Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Purple Coneflowers & More

I've noticed that some other bloggers have been talking about their purple coneflowers, so I thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth also with some pictures from my wildflower patch.

I love these purple coneflowers and so do the butterflies. I started this wildflower garden probably 13 years ago with a few packets of wildflower seeds. The problem with some of those packets is that some of the flowers are only annuals and obviously not suited to surviving Minnesota winters, so after a few years only the hardiest of these wildflowers are still brightening up my backyard. For the first few years, I added some more packets of different flowers and even some plants from pots as I expanded this wildflower garden.

In previous comments, some people asked whether I weed this garden. When I first started it, I weeded it a little bit, but as you can see from the photo above, there's no need for weeding anymore! And the flowers are so tall and those flower centers are so prickly that it would actually be hazardous to try and bend down into them anymore. Sometimes in the spring I will burn off portions, but I always worry about little critters that might be living in the duff below the flowers, so I don't even do that regularly.

Now it's dominated by purple coneflowers, prairie coneflowers, and brown-eyed Susans. Also doing well is Joe-Pye weed, Queen Anne's Lace and Canada Goldenrod. I have a couple of Evening Primroses blooming this year and a couple years ago I had one plant of Rough Blazing Star that the Monarch butterflies absolutely adored.
That plant never came back but it's on my wish list for plants I still want to add to this garden.

Once fall gets closer and the coneflowers have finished blooming for the summer, the asters will take over and those really attract the butterflies! I have pink, purple and white and I'll try to remember and do a post (with pictures) once they start blooming in September.

I took some pictures the other day just to show you the variety of sizes, colors, and shapes of the purple coneflowers in my backyard.

There are tiny ones
And HUGE ones
Some have a classic "daisy" appearance
While others have droopier petals
Here are some with flat centers and cone-shaped centers
I even have one sort of pathetic white coneflower! I think the poor thing is overwhelmed by all the purple coneflowers, but it always produces a few blooms every year.
While I was out photographing coneflowers, I happened to notice this Eastern Forktail (male). What a cool little damselfly! See the green stripes on his sides and shoulders? And you can't really tell from this photo, but that blue spot on the end of his tail was glowing like a bright blue LED in the sunlight.
My dragonfly field guide tells me these are most commonly found at "small, well-vegetated ponds," so I was delighted to see find this little guy visiting my wildflowers.

P.S. Three more monarchs hatched in the "ranch" today! I'm so glad I have all these wildflowers as a perfect spot to release these monarchs for starting their new life.

P.P.S. If any of you are interested in seeds from some of my flowers, please send me an e-mail (address on my profile page) and let me know your mailing address. I will also have lots of common milkweed seeds again this year and would be more than happy to send you seeds from any of the plants mentioned in this post.


Shellmo said...

Gosh - all those flowers are just gorgeous!!

Lynne said...

YES PLEASE!!! I would love some of your seeds, anything you care to share. That is such an awesome picture of you in the wildflowers.

Anonymous said...

That wild flower garden is awesome. We were quite impressed when we saw it last Friday. I'm glad the butterflies enjoy it after hatching. Did you read the article on why we don't have as many monarch butterflies in our area? It was because of the cool and rainy spring.
Thanks for all the pics, very nice.


Jayne said...

Wow Ruthie, now THOSE are some coneflowers! I love the photo of you engulfed in the beauty.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Shelley. Another benefit is that it's a large area of the backyard I no longer have to mow!

I'll save you some of everything Lynne. Even though it took a few years, I'm really happy with the results and continue to let this garden expand on its own past the original boundaries.

Hi Mom,
Was that article in the magazine I gave you last week? I guess I don't remember it. It looks like I will have 3 more monarchs hatched when I get home from work today. :-)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Jayne,
You snuck in while I was posting the other comment....
Even when these flowers are done blooming, the birds (esp. goldfinches) love spending time in there and eating the seeds.

Julie said...

I think the rough blazing star plant/flower is what I see most of the butterflies in our area on. They do love it. I hope you're able to get some more for your garden!

Marsha said...

ruthie, your wildflower garden is absolutely amazing! How big is this area, I remember you posting it one other time and it seemed pretty large. The wildlife surely love you. Like your mom, I noticed a lot less butterflies this year and was wondering "why?".

Anonymous said...

There was a little article in the Rochester Post Bulletin about the Monarch Butterflies. The article was in one of the papers, Wed -Fri,I don't remember which one.

Thanks for the subscription to the P-B

jan m said...

What a beautiful expanse of coneflowers! Your patience over the years certainly paid off.

Debbie said...

Ruthie, what a great wildflower meadow you have. We don't have a large piece of land, but we are going to leave a patch in the back a bit wilder. Right now there are quite a few thisle growing that the birds love. Next year I'll plant more things.

Meggie said...

Awesome garden, Ruthie! I'd say your butterfly ranch was quite successful this year. They will be in heaven in such a colorful garden.

Mel said...

Hi Ruthie!
Such beautiful flowers!! I can understand why butterflies like them!!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Julie,
I found a source for the rough blazing star (seeds and plants) here in Minnesota, but never took the time to order any.....next year for sure!

Thanks Marsha. I'm not sure about the decline in butterflies (but I have my own opinions). Here's the link from the local paper that my mom mentioned in her comment: http://www.postbulletin.com/newsmanager/templates/localnews_story.asp?z=2&a=356843

Thanks Jan, we sure like it too.

Hi Debbie,
Good luck to you on your own wildflower patch. Be sure to let me know if you need any seeds!

Thanks Meggie. I hope you can get a garden like this started next year too.

Thanks Mel. It's not only good for butterflies, but the birds really like it too!