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.

An Easy Task

It’s a simple chore, this business of observing the growing season’s debut, a chore that requires only looking out the window or strolling along the pathway. Each day brings new life in the form of opening blooms, wafting tree catkins, and emerging wildlife ready for their pollinating, nesting, and procreating work.

Golden groundselPackera obovata, brightens March with full-of-sunshine-beauty.

A variety of small pollinators are attracted to these sweet flowers.  A tiny Miner(?) bee and her bee buddies are all over the shocking yellow blooms each day, this spring.

It looks like there might be a spider nearby–watch out little bees!

 

Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata, flush with terra cotta petals, beckon swiftly flying native metallic bees into alluring yellow throats.

The bees were  too fast for me to photograph competently, but the blooms held their position. Crossvine is one of Central Texas’ earliest blossoming vines.

Thanks to spring breezes, the Crimson flowers of the Old Gay Hill rose are accompanied by the downed catkins of a neighboring Red Oak tree.

 

Pink is the true color of the Purple coneflowerEchinacea purpurea,  just entering a long, glorious bloom cycle.

 

Another spring pink is the native to Central Texas, Hill Country penstemonPenstemon triflorus.

The tubular flowers typically align along tall bloom spikes, though this spring, the whole apparatus of this particular specimen nestles close to the ground.  The one currently in bloom waits for action from native bees, its stripes serving as a runway to a luscious nectar and pollen-filled destination.

Autumn sageSalvia greggii, blooms in a variety of colors.

This coral beauty is a reliable spring and fall bloomer, taking a break during our toasty summers, though it maintains a tidy, evergreen form in the heat.  Like so many other plants in my garden, the shrub is currently decorated with Red Oak.  The troop of Horsefly-like Carpenter bees, Xylocopa tabaniformis, who reside in my garden have no trouble finding the sweet spot(s) of these lovely blooms.

 

Another blooming vine, the Coral honeysuckle,  Lonicera sempervirens, is also a bee magnet.

Fortunately, this gorgeous bee (Sweat bee, Augochloropsis metallica ?)  rested between forays into the flowers, allowing for its capture in photo form.

Blooms are boss and for a look at a spring-flowering festival, check out Carol’s May Dreams Gardens celebrating all things blooming this March.

 

May Flowers

May flowers–it’s such a cliché–but one that I’m going to embrace on this balmy May bloom day. The pinks in my garden seem to be front and center at the moment. Dusty  pink blooms of this Red yucca,  Hesperaloe parviflora, pop against a backdrop of Soft-leaf yucca foliage.

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While the blooms adorning a different Red yucca bloom stalk flash a bit of yellow–just enough to keep things interesting.

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With abundant rain, the Rock rosePavonia lasiopetala, is flushed full of foliage growth, but the few first blooms are opening up,

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…and many more will follow during the long growing season.  In truth, this is a plant that is floriferous in moderate drought; lots of rain produces lots of leaves, but fewer blooms. No matter, our summers are reliably dry and the multitudes of Barbie-pink blooms will turn heads as they open early in the morning, close by mid-day,  throughout the long summer.

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The pollinators and the gardener will enjoy the on-n-off bloom cycles of this hardy, small shrub well into October.

Purple coneflower,  Echinacea purpurea (which look pink to me) are in full spring show.

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And the large shrub, Barbados Cherry,  Malpighia glabra, is blasting the garden with its clustered version of the pink and yellow combo.

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Additionally,  the Barbados Cherry blooms fill the air with a lovely fragrance.   You can’t smell the blooms while reading this post, but the fragrance is special–a May garden delight.

Barbados Cherry and Purple coneflower are pink pals in the garden.

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Pink does not rule all of my garden though.  The yellow (Aquilegia chrysantha) and yellow-red (Aquilegia canadensis) Columbines are on their way out, having bloomed since late February.  However, they’re still producing for the pollinators, with some energy set aside for future seed production.

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Columbines soldier on as spring wanes and the temperatures warm. A cool season plant here in zone 8b, I miss Columbines when they’re done, but always enjoy their fairy-like, shooting-star charm in the cool spring garden.

Heartleaf Skullcap,  Scutellaria ovata, is filling the back garden with drifts of grey and blue.

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While Majestic SageSalvia guaranitica, is truly grand in the royal blue it wears.

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Finally, the creamy blooms of Twistleaf yuccaYucca rupicola, have made their once-per-year appearance in the front garden.  Poised atop the tall (5 foot) stalk, they beckon to native and honeybees to sip and gather from their floral bounty.

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Once the blooms are done, I’ll trim the stalk–maybe drying it for further use as a stake for some wayward plant later in the year.   The foliage is handsome, year-round, lending structure and evergreen sturdiness to the garden.

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Somehow, I managed to choose photos of all these blooms with not a single pollinator in sight.  Pollinators are in the garden and in abundance–nectaring and pollinating, even if I didn’t capture that particular beauty in this round of photos!

Fortunate to live where May blooms are plentiful,  I thank Carol at May Dreams Garden for hosting this monthly bloom frenzy known as Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  Join in, share your garden pretties, then click over to her lovely blog to see and learn about blooms from many places.