Friday, July 18, 2008

Coneflower Daze Are Here Again!

I suspect that by now, any gardeners who happen by here are already quite familiar with the good old Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, a native prairie flower to a wide swath of states ranging from Zones 3-8. Around Iowa, it's virtually a must have in most perennial gardens, and can even be seen growing wild along country roads, along with various Rudbeckias, a delightful sight to see when driving into the more rural areas.... There's been quite a bit of coneflower coverage on other gardening blogs I frequent recently and Gail had a great post earlier this month about her visit to a Cedar Grove, which included several great photos of the native Tennessee Coneflower, which I'm now itching to get and try out here.

This first shot is an overall view of the front boulder bed as seen facing North from the steps in the front of the door ... As you can see, the Monarda is still blooming, though looking a bit rattier for wear in the recent very hot and dry weather ... At least we're getting storms off and on all night and into tomorrow, so the garden will get a good watering. Oh boy, all those weeds I saw out there tonight will be loving that, and I'll be hating pulling them this weekend ....

Joy! I think these two shots are pretty self-explanatory, given my recent obsessing about our sudden lack of bumblebees around here ... I do love how this almost captures the movement of the wings ... and as you should know by now, bee butt shots are a favorite around these parts ....
Yep, more bee butt, but isn't he elegantly posed as he works away? I love the early phases of the Coneflower bloom cycle, when the cones positively glow orange and attract droves of bees and butterflies to them ... I've often wondered what butterflies really get out of Coneflowers, but going over some of the hi-res versions of these photos tonight at various levels of zoom revealed a whole nectary concoction among all those bristles (?) comprising the cone. There's a lot more going on down deep in these flowers that the ordinary eye doesn't begin to document or appreciate. If you grow Purple Coneflowers for no other reason, you should definitely have it in the sunny perennial bed as a great food source for our favorite garden denizens ...
Here you can really see that glow ... those "bristles" remind me of birthday cake candles for some reason ... and you can begin to get an impression of the nectary concoction down further....

Here's a bit of a mutant that Fernymoss discovered among the throngs out front ... it has a small "fan" second row of petals emerging, and we'll have to keep an eye on this one to see if it continues to develop this way. Proof that they're ever evolving, even at the most basic level. I don't know about you other gardeners out there, but I'm pretty dubious about some of the newer Coneflower hybrids being developed over the past few years, and most leave me cold, except some of those true orange ones, but what's a Leo to do? Call me a purist or plant Luddite, I think sticking with the tried and true Echinacea is the way to go. Besides, we never lack in Coneflower stock, and have been pulling them lately ... the high price of success sometimes in the overall garden, alas.

So there you have it. The first blush of Coneflower lushness and glory currently in bloom. July is definitely here now: it's often intolerably hot and humid, yet dry. Tonight we're getting a much needed break with some rain, which ironically, was much needed. I think the garden is going to be looking much happier tomorrow (with more rain forecast), which is always a good thing. I think the corn is about 3-4 ft tall now, so with any luck we should have our own corn within a month, as well as the tomatoes, who have been enjoying the blast furnace heat of the last few days. And the pumpkin patch is growing like crazy and may try to engulf areas of the veggie garden ... but we'll put a detour in place, should that happen. Such is the state of things around Casa IVG today ... onward to weeding and planting this weekend. We swear those last few perennials are going in!

Photos by Fernymoss, taken July 17, 2008.


Mother Nature said...

I was looking at you flickr photos. You have some really lovely shots in it.
My garden is buzzing with all the insects. You can hear the cicadas vibrating all around.

Gail said...


Fernymoss's photos are wonderful and show how beautifully you have combined the coneflower and monarda. Aren't those names just wonderful together!

Please more bee butt...there is never enough bee butt! It's hard to catch them otherwise! My favorite bee butt shot---bees and penstemon. They disappear, except for their very fuzzy bottoms!

I agree...and to me, some the new varieties of coneflower often look like they have a virus! Just call me a coneflower purist! I have been wondering if you could grow Tennessee Coneflower. Do you have a patch of really lean soil...not fertile? It really hates fertile I have discovered! You could try Rocky Top...Joy over at GardenJoyForMe had a post on her newest's a hybridized TN Coneflower.

Speaking of Tennessee Coneflower, thank you for the link and mention! You are a doll!

BTW...I fixed the link to your blog in my side bar...Blogger isn't Safari friendly, so I use Firefox to blog. It has a handy sidebar where I store all my bookmarked favs and I link from there! So I didn't realize your link was a dud! So sorry.

See you and forgive the run-on-comment!

boran2 said...

Wow IVG, these photos have really raised the bar! Congrats to fernymoss!

Shady Gardener said...

IVG, Beautiful photos as usual! Mine are pinker than I thought they'd be, but they sure start out pale. ;-)

We continue to enjoy perfect planting weather (mid-July!!!), don't we? Guess what I planted today? "Jacob Cline" Monarda. I am so happy! I also planted two Stachys "Hummelo" (believe it or not, lamb's ear family. They don't look at all like Lamb's Ear. (I'll post later).

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Donna,
Thanks for the compliment on the photos! You can imagine the ones lurking on my hard drive that didn't make the flickr cut, but are still good, lol.

I stopped by your place yesterday and have to get back there later tonight, you have some great stuff going! Yay! Blue River! Mine's got tons of buds on it... :-)

I would have left a comment but I wasn't logged into blogger and didn't want to go the anonymous route, lol. Haven't heard any Cicadas here yet ... they always make me think summer's almost over, so not ready for them yet!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail,
Glad you like the bee butts too! I got some shots of them buried in morning glories last year ... think there's a post on that somewhere around here!

I think those hybrid "double decker" coneflowers are an atrocity ... and the prices they ask for them! Unbelievable. We do have a 'mutant' out there and Fernymoss got a couple of shots I may end up posting.

Oh yeah, we have some really "lean" spots (what I call poorish soil) the TN coneflowers could go. One place is in a portion of my herb bed where we're working on getting hollyhocks and Zebrina mallow going. BTW, I saw today that the Prairie Mallow has mature seeds, so I'll have to collect a bunch for you this weekend! Were you interested in the purple/white Zebrina as well?

Not the first time I've heard that Safari and Blogger don't get along well ... I'm sold on Firefox and though Fernymoss uses Opera (he uses Linux), I'm quite happy with it, especially the new 3.0.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Yo B2!
Conveying congrats as I type here. Fernymoss was quite honored. Have to make it over to your place tonight or tomorrow to see what's going on with the Painting Palooza! Are you done yet?

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Shady,
Thanks... that's odd yours start out pale, ours are very intense at first, then fade to the pale pink as they progress. I wonder if it's a light issue or if we have slightly different varieties?

We did get quite a few storms last night, so it's wet and muggy out there (think we got about 2.5 in of rain, but we needed it!). But the remaining stuff is going in tomorrow or Sunday for sure!

I had to look up Jacob Cline, which looks to be what we have (google it and see Paghat's write up). Good for you! You will love it, and if you have room in the area, stick a few small alliums (even some chives, which have lovely blooms too), just as mildew prevention.

I'll have to see your Stachys ... there was a whole bunch of lamb's ear here when we moved in and we loathe the stuff, so we dug it up and I gave it all away. I just don't get the appeal of that plant and it ranks right down there toward the bottom with Dusty Miller. Would believe even Impatiens is higher up than those? LOL

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