The need to focus on things that aren’t related to pandemics and other stress-causing circumstances has continued to this morning, so I took a break and checked out what’s going on around the Hermit Haus offices. My main focus was my “wildflower garden,” but I branched out. That got me lots more entries in iNaturalist, too!
I have to say that I find it fascinating how varied the plants are in what looks from a distance like a lawn. Actually, there’s very little turfgrass, just a few sprigs of our nemesis the coastal Bermuda. The one other grass is what they call nutgrass around here, but is actually purple nutsedge, a nonnative plant that sure likes to grow here. I have pulled up many, many sprouts of it in the “wildflower garden,” and there are still more. However, I think the seed heads are quite beautiful.
The area I am using as a showcase for the “weeds” that grow up around our building has lots and lots of lantana in it. I noticed those trying to bloom last year before the weedeater got them, so I decided to ask that this one area be left alone. The lantana are now getting nice and big, and are just about ready to start their late spring blooming festival.
My first job with it was to pull up as much burr clover as I could. When I started, all you could see was burr clover. Now that it’s gone, the ground cover is Carolina ponysfoot, which I think is a beautiful little plant. It really does look like little horse hooves, at least to me!
My second job was to try to NOT pull up the whitemouth dayflower plants. I’m glad I remembered what they looked like when not blooming, so that I didn’t think they were crabgrass (which they resemble, but which is not here, thank goodness). These are one of my very favorite wildflowers, and I’m happy that they are starting to bloom (more in the big lawn than in the little bed, but they’re coming).
Other things that I found in the wildflower bed were slender yellow woodsorrel, Carolina crane’s-bill (discussed later), straggler daisy (another ground-cover plant, but with sweet and tiny yellow flowers), field madder, and prickly sowthistle.
I ended up pulling a lot of woodsorrel up, since it was all mixed in with the burr clover, and I left one or two cranes-bills in. They are teeny tiny. All prickly sowthistle has to go. I must say it is the ugliest darned plant, besides being prickly. But even so, it briefly has beautiful flowers, if you look closely enough, which resemble dandelions (as many flowers around here do).
There is lots and lots of stork’s-bill (apparently many weeds are named after bird bills) in the big field. It’s related to geraniums, as you can tell by the leaves. They are nice pink flowers, but their seed pods are what fascinate me. I guess THAT is what looks like a stork’s bill, or maybe a stork head. They are huge compared to the little flowers, and when they dry, they are like tiny weapons. Between them and the burrs, I’d say do not walk barefoot on the lawn between the Hermit Haus and the Pope Residence barefoot or in sandals this summer.
The other thing I’ve been pulling up in the wildflower bed are the cat’s-ears, another plant with yellow flowers that look like dandelions. I think they look pretty cool in big numbers when the flowers open up, but they spend most of the time looking bedraggled, so I let them hang out in the lawn area.
Butterfly and Bug Interruption
I did finally get a photo or two of a sulphur butterfly today, which I couldn’t when I was out getting my Vitamin Bs yesterday. It’s been identified as an orange sulphur. At least the darned thing was still for a minute or two!
I also got this cute little checkered skipper, who posed quite nicely for me.
The field was full of insects, too, both honey bees and these drone flies that look a lot like bees, but aren’t fuzzy. I hope I got a photo of the right one!
Some of the “weeds” are just stunning, like this cut-leaf evening primrose and the birds-eye speedwell (oh look, another bird body part). They are so tenacious that I can’t help but admire them and think to myself if they look this great with periodic mowing, I can deal with my own challenges, like a strong and graceful native plant.
Saving the Best Weed for Last
I think I mentioned before that the milkweeds we’ve found here are important for butterflies (especially monarchs), and I asked that the ones in the lawn be mowed around. Well, there are two nice big plants in the “wildflower garden,” and they are just about to bloom. They are the native zyzotes milkweed that we also have at the ranch.
By gosh, I’m gonna baby these plants like crazy! (I have allowed those fuzzy white caterpillars to eat the stems of the lantana, so I am doing my part to be a pal to nature!)
What’s blooming where you are? Did I distract you for at least a few minutes?