Ten for 10

21 05 2009

About a half hour before the Green Spring Gardens plant sale was to close this past Saturday, the Virginia Master Gardeners booth started hawking all of their plants as “ten for $10.” Yep…some of the same plants I had purchased about two hours earlier for $5+, much to my chagrin. Reasonable prices before, yes, but at $1 each—what gardener in their right mind would possibly pass on that offer? Never mind if we’ve run out of space in our gardens—they’re a dollar! Just a dollar! We’ve discovered that some of the vendors do that each year so they don’t have to drag all the unsold items back to wherever they originated…and I am only too happy to help them lighten their load.

My 10-for-10 purchases included:

PrimroseOenothera Lemon Drop, common name ‘Evening Primrose’—a low-maintenance, herbaceous perennial that blooms in full sun from June-September. This perennial is tough, tolerates poor soil, and loves the sun. Bright yellow blooms all summer. Deadheading is not necessary, it’s drought and heat tolerant and grows 8-12″ tall. It can also be grown in containers, where it will trail over the sides. And of course I already have some of these in my front yard garden, courtesy of our friend Micheline, who shared them with us when she downsized houses a few years ago. There was a large bank of these cheery flower blooming profusely in her backyard garden. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

AnemoneOne sorta sad-looking (had to rescue it, though) Japanese Aneomone or Windflower (Anemone hupehensis)–-the tag indicates the flowers will be pinkish/mauve, so this might be the variety ‘September Charm.’ This perennial plant bears poppy-like flowers in September and October. The plants reach a height of four to five feet with each flower having five or more petal-like sepals that enclose the golden stamens. The leaves turn wine-red in autumn. Wish this plant luck—it will need it! Photo © Cindy Dyer.


WhiteWoodAsterTwo White Wood Asters (Aster divaricatus)—also known as ‘Eastern Star’—perennial herbaceous native to the eastern U.S. Grows 1-3 feet high with 3/4 to 1-inch white ray flowers that bloom profusely from August to September. The center of each flat-top flower starts yellow then ages to a reddish purple hue. The leaves are heart-shaped, stalked and sharply-toothed. White Wood Asters grow in part shade to full shade, are low-growing and low maintenance, and attract butterflies. They thrive in dry shade but become lush in moist soil. Cut hard at least once in spring to set the foliage back. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

Viola striata (other common names: Striped cream violet, Common white violet, Pale violet, Striped violet)—native perennial herb blooms white and purple flowers April through June. Requires part shade and moist, loamy soil. This plant spreads through its rhizomes. Flowers attract bee flies, butterflies (particularly caterpillars of Fritillary butterflies and several species of moths) and skippers. Seeds are eaten by mourning doves, wild turkeys, mice, and rabbits.

MaxSunflowerI should be punished for purchasing another Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). I bought the same plant four years ago because I thought it would be perfect at the bottom of the steps of our front porch. The plant label purported, “cheery little yellow flowers on 4 ft. stems.” Four feet tall—nice size for the front entrance, right? By the end of the summer, visitors were asking us if we were growing corn in the front yard. We measured it and the tallest stalk was about 12 feet high! I just did some research and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site claims they grow 3-10 ft. high. What kind of wild range is that? (Imagine this scenario: Officer: Ma’am, how tall was the man who stole your wheelbarrow? Me: Ummm…he was three feet tall….then again, he might have been ten feet tall. I can’t be certain!) The plant grows Jack-in-the-Beanstalk high and then very late in the summer it sprays forth masses of miniature (2-3 inches across) yellow sunflowers that are at their most beautiful when they sway against a cornflower blue sky. And if I really want to get some good closeup shots of the blooms, I have to drag out the tall ladder to do so! Did I need another of these plants? No. But it was only a buck! Anyone have room in their garden for it? Photo © Cindy Dyer.

EchinopsRitroGlobe Thistle (Echinops ritro)—Clump-forming herbaceous perennial with coarse, prickly leaves (and how!) with 1-2 ball-shaped silvery-lavender-blue or dark blue flowerheads blooming in early to late summer on rigid branching stems 24-48 inches tall. These beautiful ornamentals grow best in full sun to mostly sunny areas, attract bees and butterflies, are good for cut flowers (and dried bouquets as well), will tolerate the heat and are deer resistant. And yes, I already have one—it’s about three years old and is the size of a small shrub already. I expect a plethora of blooms this season. Photo © Cindy Dyer.

SnowonthemountainSnow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)—I photographed this beautiful annual plant at Green Spring Gardens last year and posted the images on my blog here. A member of the spurge family, it flowers in the summer. Reaching 18-24 inches high, it requires sun to partial shade, and will attracts a plethora of butterflies, moths, bees, wasps and other insects—a veritable photographic smorgasbord! Now I’ll have one of my very own…once I find a place to plant it, that is. Folks, it was just a dollar, remember? Photo © Cindy Dyer.


Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)—This tough native is deer-resistant and provides food for larval butterflies. Clusters of sweet-scented white flowers appear on 1-2 foot stalks in June and July. Whorled milkweed can be found in prairies, pastures, open woods and by the roadside. Learn more about attracting Monarch butterflies to your garden (and purchase milkweed seeds, too) at www.happytonics.org.

Salvia

‘Ostfriesland’ Salvia (Salvia nemorosa)—also known as Violet Sage, Ornamental Meadow Sage, Perennial Woodland Sage—this sun-loving herbaceous perennial grows 12-18 inches high with fragrant violet-blue flowers blooming from summer to autumn. Attractive to bees, butterflies and birds, and deer resistant. I couldn’t find this version in my files or a suitable one to reprint, so I’m showing a similar salvia I photographed at Butchart Gardens. Photo © Cindy Dyer







Photographic smorgasbord

8 08 2008

I photographed this series of photos at Green Spring Gardens yesterday morning. The plant is Euphorbia Marginata. A member of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae), it is also known as ‘Snow-on-the-Mountain’ and ‘Summer Icicle.’

According to the U.S. Geological Society, there are about 7,000 species of Euphorbiaceae worldwide, including rubber trees, cassava, and tapioca (one of my favorite desserts!).

The name ‘marginata’ was used because of the showy borders of the upper leaves and tracts. I also learned that it is a self-sowing annual and the USGS site qualifies it as an herb. The milky sap is toxic if eaten, and can cause contact dermatitis for people with sensitive skin. It is grown from seed in the spring and has a long vase life. Thompson & Morgan sells seeds for this half-hardy annual.

This plant attracted a vast array of insects—bees, wasps, flies, and butterflies. I stayed at this site for at least 20 (very intense) minutes and was overwhelmed by the number of (fast-moving) subjects to photograph. If I had room in my garden, this plant would definitely be included!

ADDENDUM: I started doing some research to try to label the insects below.

PHOTO #1: I’m pretty confident this is a Honey Bee (my very first photograph of one—and I hope not the last, given the issue of colony collapse disorder that is threatening honey bees worldwide). On one site I read that a honey bee’s wings stroke over 11,000 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz. (No wonder I had a hard time photographing these critters!)

PHOTO #2: Your guess is as good as mine—some kind of fly, I’m betting. Care to do the research for me?

PHOTO #3 is either a Paper Wasp—there are twenty-two species of paper wasps identified in North America, and although the Wikipedia site shows the Polistes dominula species predominately (yellow and black in color), this one could be a Polistes carolina. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension site details the life cycle and habitat of the paper wasp. OR, it could be a Spider Wasp, Tachypompilus ferrugineus. Now, I’m really confused.

As scary (and feared) as wasps can be, they are crucial to ecosystems. They can be either parasitic or predaceous and play a vital role in limiting populations of insects such as caterpillars and other larvae that destroy crops. Both yellow jackets and paper wasps are beneficial in this way. Wasps feed on flower nectar and play a role in pollination, too.

PHOTO #4: This one could be a type of Spider Wasp (Episyron biguttatus), too. Check out this video to see why they’re called “Spider wasps.”

PHOTO #5 (and #7): I’m 99.9% sure this is an Eastern Yellow Jacket. Learn more about them here.

PHOTO #6: This could be a Greenbottle Blow Fly (Lucilia). And for all you CSI fans out there, did you know that this species of fly is often used by forensic entomologists to determine time and place of death? Visit Wikipedia to learn more about this fly. (FYI: The original CSI beats Miami CSI and New York CSI anytime. David Caruso should really retire…and soon). Hey, since you’re already researching #2 for me, it shouldn’t be too much trouble for you to verify this identification, should it?

AND….THE ONE(S) THAT GOT AWAY—I saw digger wasps just like these (from a distance too far to shoot) and wasn’t sure exactly what I was seeing until I did some research. The bottom one was feeding on the flowers and the other was…ahem…let’s just say this was one multi-tasking pair!

Now that I’ve had time to think about it—I sure was up close and personal with a plethora of “could-really-sting-me” insects that morning, wasn’t I?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.