Flowers are busting out all over this week. The mouse-eared coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata) is at peak bloom this week and the hairy-stem spiderwort (that sounds scary, doesn’t it? Tradescantia hirsuticaulis) is finishing up an outrageous display. But it takes more than flowers to have a good week in the native plant garden!
|Spiderwort (Tradescantia hirsuticaulis) in a pot|
It’s important that my plants are the gateway to something more. My plants need to feed their local ecosystem in as many ways possible. This week, my garden hit a home run. Let me explain.
Early in the week three baby wrens fledged from the nest near the garage. Their parents had built a nest in a basket that I had placed in a sheltered rack of shelves just for that purpose (thrift stores are great places to get baskets for $1). Successful nests of baby birds are proof that my garden has the kind of insect activity that sustains life!
At some point during the week I noticed a good-sized caterpillar munching on one of the dwarf hawthorns (Crataegus) by the driveway. It was an unusual looking fellow with horns and a camouflage reminiscent of bird poop. With some help from a Facebook group, I was able to confirm that it was a red-spotted purple butterfly (one of the only ‘horned, bird-poop mimics,’ you see). Insects eating my plants – wow!
|Caterpillar of red spotted purple butterfly on hawthorn|
The next day I noticed that my plum (sold as Prunus americana but probably Prunus angustifolia actually) is sporting tiny fruits. This is a plant that feeds wildlife in 3 ways – flowers for bees, foliage for caterpillars, and fruit for birds (and me too). I am so happy to hit the trifecta on this plant finally (it had flowers last year but no fruit).
|Developing fruit on Prunus angustifolia|
Now for bonus points, on Thursday I was out taking pictures when I saw a splash of orange on the ground. It turned out to be a red admiral butterfly. What a great visitor and the first time I have seen one in my yard. Later I saw it in the backyard too but it is a quick moving butterfly and was gone after that. The host plants (nettles) for it are not in my yard as far as I know, but they must be nearby.
Double bonus points: I’m always happy to see new flowers. The pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) that I planted at the front of the house is blooming for the first time. I already have another plant about 20 feet away so I’m hoping to get a little cross pollination going on so that I can get some fruit on these beauties.
|Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)|
So there you have it – a spectacular week in the native plant garden. Hope yours was great too!