Thursday, September 06, 2012

Stating the obvious, I haven't posted for a while.  We've had a little rain, but not enough to truly refresh the plants.  We've had some relief from the hellish temperatures, but not a steady relief yet.  Both rain and some temperature relief are looking likely by this weekend, but I'm not making any serious bets on either, based on the last 2 years' experience.

So, since being outside hasn't been very enjoyable, I've been concentrating on getting a few projects done in the house, none of which have included gardening or blogging.  The dogs, though, have been adamant in their desire for daily walks, so I've managed to photograph a few things that I thought I might share with other gardeners and nature lovers....

The dotted gayfeathers (Liatris punctata) have started blooming in the back prairie....


This year they seem to be spacing out their bloom times more than usual.  I noticed the first blooms on August 25, almost 2 weeks ago, and I would still say that the stands aren't in full bloom yet.  The first spikes, though, are almost done blooming already.

Anyway, because I was looking closely at the gayfeather blooms and trying to decide how best to photograph them, I happened to notice this garden spider in her web.  (If you don't see her,  the Liatris spike is to the left, the spider and web are in the bottom right corner.) I seriously doubt I would have noticed her, if not for the nearby blooms.



As I moved around to try to get the best photo of her, without getting too near (and without my canine destructo team ripping through), I noticed that she seemed to be pointing her abdomen straight at me - minimizing her profile, I would guess.  I'd never noticed the behavior before, but will watch for it now.





Another plant that's blooming prolifically, despite the heat and drought of the summer, is the annual, snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata).  Solitary wasps, especially, seem to love feeding at these blooms...and I was surprised, when I got in close-up, at how pretty the flowers actually are.  I think this might make an interesting garden plant, if horticulturists would select for low-growing cultivars.






I was reminded that birth defects occur in all species when I saw this dragonfly perched out back on a metal post.  Was his malformed abdomen caused by a problem molting?  ...a genetic problem?  Was he malformed as a nymph?  How long did he survive after I took this photo?  Could he, possibly, have mated?  I've not seen him again, so I can't answer any of these questions.






This is the second time that the dogs and I have come across a box turtle chowing down on a dead cicada.  The dogs think that all cicadas were designed as crunchy, noisy dog treats, so the first time we came upon one, they stole it from the turtle before I realized what they were doing.  This time I was able to anticipate their greediness and, after disturbing the turtle long enough to get a photo or two, pull the dogs away and let the turtle finish her meal in peace.






Earlier this summer I was struck by how the abundant honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos) pods looked rather like party decorations, hanging off the trees.  They're still looking like that, although now they're brown spotted green streamers!






And I'll leave you, for now, with this photo of a grasshopper playing peek-a-boo with me.  When I moved, he moved.  The ensuing game reminded me of a small child hiding behind a little tree.  I guess when it's dry out and there aren't many pretty flowers, you have to find something to amuse yourself with!  (I'm speaking of me, here, not the grasshopper!  I'm sure he was trying, desperately, not to become people food.)





10 comments:

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I have some Liatris growing in my wild area too. The one in my garden bloomed early in the season. I love the purple blooms. I think that spider was mooning you, just saying.
:-)
I take my camera with me when I walk the dogs too. You never know what you will encounter. Love the shots of the honey locust pods.

Karin / Southern Meadows said...

I want to comment on everything you wrote about! I laughed at your dogs stealing the cicada from the turtle. Sounds just like something mine would do too! Love gayfeathers but don't have any in my garden. The spider and grasshopper photos are great. I feel terrible for the dragonfly. So many questions...I could just sit outside and observe nature all day long!

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

I need to get some gay feathers for the garden. I really like the purple spikes. That was an impressive spider. We haven't had any "garden spikers" this year. Wolf spiders but no cool webs like that one. I love snow on the mountain. I had a few plants last year but I guess they didn't reseed. I can't believe the dogs stole the turtle's locust. Not fair! :-)
Here's to rain and cooler weather for us all!!!

Jason said...

I like that spider, and the web is pretty impressive, too.

Gaia Gardener: said...

Janet, you're probably right! "I don't get no respect!" (Even from spiders....)

Gaia Gardener: said...

Karin and GonSS, I've tried several other species of Liatris in my gardens to get some variety, without a lot of success. (I think I've got one or 2 plants that have survived, but none have thrived for me.) I haven't actually planted the dotted gayfeather that grows wild around here in my garden yet - do you think maybe I should try that one?! LOL!

Gaia Gardener: said...

Jason, glad you stopped by!

Melanie said...

I LOVE snow on the mountain. .I also think it would be great in the garden!!! I had good luck transplanting some of the liatris from our pasture, into the heat bed near the waterfall. .It grows taller there with the little extra moisture I give it. .mine is just starting to bloom. .though I haven't noticed the ones in the pasture yet. .It is a refreshing pop of purple after the heat of the summer. .and a reminder that cooler days are ahead!!

Gaia Gardener: said...

Melanie, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks snow-on-the-mountain is pretty awesome! And I'm intrigued that you were able to transplant the Liatris; I expected their roots to be so deep that they wouldn't transplant well. What time of year did you transplant them? How deep did you actually go down (i.e. how much root did you get)? I might try that, if I can't find a source for a seedling plant.

Melanie said...

Funny you should ask!! I transplanted 3 clumps 2 years ago as they were blooming! I took a shovel and got as much soil as I could, lifting out the clumps (fairly large clumps, nearly 1 foot in diameter) and took them right up to the house, planting them at the same depth and watering them in. The purple blooms didn't even fade, nor did they get annoyed. Two of the three clumps survived and are blooming nicely as we speak!! I, like you, was worried about the taproot being too long, but they didn't much seem to mind the move AT ALL! It was certainly instant gratification to me, without worrying about seeds or a little bulb to grow for years before I got great plants! If you have access to the plants, I recommend transplanting!! Good luck, and keep me posted!