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

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Wheelbarrow Full of Garden Fun


What this garden needed was more blooming plants.


The intense heat of the last month has burned out the bloom of many of the plants that I count on to keep my garden looking good all summer and to provide nectar and pollen for my resident bees and butterflies.

The phloxes are looking ragged, the agastache and gaura have been deadheaded and the Susans haven't come into bloom quite yet. It's also brought some of the  usually late blooming wildflowers like Joe-Pye weed, ex-asters and Ironweed into early bloom and they may not be with us for long if this drought continues.

So, I've bought dozens of echinaceas.

You heard me right!  In the middle of a drought, with temperatures over 100F, I've bought dozens of plants.

No, I'm not worried that they will die. I've planted them in my largest containers, in fantastic soil and they are already settling in.

In fact, the pollinators were plenty ready for new food sources; the plants weren't even out of the back of my Subaru before the skippers and a pretty Vanessa virginiensis showed up to nectar.

Soon after the Bumbles and and the small sweat bees arrived.


I couldn't be happier that it's working out so well, even if I've had to plant some of them in my wheelbarrow!


xoxogail

PS  The plants are a mixture of Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' and  E purpurea  'Ruby Star' (Rubinstern) and will all be planted in the garden once the rains return this fall! 

 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.

39 comments:

  1. Only things I am watering are blooming in my garden too. We aren't even seeing many bumbles or butterflies. There was a person on tv talking about how our early spring did something to the butterflies. Sigh... I can't wait until our weathers get back to a more normal pattern.

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    1. I hope it returns to normal soon...It's just horrid out there. I sure miss all the butterflies, we've had some but, not a lot of them.

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    2. Yea, but my gosh this is like three years now. How much longer are we going to have to wait before the good seasons roll around again? Beautiful shots, Gail…

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  2. Good for you and your garden, Gail, not to mention the pollinators. You are so good to them. I think I'll assess my garden for bloom, or lack there of, and see what I can put out in containers.

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    Replies
    1. We have to do something for our critters and I believe containers are a good way to go.

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  3. That is the perfect plant to keep the pollinators happy, Gail. At my house, it's where the action is, too!
    xoxoxo
    Frances

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  4. Echinacea! Yes, that is one plant that has bloomed very nicely in my garden. Drought here also. (Cookeville, TN) The Susans in my field are blooming now too. But you can always use more coneflower.
    Have you ever grown the native Tennessee coneflower? I've always wanted to. I've heard it's hard to start from seed....still wouldn't mind trying.

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    1. Beth, I have Echinacea tennesseensis in the garden, but, have never planted it from seed. It needs full, full, full sun and sharp drainage. gail

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  5. Perfect choice indeed! I have 4 planted wheelbarrows around here...they are great for sedums..

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  6. You are an especially kindhearted gardener...your bees and butterflies are so fortunate!

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  7. I can only water the vegetable garden (usually)and my summer bloomers will just begin soon. This year for the first time I have agastache - and it will bloom - soon. Echinacea, too.

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  8. Great minds think alike in the same stupid weather -- today I posted a photo of a bee visiting an Echinacea. What I've noticed is that those in afternoon shade seem to be doing better than those in afternoon sun, at least on days when it's 102F.

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    Replies
    1. Mine are in afternoon shade and they are doing fantastically...and yes, we do have great minds;)

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  9. We may have rain next week! Let's hope so. 50% is the best chance I've seen in a long time. Coneflowers do great in the drought but ours are still suffering. I just can't get out and around to water everything.

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    1. I saw that and it dropped from 70%! I have spent a large part of my garden budget on extra watering...Yikes! The water hogs are outta here if this is our new weather!

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    2. Heidi/IN WoodlandGardenerJuly 7, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      I've been composting the plants that can't take our climate so they can help feed the plants that can! LOL

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  10. Love coneflowers, the more-- the better! The voles like mine too, :-( but think I will plant more.

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  11. Gail ~ you are the most nurturing gardener. Your pollinator inhabitants know a good place when they see one. Great idea buying the echinaceas for them ~ there is no such thing as too many of them! Hoping you get some relief from the heat & drought soon. Who knew summer would become a time to dread?? If this year is any indication of what's in store for us ~ it's pretty scary. Hang in there & kudos to you for helping our winged friends out.

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  12. That sounds like such a good plant Gail. I may go buy some echinaceas today too. I have a lot in the garden, but I could plant some in the wheelbarrow too. I can see the ex-asters getting ready to do their thing too. Always lots to do in the garden isn't there?~~Dee

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  13. Heidi/IN WoodlandGardenerJuly 7, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    My purple coneflowers are LOVING this hot, humid, dry weather, too!! Since we seem to be in a hot, dry weather cycle like during the Dirty Thirties, I have started 50 more purple coneflowers from seed so next summer is their 2nd summer and I'll have tons more blooms for the wildlife and me to enjoy!

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  14. My echinacea have seeded themselves in so many places that they are a joy to both me and the pollinators...even the hummers have been partaking and the finches have been at the seed heads while the flowers are steadfastly on the stem...everyone is happy to see these drought tolerant natives especially me.

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  15. Excellent idea Gail, I may do the same! I never have enough echinacea, and even though I plant new ones regularly, there never seems to be enough of them. Hmmm, maybe container coneflowers?

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  16. Very nice! Now is probably the time to find some pretty good deals at the garden stores as well, if one can keep the plants alive through the heat!

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  17. Superbes fleurs et photos. Bonne journée.

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  18. Gail, you are a woman after my own heart--there is nothing like echinaceas to bring in all the bees and butterflies! I have been wondering, too, what is going to happen this fall--my Susans are already blooming, and I have asters ready to bloom, even though I cut them all back earlier. I may have to go plant shopping in August or September just to have something blooming and to keep the bees happy.

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  19. HI, Gail, You are a sweetheart to think of the bees and butterflies. I do same. I'm relying on lavenders and buddleia, mostly. The roses have come and gone and only a few are offering a second round of color. It's going up to 105 this week so even the butterfly bushes will take a big hit soon. :( We don't get rain the summer. It's a constant daily task to water everything down. But there's not much to do about blooms subjected to intense sun--except to invest in more and hope for the best! Love your pics!

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  20. Hi Gail, I adore your coneflowers! I also have many. I just love using them in repeating patterns throughout the gardens.

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  21. You remind me that I want to replant the wheelbarrow 'boat' that's sailing down a dry stream bed out front. Nursery run!

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  22. Gail, what happy pictures! The pollinators just love them don't they. And your weather - why it's almost the same as ours - brutal, I don't know how you do it. Question for you. Do you have problems with sunflower moth larva? Started a couple of years ago here and really deforms the cones - more the yellows and whites rather than the pinks, although some of those have problems too. Some nurseries up here are even thinking of not selling them any more....sigh.

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    1. It's been brutal and I wonder if this is what we can expect from now on...Barbara, I've never been able to get sunflowers to grow. I haven't the sun or deep enough soil. I have had to rip out coneflowers that show evidence of aster yellows disease. That disfigures the flower nd spreads by leafhopper to other coneflowers and some other asteracea family members.

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  23. Do coneflowers do OK with ~6 hours of sun? Mine had been struggling in 100+ days with full afternoon sun exposure. I'd like to add some to the front of the house (eastern side, afternoon shade) provided they'll bloom OK there...

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    1. Nothing gets full sun in my garden! Coneflowers do okay in semi-shade. I bought E 'Prairie Splendor' which is reported to do well in those conditions. Also, many of the newer cultivars need to be have all blooms cut off when planted so their growth can be concentrated in roots. I know that's so irritating but, they have lost some of their vigor in breeding for color, bloom size and double petals and need this extra help. gail

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  24. I about fell out of my chair when reading that you bought plants in this heat! Ha, but today our heat is no so bad. As a matter of fact, neither is the humidity. And we had more rain in GA as well. I know the bargains are at the garden centers right now but I am so staying away. I like your idea of the holding spot for the beauties though as they would be an idea. Tina uses a kiddie pool to store her summer finds.

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    1. I've been storing my plants in Kiddie pools for decades. Once, I helped a pal move her vegetable garden across country in pools. You should give yourself permission to buy now;)

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  25. Looks great! My fall asters are blooming now (much ahead of 'normal - they're covered up with bumblebees. A curious weather and flowering year just gets a bit odder, I guess.

    We've been having periodic thunderstorms with heavy downpours, so both the mountains and piedmont in my part of the Carolinas are doing well. Hope you've had more rain!

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    1. We are getting rain now and it's stalled over us so there's been time for it to soak into the soil! So glad both your gardens are getting good rain amounts.

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  26. That is a wheelbarrow full of joy this time of the year. PS the rain has been EXCELLENT this year!

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  27. One of my very favorite flowers turned into a work of art with your camera. Your photos just make me happy.

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  28. At least even if you lack more blooms you have lovely visitors for the photos. I wonder why i cannot get nice shots of the bumble bees, their wings seem to be wriggling all the time. Does that mean my camera is not fast? Do you know what i should do?

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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