Saturday, October 4, 2014

Gayfeather and Monarchs

The fall blooming season has officially started in my garden.


As far as I am concerned, it is not fall until the Gayfeather (probably Liatris mucronata) start blooming.


It seems like it took a little longer for the flowers to kick into full bloom this year. That may be because September was exceptionally dry. At the official DFW rain gauge, only .06 inches of rain fell for the month. Through the end of September, rainfall was 10.69 inches below normal for the year. Last week, I even decided to run the sprinklers one more time. That makes two times for the year.


Even with limited water, the garden looks pretty good now that the temperatures are not as high. Having some plants in bloom helps the appearance too.


Here is a view of the garden through the Pine Muhly, Muhlenbergia dubia.


More Pine Muhly with Giant Hesperaloe in the foreground.

News Flash
We interrupt this blog post for a special report. Monarch butterflies have arrived in Plano. Repeating, monarch butterflies have arrived in Plano.


A cold front blew through Thursday evening bringing a little rain and damaging winds for some. The monarchs flew in right behind the cold front.


As they make their amazing migration to Mexico from as far away as Canada, quite a few monarchs stopped off here for food and lodging.


They were primarily interested in the Gayfeather flowers, but they were also feeding on the flowers of Gregg's Mistflower, Frostweed, and Mexican Milkweed.


This was the scene all across the front garden. There were more monarchs that I could count. It was quite a surprise since I only saw two monarchs this spring. Below is a short video of some of the visitors to put their numbers in perspective.


22 comments:

  1. The garden looks great. Liatris is one of my favorite wildflowers. Thoroughly enjoyed the monarch video, too.

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    1. BriarRabbtz, I like Liatris too. Less so when it is not blooming. Too bad they don’t bloom longer. It seems like their bloom is timed with the monarch migration.

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  2. Liatris is gorgeous against the background of grasses. You have a lot of monarchs and that is so encouraging. I've only seen 2-3 at a time so far this year.

    The Liatris you shared with me two years ago is blooming and beginning to spread out. I also picked up Liatris seed at the Wildseed Farm for sowing this fall. Heading back up there again this week with my garden club.

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    1. Shirley, I saw a few less monarchs today than yesterday so they must be heading your way. I hope you see a lot of them.

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  3. Holy cow! That's quite a visitation. I hope to grow liatris some day.

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    1. Kate, Liatris is really easy to grow. Get a variety native to your area if you can find them.

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  4. Absolutely gorgeous...love the Liatris and Muhlenbergia! I think I'm going to give M. dubia a try next year, if I can find some, as much as I loved M. rigens, it was just too big for my parking strip. YAY for all those Monarchs...wish we had some :-)

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    1. Scott, I think my parkway is about the same width as yours. I have some of the pine muhly growing in mine. I have to plant it the center or closer to the street to keep it off the sidewalk.

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  5. Your garden is looking fantastic! We had a few monachs in our garden back in August but I didn't get a chance to see if there were any chrysalis (chrysali?) or caterpillars on my milkweed. We're hoping to establish some liatris in our ROW this year, maybe one day it will look as good as yours.

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    1. Misti, it has been a couple of years since I saw a monarch chrysalis. It must have been a good year for them up north considering the number of butterflies passing through now. I was a bit pessimistic when I only saw a couple this spring.

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    2. Misti, in my experience the caterpillars build the cocoon away from the milkweed plant. I found one hanging from a sting bean plant that was next to the milk week, good thing I haven't cleared the bean plants yet.

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  6. Your video of the monarchs made me break out into a huge grin! Thank you so much! I've certainly seen more this year than over the last several years, but just a few here and there - nothing like the wonderful numbers you show! I am tickled to see so many. It gives me hope. Cynthia

    P.S. Your gayfeather is awesome! I love it!

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    1. Cynthia, the numbers are encouraging considering all of the doom day reports of the last couple of years. Maybe more people are planting milkweed. I just hope there has not been any additional loss of habitat in the monarch’s overwintering area.

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  7. Great post!

    I love the firework effect of the Liatris, I need to find some to plant in my garden.

    After few years of no monarch butterflies, I spotted 9 first and then 11 more caterpillar in my garden this past month. I saw one the first 9 emerge from the cocoon yesterday, pretty amazing. I have never seen that many monarch in one spot, but happy to seem the back in my garden. They seem to prefer the salvia leucantha and the milk week for nectar. The milk weed they like self seed like crazy so I am going to give plants away next spring.

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    1. Glad you are seeing some monarchs and their caterpillars, Laura. I agree, Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage) is a good nectar source for monarchs. They are almost always covered in monarchs at this time of year.

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  8. That's exactly what it was like at the Arboretum all weekend. I've never seen the monarchs come through in such a bunch. Absolutely fabulous! Thanks for the video.

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    1. A couple of weeks ago, I heard that there were so many monarch in the skies somewhere in the Midwest that they were being picked up by weather radars.

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  9. I was in Dallas over the weekend, and we saw lots of monarchs too, especially at the Arboretum. It's lovely to see them fueling up on your liatris.

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    1. It seems like a pretty good year for the monarchs. They should be in your area by now. Hope you see some more.

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  10. Hurrah! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  11. I just love your yard. I live in Ohio and you make me want to move to TX so I can grow all of these neat things.
    Mel

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