This is the time of year when there is no end of new blooms to share from lilies and daylilies opening up each day to drumstick allium to the first of the phlox. But since I missed Wildflower Wednesday last week, I want to focus on a few natives coming into their own right now.
Butterfly weed, Ascelpias tuberosa, is one of those natives that requires some patience. It's slow to establish, but once it takes off, it provides quite a show. It attracts various insects, but most importantly provides food for Monarch caterpillars, whose declining numbers make this an important addition to any garden. For more information on this attractive member of the milkweed family check out Frances' excellent WW post here.
It's hard to believe, but until a few years ago I didn't have a single Black-eyed Susan or any of its distant cousins in my garden. Yet they're one of the easiest natives to grow. All the Rudbeckia hirta here started from two small plants planted several years ago. Their numbers each year depend on how ruthless I am in thinning out the asters and Obedient plant to give them room to grow.
Another Susan, though, has more mysterious origins--this appeared out of nowhere a year ago and barely escaped being pulled for a weed until I saw it begin to flower. I've tentatively identified it as Rudbeckia triloba, but I'm not sure. Whatever it is, its bright yellow flowers are a cheerful addition to the lily bed.
One of the main reasons for planting natives is to help the pollinators. During National Pollinators' Week a few weeks ago, much was written about the declining number of bees. I've been aware of the problems with honeybees for some time, but it was disturbing to me to learn that our native bumblebees also seem to be declining. I haven't noticed this in my garden, thankfully; one of their favorites here is not a native at all, but the cultivar 'May Night' Salvia. Sunny mornings will find them swarming all over these plants.
But if we're going to talk about natives in the month of June or July, you know what has me most excited . . .
Yes, it's coneflower time! The first successful perennial I planted, the purple coneflower will always be my favorite. Although I have a few different cultivars, the majority of them are the common Echinacea purpurea. Most sources list these as natives in my area, although the true native is the pale purple coneflower Echinacea pallida. The pale ones are not as showy and are much harder to find these days, though you'll see them in prairie restorations and perhaps in some native gardens. For a great look at them growing in the wild, you can check out a recent post from fellow blogger Tina who has some wonderful photos of these prairie natives growing along a Kentucky road.
My love affair with coneflowers has only grown over the years and has been well-documented in this blog, so I won't go into all the virtues again of this low-maintenance perennial. But spend some time admiring them and you'll be sure to see some bees . . .
. . . of all sizes!
And if there are any butterflies in the area at all, they will be sure to find the coneflowers. We have had very few butterflies this year, so I was excited when I walked outside one foggy morning to find this Swallowtail enjoying the new blooms.
He was definitely enjoying himself as he was oblivious to me as I wiped the humidity off my camera lens between numerous shots.
Judging by his torn wing, his journey to find the coneflowers wasn't an easy one. But find them he did, and this is reason enough for me to always have coneflowers in my garden.
Thanks, as always, to Gail for reminding us of the need to help the pollinators and for hosting Wildflower Wednesday every month--maybe I'll be on time next month:)