Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Favorite Images from 2013

Les at A Tidewater Garden blog publishes his Top Ten Images of the year this time every year. It gives many of us in the garden blogging realm reason to follow his lead. Go to his blog and leave a comment as well as a link to your own favorite images of the year.
This image of a Cedar Waxwing was taken through a dirty sunroom window in April. A large group of these feeding on Hackberry berries and drinking from the stock tank frequented my viewfinder. The background hue greatly contributed to the harmony of the above photo. The bird looks so majestic in this pose. In other poses they remind me of ornery bandits.

In June, behold my water lily 'Alaska' revealed its first bloom in the stock tank. I painted the bottom of the tank  black to increase the reflection value.

Also in June a visit from my granddaughter and a photo from the front hell strip.

Another June image takes me to a small town Aline, Oklahoma to visit my in-laws during wheat harvest. This old feed store is a very similar site we see in many small rural communities, rural decay. This was taken from my iPhone.

It was a very hot that day, and granddaughter, Mollie the border collie, and I head back to the homestead.

Speaking of the dog days of summer, August with my wife Cindy, adopted grandson Sydney in the shade garden.

August Buckeye butterfly on Liatris ligustylus.

And to close: from September's Monarch migration.

Enjoy and share, Happy New Year to you!
Greggo, and yes this is Kansas, Toto.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Heath Aster-Symphyotrichum ericoides

I haven't posted in nearly two months, and I sleep a lot more than I used too. Ha. I'm afraid my strength is waning as I approach the big six-o. Funny, my mind seems ok. Or at least I think so. It seems with the advent of social media my blog posts have decreased and my social media post have decidedly increased proportionally. I suppose I may be succumbing to the instant gratification. Na! Just lazy.
    Photo above taken October 14
Heath Aster-Symphyotrichum ericoides
This aster is one of our local and state natives. It seems it is quite prevalent throughout the nation . It was not my intention to plant it originally, as this particular aster arrived with a Big Bluestem transplant from a industrial vacant lot. You can vaguely see the seed head of the bluestem above inside the aster. Upon observing the initial growth in the spring I was hesitant to adopt the newly risen treasure. The foliage greatly resembled kochia which I dreaded to pull as a kid in our alley way in Wyoming. I used to call it a tumbleweed, as it had a long taproot which broke off and would blow around and it was impossible to pull out when the ground was dry in summer. But alas I was anxious to observe what growth pattern would evolve.

This photo bove shows two more Heath Aster tag-a-along plants, one came in with Indiangrass and the other with poppy mallow.
The video from myiPhone above was taken in late October, the Heath Aster with all the daisy type blooms was loaded with hundreds of pollinators. My associate gardener enjoyed following the butterflies around him. This aster plant had been trimmed like a hedge twice during the summer, and as you compare this plant to those you see in natural environments it is considerably larger.

Symphyotrichum ericoides   (L. ) G.L. Nesom
[=Aster ericoides L.]
Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Height: 1-3 feet
Family: Asteraceae - Sunflower Family
Flowering Period:   September,October
Also Called: White aster, many-flowered aster.
Stems: Ascending or erect to almost prostrate, few to many, often clustered, slender, stiff, much-branched, rough hairy above.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, sessile or slightly clasping, linear to linear-lanceolate, 1/2 to 2 inches long, less than 1/4 inch wide, rigid, rough; margins entire; tips pointed; branch leaves much smaller and crowded; most basal and lower stem leaves absent at flowering.
Inflorescences: Panicles of numerous, densely crowded heads, primarily on 1 side of arching branches.
Flowers: Heads cylindric to bell-shaped, less than 1/2 inch across; bracts strongly overlapping, tipped with bristles; ray florets 10-18, white or rarely pinkish; disk florets 5-14, corollas yellowish to reddish purple.
Fruits: Achenes, small, appressed-hairy, purplish brown, tipped with white, hair-like bristles, enclosing small, silky seed.
Habitat: Dry open prairies, disturbed sites, pastures, and roadsides.
Distribution: Throughout Kansas.
Toxicity: Known to accumulate selenium, but livestock rarely consume it.
Comments: This is the most common Kansas aster. It grows in colonies and is drought hardy, with roots that descend 3 to 8 feet. Heath aster is one of the last plants to remain in flower in the autumn. Heath aster lowers the quality of prairie hay.*

 Obviously this plant has a place in any Native Garden. Check it out!

*All plant information above taken from from the KState Library.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Monarch Happiness

This Monarch has been around for a couple of weeks. I'm sure it was born(?) in the garden. So pure and unblemished.
Two to three days later my son was visiting and noticed a "worm" moving along our back retaining wall. I looked closer and saw that it was a Monarch caterpillar. Say what? Well of course all my milkweeds were planted in the front and side gardens. This is the first time I've seen larva feeding on Honeydew milkvine. Finally there is a reason for Honeydew Milkvine, one of the worse noxius weeds in the garden. Amazing. Soon I moved them to the Swamp Milkweed. A few days after that I found a chrysalis on a plant tray, not far from the same spot.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Broad Bloom Day View

It's the 15th day of the month and that means it's time to share blooms from the garden. I've decided to share a larger view of the garden this month.
This image was taken from the front entry sidewalk into the morning sun. This is a raised circular stone herb garden hidden by Ocimum × citriodorum-Lemon Basil, Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'karl foerster'- Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass, Cedrus atlantica-Blue Atlas Cedar, Echinacea purpurea seedheads in the foreground, Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome' - Purple Dome Aster and Rosa -Flower Carpet Red Rose to the far right.
 A view of the same bed from the south looking north.
Prairie garden in front of my residence. A Silver Maple once stood where the tall grass is now, Panicum virgatum -Dallas Blues switchgrass and Panicum amarum- Dewey Blue switchgrass. The tall vegetation about to bloom is Helianthus maximiliani-Maximillian Sunflower which stands at about 8 foot. The bed is elevated as I added soil around the maple tree stump.
Near the stop sign Panicum virgatum -Dallas Blues switchgrass as background,
Helianthus maximiliani-Maximillian Sunflower in middleground, and Euphorbia marginata- Snow on the Mountain in the foreground.
Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Nasella 'Walkers Low', and Euphorbia marginata.
 Dallas Blues seedheads along with a seedhead from Indian Grass-Sorghastrum nitans and Agastache 'Blue Fortune'.
Join Carol at May Dream Gardens for more blooms from around the world.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dark Bottom Star

How does that grab you? Nymphaea 'Alaska' hardy waterlily.
When I was attending Oklahoma State University our faculty would often bring in guest speakers on a wide variety of subjects. One speaker was a well known Oklahoma City Landscape Architect: Tommy Roberts. If my memory serves me correctly (this was in 1978), Mr. Roberts had a few trademarks he generally used in all his designs. The one trademark I remember the most was that all his pools were designed with dark bottoms. This created much visual depth and surface reflection. Night lighting was exceptional. The image above was taken over my stock tank pool which I painted black before installation.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Liatris ligulistylis

Rocky Mountain Blazing Star or Meadow Blazing Star-Liatris ligulistylis is starring in the garden this month. As those of you whom grow this unique plant in the native garden ,it is an exceptional attractant to butterflies. This particular plant is dear to me as I raised it from seed purchased from Prairie Moon Nursery. It resembles many of the local prairie Liatris blooming at peak throughout Kansas. Native Kansas Liatris include L.aspera, L.punctata,L. pycnostachya Michx., and Liatris squarrosa,.
  This particular day the Monarch and the Buckeye butterflies were jousting for the best perching spot and its sweet nectar.
Even honey bees like getting into the act.
I've noticed Liatris in many different planting combinations recently which provide a nice contrast to plants such as Nasella tenuissima(Mexican Feather Grass). Get some!
For those wanting to see other native plants in focus go to the Wildflower Wednesday meme hosted by Gail.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Little Blue and Turkeyfoot

Name for a dynamic duo? Super hero's? Cartoon characters, or Indian tribe names? Nope. Super prairie grasses. Schizachyrium scoparium-Little Bluestem and Andropogon geradii-Big Bluestem or Turkeyfoot.
Schizachyrium scoparium 'the Blues' - Little Bluestem
Last year the Kansas legislature named Little Blue the state grass. During this time the Native Plant Society of Kansas, which was instrumental in achieving this goal, provided funds for educational material to be used for speakers and also for schools. The school materials are being used to inform children of the importance of these prairie grassed in the ecosystem and history of Kansas. 
Andropogon geradii Vitam - Big Bluestem, Turkeyfoot
Turkey foot got its nickname from the native Americans. Most people know it as Big Bluestem. This particular plant is well over 7' tall and was rescued from a vacant industrial lot. It is located on my corner hell strip. Right plant in wrong plant, so after this image was taken I cut it down to three foot along with everything else in the bed. There will be movement this winter. This grass populates a large part of the Kansas Flint Hills and is outstanding forage for grazing cattle as well as seed for wildlife.
 The shape of the seedheads resembles a turkey foot.
As you can see the seed heads even dwarfed the Calamagrostis seedheads.
Or they did in this photo.
 Little Blue and Purple Leaf Coneflower

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rankled by Rumex

This is my Foliage Followup post which follows Garden Bloggers Bloom Day every month. Pam @ Digging hosts this flying foliage extravaganza.

One of my design goals this season was to improve winter interest in the garden. I read somewhere that designing for winter interest is the most important garden design criteria. Another goal is to create a native plant enriched prairie garden near the street frontage, alias: hellstrip. I keep a keen eye out for winter interest in the surrounding prairies and determined that Rumex crispus-curly dock's rusty seed heads would be a bold addition to the winter garden. I found some growing in my favorite vacant industrial lot and transplanted four groupings.

They survived the winter and begain to grow in the spring. Looks like a weed doesn't it? Plantain even. This was taken April 12.
Broader view. Thats the Rumex on the right side of the Yucca.
On May 23 my wife was telling me some weed in the garden is giving her allergies a fit while she spied this ugly(her term) weed.
 June 12 the plant is getting huge. See it on the right?
 Now things were getting controversial. My neighbors were giving me concerning looks while passing by. The curly dock and the mullien were causing quite a stir.
Add to this grouping a few Vernonia gigantea-Tall Ironweed and we got a prairie weed rodeo going on! At this point, with the Rumex beginning to flop over I decided to do a Tracy DiSabato Aust. That is experiment whacking one in half to experiment to control height. So far so good. At this time a rancher who lives in the hood, replied that one (pointing to the dock) is not a "good one". Whoops. Two days later with Panicum, Achillea, Echinacea, and Veronia. It's beginning to grow on me.
June 19.
June 22nd powdery mildew is taking away the leaves.
June 29 the spendor.
In closure, July 13th.
What's your opinion weed or worthy?


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bloom Day Post - July 2013

 Echinacea pururea - Purple Coneflower
I'm sure there will be plenty of these posted on this months bloom day post. I purposely allowed these seedlings to multiple to create this large grouping. Some designers would call this a "block" planting, which I suppose it is. This too shall change.

The pollinators do love it.
Let's not forget my newest favorite, Dalea purpurea-Purple Prairie Clover.
Visiting grandaughter, loving the blooms.
And my pal, Sid. Loves the feel of the Yarrow.
Happy July Blooms everyone. You can join everyone at the monthly bloom meme, May Dream Gardens. Thanks Carol.