Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Baptisia and the Skipper

Silver Spotted Skipper nectaring on Baptisia sphaerocarpa.

Rita Veneble calls this skipper a Music City butterfly because it has guitars on the wings! I have to agree with her description~Just check out those bright white patches on the hindwings!
Legumes are its host plant, in fact you might find cats on any number of members of the Fabaceae family.  Females lay pumpkin shaped green eggs near host plant leaf tops and the hatched cats have to find their way to the host plant! Young caterpillars live inside of folded leaves, as they age they make a nest of silked together leaves. Chrysalids hibernate and emerge in the spring.
Adults perch upside down on the underside of leaves at night and on hot days
Silver Spotted Skippers aren't the only butterflies in my garden~But, they and other skippers might just be my favorites. Who could be immune to the charms of these big eyed critters that visit our gardens all summer and into the fall. Certainly not me! Skipper is the perfect name for these fast, agile, erratic fliers that seem to skip from flower to flower.

They look more like moths than butterflies, but, they are indeed butterflies. Skippers are small to medium, usually orange, brown, black, white, or gray. Some are brighter or iridescent colored. They all have those large eyes (even their caterpillar has a large head), short antennae (often with hooked clubs), stout bodies, and three pairs of walking legs. Adults of most species have a long proboscis and feed on floral nectar.

Skippers are members of the Superfamily Hesperioidea. We have about 275 in North America, where I live in Middle Tennessee, we have approximately 50 different skippers. I am thrilled to be able to identify three of them!

I'm not too concerned about not being able to identify them. I do know, that I want them in my garden. They are important plant pollinators (although, pollination is incidental); they are part of the garden food chain, as consumers and food; and, because of their sensitivity to environmental toxins they are an important indicator species of ecosystem health. If you have an abundance of skippers and butterflies~you probably have a healthy garden habitat.

Now, I am going to the garden to inspect the legumes for folded leaves and check for cats!

xoxogail

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Garden Bloggers, please join us at the Minneapolis Garden Bloggers' Fling

I probably don't have to tell you that Garden Bloggers' Fling is an annual event for garden bloggers that is held in different cities around the US or that we've been garden-touring and socializing every year since 2008 when 30+ garden bloggers got together in Austin, TX!

Austin 2008~So many dear people in this photo!
Since that first Garden Blogger Fling get together, we've been to Chicago, Buffalo, Seattle, Asheville, San Francisco, Portland, Toronto and this July 15, 16, 17, 2016, we'll be in Minneapolis, MN. I hope you can join us. 
A  garden we passed while exploring Minneapolis!
If you've never attended there's SO much to look forward to~Meeting gardeners from all over the US, Canada and Europe; eating good local foods, visiting the host city and of course there are the gardens!

They're always spectacular, often unique and incredibly inspiring. Each and every one of them has a certain je ne sais quoi!
Top l to r: Toronto Botanical Garden, Westwind Farm Studio, Portland, Seattle, Bottom l to r: Asheville, Buffalo, Chicago,

 I think you are going to be delighted with Minneapolis.
Skyscrapers and Mill City Museum

I fell for it in a big way when we were there in September a few years ago. We discovered a city with cool museums, wonderful restaurants, great sightseeing, delightful city walks, a wonderful native plant sanctuary and a fantastic bog.

Yes, I said native plant sanctuary and a bog! How lucky could a native plant gardener get! The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is a 15-acre native plant reserve. It is the oldest public wildflower garden in the United States. It was delightfully dressed in fall wildflowers and grasses.

Not too far from the sanctuary is Theodore Wirth Park where you'll find The Quaking Bog. The floating paths are the perfect place to observe Dragonflies/Damselflies, frogs and songbirds.
The floating path in the Quaking Bog (Theodore Wirth Park)
 Amy Andrychowicz of Get Busy Gardening and committee members Kathleen Hennessy of :29 Minute Gardener and Mary Schier of My Northern Garden are hard at work putting together a Fling we'll all enjoy!

Newbies, here's what you can look forward to~A happy hour meet and greet on Thursday evening, then  three days of private and public gardens, nursery visits, good food and great conversations! You'll leave Minneapolis happy, full of ideas and inspiration and with more than a few new friends.

You don't have to take just my word for it, to view the itinerary, click here and/or to register, click here.  


The above photo is borrowed from the official Fling site~The caption on the photo reads:
"Lots of surprises at Woutrina De Raad's Garden"


I sure hope I'll see you there.

xoxogail

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday: False Solomon's Seal

Maianthemum racemosum (Smilacina racemosa) is the star of April's Wildflower Wednesday.

False Solomon's Seal is a colonizer that spreads very slowly, so gardeners, we don't have to worry that it will crowd out our beloved Spring ephemerals like other colonizing natives have been known to do. I find it makes a charming ground cover beneath understory trees in a woodland garden. In my garden it mingles with Golden ragwort, Christmas ferns and Purple phacelia. It likes rich, loamy woodland soil, but, is tolerant of both moist and dry conditions.
I am very fond of it and appreciate that it is attractive in the garden from early spring to winter frost.
crooked arching stems and large leaves of early spring are attention grabbers
The crooked arching stems and large leaves of early spring are attention grabbers, but soon the white flowers take center stage.
 Each plant produces a plume of slightly fragrant snow-white flowers with creamy or pale yellow stamen tips in April in my Middle Tennessee garden (Zone 6b/7a)

The plume might have up to 80 star shaped flowers that are pollinated by small bees, flies, and beetles. The bees collect nectar and pollen from the flowers, while flies and beetles feed on the pollen. Crab spiders and ambush bugs hang out on the flowering plumes, just waiting for a small bee or beetle to stop by.
crab spider hiding on flowering plume

It's not always easy to watch the little pollinators get grabbed by a predator, but, that happens in a wildlife friendly garden. Those predators are soon preyed upon by larger spiders and birds and those birds could be  dinner for a hawk...But, I digress! Which is very easy to do when you begin talking about gardening for wildlife.
Berries are starting to form
All those busy little bees, flies and beetles pollinate the flowers and soon greenish berries follow. They'll continue to swell and darken over the summer. 
Fruit is a cluster of waxy berries, each 1/8 inch across, that turn bright red when ripe
 By August they are a delightful mottled red. The color show doesn't stop there, the berries turn a dark cherry red when ripe and look stellar against the fading and browning foliage.
Photo by Vick, Albert F. W. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

The ripe berries are eaten by woodland birds and mice. It's thought that a trip through the digestive tract of a critter helps the seeds germinate, it is also a good way for seeds to be dispersed around the garden. Deer don't seem to browse them, but, they are hidden beneath the understory trees. In this case, Rusty Blackhaw and a fall blooming witch hazel.

False Solomon's Seal has been used medicinally to treat coughs, but, I don't harvest them. The flowers and color show feed my soul and the berries feed the resident critters.



The Particulars
Maianthemum racemosum  (Smilacina racemosa)
Commonly known as False Solomon's Seal
Family:  Asparagaceae no longer a Lily family member
USDA Zones: 3-8
Native range: Entire North American continent
Plant Spacing: 18-24"
 Exposure: Full Sun/Part Shade/ Shade
Soil Moisture:  Wet-Mesic/ Mesic (Medium)/Dry-Mesic  Dry
Height: 2 feet
Bloom Color: White  with golden yellow stamens
Bloom Time: April/May/June
Plant Type: Wildflowers (Forbs)
Beneficial: A pollen and nectar food for bees, beetles, flies. A seed food for rodents and songbirds
Availability: Is available online~ seeds, plants and roots. Locally: GroWild
Comments: Love it used as a ground cover in wildflower/naturalistic gardens, plant with Solomon's Seal, Christmas ferns, wild ginger and Golden ragwort. Best in naturalized plantings, wild gardens, native plant gardens, or woodland gardens. But seriously, use it however you want, after all, it's your garden.

xoxogail

Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday. This day is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share the same plants, how they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails