Thursday, August 6, 2009

Obedient Plants and Sphinx Show

Obedient Plant

About five years ago, I planted six obedient plants in a small wet patch of ground next to the vegetable garden. Normally, it was just a place where the cattails grew along with some jewel weed.

I have been amazed ever since. Obedient plants are members of the mint family, so they like to wander. Some would call them invasive but I had a spot where that would be perfectly alright. And spread they did.

An obedient plant, technically Physostegia virginiana, is listed as a native flower of Pennsylvania. There are several reasons why this is a good wildflower.

Deer don't bother it and it can grow on wet, almost marshy ground (rain garden possibility). It attracts bees... lots of them, and numerous butterflies. It is common to see hummingbirds feasting on the flowers which opened this week, the first week of August. That seem a little early but I have never kept records.

They are called “obedient” because you can turn or bend the the flower stock and that is the way it remains ( kids sort of like this). It is a good choice if you want some action close to the garden and something besides golden rods and cattails, as nice as they are, to look at when taking a break pulling weeds.

The Great Sunflower Project

The Great Sunflower Project seems like it is in high gear. The project is sponsored by the University of San Fransisco. They send thousands of free packages of Lemon Queen Sunflowers to participants who will count the number of bees in a ten minute period several times a month. The backyard data is them sent to the university.

Some of the early results, from an email I received the other day from the project, indicated that most people saw their first bees within 2.6 minutes and five bees in 9.6 minutes. I'd be counting but my Lemon Queen sunflowers have not opened just yet. I suspect, however, they will bloom next week; they have some nice swelling lowers buds on them.

The Lemon Queens are planted along the back fence of the veggie garden where the pole beans are desperately trying to grow despite the cold and rainy summer. I have never planted this variety before so this experiment will be interesting.

Bees, Butterflies and the Hummers

The obedient plants, according to my “scientific” observations have plenty of bumblebees. I counted eight within the space of a minute (at 5pm on a semi-cloudy day). The top photograph captures one busy at work. If you haven't tried, it is a challenge to get a picture of a hungry bee.

Shortly afterwards, I checked for the honey bees. In the middle of the garden and scattered here and there are borage plants. In less than a minute I counted six honey bees on the borage (also called the bee plant) in just one patch.

While I saw no butterflies or hummingbirds today, I did watch two Sphinx moths on the obedient flowers (okay go ahead and laugh). They are also called Hummingbird Moths because, well, they look like hummingbirds. The moths are just amazing but harder than a bee when it comes to taking a photograph. I know I have two dead batteries tying.

The vegetable garden here is alive and well. No ripe tomatoes just yet, and no blight (fingers crossed) but plenty of green and ripening tomatoes and peppers. All the little creatures flying around the native wild flowers are helping the vegetable garden out more than the weather.

For the Heck of It: Started to dig the garlic yesterday. It's hanging on the clothesline to dry out in the shade. (top photo) Fresh dug garlic can get sunburned. More on this project coming.

Blogs I like to read and recommend:

Vincent di Fondi- Vincent just published his first novel, Blessed Abduction, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Check his blog to learn more about the novel and his new home in Costa Rica.

On Your Way to the Top – Kathleen Richardson is a fellow Helium writer, she is trying desperately to watch her weight but did enjoy a good lunch the other day. Never says what she ate though! She also has some thoughts on the economy.

New York's Southern Tier – Kathleen above also writes a travel destination blog for the Southern Tier of New York. So if your in the area or planning a trip that way, stop by her blog and see what is happening.

Urban Veggie Blog – Dan gardens in nearby Ontario and periodically write how he uses his garden produce in his kitchen. It is informative with plenty of ideas and plans for your own homestead.

Other articles I have written for Helium can be found by clicking the title; others can be found below in the box at HubPages.


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