July’s Rains

June’s rainfall was below normal, and July has been nonexistent until July 16. Southeastern Michigan has had spotty showers this month, with some spots getting drenched while others get nothing.

Concrete sidewalk with scattered raindrops.
Don’t laugh! That’s how wet the sidewalk got. I doubt that this counts as “measurable” precipitation. Photographed after an extremely brief shower on July 16, 2018.

Last year we got our break on July 7. Fortunately, Ann Arbor’s art fairs started on Thursday, July 19. The art fairs always seems to bring rain, frequently on the second day. Continue reading “July’s Rains”

The Monarch and the Echinacea

Unfortunately, it is just one monarch and not monarchs. I have not seen many this summer. I was about to run errands when I spotted this one. It was a very flitty butterfly that did not want me moving around—if I moved, it flew off, circled around, and came back—so I stood as still as I could and took photographs that really should have been sharper.

Several Echinacea blooms in various stages from just unfurling to getting a little worn out, with a monarch showing off the underside of its wing.
A monarch butterfly who was very determined to sip nectar from the rain garden Echinacea. Photographed July 15, 2018.

At this point in July we have had no rain in two weeks, so butterfly potables are probably in short supply, adding to the monarch’s woes.

In addition to the Echinacea in the front, I have milkweed running through a patch of daylilies behind the smoke bushes in the back, where they won’t upset people who get nervous about any wild element in the yard. It’s not an ideal patch, but it is a lot better than nothing. My neighbor has swamp milkweed in his rain garden as well; we are the oases in the food desert for the monarchs on our block.

Prairie Rose Is Hymenopteran Heaven

No one would call me adventurous, but I decided to take a risk and put our native prairie rose, Rosa setigera, in a relatively high spot in the rain garden. It started budding up in slow motion—handy when budworm eggs were being laid—the buds were not even there yet when my earliest rose buds elsewhere in the yard were being infiltrated. Some of the size difference is due to the number of petals in the flower, but much of the difference is due to timing of development.

Side-by-side photographs, taken about 3 weeks apart. The Morden's Blush bud was significantly larger in mid-May than the prairie rose buds photographed 3 weeks later.
Roses in bud: Prairie rose, left, photographed on June 6, 2018; Rose ‘Morden’s Blush,’ right, photographed on May 17, 2018.

The sprays of prairie roses start out as hot pink single flowers with a beautiful yellow crown of stamens and a very obvious pale green pistal, then fade to a pale pink or white flower with pink spots and a small heap of dried-up stamens curled up and into the pistal.

A spray of Rosa setigera, from a hot pink bud and newly opened flowers to fading flowers that will shortly lose their petals, with 2 metallic green bees collecting pollen, one in side view and the other in top view.
Rosa setigera in bloom. Photographed on June 30, 2018.

Continue reading “Prairie Rose Is Hymenopteran Heaven”