Thursday, October 15, 2015

Snubbed by the Monarchs

 All year long, I readied a buffet of nectar rich flowers for the monarchs to feast upon as they make their journey south to Mexico. 

And what happened? My gayfeather, Liatris, nectar feast was snubbed by the monarchs.

Now the gayfeather flowers are past their peak as the peak monarch migration shifted westward this year.

According to monarch sightings reported to the Journey North website, the majority of the peak sightings were west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area this year. I did notice one report from Plano where someone reported 45 monarchs on their Gregg's mistflower earlier this week. I have yet to see that many monarchs at one time this year, although I have seen a few more this week than in the previous weeks.

I did catch a picture of this monarch on the Mexican milkweed. I knew this was not a good picture as it was snapped, but just as I snapped another...

it was gone. Well, gone from that flower. It was still flying around the garden, but I gave up on trying to get a better picture after a few attempts.

This queen butterfly was a little more cooperative. I have seen more queen butterflies than monarchs this year. Still, I have not seen all that many queens either.

Even though the gayfeather flowers are fading, the grasses, like little bluestem and pine muhly, are hitting their peak. 

It is hard to beat the look of grasses backlit by the sun. This photo was taken in the afternoon.

This is another little bluestem backlit by the morning sun.

The aromatic asters began blooming this week. I have not noticed many pollinators taking advantage of these flowers yet.

A single skeletonleaf goldeneye flower with gayfeather in the background and Gregg's mistflower further in the background.

In the backyard, Gregg's mistflower and autumn sage are blooming around the blue bottle bush. The bottle bush is made from rebar shoved into the clay soil. As predicted, the rebar loosened and shifted once the clay began to dry in the summer. I need to come up with a better way of securing the rebar so the bottles do not clank together.

Just around the corner from the autumn sage in the photo above is a beebrush in full bloom. This fragrant flowers of this plant are a favorite of all kinds of bees. It is another plant that glows when backlit by the sun.

Here is a closer look at some of the flowers. Beebrush blooms about a week after a rain or it can be tricked into blooming with watering from a sprinkler. We had a brief sprinkle of rain last week that set off these flowers. We could still use a good soaker. October is normally our first or second wettest month of the year and that sprinkle last week was all we have had so far. Not to mention the temperature has felt more like summer. It is predicted that we will set a record high at 96 degrees today. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Buffet is Set

The the late summer/fall flowers have started to bloom in the garden.

The flowers are showing a little more restraint in their blooming than they would if we had received a nice soaking rain since June and if the temperature was not so slow to moderate. Summer seems to be slow to let go this year.

Nevertheless, the buffet is set and awaiting local pollinators and migrating monarch butterflies. The green spikes of gayfeather (Liatris) that were something of an eyesore a week ago are now purple with nectar rich flowers. And look at pine muhly in the center.

Love that grass.

I have only seen a few monarchs in the last couple of weeks. According to the Journey North website, the leading edge of the peak migration is just crossing into Texas. They better hurry up and get here because the gayfeather is about to peak.

Bees are busily feeding on the flowers.

Here is a closer look at the flowers.

These gayfeather blooms are joined by little bluestem and zexmenia.

I don't have any monarch pictures yet, but I did get a photo of this yellow butterfly. Over the weekend, I saw several pipevine swallowtail butterflies that were taking their first flights around the garden after their summer metamorphoses. A neighbor that frequently walks his dogs past my house said he has been stopped by several people driving by. They all want to know if the butterflies have arrived yet. Apparently, my garden is a bit of a tourist attraction.

My variegated Yucca gloriosa is blooming for the first time. I think the wet spring helped it to get established because it did not show any signs of drought stress this summer like it has in the past.

Around in the back garden, the spiny eryngo is blooming. The plant is not overly attractive when it gets six feet tall and flops over into the pathways.

But the pineapple shaped flowers are a welcome addition to the garden and a treat for the pollinators. 

A cool front came through today. I have a feeling that the garden will be full of monarchs and other pollinators this weekend.