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Bee Meadow Update

We have had a rainy summer and the Bee Meadow has prospered.

During late June and July, wild bergamot or beebalm (Monarda fistulosa) and purple coneflower (Ecninacea purpurea) dominated the space.  Since beebalm is a member of the mint family, it is very aromatic.  On hot days, it wafted like incense and we could smell it as we approached the meadow.  The place was buzzing with all sorts of insect pollinators as well.

My friend Denice Kopf enjoyed the beebalm, purple coneflower and native grasses during her visit in late June.

The beebalm and coneflowers seemed to bloom forever.  Through most of July they were still going strong.

During July the orange butterfly weed bloomed for a second time and the purple liatris 'Kobold' chimed in.

A first sighting of a plant is always exciting.  This year I had the first blooms on the shiny coneflower (Rudbeckia nitida).  I planted it 3 years ago and had seen foliage but no blooms.

Rudbeckia nitida glows in the bee meadow with native switch grass and a mass of beebalm.

The finger false dragonhead (Physostegia digitalis) had bloomed before but this year with all the rain it was spectacular.  This species is native to Louisiana and Texas but not to Mississippi.  The plant was given to me by Jessie Johnson.  She dug a small start for me from the meadow at Briarwood.  So, of course, the plant is very special from an aesthetic point of view as well as an emotional one.

 

The physostegia is one of those rare plants that is as beautiful in bud as it is in flower.

I will say that the buds are very intriguing – like beautiful rows of niblet corn.  But … the flowers are not too shabby.

Physostegia flowers are strking!

And this brings us up to date.  It is now August.  The grasses are robust and the yellow daisies are in full bloom.  The whiteleaf mountain mint is frosty in spite of the heat.

I don’t think I have ever gotten so much enjoyment from a gardening effort with so little work!

An August update will be forthcoming.

More Bee Meadow, Please

I’ve been ailing this spring.   Sciatic nerve pain has prevented me from doing many things that I love – like gardening…

This new condition has made me even more appreciative of the plants that grow with little or no maintenance.

Because of this, the Bee Meadow is one of my favorite spots these days.

In mid-May, I vowed to post regular pictures of the Bee Meadow.  The last were posted on May 15.

Here is the latest installment.

This shot was taken on May 26, from my neighbor's hill. Richard is lounging in the golf cart as Woodrow meanders through the meadow.

The orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) has been the highlight of the planting recently.  This native milkweed is beautiful in bloom but I am hoping it will provide a food source for the Monarch butterfly caterpillar.

The orange butterfly milkweed is a beauty right now.

This New England aster always provides a few early flowers.  The main bloom time will be in fall when the bees are in need of forage.

This New England aster came from my friend, Jan Midgley. According to Jan it dependably offers some blooms in early summer.

The bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) is just beginning to bloom.  It is a wonderful plant for all the pollinators.  I love the scent of the blooms and the leaves.

Yellow rosin weed and a robust eastern gamma grass sing backup for the lovely lavender bee balm.

So there you have the latest installment.  But… fear not, there is much more meadow to come!

 

 

The Ever Entertaining Bee Meadow

As those who subscribe to this blog have probably noticed, I have been on hiatus.  I have probably published only two blog posts this year.  Hopefully I am about to get back on track with this update on the Bee Meadow.

Newcomers to this blog can search “Bee Meadow” and read 12 or so posts that tell the story of this native pollinator planting that was installed in 2010.

I have discovered that the hill in my neighbor’s back yard is the perfect vantage point for taking photos of the site.

Ursaluna looks like a black bear headed off to rob the honeybees in this late April shot taken from my neighbor's hill.

During April we had a few scattered prairie phlox  and yellow false indigo flowers but mostly a carpet of white clover.  Now in mid-May, more flowers are blooming and budded.  This week the first flowers on the starry rosin weed (Silphium asteriscus) appeared.

Starry rosin weed shows off the chunky bracts that make up the silphium's unique involucre. The chunky bracts help to distinguish rosin weeds from sunflowers which have much narrower & pointed bracts.

Yellow false indigo (Baptisia sphaerocarpa) has been blooming for a couple of weeks.  Since there is diversity in the population of plants, they all bloom at slightly different times.

Woodrow meanders behind a lovely yellow false indigo. This one came from my friend Allen Anderson in South Mississippi and is always the last to bloom.

I’ve noticed that my dogs enjoy grazing on a spring tonic of goldenrod and big bluestem leaves.

After snacking on goldenrod leaves, Dotsie pauses to admire the prairie phlox.

I have decided to photograph the Bee Meadow at regular intervals all summer.  I’ve chosen vantage point near the prairie phlox (Phlox pilosa) and will try to shoot from the same spot each week.

Since it looks as if we have four robust bee hives this year, I also hope to be spending time here harvesting honey!

 

The Bee Meadow

The Bee Meadow plants are all arranged and Tim is ready to start putting them in the ground.

For some time now, I’ve been planning to plant a bee meadow.

I have been growing and accumulating prairie type wildflowers for this project.

I decided to plant the wildflowers in an area adjacent to my bee hives.

I know that these diverse native plants will attract all sorts of indigenous pollinators as well.

I figure that if an assortment of native bees, wasps and butterflies come to my backyard it will be easier to learn to identify them.

It’s all good.

The plan came together when my friend, Tim Kiphart, came to visit.

We spent a glorious week working on gardening projects.

The dogs were quite interested in the project.

Late Wednesday afternoon we started planting the bee meadow. We took a break to enjoy one of Richard’s delicious meals and get some sleep before finishing up around noon on Thursday.

It is an exciting project.

The plant medley included several species of asters and of false indigo (Baptisia spp.),  purple coneflower from local prairie stands (Echinacea purpurea), button snakeroot (Eryngium yuccafolium), coral bean (Erythrina herbacea), whirling butterflies (Gaura lindheimeri), false aloe (Manfreda virginica), lots and lots of bee balm (Monarda spp.), beard tongue (Penstemon spp.), prairie phlox (Phlox pilosa), mountain mint (Pycnanthemum spp.), several species of black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.), wild blue sage (Salvia azurea), rosin weed (Silphium integrifolium) and several types of grasses including switch grass, big bluestem and little bluestem.

The dogs were so interested that we were inspired to define the area with flagging tape. This seems to make them think twice before running amok... so far anyway.

Most of the pots were well rooted.    Some were even busting out of the pots and look as if they are already growing.  There is rain in the forecast so our timing was perfect.

Maybe my imagination is running amok but it looks like this rosin weed rosette was already growing on Day 3.

Fall is the ideal season to plant perennial wildflower seed or plants in the south.  By the time that spring rolls around, the meadow should be full of robust rosettes ready to make a tremendous growth surge.

After the first year, the maintenance plan is to either mow or burn the Bee Meadow in late winter.

Other than that we’ll just sit back and watch it explode with color, fragrance and bugs! I’m certain that it will continue to be quite entertaining.


 

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