Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bee Season

Flight of the Bumble
Bumblebee cleared for landing on Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
OMG...the garden is looking amazing right now (not that there aren't problem areas)...and I'm so overwhelmed with the bounty of it all, I can't keep a thought in my head when in comes to blogging! It's a good problem to have, but I find that I can't stay focused long enough to post on ANYTHING. The moment I sit down to start a post, I decide it's also the perfect time to take a photo of XYZ in the garden. Up I hop with the camera...and an hour later I am back inside, post forgotten.

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What looks like chaos to us humans is nirvana to bees
Anyway...amid all my walks around the garden I've been noticing just how many bees there are this year. I thought last year was good for bees...but this year I seem to have formed my own swarm(s)! I have to admit, I didn't plan a garden purposely to attract bees, butterflies, etc...luckily, the plants I love just happen to be the same plants beloved by our little pollinating friends. The new backyard planting, in particular, seems especially suited to them, having a variety of flower types for different kinds of bees.

Bumblebee on Knautia
Bumblebee on Knautia macedonica
Knautias seem very popular with the Bumbles...they are constantly dive-bombing these little buttons.

Bumble on Echinacea
Bumblebee on Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'
While they seem to have to really work to get at the nectar beyond that spiny center, the Bumbles are determined to get to it!

Bumbles love agastache
Bumblebee on Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
Agastaches have proven to be one of the absolute favorite plants among the bees, especially the Bumbles...they are constantly swarming around them.

Bumble on Ava
Bumblebee on Agastache 'Ava'
The western-type Agastaches have longer tubes, which I thought would hinder the larger Bumblebees from frequenting them...oh no, they LOVE them! It's hilarious to watch them clamp onto one of the tubular flowers, they immediately drop down under the Bumble's weight, but they don't let go...they must really love that nectar!

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Bumblebee on Agastache 'Blue Blazes'
Another of the new Agastaches I'm trying this year...and one that the bees are especially manic over.

Bumble on Purple Haze
Bumblebee on Agastache 'Purple Haze'
'Purple Haze' has been blooming for two months already, and shows no sign of stopping. It is constantly covered with bees, grateful for its dependable flowering.

Bumble on Red Dragon
Bumblebee on Persicaria 'Red Dragon'
While the small white blooms of this Persicaria aren't very noticeable to us humans, the bees seem to go crazy for them. Luckily, 'Red Dragon' doesn't seem to seed itself around, so I can let them bloom for the benefit of the bees.

Bumble on Persicaria
Bumblebee on Persicaria 'Taurus'
'Taurus' has also proven popular with bees...and even though it does seed itself around a bit, it's not a nuisance, and I can always find a spot for the seedlings.

Bumblebee on Salvia
Bumblebee on Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain'
Bees seem to love the sultry purple blooms of this Salvia...they careen drunkenly around its branches morning to night.

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Here they are at it again, you can see that some plants are so delectable that nectar-drunk Bumbles will even ignore the customary 1-bee-per-stem rule!

Bumble on Verbena
Bumble on Verbena bonariensis
The tall stems of these Verbena tremble constantly under the barrage of bumbles.

Bumble on Panicum
Bumblebee on Panicum
While doing my research, I found out that the Bumbles that I often see sleeping on plants in the garden are the males and queens who have been driven from the hive. They will spend their time seeking out each other, mating and will eventually hibernate (well, the queens will, anyway).

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Bumble sleeping on Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes'

Bumble on Miscanthus
Bumblebee on Miscanthus

Bumblebee and Lupine
This is my FAVORITE bumblebee...there are only a few of these super-sized beauties in my garden, but I love seeing them. They are bigger than the other Bumbles and have dark orange markings on their backs. I call them Bumblesaurus Rex.

bee on astrantia
Honeybee on Astrantia 'Abbey Road'
The Bumbles and the Honeybees each seem to have their own preference as to which plants they frequent. One of the flowers that are more attractive to honeybees is the Astrantia...which they swarm over...I'm hoping they will help it produce seed.

bee on veronicastrum
Honeybee on Veronicastrum virginicum 'Fascination'
While both Bumbles and Honeybees visit the Veronicastrum, the Honeybees seem to love it far more, they are covered with multiple bees all day long.

bee on ann folkard
Honeybee on Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
Geranium seem to be preferred by Honeybees...I hardly ever see Bumbles on them.

Geranium Rozanne with Bee
Honeybee on Geranium 'Rozanne'
If I had to pick one plant that the Honeybees go absolutely insane for, it's this Geranium. I have a group of several of them, and it positively hums with bees. They perform the most amazing little dance...going in a circle around the blooms, looking for every ounce of nectar.

So there you have it, if you want to encourage bees, plant a wide array of flowers. The garden is starting to ramp up now into its late summer/early autumn crescendo...and no one is happier about it than the neighborhood bees ;-)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - July 15, 2011

GBBD_July 2011 it really did that happen! Although I hate the heat of summer, even I have to admit that's really when my garden hits its stride. Plants are exploding with growth, bare soil is a rarity at last, and every day brings new blooms.

Salvia Purple Rain
Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain'
Love, love, love the sultry purple color of this Salvia...let's hope it doesn't succumb to powdery mildew this year.

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Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain', sunset
Here it is again, at sunset...I just love how the purple is even more intese at this time of day...seeming to smolder from within!

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Monarda 'Raspberry Wine'
Every year I'm a little aghast by the color of the first blooms of this Monarda. Did I really plant something THAT garish!?! Yes, I did...and I kinda love it! The color isn't screams from across the street!

Monarda Jacob Cline
Monarda 'Jacob Cline'
I think this is the only pure red flower I have in the garden, primary red being the one color I'm truly not fond of.

Agastache blue blazes 2
Agastache 'Blue Blazes'
One of two Agastaches I'm trying for the first time this year (both are from High Country Gardens). I've been impressed with their vigor (one plant is almost as tall as me!), and their blooms are stunning, a vivid mix of purple and blue...I can't wait for next year to see this plant bulk up and really perform!

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Agastache 'Ava'
The other Agastache I'm trying for the first time, 'Ava' is even more vigorous than the above 'Blue Blazes', with all 3 plants pushing 5' tall, and very bushy for a first-year Agastache. The blooms are the most luscious shade of bubble-gum pink. It's like 'Tutti Frutti', but without the hopeless flopping.

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Agastache 'Desert Sunrise'
I planted these Agastache last year (also from HCG) and this year they are big and full...I couldn't be happier with how they've matured. They have very similar foliage to Agastache rupestris, very fine (not quite as thread-like) and greyish-green, making them very attractive even when not in bloom. The blooms are just starting...but are a wonderful mix of fuschia and magenta...with just a hint of orange...lovely.

Agastache golden jubilee
Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
One of my favorite plants...beautiful in leaf and flower. I love the flowers the most at this stage, when they haven't been faded by the hot summer sun and are still a grapey blue-purple. These plants are so vigorous and care-free...they just look great all the time!

Agastache rupestris
Agastache 'Acapulco Orange'
I'm not as fond of the orange Agastaches...but I do like the punch of contrasting color they give in my predominantly restful garden...POW!

knautia macedonica
Knautia macedonica
These are the straight species, which are quite a bit taller than the below 'Mars Midget', and in their first year, a bit more sprawly and open. I love how their blooms change color, from cherry red to fuschia, and occasionally, slightly lavender. I love how they are just little buttons of rich, saturated color at the end of these wispy little stems.

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Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midget'
More compact than regular Knautia, 'Mars Midget' is also a blooming machine. The color also seems more uniformly colored...a deep claret. I'm loving the little spot of rich color it provides in the garden...and as a bonus, I love the little spherical seedheads as much (maybe even more) than the blooms themselves. This plant is magical when backlit by the rising and setting sun.

Astrantia abbey road
Astrantia 'Abbey Road'
Ah yes, the Astrantias...they are still blooming...actually, they seem to just be hitting their peak! I was under the impression that they bloomed in June, then sort of rested and bloomed again when the weather cooled down. Maybe it's our cool summer weather this year, but many are still putting up new stems of flowers.

Astrantia maxima
Astrantia maxima
These are mostly going to seed, but are still pumping out new blooming stems each time I those chalky, pink flowers...and that large collar of bracts is sumptous.

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Astrantia 'Star of Beauty'
This is the Astrantia I bought in bloom in a moment of flower lust early this spring. I let it bloom until the blossoms were spent, thinking it doubtful that it would bloom again anyway, so I might as well enjoy them for a while. They lasted over a month, at which time I cut them off. The past few months, the plant has been expanding steadily, and to my surprise, a few weeks ago, started throwing up more bloom stalks!

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Astrantia major 'Roma'
I finally found one of these Astrantias for sale at The Oregon Garden a few weeks ago. A hybrid between A. major and A. maxima, it supposedly has the best traits of both (large, lovely luminescent blooms and a very long bloom period). I love its soft pink coloring, which is a nice contrast to the deeper, almost somber, colors of the other Astrantias nearby.

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Another gratuitous shot of 'Abbey Road'

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Lilium 'Ariadne'
I picked up a trio of bulbs of this lily at the spring HPSO sale. Unfortunately, I had to wait to plant them until we finished our backyard renovation (more on that later) which meant the poor little bulbs sat in my office for over a month. Two of the three did sprout, but are only about a foot tall...they are blooming, however! It was a bit tricky getting a picture through the foliage of the surrounding plants...but here it is! I'm not terribly font of the orangey color when they first emerge, but...

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Lilium 'Ariadne'
...after a few days, they tone down to a luscious silvery pink...which is much more to my liking.

Echinops bannaticus
Ok, so it isn't quite blooming...but it's close!

Epilobium angustifolium
I know I just did a whole post on these, but I couldn't resist putting up another photo of these gorgeous blooms!

Verbena rigida with Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
I've come to rely on Verbena rigida during summer. They come up, spread around and bloom their heads off...with no intervention at all from me (save for dead-heading if I really feel like it).

Verbena rigida
While the ones I've had for a few years are a rich purple, the new ones I bought this year (for filling in a few random areas) are a very light lavender...almost white...strange.

Geranium 'Blue Sunrise'
This little Geranium was purchased as a bare root plant at the Yard Garden & Patio Show this spring. It has been growing slowly and is now blooming. The blooms are much like those of Rozanne.

Geranium 'Rozanne'
Of course, I couldn't do a Bloom Day post without the star performer. 'Rozanne' will add her gracious sprays of blue-purple blooms until frost cuts her down...a reliable beauty if ever there was one...and as I'm discovering...she gets BIG!

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Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
What can I say, I love this rowdy, sprawly gal. Every day, when I come home from work and walk up our front steps, seeing this mound of flowers, growing every which way, makes me smile!

Persicaria taurus
Persicaria 'Taurus'
These were just starting to bloom at the time of last months GBBD post, and is now going full-force into summer. Love those rich, rosy wands of color.

Impatiens balfourii
The little seedlings I was given by a friend this spring are happy as can be, and are now rewarding me with their charming little bicolored flowers...yay!

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Veronicastrum virginicum 'Fascination'
If I ever had to name a flower that defined elegance, it would be this...Veronicastrum. Tall, wispy and delicate...but with a strong those candelabras of stately.

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Helenium 'Mardi Gras'
I know summers warmer palette is approaching when the Heleniums start blooming. While decidedly nondescript when not in bloom, Helenium makes up for it by blooming from now until first frost with countless warmly-colored daisies. Soon it will be joined by the Rudbeckia and Echinacea...but for now, it has the stage to itself.

north border above
I guess I'll wrap this up with a view I don't normally show...from above the side border of the house, on the grassy strip I left behind it to walk around...this is the view we have our kitchen window...and it always makes me happy...well, unless a cat is sleeping on one of my plants ;-)

Echinacea bud
Echinacea purpurea bud
Just wait 'til next month...there's still so much just waiting to bloom!