Fauna and Flora


Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) August 6
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) August 6
Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) August 10
Common whitetail (Plathemis lydia) August 12
Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) August 6
Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Eight-spotted Forester Moth (Alypia octomaculata) Jun 12
Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans) August 6
Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)
Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Slaty Skimmer Libellula incesta)
Snowberry Clearwing (Hemaris diffinis)
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) May 28
Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)
Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) Jun 26
Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) Jul 1 and June 7


Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Adonis blue Butterfly Bush)
Gladiolus ‘Purple Flora’ and ‘Espresso’
Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’ (Blue Point Juniper)
Lantana camara (Common lantana)
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan)
Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)
Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)