Morning garden -blooms, butterflies, and hummingbirds

July gardens, filled with blooms, butterflies, and hummingbirds, provide a sharp contrast to the snow-covered landscape of January. With so many blooms and so much to see, it’s easy to spend lots of time just observing, and soaking up as much summer as possible.

These beds in my south-central Connecticut gardens, thrive in a sunny, fenced-from-deer back yard. Iris, white lilacs, azalea, early blooming clematis, and spring bulbs provide the first wave of color, then roses, spirea, lavender, and scabiosa take over. But now, daylilies, phlox, hosta and daisies step in while roses take their early summer rest and lavender nears the end of its flowering.

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Perennial border-1

Early, before the sun becomes too hot and pollinator activity is still somewhat low, is the time to remove spent blossoms and pull a few weeds.

Fritalaria? on a daisy

Fritillary? on a daisy

 

Once the sun rises higher in the sky, blooms become a flurry of activity.

Butterflies flutter from daisy flowers to …

 

 

 

Fritillary enjoy zinnia blossoms

Fritillary enjoy zinnia blossoms

zinnia flowers …

then move to phlox and coneflowers.

 

 

 

In another section of the gardens tall yellow daylilies waft a sweet, lemony scent as they mask the netting concoction (supported by the tall green stakes), placed to keep birds from eating all the ripening blueberries (not visible in this photo).

Perennial border-2

Perennial border-2

Nearby lavender, nearing the end of flowering, is still abuzz with bees.The favored feeding spot for hummingbirds right now is the long hosta border that sits below the elevated deck … a perfect place to enjoy morning coffee and watch the show.

Hummingbird enjoying hosta flowers.

Hummingbird enjoying hosta flowers.

 

Bug soup

Bug soup is not for the squeamish, but it is one way to control some annoying garden pests –  think bright red lily leaf beetles, Japanese beetles, slugs, and any other plant pest that can be knocked or scooped into a jar of soapy water.

To start your bug soup, repurpose an empty peanut butter jar, or other wide-mouth plastic jar with a lid. Clean the jar, fill it about halfway with water, then add a small squirt of liquid dish washing soap like Dawn.

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Bug soup – an empty peanut butter jar, water, and a squirt of dish soap.

Head into the garden, preferably in early morning or late evening when pests are most likely found, with the jar and a small spoon you don’t intend to use again as an eating utensil. Troll your plants for the pests. Once spotted, remove the lid of the jar, place the jar under the bug and tap or push the bug into the water.

The soap makes it difficult for the pests to crawl out of the water. They soon drown.

Replace the lid – this keeps you from accidentally spilling bug soup as you wander from plant to plant – and continue your search.

Keep your bug soup jar outside, where it’s readily available, so it’s easy to grab when taking a garden stroll. Chuck any stewed bug soup after a few hours or every few days – it gets stinky when left stewing too long – then replenish the jar with water and dish soap, and start over.

If lily leaf beetles are your focus be sure to head to the garden in the early morning when they are most active. Lily leaf beetles are bright red and easy to spot, but they tend to drop as soon as the plant is touched so be sure to place the jar directly under the beetle so it drops into the jar or use the spoon to direct the beetle to its demise. And … don’t forget to search under lily leaves for beetle eggs and the excrement-coated larva. A plastic spoon comes in really handy for collecting and depositing these icky masses into your bug soup.

The same goes for Japanese beetles, nearly impossible to capture during the heat of the day when they fly or drop at the slightest touch but less active early and late in the day. Just hold the open jar under the leaf or flower on which Japanese beetles rest and knock them into the jar. I’ve used this method for over a decade and my Japanese beetle population has diminished quite a bit. No traps … just bug soup.

If slugs are your target, use the spoon to scoop and drop them into the soup. Who wants to touch those slimy bodies with bare, or even gloved, fingers? Slugs are best found early in the morning or evening. For heavy slug infestations consider going on slugfari – a slug hunt, by flashlight, after darkness falls.

Making bug soup is standard practice in joene’s gardens, even our 6-year-old granddaughter joins in. Recently, when I saw her returning my bug soup jar to the outside shelf and asked what she was doing, I heard the most matter-of-fact reply, “Catching a slug, Mum-mum. It was eating one of the strawberry plants so I used the spoon to scoop it into the water.”

If a 6-year-old can make bug soup, you can too.

 

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Evening in the garden

Few posts of late due to technical issues … still, so many blooms and plant combinations this evening the garden we so lovely, I had to share.

The photos do not live up to what I like to post, they are all cell phone photos. Some are not in the best focus, but you get the idea.

Just a bit of tweaking and a lot of Mother Nature created these combos.

Just a bit of tweaking and a lot of Mother Nature created these combos.

Since I live in a clearing in a hardwood forest, I like to let my gardens go somewhat wild with self-sowing perennials punctuated by a few choices of mine. The result is a bed that looks different every year and every season.

Lavender

Lavender

There’s no such thing as too much lavender!

Roses and lavender

Roses and lavender

The favored rose in my limited rose collection … Star Rose Mystic Meidiland … an everblooming shrub rose with peach-colored buds that fade to pale peach as they mature. Perfect with lavender.

Lime Zinger sedum, annual milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), and the promise of daylilies in the background

Lime Zinger sedum, annual milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), and the promise of daylilies in the background

This annual milkweed does not reseed in Connecticut, but it provides a great punch of color and attracts butterflies … hopefully a Monarch or two.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Let's Dance Rhapsody Blue'

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Let’s Dance Rhapsody Blue’

Notice the name of the above hydrangea, yet it’s not blue. It grows in a raised bed created by manufactured concrete blocks that … obviously … raised the soil pH enough to turn the hydrangea this lovely shade of pink.

Endless Summer Hydrangea macrophylla 'Bailmer'

Endless Summer Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bailmer’

And, what’s life without a bit of sweetness fresh from the garden …

The season's first raspberries.

The season’s first raspberries.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Joene Hendry