Saturday, June 26, 2010

What are Weeds Part I

I have trouble finding help to weed this garden because what are weeds in normal gardens might be plants here, and what are plants in normal gardens might be weeds here. So I think it might be easier just to show people some of the "weeds" and hope that some volunteers out there would be willing to learn these and help remove them.

Here's a type of sedum that the Eklunds undoubtedly planted. Not native, so it's got to go. It comes back really quick.

This is Canadian Clearweed and even though it looks like nettles and is in the nettle family, it doesn't sting (thank you thank you thank you). It grows like crazy in the shady terraces off to the right. Hmm. Maybe we should find a place for it to grow and make it part of the garden. It's native after all. Although here's a funny like from Wikipedia: "It is sometimes grown as a ground cover or for attracting deer." Oh, I just found this interesting video on the weed. The more I think of it, the more I think we should incorporate this one into the garden.

Red Clover, found along the walk near the Brown Eyed Susans.

A dense cluster of young Black Swallowwort. This is a vine with leaves that are opposite, shiny, and pointy. Phlox also has opposite leaves, but not pointy.

Here's the Black Swallowwort when it's more developed, including seed pods.

Grass. It comes up all over the Butterfly Bed.

Whatever this thing is called.

This stuff gets everywhere. I tend to call it 'clover' but it's actually Wood Sorrel.

That's right, Forsythia. Not native. There was tons of it growing along the slope, especially up top. We cut it back but of course it keeps coming back.

Summer in the Garden

Beautiful day in the garden! The Butterfly Weed is beautiful and getting lots of visits by bees. Coreopsis is in the background.

The Brown Eyed Susans are coming in all over. We did not plant these, just weeded around them.

Here's a view from up above.

To our horror we found the invasive Black Swallowwort was going to seed. The seed pods are somewhat bean-like. So we stopped what we were doing, and filled two large plastic garbage bags with the stuff, mostly from a new patch discovered outside the deer fence up above the garden. These cannot go on the mulch pile!

Here's one of our native caterpillars enjoying the Sedum. This is a Yellow Bear caterpillar, aka Virginia Tiger Moth, a real generalist species and very widespread. It's important to recognize that our landscaping is not just ornamental, but part of the ecosystem. A certain amount of grazing on our plants should be welcomed.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In Bloom: Coreopsis, Ox Eye, Butterfly Weed, Lupine, Giallardia

Yup, our common Coreopsis can be considered "native." It's natural range is actually a bit to the south (Maryland) but with a warming climate, Connecticut is probably pretty close to its adjusted range.

The Ox Eye (Heliopsis) or False Sunflower is lush and just getting started.

Here's a real favorite: Butterfly Weed. Last year it was pretty spindly, but is looking good this year. This is one that pops up occasionally in hayfields.

The Wild Blue Lupine is at it's peak.

Giallardia (Blanket Flower) is more of a midwestern plant, but looks great. I think this one went to seed last year, as we have a few seedlings.

The Milkweed is also doing better this year.

Weed me! Yes, there's lots to do at the garden. This Maidenhair Fern is competing with a nice crop of weeds.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

American Lady Caterpillars

These American Lady caterpillars were picked off the Pussytoes, which they completely defoliated. This native caterpillar feeds only on a few plants, including the Pussytoes, and one of our goals is to provide food for caterpillars. But this is too much of a good thing!

This is what the Pussytoes looked like before the caterpillars...

And this is what they look like now. If you look close you can see some of the caterpillars.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wild Blue Lupine

Our Wild Blue Lupine is just starting to bloom. This plant is native to Connecticut and is not to be mistaken with the non-native Lupines that Maine is famous for. It's natural habitat is pine barrens, oak savannas, and areas that have been burned over.

The Karner Blue Butterfly is dependent on Wild Blue Lupine for survival. According to the US Fish & Wildlife, the population of Karners has dropped 99 percent, mostly in the last 15 years.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

In Bloom

The summer flowers are just starting to bloom at Eklund, and they are much fuller this year than last year. This is Gallardia, or Blanket Flower, a popular native perennial for the garden or pots.

A real favorite has been the Sundrops, a type of evening primrose that doesn't take over (and the deer don't prefer). That's the one in yellow in the photo above. You can also see the Penstemmon blooming in the back, behind the Wild Blue Lupine, which is just starting to bloom.

Here's a surviving Harebell. We lost most of our Harebell, and this one was nearly unearthed by a chipmunk who decided he needed a new tunnel entrance and nearly buried the poor thing.

These Penstemmon blooms are shaped just perfect for this bee to enter into the tube. One reason we like to avoid cultivars is that the man-made version of the plant might no longer be the perfect fit for whatever insect is relying on it.

Here's a close-up of our Sundrops Oenothera 'Cold Crik', a natural evening primrose hybrid that does not set seed or take over the garden.