Saturday, September 28, 2013

Porterweeds and Periwinkles

Nights are cooler. Fall might be on the way.

During summer, there were butterflies on Stachytarpheta which we call

Those long spikes hold many seeds. I snipped off a mature one and planted seeds
earlier in the season. Nothing.

Today I found little plants in the path.

I am pretty sure they are Porterweed. This is how I got the red
Porterweed back last summer, found seedlings.

Comparison with the big plant. No doubt. How did they get there? 
We had minor flooding during July and August. Seeds probably washed up.

Red Porterweed

I always save some seeds of Madagascar Periwinkle.
Catharanthus rosea.
I never need seeds, they always reseed.

When seeds get ripe, the pods are pale yellow and seeds are visible through the pod walls. Great reseeders, happy plants, no pests, easily pulled where they aren't wanted. I think next summer I will buy white seeds.
Periwinkle seedlings are late to emerge. Purchased plants planted too early will not thrive. They are happy hot-weather plants.

Like Melampodium, no dead-heading is required with Periwinkles, 
old blooms shed and new take their place higher up the stems. 

Rose Periwinkle

Friday, September 27, 2013

Is Goldenrod Making Me Sneeze?

Is Goldenrod responsible for fall allergies? Most likely Goldenrod is blamed for allergies triggered by ragweed blooms. Goldenrod is highly visible in the landscape just when the hardly noticed ragweed Ambrosia artemesifolia commences bloom.

Goldenrod Solidago spp.

A stand of Ragweed. All those little spikes are blooms and seeds.

Ragweed flowers up close, so tiny and full of pollen

Ragweed close up. Tiny, tiny blooms with very small pollen grains.
Goldenrod has large, heavy sticky pollen grains.

When I first came to south Georgia more than fifty years ago, I asked about this plant, also with finely cut leaves and was told that it was Ragweed. It didn't look like any ragweed I knew. 
Later I learned it is Bidens bipinnata Spanish Needles. 

Seeds of Spanish Needles are annoying when the needle-like seeds get in the dog's coat, but Bidens pinnata is a nectar source for pollinators and food for critters like Bobwhite Quail. 

I flushed up a covey of Bobwhite Quail when I was out taking these pics. I got too excited to get a single photo, even when the Mama Quail was crying and flailing around in the grass to distract me from the brood. 

Goldenrod, one of many species of Solidago. It isn't Ragweed. It probably does not cause your sniffles.
You could be allergic to it, likely a contact dermatitis rather than a respiratory reaction. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Random Sights and Thoughts in a Late Summer Garden

There's a cool breeze blowing from the north today. Some folks are predicting an early frost maybe in two or three weeks. I saw a woolly caterpillar day before yesterday. I am ready for fall, but not for a freeze.

The yellow woolly bear caterpillar I saw was on a rose bush, not this KO.

The woolly bear wasn't on Sombreuil, either.

Sombreuil on a rustic trellis; stick house behind.

Cypress vine. Alamo vine was blooming 2 days ago.

Palest pink Pentas and Sedum acre

A late blooming Echinacea

Variegated Hydrangea and Persian Shield

I don't remember seeing Snowball Viburnum bloom in fall before. Maybe cutting it back made it happier.
This is the first year it has ever had lots of rain.

Red Spider Lilies Lycoris radiata have commenced bloom. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pentas in the Early Fall Garden

Come back to the House Gardens, we've wandered in the meadows and there is more to see but at the house some blooms have intensified. The number of butterflies seems fewer, but they're still finding Pentas attractive.

Pentas will last until a killing frost. I've gathered Pentas bouquets for Christmas from areas that have everygreen cover overhead. Sometimes I keep those bouquets for months, snipping off the dead blooms and then cutting the stems again to root pieces for spring planting.

Palest pink Pentas and palest pink Gerbera Daisies make good companions. I noticed Gerbera daisies at a Garden center this morning. They like cool weather. My Gerberas are like the species. Those in the garden centers have round-tipped petals and brilliant colors.

Just a side note, some wild poinsettia came up among the Pentas. I will have to destroy potential seeds but I'd like to see the bracts turn red. These reseed like crazy, as evidenced by their coming back after I thought I pulled every one last year before they made seeds.

White Pentas carry the Yellow Rose Garden. I think I'll dig out the Shasta daisies that tend to leave bloomless holes in late summer.

I am never sure that Pentas will return in spring. A harsh winter may kill the roots. A few pieces rooted will insure that I don't lose all the colors. Rooted early, they'll bloom as house plants in winter. I may have waited too late to have blossoms before spring.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Elephantapus tomentosus

This is one of my favorite native plants. When first I saw it some 20 years ago, it was not in my guidebooks. I resorted to emailing a description to a professor at a Florida University. It was so long ago I didn't have a camera. He identified it by my description of the large flat leaves, the tricorn bracts and not much else.

This clump has already gone to seed.

Some of the asymetrical blooms are still on these. Aster family.

 Elephantopus mixed in with Goldenrods. Wildflowers are prolific this fall after all the rain in August.

Here you can see both the basal rosette of large leaves and the blooms.

This clump was laying over in some grass. Deer may have knocked it down.

Another look at a whole Elephantapus tomentosus plant.

As the weather cools, I hope you get out to see what's growing on roadsides and in fields.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Buckeyes and American Painted Ladies in the Meadow

The butterflies are here, but more evident are their larvae.

BuckeyeJunonia coenia
The meadows are full of Agalinis and the plants are full of caterpillars.

American Painted Lady pupae on Rabbit Tobacco

American Painted Lady Vanessa virginiensis
The name was shortened to 'American Lady' but the butterfly is the same.

Both the American Lady and the Buckeye are Brushfoot butterflies. The host plants shown are only some of the plants Brushfoot caterpillars use for food.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rabbit Tobacco or Eupatorium?

Janie J asked how I tell the difference between Gnaphalium obtusifolium  Rabbit Tobacco  and
Eupatorium perfoliatum Common Boneset. 

If you cannot tell at a glance, smell the plants. Eupatorium flowers have a pleasant fragrance. Rabbit Tobacco has a resinous smell, flowers and all. You might find it unpleasant; I like the herbal aroma of it.


Rabbit Tobacco.

Color is important. Eupatorium flowers are a bright white, Rabbit Tobacco is more cream colored.
The flowers are shaped differently.

Rabbit Tobacco clumps are usually more slender with denser flower heads.
Leaves are thick up and down the stem. By this time of year, the bottom leaves 
usually begin drying into a silver color backed by brown.

Eupatorium has those lance-shaped leaves in a more open arrangement and
the flower head looks more like an airy bouquet.

Botanists give certain characteristics that we won't go into there, like sessile leaves and such. Do note that Eupatorium leaves are more lance shaped, while Rabbit Tobacco has many very slender leaves. 

Clumps of  Eupatorium among grasses and other plants.

Rabbit Tobacco among grass and dead stems of Erigeron and  a yellow wildflower.
Don't let the exposure of this pic fool  you, it made the Rabbit Tobacco look whiter.

That is your wildflower lesson for today. Test tomorrow.