Early June in the Garden

 

Scarlet bee balm (Monarda didyma) always looks like it’s wearing a party hat when in bloom.

I always carry my camera with me when I step outside this time of year, even if I’m just walking the 100 yards to the mailbox. If I don’t bring it, some butterfly, bee, bunny, or bird does something photo-worthy that I don’t catch if I’m unprepared. These shots are what I caught today.

I spent the morning working in the vegetable garden. I needed to work longer, but the sun is ferocious, the humidity unforgiving. Yesterday, I finally harvested our first squash and first two eggplants. We ate them last night and I can report that they were delicious. Today, I picked another eggplant, decided to give a couple of squash one more day to fill out, exhorted the tomato plants bent low with the weight of green orbs to hurry up and ripen, and rejoiced in sighting the first bean flowers on all three varieties I’m growing. A little photographic documentation follows. To enlarge a photo and see its caption more easily, click on it.

To get to the vegetable garden, I travel through the front yard and pollinator gardens. Here’s a sample of what I saw today.

In the center of my front yard, the Chinese Pearl-bloom tree commands full attention as it nears peak bloom.

Chinese Pearl-bloom tree (Poliothyrsis sinensis)

We especially enjoy this time of year because of the near-daily emergence of tiny new amphibians from the front water feature. A few days ago in the early morning after a night-time shower, Wonder Spouse and I counted 25 hiding on various plants growing nearby. I suspect that most are Cope’s Gray Treefrogs, but I’ve heard other amphibians singing lustily beside the pond at night too, especially Narrow-mouthed Toads. When they are this tiny, though, I have no idea how to tell them apart.

Every day brings new discoveries, fresh food, and hard work. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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  1. #1 by tonytomeo on June 9, 2018 - 2:29 pm

    Those frogs are rather scary. They are small enough to hide out and get into weird situation. The big ones are at least easier to keep track of, and avoid an altercation with.

    • #2 by piedmontgardener on June 9, 2018 - 3:40 pm

      Seriously? I have lived in the southeastern US all my life, and I have never had an altercation with a frog. I have always found them to be extremely shy, and none of ours are poisonous, unlike some that live in South and Central America. I consider all frogs to be great additions to the ecosystems they inhabit, and their spring chorusing infuses the night air with lusty enthusiasm. I encourage you to look more closely at the amphibians you share your world with, as well as all other fauna and flora. All serve vital purposes that keep our ecosystems functioning.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      • #3 by tonytomeo on June 9, 2018 - 4:06 pm

        Banana slugs contribute as well, but I still do not like to find them in the garden. The big toads that come out at night creep me out. I do not doubt that they are doing what they need to do for the ecosystem, but I would prefer to stay out of their way while they are doing it. While working in riparian areas, the small frogs that live there sometimes jump onto me as they flee the foliage that I am disturbing. It totally freaks me out, not because I am all that afraid of them, but because I am afraid of squashing them. Even though I know they jump off quicker than they jump on, I will not move until I know that none of them are in my way. They are so soft and squishy! There is also this big salamander who moves very slowly. If I try to make him move out of the way by prodding him with a stick, he makes a scary croaking sound. I just don’t mess with salamanders.

      • #4 by piedmontgardener on June 9, 2018 - 4:15 pm

        Ah, so you live on the west coast of the US then. I’ve never met a banana slug, and from what I’ve seen, that’s just fine with me. I think perhaps the frogs on your coast may be more numerous, or hide in different places. I’ve never had one jump on me as I’ve moved through the woods. I can see how that would be alarming, and why you would want to be cautious so as not to squish them. Likewise, I’ve never heard any of the salamanders I encounter make any kind of noise at all. However, last week I was bent over weeding when a bird briefly landed on the top of my head. It didn’t seem to be trying to make me move, since it didn’t make any noise or repeat its maneuver, but it definitely startled me. 🙂

  2. #5 by sweetgumandpines on June 9, 2018 - 9:06 pm

    Cute little froggies. I haven’t seen many in my piedmont garden this year, but the box turtles have been enjoying all the rain.

    Narrowmouth toads always sound to me like a very unhappy sheep.

    • #6 by piedmontgardener on June 10, 2018 - 6:03 am

      Welcome, sweetgumandpines (great name)! I was amazed when we added our tiny growing-season-only water feature to our front garden, because despite the proximity of a healthy wetland, amphibians moved in with gusto to reproduce right there. I assume the site is deemed safer from predators, although I have seen evidence of raccoons “fishing” it at night sometimes. I think your description of the call of Narrow-mouthed toads is exactly right — unhappy sheep!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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