Monday, July 18, 2016


The latest batch of photos seemed to have a theme-- or at least enough of them did.  Flying insects.  Stinging insects.

Bumblebee on celosia:


Fortunately, I'm no longer scared of bees, though I don't like it when they land on me.  I've only been stung by a bee once, when I was a little girl-- and I think that only happened because I accidentally stepped on a bee while barefoot.

Bumblebee on purple coneflower:

Coneflower w/ Bumblebee

I still don't like carpenter bees, but that's more because they're destructive than anything else.  They put on a big show of aggression, but they're unlikely to sting.  In fact, based on what I've read, the males are physically incapable of stinging, and they're the ones we see most of the time-- the ones guarding the nest and darting around in such a territorial manner.

Small bee and tiny white spider on purple coneflower:

Coneflower, Bee, and Spider

Apart from carpenter bees and bumblebees, I can't readily identify other types of bees, though I know there are at least a few more around here, because I see them (though the bumbles are the most common).  I think I can identify a honeybee, but that's about it.  The others are just "bees" to me.

Black-and-white wasp/hornet on celosia:

Wasp on Celosia

Now, wasps... I am still pretty scared of wasps.  I've only been stung by a wasp once (opened a door and disturbed one on a nearby nest), but wasps are scarier than bees.  For one thing, they seem more aggressive-- more likely to sting.  Then there's the fact that they can sting you more than once.

I noticed a sharp increase in the number of wasps on flowers, the last time I was taking photos.  Particularly these black-and-white wasps.  I have no idea what they are, where they're nesting, or what their nests look like.

Black-and-white wasp on celosia:

Wasp on Celosia

They're fairly attractive ("striking-looking" might be a better word) for wasps, with the high contrast between black body and white stripes-- and that blue sheen of the wings-- but I prefer the trusty bumblebees...

Wasp on Celosia

Then there's this one that looks roughly similar to the ones above, but has different markings:

Wasp on Celosia

And of course there are the standard paper wasps we always have nesting in sheltered places along the edge of the roof or the ceiling of the porch.

Paper wasp on celosia:

Wasp on Celosia

Wasps are supposed to be beneficial insects.  They kill some pest insects-- but I consider them pretty "pesty" themselves!  I'll leave paper wasp nests alone, if they aren't in a high-traffic location and don't get too large, but that's as far as my charity extends...

I prefer bees (on bog sage, this time):

Bog Sage

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Earlier this year, during "spring-plant clearance season", Donald bought a bag of "peacock orchid" corms (Gladiolus callianthus 'Muriaelae', also known as "Abyssinian gladiolus" or just plain "acidanthera").  I'd never heard of them before this year.

The foliage is sword-shaped, like a smaller form of the hybrid gladiolus.  It looks very much like crocosmia, until it blooms.  There are a couple photos of the flowers, below.

The flowers are scented, and though I haven't had many chances yet to sniff them, my first impression is that they are very reminiscent of moon vine (Ipomoea alba).  They have the same clean, fresh, "cool" fragrance that I remember from last year's moonflowers.  However, I see others describing them as sweet-smelling, which isn't the first word that came to my mind.  In any case, though they smell very pleasant, I had to put my nose right to the flower to catch the perfume.  Maybe the effect is stronger when you have a greater number blooming at the same time.

Peacock Orchid

Each flower stalk can have several flowers, which open in succession.

There seems to be some disagreement about cold hardiness.  It's either zone 7 or 8, so it should certainly be safe here.  Though I planted mine late this year (remember, late season clearance purchase), they didn't take long to grow.  The first flower came at least a couple of weeks ago.  Supposedly, they can bloom from mid-summer to frost.  They don't like being wet and cold, so a well-drained soil is important.  I think I gave them fast-draining soil.  We'll see how they fare over the winter!

Peacock Orchid

There are still a few daylilies blooming/reblooming.  Not many, but a few.

While I'm thinking about daylilies, it seems that the 'Kwanso' (double/triple orange) didn't bloom much this year-- probably because of their poor location last year and the stress of being transplanted this spring.  I've noticed that at least a few I thought were 'Kwanso' are plain orange "ditch lilies".  There are also two or three in amongst the seed-grown hybrids.  I'm marking the scapes with yarn, and one of these days will dig those up to consolidate them in one or two locations away from the other daylilies.  They have their uses, but I don't want them taking over the hybrids.  Maybe they'll be at home somewhere in the front, where I don't like to spend as much time and energy...


This one has has one of the longer blooming periods in our garden.  (Mauve-pink, near the stepping-stone path.)  It's not the showiest dayliliy, maybe, but it's a nice color, and the ruffled petals are pretty.  The fact that it's reblooming makes up for some minor shortcomings.




Then there's this one.  I'm almost certain my start of it came from Granny L., because I think I noticed the same daylily in her garden, last month.  I don't know its name or origin, but it's a good performer, and it seems to multiply quickly, too.


Gardenia 'Double Mint' (and 'Daisy', not shown) has sporadic bloom throughout the summer.  So far, that usually means one flower at a time on our small, young shrubs.  However, even one gardenia bloom can provide a surprising amount of fragrance.  After the big show in late spring/early summer, these occasional flowers are just a bonus.

Gardenia 'Double Mint'

This patch of river oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) is all from seeds I gathered last summer/fall from the mother plant.  They're still on the small side, and I'm not sure these plants will mature enough to make seedheads of their own this year; I'm confident they will by next year.  River oats are so effortless to grow from seed that it's easy to see how this plant could get a little out of control, if left to its own devices.  I'll definitely be cutting off the seedheads (the mother plant is loaded with seed, this year) before they start dropping.  As much as I like this grass, it seems safer to keep a tight rein on its spread.

New River Oats

Hydrangea bloom under the covered patio:



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I try to mention when we see snakes, just for curiosity's sake.  It's been at least two weeks, maybe three, but I have two snake sightings to report.

First, Donald saw a thin black snake on our kitchen doorstep.  It disappeared into the flowerbeds before he could get a picture, but based on his description, I think it was either an black racer or a rat snake.

Donald made the second sighting, too.  It wasn't actually on our property.  He was running up and down the easement (between here and the road) and saw what he believes was a moccasin (cottonmouth).  It, too, disappeared pretty quickly.

That does it for snakes.

I'm happier to report that I've been seeing two dueling hummingbirds visiting the feeder and flowers ('Pizzazz Purple' salvia and bat-face cuphea, specifically), the past several days.  This morning, I think I saw a third entering the fray.