So continuing with a combination (flower and color) scheme today–the winner is the yellow-red bearded iris that we have in the front yard. We have them planted in a couple of different areas in the front yard, but only one actually flowered this year (the rest just showed the leaves).
So the name iris–actually refers to both the flower and the genus Iris (which has somewhere between 260 and 300 different species within). The origin of the genus name comes from the Greek goddess of the rainbow–Iris.
I’ve realized over the past few years that I have probably planted them in the wrong areas of the yard (they’re all currently under trees), to where they aren’t getting that much direct sunlight.
The one that flowered this year, it did get direct sun during the day off and on (depending on how the leaves were coming out on the trees). The ones that were planted in the other front garden, they’re in total shade. I may have to go out in the spring and dig them up and replant them in a more sunny area of the yard.
Hopefully if they’re replanted in sunnier spots, they’ll flower and attract the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Gardening is something that I enjoy doing (when it doesn’t feel like a million degrees outside), and maybe just maybe I need to start trying to make it a priority again (even if it’s small container gardening to begin with).
So I decided that I would try switch things up and may start a theme for this week in terms of my photography challenge. I just haven’t quite decided if the theme is going to be flowers, colors, or maybe both.
Therefore the winner of today’s photography challenge is the little blue flower I noticed on some of the ground cover in the backyard.
So I’ve realized that I’m not the greatest gardener or botanist in the world. When I decided to share this particular photo, I knew that I needed to know more about particular ground cover that it was a part of–so I turned to google.
Well, it is going to take me awhile to figure out the specific type of ground cover that we have in different parts of the yard. We’ve been calling it ‘periwinkle’, and that turns out to be the wrong name for the plant. Our other ground cover, ‘vinca’, is actually known as ‘periwinkle’ due to the color of it’s flowers. So our actual ‘periwinkle’ hasn’t started to flower yet.
This ground cover is actually an perennial that popped up in the yard years ago, and comes back every year. I actually need to move some of it to an area where we really don’t have anything growing and see if it will 1) take, and then 2) come back the following year.
Even these little blue flowers are important for the bees–it gives them food, and they help pollinate other similar plants (as I have no idea of this particular ground cover self pollinates or not). I actually saw some bees in the yard today–so that made my day.
I miss the days when I would walk past a holly bush and see them swarmed with honey and bumble bees. Now I feel like maybe things will turn out if I can see just a small handful during the week.
So the theme for the week’s photographs will be either color, flower, or both (it will depend on my mood and what I manage to photograph).
The winner of today’s photography challenge is the state
butterfly: the black swallowtail butterfly.
These butterflies are found throughout most of the eastern United
States, parts of Canada, and south through Mexico and Central America. It is
also the state butterfly for New Jersey and Oklahoma (where it can be seen from
March through October).
On my walk this morning, I was fortunate to see the black
swallowtail butterfly on some of the wildflowers along the shore. I wasn’t able
to get super close to the butterfly—I didn’t want to scare it off, so pictures
don’t do full justice to the beautiful butterfly.
I’m not certain whether I managed to get several pictures of a male or female black swallowtail. The distinguishable area is towards the bottom of the wings–the females have more blue towards the bottom of their wings. Also the males have larger yellow spots than the females do, but since I could’t get closer to it (I didn’t want to scare it off), I can’t say for certainty which sex it is.
These are rather large butterflies, as their wingspan can be between three and a quarter and four and quarter inches (so somewhere between eight and eleven centimeters). Females will lay eggs on the leaves and flowers of host plants (such as carrot, celery, dill to name a few), which then serve as food to the caterpillars. The young hibernate as a chrysalis (pupa) before emerging as an adult.
The adults feed on nectar from flowers, which include milkweed, thistles, and red clover (to name a few). One goal for this summer is going to try to identify this flowering plant. The black swallowtails aren’t the first butterflies I’ve seen on it this summer.
Today’s photographs come from our “quick” visit to the tall grass prairie preserve today. The Tall Grass Prairie Preserve is located just outside of Pawhuska, Oklahoma and is home to a fairly good size buffalo herd.
I’m betting you noticed that I had “quick” in quotes—when we were leaving the preserve, we ended up with a flat tire, just inside the preserve. Now, if you know Oklahoma geography—Pawhuska is a fairly small town, with the next largest city to get triple A service is a good hour away. So by the time triple A almost showed up, some kind strangers had stopped and helped us change the tire.
So the first few buffalo that we saw were probably within just a few hundred feet of the opening of the preserve. These guys were just grazing and enjoying having this part of the preserve to themselves.
So we managed to see some of the herd of buffalo—it numbers between 1 and 2 thousand animals. Some of the bulls were close to the road, while a another portion of the herd could be seen in the distance. Since there are calfs present, and we’ve had decent rainfall the herd has quite a good area to graze on this year.
There were probably about 150-200 buffalo that we saw off in the distance (which is a good percentage of the total herd). The calves, are the light brown ones.
So if you can see the one or two pale brown animals–those are the calves that were just born this year.
There were also still numerous wildflowers in bloom. These flowers included:
Butterfly milkweed, this was one that I had to google once we got home, as I hadn’t seen any blooming for quite awhile. This is another wildflower that is native to the prairies of the midwest. Prior to the 1930s, it was actually listed as dietary/herbal supplement, as it was served in tea to help treat chest inflammations.
Black-eyed Susan, which were growing along the road and out in the prairie. This plant is native to the prairies of the midwest, and while some parts of the plant are edible, other parts aren’t (it is used by certain Native American tribes as medicinal herb).
So it will be nice to maybe try to get back again in the fall to see possibly more of the herd (but without the added headache of a flat tire), and see what type of possible fall wildflowers we may see.
If you’re ever in the northeastern part of Oklahoma, the drive through the Tall Grass Prairies is totally worth it–you may or may not see buffalo, but you will see some land being transformed back to how it looked a couple of hundred years ago–prairies, which are a vital ecosystem for North America.
Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the
ornamental onion that we have planted in the yard. Luckily it is a perennial
and comes back year after year—though if I’m still around in the fall I might
try to get some more bulbs and plant some more. That way next spring/summer can
have others come up with hopefully different colors.
These flowers are actually numerous small flowers that
together look to make a larger “flower” that will hopefully attract some
honeybees to the yard.
These plants are nice to plant in areas that you want to deter rodents (for us—that’s mainly the moles, as the squirrels give the dogs exercise and rabbits know not to come into the yard), as most rodents don’t care for the taste of onions.
So in the fall if I remember to get some more bulbs (and if I’m still at home) I’m going to plant them in other areas of the yard to help deter the moles out of the backyard. I will also get some more daffodil bulbs and plant those as well (since they’re also a nice mole determent). But spring is here to stay and I’m sure that summer will be knocking at the door anytime.
So today’s photograph is of tiny yellow flowers on a bush in the backyard. We planted this bush about fifteen years ago or so (it was one of the many holes that the dogs dug and we plopped a plant into), and truthfully I’ve forgotten what the actual name of the plant is–we just call it the “prickly” bush.
You can’t see in the photo, but it also has numerous thorns on each and every limb, and if you even brush past it–it feels like the prick of a small needle.
The bush has numerous small yellow-red flowers opening this week, and I was happy that I was able to get a close up of flowers–they’re actually quite smaller and hard to normally see. The bush also has reddish green leaves, that once the heat of the summer hits, they’ll start falling off before coming back in the fall–to only fall off again in the winter.
One nice thing about the bush is that the birds use it as a “staging” area while they wait for their turn at the feeder which is nearby. So there are usually numerous sparrows and finches flying in and out of the bush during the day.
The holly is the general name for the Ilex plant genus (and this is the only living genus in the plant family Aquifoliaceae). The members of the this genus are evergreen trees, shrubs, and climbers (vines) that are found from the tropics to the temperate areas worldwide.
These plants are usually dioecious (where the male & female flowers are different plants)—hence I’m not really sure which plant that I took the picture of (male or female). These plants have glossy leaves with a spiny leaf ridge.
These bushes provide food and shelter for numerous different birds, and even insects. The tropical species are the ones that currently at the most risk due to habitat destruction and being overly exploited.
So today is international plant appreciation day, so I’m
taking time to appreciation some plants that most people get rid of in their
yards—the misfits, the unloved, the weeds or more appropriately the
Some people consider wildflowers to be weeds because they
pop up wherever they want—not necessarily where humans would like them to be,
and not all of them actually produce pretty flowers—some do, but others do not.
They also can spread throughout a yard as well, at times out competing the
grass for nutrients and that is one reason why people don’t like them.
So one of the plants that we allow to grow within the backyard is Creeping Charlie, though we do try to stay on top of it and pull about half out every other week, so we have ground cover, but it isn’t totally taking over the yard.
Creeping Charlie has several other names that it goes by
including ground ivy, gill-over-the-ground, alehoof, tunhoot, catsfoot, field
balm, and run-away-robin. It is a member of the mint family, and is a perennial
(meaning it will come back year after year) evergreen creeper.
The flowers of Creeping Charlie can range from blue to
bluish-violet to lavender and usually flowers in the spring. While the plant
can be considered an weed, there numerous insects that feed off of the plant
including several different species of bees—so to help the bee population—don’t
get rid of the Creeping Charlie in your yard.
The other photo is of pretty white flower of another yard
“weed”. This one has been a little harder to identify because if you google “weeds
with white flowers in Oklahoma” you get pictures of weeds with flowers—but only
about ten to fifteen percent of the flowers are white, and then none of them
look to be the same shape as the one in my picture.
So this one will remain unnamed for now until I can figure
So in terms of plant appreciation day—if it weren’t for
plants there wouldn’t be life on the planet. They are the ones that fix carbon
dioxide and release the oxygen that we breathe—so it is important to make sure
that there are plants (especially trees) around to do this—or no life. They’re
also important part of our diets, and we use them to provide shade, help reduce
noise, provide privacy, use in erosion control, modify temperatures, and help
reduce wind damage.
So remember even when life gets crazy to stop and enjoy the
beauty of the plants around us—because if they disappear—we won’t be far
Today’s photograph is of the blossoming wisteria in the backyard. Luckily I backed up quickly before taking this picture–as there as a wasp climbing around on the flowers just a few moments ago. I’m not scared (or allergic) to them–but I also don’t want to irritate them. Now back to the flowers.
The name wisteria encompasses a genus of flowering plants that are actually members of the legume family—Fabaceae.
This genus of plants expands by twining their stems around
available support—other plants, power lines, fences, and so forth. While the
main stem can provide initial support, as the plant grows, its limbs start
twining around sturdy non-moving objects in the immediate vicinity.
Other interesting facts about wisterias:
Flowering can be either from early spring (for some Asian
species) to mid to late summer for some of the American species.
The seeds that are produced in the late fall, are in
pods—but like numerous plants are poisonous to those who ingest them.
They can grow in poor quality soil, but will take off in
fertile, moist, well-drained soils. The best areas of the yard are those that
can get full sun at least part of the day.
They don’t need extra nitrogen added to the soil, due to
their symbiotic relationships with bacteria in their roots (they house nitrogen
fixing bacteria in nodules in their roots). The bacteria get a “safe” place to
live, and the plant gets some extra nutrients from what the bacteria generates.
Depending on how the plant was grown (seed, taken as a cutting, or grafted) will also impact on how long it will take for the plant to reach maturity for flowering; this can be anywhere from a few years to a couple of decades.
Today’s photograph (and short post) is brought to you by the flowering magnolia trees on campus.
These magnolia trees actually lose their leaves every year–which is one reason why at times I forget that they have gorgeous flowers in the spring. The flowers are all a nice dark lavender color and the leaves area also starting to pop out as well. Half the time I’m calling these tulip trees–because the flowers do resemble tulips–but on a tree.