Posts Tagged ‘bumblebees’

It is a fine fall day at The Havens.   After I hung out a couple of loads of laundry, I was out watering the vegetable garden and noticed that the last three beds that I planted with cover crop are finally sprouting.  I am happy they have germinated before it got too cool for the seeds.   The first beds are well on their way, about four inches tall now.

In the old salad bed, I couldn’t bring myself to remove the greens I planted in July, which are just now really getting beautiful.   The endive is really pretty right now.  It forced me to go in and get the camera.


On the way out to the vegetable garden, I stopped by the herb garden where a waterlily colchicum has just gotten prime.   It is surrounded by my sage, which managed to survive the heat of the summer.


Over on the other side of the yard at the edge of the Petite Prairie another fall bulb has made an appearance.  I was surprised to see it here since I totally forgot that I planted it there…  I really MUST start making notes about what I plant where.   Anyway, this is a saffron crocus, and I think it is spectacular.


Just a few feet away from the saffron crocus surprise is another very busy spot, the aster field is blooming.


Behind it you can see a crepe myrtle and a kerria, which are both enjoying the cool weather.   If you focus in on the aster, however, you find that it is literally swarming with little bumblebees, who are after the pollen.   Last year I did a little research and discovered that these small bumblebees are the females, so I imagine they are collecting pollen to store with their eggs so the larvae will have something to eat when they hatch.

They are really very very busy, and wish I would not point the camera at them.  I guess the Duchess Kate can relate…


Well, while I was writing this, the next load of laundry finished, so I guess I’ll get busy and hang it up.

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I was supposed to be canning pickles (both dill and my sweet gherkins), plus I had apple sauce that was hot and waiting for the canner to heat up.  But before I got started packing the pint jars, I thought I would run out to the garden once more to look through the cucumber vines and see if I missed any.   I had.  So I picked them, and noticed that there were some tomatoes that also needed to be picked.   I needed a basket for that, so I started back to the house to get it.

As I scurried past the pond, I noticed that the apple mint was in full bloom.   It is taking full advantage of the lapse in memory I had a few weeks ago when I started the water running into the pond to fill it up, went inside and promptly forgot all about it.  In the morning as I was waiting for my teapot to fill so I could make coffee, I thought idly to myself,  “Gosh, the water pressure sure doesn’t seem to be as high as usual … OH SHOOT (expurgated for the blog)!!!  Whereupon I crashed out of the house, scaring the dog away from her breakfast, ran out to the garden to turn the spigot off and observed that the pond was approximately 5 inches over flood stage.  Further investigation showed that the water had flowed all the way down to the Petite Prairie, watering the day lily bed quite throughly.  The drain pipe at the other side of the vineyard was also trying to deal with the overflow.   I still have a green circle down there, where everything else is sere and brown.

But I digress.   The apple mint was blooming furiously, having been so well watered previously.   I just deviated from my course a bit to see if perhaps my honey bees were availing themselves of the pollen source.  They were.

The honeybees had lots of company out there.    I forgot all about pickles and apple sauce and went to get my camera.  I spent quite a while out there, standing quietly just inside the border of the mint patch.  When I first arrived with my camera, everyone got very excited and nervous about the big thing that had just disturbed the feeding frenzy.   But as I stood quietly, things settled down.   Here is a group of four different sorts of wasps, all intent on their food source.


The variety of pollinators present was impressive.

There were yellow jackets, of course.



Several different types of wasps were in attendance.


That big black wasp was at the large end of the size spectrum.   But there were teensy wasps too.


Some of the wasps were overcome with optimism for the future by the large quantity of food available.   The sudden onset of a good energy source put them in the mood, I guess.

The female went about the business of flying and eating as if the male wasn’t even present.

There were also several female bumblebees at the buffet.


A tachnid fly — one of several different varieties flitting about.


Butterflies –a buckeye and a little blue.   The little blue has a mud dauber wasp sharing the frame with her.


I saw a beautiful bright green sweat bee, but it didn’t stick around long enough to get photographed.   You can see what it looked like here.

There was an interesting beetle.

I’m not positive, but that may be an assassin bug, which means it isn’t strictly a pollinator, but more a pollinator eater.   They wait in flowers for the pollinators to come along, grab them and then suck the juices out of them.

Here’s another predator.   Probably not big enough to be a danger to anyone other than that tiny wasp above, or possibly a gnat or aphid.

That’s my finger holding the flower apart because the little crab spider wasn’t anxious to be photographed and kept hiding from me.   No escape from the paparazzi, I’m afraid.

There were a couple of dragonflies around too.   This is a rather small red one.

Just a few feet away is the pond, and this big blue dragonfly was hovering around there.

It was heartening to see all that life burgeoning in the yard, since it has been scorchingly hot for three weeks.    I mean really hot, too.   The temperatures have been over 100°F every day for three weeks, only cooling off into the low 80s at night.   (That would be 38° C for all the rest of the world.)   This heat has been accompanied by a complete absence of rain of any measurable amount.   We had a respite today, a line of storms came across the plains.   We got about 1mm of moisture out of that, enough to settle the dust (barely) and raise the humidity to about 90%.   Ergh.

This is what the garden along the back of the house looks like.   All those burned hostas are not dead, they are just conserving their energy and protecting their roots.   Still, it is a little depressing.   The Hosta Dell exhibits similar damage.

Please notice the lawn to the right of the path.   Our whole place looks just like that except around the landscape shrubs and trees, which we have been pampering with regular water.   This also encourages the grass, which gives the rabbits something other to eat than the fruit tree bark.   The rabbits out browsing gives the owls something to eat.

There is a note of hope in the middle of all that devastation.    The naked ladies have made their appearance.   I just love them, their combination of hardiness and delicacy is inspirational.

The pickles have been put through the canner and are cooling on the counter.   They are accompanied by 6 pints of apple sauce.

Now I believe I’ll get that basket and go out and investigate the tomato situation.








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Last night we were blessed by a badly needed gentle rain during the early morning hours.

The flowers were just beautiful, all lush and gorgeous dressed in their diamonds.  I went out to enjoy a little photography, and when I came back in the house my camera said I had captured 44 images.  I believe I also had at least that many mosquito bites….

So, this is what I gave my blood for this morning.

I swear it almost looks like the audience of day lilies is applauding the solo performance of  Cleome with her back up singers the Scarlet Crocosmia.  Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing.

These gals look good enough to eat.

Actually, day lilies ARE edible.   I hear they are quite tasty done tempura style, or lightly sauteed in butter.   I don’t know, I can’t bring myself to pick them and bring them inside, they are just so beautiful out in the garden.

Here’s another edible one, this is Thymus microphyllus,  a creeping thyme that is established out in the scree slope garden.

That whole wave of thyme that is breaking on the rocks is only a couple of inches long.   (Yes, I have been playing with the super macro function on my camera.)  Here’s a closer look at those tiny blossoms.  They are about 1 mm across.

Here’s another edible one:  Gladiolus.   I have never tried this one, either.   It is rumored to taste like lettuce.

Looks like a delicious dish of sherbet, doesn’t it?

Skullcap (Scutellaria integrifolia) lives in my prairie garden.  It is a member of the mint family, which probably accounts for how successful it is.  It is useful as a medicinal herb, used as a sedative, nerve tonic and antispasmodic.  It was used to treat rabies, epilepsy, insomnia, neuralgia, etc.   According to my Peterson Field Guide, “Scutellarin, a flavonoid compound in the plant has confirmed sedative and antispasmodic qualities.”

I’m not sure how tasty this flower is, but it would certainly add a beautiful blue note to any salad you put it in.  The bumblebee seems to be enjoying it.

Inside, you can find the golden zucchini, sliced and lightly salted, waiting for the saute pan.   Once it has sat this way for a bit, you rinse the salt off and then braise it in butter with minced garlic.   Garnish with chopped tarragon and you have a dish fit for the gods on Mt. Olympus, at least in my humble opinion.   I really could eat this every day.

For some reason this post has made me hungry.   I believe I shall go do a bit of foraging.

May all your meals be tasty and beautiful today.

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I was cleaning out the Hosta Dell a few days ago on a cool cloudy damp day, and came across someone sleeping in the miniature hostas.

She’s really a very good sized box turtle, about the size of a small canteloupe.   She was sleepy, and grumpy because it was cold.  Garbo-like, she wanted to be alone.

As I returned to the house from the task, I stopped to admire the new strawberry bed.

We were motivated to raise the bed just because that box turtle and her kin think strawberries are the BEST, ripe or not.   Ripe is better, of course, but if all there is is green ones, they will do just fine.   So far, we have not discovered a climbing box turtle.

You will note the finely crafted cage resting on top of the wall.   That is in honor of all the birds around the place, who also think strawberries are a fine dining experience not to be missed.   There are four doors on top that fold open for picking and weeding.   The whole thing breaks down into 8 easily carried panels plus one two by four.   This is what it looks like when one of the panels is open.

Inside, there are hundreds of strawberries growing and expanding in all their splendor.   And not a speck of mold, which is another benefit of raising the beds so they drain well.

In other news, I believe that I have noticed at least 8 different robin nests around the place.   The one under the wisteria has babies, the one on the box bush that I featured the other day is still eggs.   In the barn, there is a Carolina wren whose eggs are now fuzzy headed babies.   I also saw a young fledgling dove the other day as well, so lots of bird activity is going on.

In the front, the irises are just prime.  There are dutch irises as well as the bearded irises out there.

In the rain garden, the false indigo is just starting to bloom.  Right next to it is an amsonia, which is quite popular with the bumblebees, and there are sphinx moths enjoying it too.

I saw the leopard frog out by the pond yesterday.    She deigned to pose for me before leaping off into the jerusalem artichoke patch.

Down by the Hosta Dell, the hen and chicks are propagating.   I find these guys to be too cute for words.   Bear in mind that the gravel out there is about 1cm in diameter.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a hosta dell without plenty of hostas, would it?  This one is looking quite wonderful right now.

Now, I have an area that has approximately five million salvia volunteers that need to be discouraged.

Ta ta for now, then.

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ARGGH!  I just pulled a tick off my thigh that had actually attached.   Little bastards.   I don’t hate much but I DO HATE TICKS.

Ticks and hatred aside, I just have to share a few pictures I took yesterday.

The Stroll Garden has really come into its own.   I just love it this time of year, but it is pretty special in all seasons.   Right now the ajuga in the path is going great guns, and it is fully supplied with a complement of bumblebees and honeybees.

See that little spot of red at the right edge of the picture?   That is a clump of species tulips.   Here’s a better angle on them.

That strawberry bed that we constructed a couple of years ago has really proved its worth.   The raising keeps the strawberries from being too wet.  We have had no botrytis mold since then, last year we harvested 7 gallons of strawberries and are hastening to finish them off before this year’s crop starts booming.   Right now it is just blossoms, but we have put up the bird cage already.

I must remedy a deficiency.   I have no pictures of the bird cage that is over the strawberries, and I must take care of that.   Later.

Meanwhile, the wisteria is absolutely lush this year.   I think it enjoyed the mild winter.

When you go out there at sunset, it absolutely roars with the humming of the carpenter bees, busy enjoying the nectar.

I should do a post specifically on these guys.   They are so interesting.   I love them, and love having them in my yard.

In other news, our bee “hive” swarmed a couple of days ago.   We set up a lovely hive for them, but apparently they have found other digs.   Maybe next year.   I’m glad they are doing well enough that they needed to swarm, and goodness knows we have LOTS of bees around the yard pollinating everything.

We even got plums pollinated!

Good news abounds.

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