Yesterday was my first day “off” in a long time. “Off” means I have adequate time for household chores, maybe even the freedom to choose which ones I want to accomplish. But it was also a nice day to be outside, so there was the frustrating choice between sleeping in and staying at home or getting up early and going birding somewhere. I chose the first option, woke up late enough, fed the birds and then spent two hours digging up buckhorn plantain from what used to be grass on the parkway. Because it has gone to flower and seed dispersal, cutting it with a push mower is not an option. However, I didn’t last long enough to remove it all. A project for a cool night later this week, maybe, with the days so long now I have two hours or more of light after I get home from work. I don’t have any grass seed to replace it with, so likely I am just helping it spread thicker, but you never know.
Before I engaged in the Battle of Buckhorn Plantain, I went around the backyard looking for bugs and anything else that caught my eye. I was happy to find this Milkweed Beetle living up to its name by hanging out on the swamp milkweed, thus making its identification easy. It’s a longhorn beetle, with its antennae emerging from its eyes.
There weren’t many other photographable insects, unfortunately. The wasp below was in the front garden.
The weirdest things in my backyard are the plants. Below is a flowering parsnip. I don’t know why I’ve let it go to flower, maybe half out of curiosity and half out of wondering if I will ever want more parsnips. The plants shot up from out of nowhere this spring – I had one last year and did not know what it was, so when it seemed to have multiplied without flowering, I dug it up a couple months ago and that’s when I recognized it was a parsnip, from seeds I planted so long ago I had totally forgotten about it. This could become like the cilantro that keeps reseeding itself in the same small section dedicated to edibles. I think it’s time to dig up a parsnip or two and see if the roots are decent-sized. So much better if I can eat them.
Another live-and-let-live plant is below. This year I am not in the mood to fight it. I’ve tried removal before, but now I’m just letting it do its thing, as long as it stays confined to the same spot and doesn’t spread too aggressively. It grows under the partial shade of my Scotch Pine. Apparently Common Yarrow has medicinal properties. This may have to be the answer to everything if there is no more Medicare.
Below on the left is Rudbeckia which is about to start blooming. I love this flower, commonly known as a Black-Eyed Susan. The purple flowers on the right look like some kind of Verbena. I scattered seeds in a spot a few years ago and they manage to quietly come back. It never fails, I always think I will remember what I planted and I almost never do…
The real surprise yesterday was the appearance of two poppies (?) peeking out from a field of Purple Coneflower plants that are just beginning to form seed heads and blossoms. I haven’t had a poppy, California or otherwise, in years. I have no idea what the little one on the right is or where it came from. This is the fun of having a haphazard garden. I hope it isn’t something rare. Please weigh in if you recognize it.
Enough of my confusion with flora in my yard. I managed to visit a few Crows on Thursday afternoon. They were happy to see me. I am hoping for some fledglings in the next few weeks.
And below, a species of Viburnum that has been growing and producing berries for years – I rarely get to see this many berries before they all disappear, so this is for the record.
I’ll take you back to Michigan, Panama and the Galapagos in the not-too-distant-I-hope future until or unless I am otherwise distracted. I can hope for more insects, for instance, and it seems to me I have been seeing not just fewer bees but other insects as well. I saw a large dark-colored dragonfly this morning at One South Wacker. I didn’t have my camera out but I don’t think I could get a picture of a moving dragonfly anyway, and I am not very good at identification. I was the only person to stop walking and stand and watch the dragonfly. As delighted as I was to see it, I was also sorry it had to navigate the concrete and steel canyons.
Never imagined I’d be complaining about a lack of insects, but without insects a lot of birds and other creatures will be in very bad shape. I haven’t seen a firefly yet this year. But I can still hope. We are all in this together.
I like your haphazard garden. If asked I might have said that the red ‘poppy’ was a tulip but I know nothing.
Actually you got me to look it up and it’s a so-called “Common” Poppy. I forgot California Poppies are more orange. Anyway, the hairy stem is the only clue in this picture but the leaf is poppyish. The miracle to me is that these frail-appearing things come up in the midst of what is really an echinacea forest.
I am sorry to give you extra work.
No thank you I spent all morning looking up everything else!
I just hope that you don’t turn to the insect’s side Lisa! I’m afraid that Tom is sweet talking to you! 🙂
Well that’s why I had to throw in a couple crows for good measure. I will be back to birds very soon. But dragonflies and butterflies in particular are hard to ignore in the warmer months.
You forgot the mosquitos!!
Hmm. I wonder what kind of Viburnum that was. Some Viburnum berries are edible for people, not that I’m suggesting you fight the birds for them. As for the Parsnip, I’m sure it must be a host for Black Swallowtails.
When I bought the bushes years ago, I thought they were called some kind of Indian Berry bushes but that didn’t help me nail it down at all. That’s nice to know about the Parsnip although it’s not wild parsnip so the butterflies might be choosy. I’ll keep an eye on it, though I’m tempted to dig one up just to see how big the roots are getting.
Butterflies do like domesticated plants like parsley, carrots, and fennel.
I used to get swallowtails on my dill… I’m glad to hear that because although I was seeing butterflies a couple weeks ago the entire weekend I have seen none anywhere – maybe it was the wind or the cool weather and not the effects of pesticides, but I was bummed out.
I saw some a few weeks ago but none lately.