|Can you spot this Monarda punctata in the jungle below?|
While there are a few black-eyed Susan flowers (Rudbeckia hirta and R. fulgida var. fulgida) here and there, it is mostly a jungle of green. Pale spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata) is noticed by the bees if not the humans.
|Rudbeckia engulfed by Eupatorium hyssopifolium|
It’s a phase. The spring-flowering plants have been overtaken by the summer ones. I can see what is to come, with many plants just days or weeks away from bursting into bloom. The thoroughworts (Eupatorium spp.) are loaded with buds, and the cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) are like coiled snakes, slowly unwinding a thick raceme of red flowers. Others, like the goldenrod (Solidago spp.), won’t be blooming for another month or more.
|Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)|
|Caterpillar on Eupatorium not yet blooming|
I can also see value in that jungle of green – it is a living mass of life even without the flowers. You see, some critters don’t need flowers to benefit from my plants. Caterpillars, the larval forms of butterflies and moths, are quietly knocking back a leaf or two as they transform from tiny egg to adult. Already this year, I’ve watched caterpillars of Spicebush swallowtail, American lady and Gulf fritillary butterflies grow up on my plants.
Those who are not eating my plants still benefit from the jungle. The space beneath it is a cool oasis for toads, turtles and others. Carolina anole lizards patrol the plant stalks looking for a meal while katydids, spiders and ambush bugs are also looking. Dragonflies alight on tall stems.
So when you pass by my garden (or even a wild roadside) and think “Nothing going on there” - there’s a whole bunch of bugs that would disagree with you. Flowers are on the way, but life goes on regardless.