Coneflowers are Yummy

Besides being garden head-turners and absurdly easy perennial growers, Purple coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, are also some of the best wildlife plants in any home garden.  Now, as Central Texas enters its mid-spring-into-summer bloom period, coneflowers are reaching their zenith of beauty and bounty.  Everyone visiting wants a meal at Cafe Coneflower.

Enjoying a coneflower is a plain little Dun Skipper, Euphyes vestris.  According to Austin Bug Collection, a local Austin insect resource, the males of the species show no demonstrable markings, but the females have a few spots on the forewings.

And so they do!

Another of the many skippers endemic in this region is the Julia’s SkipperNastra julia.

Both of these skippers individually enjoy Purple coneflowers,

…and as dining companions at Cafe Coneflower.

Texan Crescents,  Anthanassa texana, are all over the garden, all the time, but they always check out the coneflowers for a good nectar snack.

 

This Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes, heads for Coneflower Cafe whenever he/she is out-and-about, typically during sunshine-drenched afternoons.

 

Of course, honeybees will always be found partaking a good nectar meal.

 

It’s easy to catch a Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta, dining on flowers in the garden, but right now, it’s all about coneflower cuisine for these friendly pollinators.

They move around the flower during nectaring, so it’s easy to glimpse the various sides of their wings.

It’s not only the butterflies and honeybees who like coneflowers, though.

A  Spot-sided Coreid, Hypselonotus punctiventris, worked the coneflower one morning.  BugGuide calls this bug a Spot-sided coreid, but Austin Bug Collection says that this common coreid to Central Texas has no common name.

I’ll call him handsome and leave it at that.

This Leaf-footed bug, Acanthocephala femorata, posed impressively on his coneflower plinth.

I think these bugs are charming, though a little intimidating because of their size. But I can’t question this one’s affinity for the coneflower–it’s something we share in common.

As the blooms fade, the birds and some mammals will also reap nutritious rewards through the seeds from this valuable perennial.

I appreciate the beauty coneflowers bring to the garden, the critters like the bounty.

A win-win for all, I’d say.

Bloom Day, December 2014

Celebrating blooming things with Carol of May Dreams Gardens on this last Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day of 2014, I’d like to share some currently flourishing flowers from my gardens.  It’s been mild here in Austin, Texas, though a few light frosts have come our way, none were significantly cold enough to dampen the blossoming spirit.

Wonderful native perennials continue strutting their blooming stuff late this growing season. Two native salvia species are providing nice nectar sources for passing bees and butterflies and a color show for the resident gardener.   The Tropical SageSalvia coccinea, 

IMGP3068.new …brightens the garden with its scarlet blooms, while Henry Duelberg salviaSalvia farinacea, ‘Henry Duelberg’ provides spikes of blue.

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Planted near to those two perennials is a group of  Texas Craglily, Echeandia texensis.  

IMGP3086.new There are few blooms left, but many seed pods readying for future golden lily loveliness.

Some of my GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, still bloom. IMGP3053.new

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I don’t really think I need to add anything to that!  These individuals face west and receive the warmth of the afternoon autumn sun.

A few Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, flowers grace the gardens as well.

IMGP3057.new I don’t recall ever seeing this plant bloom so late before–I’m not complaining.

Native to areas west of Texas, but not specifically Austin, is the Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua.   

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In my gardens it’s a reliable cool season bloomer–at least through the beginning of summer.  The one mature Globe Mallow in my gardens is beginning a nice bloom production and that’s likely to happen throughout winter.

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There are always a few Purple Coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, charming the gardens. This one is planted with an unknown variety of basil-in-bloom,IMGP3046.new

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…which I’d know the name of if I’d bothered to keep the tag.  Ahem.

And here, Coneflower is partnered with the equally sweet Four-nerve Daisy or Hymenoxys, Tetraneuris scaposa.

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I love native Texas plants.

As for the non-natives, well, they’re pretty cool, too.  The Firecracker or Coral PlantRusselia equisetiformis, requires a hard freeze to knock it back.

IMGP3059.new Obviously that hasn’t happened yet.

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I feel good about this plant–it has such a tropical look, but in reality it’s water-wise and tolerant of the cooler season.

Roses are responding in kind to our temperate December by blossoming again. Whoop!

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Glorious in vibrant red are these blooms of the Old Gay Hill rose.

Finally, the Potato VineSolanum laxum, has entered its bloom time.  This vine twines up one side of my swing beam and blossoms primarily in the cool months here in Austin. It’s a timid vine in my garden, never growing too large.    I forget about it during our long, warm  growing season–it’s there, but unimpressive. Once the temperatures cool, its lovely clusters of dainty, creamy-bell flowers provide interest for my honeybees, still foraging on warm afternoons.

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Enjoy whatever blooms you have–indoors or out.  Then check out the many bloom posts by visiting May Dreams Gardens.

 

Wildflower Wednesday, August 2014

Today I join Gail at clay and limestone with heat loving wildflowers for August. No longer cool nor even somewhat pleasant, we’re crawling down the hard stretch of summer here in Austin, Texas. But the light is different and once in a great while, I feel a slight change to the breeze. When there is a breeze.  I say that every year, to anyone who will listen: Sometime in August there is a change–the air is different, the breeze is different! Usually those I’m in conversation with roll their eyes and smirk.

I get lots of smirks.

There’s no smirking though when viewing  this hot, summer/fall blooming GoldeneyeViguiera dentata.

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A few of these flowers open throughout the summer months, but in October? Watch out! There will be an explosion of yellow.

The ridiculously pink Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala, is a long-blooming native perennial. These pinks,

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look almost too pink.  They open in the wee hours before dawn and close in the afternoon heat.  This group is tired of the heat and are closing up shop for the day,

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…while this group contends with both heat and sun.

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By 4pm in hot August, Rock Rose blooms are done for the day. Fresh, perky blossoms will open for business early the next morning.

The glory of Purple ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea, 

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is over for the year.   I leave the gone-to-seed flower heads as long as possible for finch nibbling, but the blooms are crispy now and I’ve pruned most back to their rosettes. After the spring/summer blooms are done and pruned, there’s usually a second flowering that is shorter in stature, but very welcomed,

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…by pollinators and people.  Later in fall, Purple Coneflower will segue again into seed production for winter finch food.

YarrowAchillea millefolium, is taking a bow for its long bloom season as well.  All of mine, save this patch,

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are pruned to their ground foliage for the year.  I’ve always found the ecru disks of spent blooms as attractive as the snowy white of the peak of Yarrow season, so I keep them through the long summer months.

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The finches appreciate the seeds, too.

Turk’s Cap,  Malvaviscus arboreus, blooms magnificently during this toasty time of year.

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Visited by bees,

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Turk’s Cap produce scads of swirled lovelies with pollen and nectar galore and will do so for another month or two.

Frostweed, Verbesina virginica, employs a hopeful common name.

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Frost.  That’s hard to imagine right now. Frostweed’s snowy blooms evoke a coolness we can only dream about with our daily 100 degree-plus temperatures and the death rays of the August sun.

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Flowering will continue into September, giving way to seed production in the fall.

Slather on the sunscreen, drink plenty of fluids and traipse over to clay and limestone to see other hot August wildflowers.