Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday Late Edition

My garden is on autopilot these days.  Household projects, a big birthday party for #2 Son, and a visit from Daughter, Son-in-law, and the granddogs have taken precedence over garden work lately.  But the garden hasn't seemed to mind my neglect; frequent rain showers have kept it happy...of course, that's made the weeds happy as well. 

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:)

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July!


  1. Rose, your garden grows and is colorful although you're so busy!
    I have no Black-eyed Susan and coneflowers , no one! I tried to grow them from seeds- the next year they disappear, from roots - they can't survive the winter. I love them so much. What is your advice?

  2. Nadezda, Black-eyed Susans and coneflowers are both native here, so that is probably why they thrive for me. I really don't do anything to them; I leave the seedheads on over the winter, and they re-seed themselves. In fact, I had to pull up quite a few coneflower seedlings because they were everywhere this spring! Gardeners in other parts of the world and in this country have said they have trouble growing both of these, so I guess our growing conditions are just right for them.

  3. Happy 4th of July- your flowers look to be celebrating.
    Same thing here with bees. No decline. Perhaps we have been sanctuaries?

  4. Can't say I've ever come across Butter weed before. I don't think we have it here. Pretty, though you say its invasive!
    Love the butterflies that you captured on the flowers ..... really lovely.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  5. Coneflowers do look very happy in your garden as does everything else you show today! I see more bumble type bees then honeybees these days in my gardens. I am also seeing less butterflies then in years past, sigh...

  6. I love your native wildflowers! I've been worrying about honeybees too.

  7. Hi Rose: Our gardens are about at the same point -- except my Echinacea and Rudbeckia are just starting to bloom. And I haven't noticed very many native butterflies yet. Lots of cabbage whites, though. Your photos are fantastic! I hope you had a wonderful time with your family and your visitors. Have a great 4th!

  8. Gosh Rose my Susans aren't blooming yet. I am hoping the sun today will encourage a lot of things to bloom. It has been so gloomy here what with all the rain. It does sound like you have been busy. Love all of these blooms. Happy 4th to you too.

  9. Oh summer is so wonderful this year! Your garden is looking so good! I remember you like those coneflowers. Thanks for the link love. I was pretty excited to see those wild natives. Butterflyweed is a good one too! Have a good 4th! Thanks for sweet your comment about me writing too.

  10. What a wonderful post Rose. Wildflowers are so important for the pollinators. The ascelpias has wonderful flowers.
    Have a wonderful day.

  11. Happy Independence day, Rose! Hope you're' enjoying it in your garden.

  12. I so much wish the woodchucks would let me have Echinacea! Yours are beautiful! I love the butterfly weed and the butterflies, too! I've also had dozens of bumblebees on my Salvia; they seem to like the lavender a lot as well! Hope you've been enjoying all of your visitors and activities!

  13. Hi Rose, Poor butterfly with a big chunk of his wing gone! I wonder if it must affect his ability to fly distances. With the July heat and humidity in full force, my garden is on auto pilot as well. My coneflowers and rudbeckia are just behind yours and won't be blooming for a few more weeks. The butterflies will hopefully arrive at that time. Have a great weekend!

  14. Didn't realize milkweed took time to establish, I'd best get on planting some!! I've started a butterfly area and have been intending to plant this but with so many projects it keeps getting pushed aside. Wonderful shots of those butterflies.

  15. Great Wildflower Wednesday post...and I always think of your beautiful coneflowers when I imagine them in a garden~They love the Illinois prairie soil and full sun! xogail

  16. Oh my gosh Rose girl !
    I had to wince when I saw that poor butterfly! .. Here it is astilbe time .. I have loads of them .. but the coneflowers are coming along too .. it seems funny how excited I would get over one or two .. but now have so many I don't know which is which .. the same with the Black Eyed Susans .. how they multiplied is amazing!! .. I had to swap out so many when they put the water feature in .. but they are great fillers for tough bare places aren't they ?
    We aren't getting the rain so many others are .. I could use some, so send it this way please ? LOL
    YES ! I know those little buggers can bite ... I really dislike them and I am not sure about the bubbles working yet .. have to do it a couple of times I think ?
    Your wildflowers are gorgeous !!
    Joy : )

  17. Hi Rose,
    I enjoyed seeing your blooms and pollinators. I have an annual reseeding salvia that the bees love. My coneflowers are full of blooms, too. They sure are cheerful!

  18. Rose, your garden is so thick and lush with blooms! That first photo is what I strive to have in my garden, though I don't think it will happen. My drumstick alliums all disappeared this year. Think I will have to remove at least one Helenium, I see the beginnings of Aster Yellows again. augh!

  19. What beautiful wildflowers in your garden. I am still waiting for mine to arrive.

  20. Your garden is bursting with color and energy. Don't you wish you could harness that energy? Especially when it's time to pull weeds, which seems like every other day right now. We had a lot of rain over the weekend after a long period of dry weather, and I think the weeds are growing by inches every day.

    I guess coneflowers need more cold than we have here. I've not been able to keep them growing from year to year.

  21. Lydia, I like to think I'm creating a bee-friendly environment here.

    Maggie, Actually, the Butterfly weed isn't invasive. Mine has spread just a little bit in 5-6 years. The other natives tend to be much more aggressive.

    Skeeter, I've noticed a few more butterflies since I posted this. Maybe they're just late this year?

    Sarah, I hope the message is reaching more people that we need to be concerned about the honeybees. Without them, our food supply is in trouble!

    Beth, It was a busy week and chaotic with 5 dogs here, but so nice to have Daughter and SIL here!

    Lisa, My Susans seem to be early, though everything else is "on time." The rains this week have passed us by, and now I'm grumbling because I have to go out and water. I'm never satisfied:)

  22. Tina, I've been fascinated with the pale coneflowers ever since I first learned about them. I loved your post about them--how neat to see such a stand of them in the wild!

    Marijke, Thanks to Gail and other like-minded bloggers, I've become increasingly aware of the need to make my garden pollinator-friendly.

    Liz, We had a quiet Fourth, though spent it with friends, which is my idea of a good time. Sophie doesn't like fireworks:)

    Kimberley, Thanks for visiting--I've been unable to see your posts, because I haven't figured out how Google+ works yet. The bees really seem to like purple flowers.

    Jennifer, I always wonder how butterflies survive at all, let alone with such injuries. I'm hoping the heat will bring out more of them, too.

    Marguerite, The butterfly weed does take quite awhile to get going. But once it does, it's usually long-lived. However, I noticed yesterday that my biggest one had died. I did a little research and found that if the roots get too wet--we had flooding this spring--the taproot can rot. I'm so sad about this; I hope my others make up for it.

    Gail, I've noticed many comments from people in other parts of the country who have trouble with coneflowers. I think you're right--they like the prairie soil!

    Joy, I wish I had your luck with astilbes! My lone remaining astilbe is struggling in some dry shade. The rains this week have missed us, and I'm actually wishing for a little bit again.

    Sue, I've never known 'May Night' to re-seed, but this is a clump I got from one of the gardens where I volunteer. Maybe it's another type, because it sure has spread in my garden!

    Janet, Thanks for appreciating that first photo. My whole garden looks like that, thanks to my tendency to fill up every inch of bare soil--I need to do some major dividing!

    Pat, I'm waiting for my newer natives to bloom, too.

    W2W, Amen to the energy! Add to that the heat and humidity here, and my weeding time is very limited. I'm just hoping to get everything weeded before winter sets in:)


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