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.