Gardening

Creatures of the insect type

Interesting creatures of the insect type tend to show themselves in my gardens during August. This year is no exception.

Yesterday, while making the rounds with my garden clippers in hand to deadhead spent blossoms, I came upon this praying mantis.

Chinese mantis in a CT garden in August

Chinese mantis in a CT garden in August

I believe this strange-looking insect-eater is a Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis), the type of mantis commonly sold for pest control. None of my gardening dollars went to purchasing this guy … or is it a gal … so it must be established in the area.

Need a bug ID? Visit to Bug Guide.

Connecticut named a praying mantis as state insect, but not the Chinese mantis. Instead, CT gave the European mantis this honor. I’m not sure why the European mantis won out over a native mantis, but it did.

Non-native mantids are not selective in what they eat and will eat any native mantids they come across thus contributing to the demise of native mantids which are considered threatened.

The other interesting creature of the insect type was spotted on the underside of a canna leaf. (Sorry for the not-so-clear cell phone photo.)

Saddleback Moth caterpillar in a CT garden in August

Saddleback Moth caterpillar in a CT garden in August

A visit to Butterflies and Moths of North America helped me ID this as the caterpillar of a Saddleback Moth (Acharia stimulea).

To my eyes, the caterpillar is more interesting to look at than the moth it will become. I’m glad I did not touch it though, apparently the hairy bristles can cause quite a painful sting.

What interesting creatures of the insect type have you seen of late? If you need ID help be sure to visit the two sites mentioned above. If you have other go-to resources for insect or butterfly/moth ID, please share.

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Mid-August Morning in the Garden

There’s just five weeks of summer left … time to enjoy every possible second of warmth, sunshine, and bloom. This morning in the garden I had a photography accomplice, my 5-year-old granddaughter who loves to tour the garden to see what’s in bloom.

Avery’s favorite this morning … like her Mum-mum, she favors different flowers on different days … a just-opened tropical hibiscus which Avery wanted to capture in the camera.

The mid-August bloom of tropical hibiscus in a Connecticut garden.

The mid-August bloom of tropical hibiscus in a Connecticut garden.

The red-orange of the hibiscus bloom blends with the warm shades of zinnia and canna flowers.

Yellow is the predominant color in the wild edges outside the fenced-in area where Oenothera biennis, common name evening primrose, thrives in poor soil.

Oenothera biennis, a Connecticut native.

Oenothera biennis, a Connecticut native.

This Connecticut native wildflower grows as short as 3 feet and as tall as 8 feet along the outer fence edge. Japanese beetles flock to it when first emerging from the ground in June, leaving oenothera’s first leaves and early blooms beetle-chewed, but the plant still manages to send out tons of lemon-yellow flowers later in the season. Below, Oenothera is skirted by Black-eyed Susan. It’s a lovely combination that nature designed with little help from this human gardener … all I had to do was allow the plants to grow.

Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose) with a skirt of Black-eyed Susan.

Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose) with a skirt of Black-eyed Susan.

Years of gardening in a deer-laden region taught me when nature provides such lovely native blooms that deer don’t decimate, you let them grow… free flowers that attract native pollinators and add a cheerful glow to the woodland edges.

Avery, my morning in the garden accomplice, wants to pick many of the natives for an inside bouquet, but she’s beginning to understand that some flowers are best enjoyed on the plant where they can mature, and self-sow into next season’s delights.

 

 

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Morning in the garden – August 10, 2014

I’ve missed adding Morning in the garden posts the last couple of weeks. When you work in the gardens there’s less time to write about them. And here it is August 10, 2014 already. It’s been a dry summer and, so far, a dry August. Weekly deep watering helps keep all the plants happy.

Phlox, an Oriental lily, and other blooms happy are filling the void left by waning day lilies and Asiatic lilies.

Sweetheart Double Oriental lily and Phlox paniculata 'David's Lavender'

Sweetheart Double Oriental lily and Phlox paniculata ‘David’s Lavender’

The lilies send a sweet aroma through the garden. I ignore what hungry little creatures have done to her foliage and focus on her blossoms.

Sweetheart Double Oriental Lily 8-10-14

Sweetheart Double Oriental Lily 8-10-14

Nicotiana sylvestris, aka flowering tobacco, has finally begun to bloom.

Nicotiana sylvestris

Nicotiana sylvestris

Early to mid summer brings so many blooms, but in the August garden I focus more on plant groupings to draw attention. One grouping is the Oriental lily and phlox above. Another is the potted Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ in front of a ground-planted gomphrena, both annuals in my zone 6 Connecticut garden.

Pennisetum 'Fireworks' and gomphrena

Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ and gomphrena

I also love this grouping of luecanthemm, gomphrena, and ageratum. They look just as nice this morning as they did on July 20 in this photo, below.

Shasta daisy, gomphrena, and ageratum July 20, 2014

Shasta daisy, gomphrena, and ageratum July 20, 2014

The groupings work together to create a garden bed.

Rear perennial bed 8-10-14

Rear perennial bed 8-10-14

In the raised bed portion of a retaining wall, peppers and tomatoes mingle with small hydrangea, coleus, and zinnias.

raised bed below a retaining wall

raised bed below a retaining wall

Tomatoes have been feeding us for about three weeks. The ever-bearing strawberries potted nearby give us intermittent treats, and the figs continue to promise us late summer delights.

And our new trial plants, Centennial hops, have begun to bloom.

Centennial hops

Centennial hops

The hops are small, compared to established hops planted in the ground (ours are in large pots), but they’re blooming and, therefore, a success.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Joene Hendry