Home in the Yard

This is a brief post from my garden, such as it is an overgrown jungle I vowed to control more efficiently after last year’s garden walk, yet continues to get the better of me and now I find myself attempting small interventions at best. It was hot and dry and not conducive to a lot of yard work at the beginning of this month. But the recent weather is rejuvenating. It rained quietly and steadily on Friday, and remained delightfully cool around 70 degrees Fahrenheit all day and into the night. It is still cool. We had rain again last night. Such a blessing. The windows are open.

I stepped outside the front door Friday morning with the phone in hand to quickly take a picture of the raindrops on the Purple Coneflowers and a somewhat distant shot of what is Prairie Blazingstar which I replanted last fall. I am thrilled to see anything standing up to the Common Milkweed and (Whatever) Goldenrod which I have been trying to control to almost no avail. And now that I have seen a few Monarch Butterflies in the front yard I am loathe to remove any more milkweed.

Below are a couple phone views of the front yard.

It’s even crazier in the back. It’s not possible to get a picture of the entire backyard because of all the trees crowding it so I only take photos of what’s in bloom at the moment.

Sunflowers are coming up here and there from fallen birdseed. I don’t mind a few since, when the seeds ripen in the center, the American Goldfinches will be devouring them before the seed casings form.

Below is a new plant for me – Wide-leafed Aster – which came in a gift pack of native plants as a goodbye gift from the firm when I retired. They’re pretty and earlier than all my other asters.

I am happy to see the Culver’s Root again. It lives directly behind the house.

Wild Senna, below, is something that has been battling it out with Tall Ironweed. I experimented on a couple plants and now know that I can cut the Tall Ironweed down before it starts to form flowers and it will still flower but not grow quite so tall. I don’t mind tall, but the Ironweed really tends to flop over even if I stake it so trimming beforehand will be on the agenda next year.

Below is a view last year of the backyard in August – the purple of the Tall Ironweed and the Goldenrod are not yet in bloom, but they will be, and the Big Bluestem is standing tall. I love this color combination which I had nothing to do with other than letting the plants spread themselves over here into what used to be a largely dysfunctional vegetable patch. I think they took advantage of the fact that my Staghorn Sumac was dead and therefore no longer shading the space. It’s a view I have from my kitchen window and I intend to keep it, if I can somehow prevent it from overtaking everything.

One towering species I don’t plan to try to dwarf is the Cupplant which is growing near my ancient Redbud. The tree is having some problems, which I’m certain or related to climate change and not the Cupplant, but I don’t mind this sturdy-stalked tall flower doing its thing.

I planted some Red Milkweed on my side of the neighbor’s fence and there is so much going on over there that needs to be taken care of next spring, I am glad it’s still around.

Pink and Purple Coneflowers are in the front yard, where the bees and butterflies have been enjoying them. But just yesterday on the radio I heard about a scientific study that concludes bees are more likely to catch a gut parasite from Purple Coneflowers, Black-eyed Susans and other short, wide flowers, the idea being that bees might ingest more recently left bee feces on these flowers. This is not a main cause of bee decline but it certainly is disturbing to think about. However if bees have a variety of flowers to feed on it’s not so bad, or so they say. There are many other flowers in bloom and yet to come, for them to feed on. I will try hard to not be overbearing and lecture the bees on proper hygiene when I see them.

In the backyard, I have a lot of Big Bluestem. It’s hard to get a decent picture of the grass itself but the seed heads are attractive. And I have my first organic Serrano Chile from a plant I purchased in last month that had a flower already on it. Serranop Chiles are a staple in my cooking. The other chile plants including this one are starting to flower. I expect a bumper crop this year and I am thrilled because I discovered last year that I can freeze the chiles whole and they are nearly as good as fresh, certainly better than anything I can buy at the grocery store all winter long. I also have a couple Jalapeno Chile plants.

Below is a little flowering plant that one of the gardeners on this year’s garden walk gave to me. I put it by the side of the house where other petunias, like the one at the top of this post, have found a home since I removed all the hostas last year. I left the sedum that was there and planted Prairie Smoke and Rattlesnake Master in the fall, but neither species is ready to bloom yet. The Prairie Smoke looks like it will make it but only one Rattlesnake Master seems to have survived the winter. However native plants can be sneaky so I haven’t totally given up hope yet.

Back to the front yard where the Shrubby St. John’s Wort is in bloom and attracting the bees.

Also in both yards are Common Milkweed plants that attract Milkweed Beetles.

I don’t know who this Beetle is or what plant it’s on but I caught it with my cell phone.

Last year when my garden was featured on the garden walk, when someone asked me the name of this sedge I hadn’t yet figured it out as I was furiously trying to label everything else. It is Gray’s Sedge – and I will never forget it.

Some pollinators in the Pink and Purple Coneflowers.

Three things in bloom now in the front yard: Prairie Cinquefoil, Wild Petunia, Starry Campion.

The Joe Pye Weed is now in bloom and will be a magnet for everything.

Prairie Coreopsis

I keep trying to identify this grass that has somewhat taken over the front yard. This milkweed beetle found it useful to hang onto. I removed some of it last year but it came back with a vengeance. Of course.

Rudbeckia Speciosa

I await more blossoms and may write another yard post eventually. As I finish writing this, the prospect of more rain hangs in the air. We have been in various stages of drought off and on the last few years and the upheaval has wreaked havoc on some of my trees, but right now the rain gives me hope that we will withstand the pressures of the coming days which promise to be hot and dry. So far, a summer of intense contrasts. Returning to bird walks…

4 thoughts on “Home in the Yard

  1. Thanks for the remote garden tour of your yard! You have a lot of nice natives including one of my favorites, Ironweed. That combination of ironweed, goldenrod and big bluestem is really striking.
    I hope the rain you got was enough to give everything a good drink. It’s been really dry here in Maine too.

    • Thanks for your comments, Ann, so good to hear from you! I adore the Ironweed and I can’t believe that I was once worried it might not take (I think it almost disappeared the first time I planted it) but now it wants to take over the whole yard. I guess nothing with ever overtake the Cupplant, lol. The rain was wonderful along with the cooler temperatures, but now we are back into extreme heat and blazing sunshine. I really shouldn’t complain, natives tend to survive.

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