Black-eyed Susans head up this set of six on Saturday entries in part because I especially like them–in fact, rather consider them name sakes. They bloom in mid-June right around my birthday, and I am a Susan. But they also signal a shift in my work routine in the wooded area of the garden. Until the Rudbeckia hirta fade, I allow the wildflowers to grow in a laissez-faire manner. I allow the trillium, phlox, fleabane, ox-eye daisies, lyre leaf sage, and coreopsis, to cycle through to the rosin weeds, mountain mint, and black-eyed Susans. Soon, though, the only wild things allowed standing will be a few stands of mountain mint, which will flower much later in the summer, and woodland sunflowers. Happily, the black-eyed Susans were prolific this year–but the fade is underway and the clean up of overgrown grasses and desiccated wildflower stems begins.
2. As seen above, various small bees enjoy these flowers, too. And that’s fine. But, the insect enjoying the black-eyed Susan below is not fine.
As usual, mosquitoes are legion at the lake this year; nonetheless, I will not use any of the broad range mosquito yard sprays because of the danger to beneficial insects. I keep “mosquito dunks” in the bird baths, empty plant saucers of standing water, wear long sleeves and long pants, and keep OFF! in business.
3. On to one of those beneficial insects, albeit one with an unfortunate name: Florida Predatory Stink Bug (Euthyrhynchus floridanus). A carnivorous shield bug, it reportedly feeds on pest insects. I include it because I saw it for the first time this week and find it rather visually attractive. Certainly its metallic blue and red drew my eye. In doing some research on it, though, I read that it hunts in a pack–so, one sighting of one bug is enough for me.
4. I’ll use a spider as a segue to the next major garden issue–lack of rain. In the series of photos below, we go from a seriously wilted potted American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) to a nicely revived plant. This pot sits on the side of the now very dry creek bed at enough distance from the house to require hand watering. A few gallons of water carted out to it did wonders. Of course there was certainly some cellular damage to the plant in its wilting. Still, a few hours before, that eastern harvestman spider in frame three could not have spread his long legs on the same leaf pictured sagging in frame two.
5. Exacerbating the lack of rain, the recent temperatures have been rather consistently well over 90 degrees F, with a daily heat index rising over 100. As a result, the tiny oakleaf hydrangeas I transplanted this spring (I am fortunate to have these volunteers appear throughout the garden every year), are struggling to take hold. Below is a photo of this year’s transplants followed by one of last year’s. I’ll baby them along the best I can because I enjoy sharing this favored Southern native with friends.
6. Another Southern favorite–well, if not favorite at least familiar–is the orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva,) popularly known as the ditch lily. A non-native, it has fully adapted to the Southeast, is easy to grow, and propagates with horticultural fervor. It wins the final position in today’s six because this particular plant is blooming where it never has before among some ferns and variegated Solomon seal. Moreover, it has been doing so for six days with four buds yet to go. For those readers familiar with this daylily, note that the flower has three sets of petals–something more elaborate than the common roadside ditch variety.
And so ends my six for the week with hopes of rain, cooler temperatures, and lower humidity. Readers can find many varied gardens in varied climates at the homesite of The Propagator who started this lovely Saturday sharing community and provides guidelines for taking part. Check in there. Take part. Enjoy.