Posts Tagged Great Blue Lobelia

Wonder Spouse Photo Extravaganza

A firefly rests on a volunteer Morning Glory.

A firefly rests on a volunteer Morning Glory.

You’re in luck, loyal blog readers. Wonder Spouse found himself with some time this weekend, and he spent much of it post-processing the backlog of yard and garden photos that he had accumulated. All of the shots in this entry were taken in one morning in early September, as summer plants were fading, and autumn fruits and flowers were starting to appear. Remember that you can click on any photo to see a larger version.

Late summer through early fall is the peak bloom period for one of my favorite moisture-loving wildflowers: Jewelweed. Here’s a clump blooming on our floodplain:

The deer eat it, but sheer numbers ensure its reappearance each growing season.

The deer eat it, but sheer numbers ensure its reappearance each growing season.

You really need a close view to appreciate the delicate beauty of the flowers:

So gorgeous!

So gorgeous!

Late summer is always adorned with lobelias in my yard. Some are planted deliberately, but many randomly pop up without any input from me. I do take the ripe seed pods each fall and walk about the yard sprinkling tiny cinnamon-colored seeds as I go.

The deep scarlet of a Cardinal Flower contrasts with the gray tree trunk behind it.

The deep scarlet of a Cardinal Flower contrasts with the gray tree trunk behind it.

Equally breath-taking are the Great Blue Lobelias — same genus as the Cardinals, but a different species.

What's not to love about these deep blue towering beauties?

What’s not to love about these deep blue towering beauties?

Seed production was getting serious in early September when Wonder Spouse took these photos. Check out his gorgeous close-up of a Bigleaf Magnolia Seed Cone:

Magnolia macrophylla seed cone

Magnolia macrophylla seed cone

The Jack-in-the-Pulpits in the wetland still held on to their ragged-looking leaves, but they were being pulled down by the weight of their bright red fruits.

Bright red Jack-in-the-Pulpit fruits are easy to spot among the dominant greens and browns in the wetland.

Bright red Jack-in-the-Pulpit fruits are easy to spot among the dominant greens and browns in the wetland.

One Joe Pye Weed cluster was still blooming just a bit:

Joe Pye Weeds finishing their bloom cycle.

Joe Pye Weeds finishing their bloom cycle.

While a large one in the front yard was all feathery seed head:

Joe Pye Weed seed head

Joe Pye Weed seed head

The seeds of these River Oats made a nice resting spot for this little butterfly.

The butterfly is some kind of skipper, I think. I'm not good at identifying them.

The butterfly is some kind of skipper, I think. I’m not good at identifying them.

I don’t think I’ve ever written about my Garlic Chives. This easy-to-grow herb sends up lovely flowers every late summer. The leaves have a more assertive onion flavor than Chives.

Ornamental and tasty Garlic Chives

Ornamental and tasty Garlic Chives

Pollinators always swarm the Garlic Chive flowers when they open.

Fireflies seem especially fond of the flowers of Garlic Chives.

Fireflies seem especially fond of the flowers of Garlic Chives.

As is always the case, we encountered a few animal residents as we wandered our five acres that morning.

The Eastern Cottontail clan had a productive year, thanks to our abundant rainfall.

The Eastern Cottontail clan had a productive year, thanks to our abundant rainfall.

Web worms create unsightly webs in the trees, but never seem to negatively impact their hosts.

Web worms create unsightly webs in the trees, but never seem to negatively impact their hosts.

Cicadas thrummed their summer chants as usual. We spotted this shed skin during our wanderings.

Cicadas thrummed their summer chants as usual. We spotted this shed skin during our wanderings.

An American Toad didn't appreciate our accidental intrusion into his territory.

An American Toad didn’t appreciate our accidental intrusion into his territory.

And, finally, to close this impressive display of Wonder Spouse’s photographic skills, one of our many dragonflies. This large one was briefly resting on our TV cable line high above us, making for a positively artistic shot.

Most of the dragonflies left about the same time that Summer officially departed.

Most of the dragonflies left about the same time that Summer officially departed.

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Lobelia Season

Cardinal Flower

Nothing lights up the landscape on a cold January day like a few male cardinals perched on a snowy branch. Their fiery feathers draw the eye by adding sharp visual contrast to an otherwise black and white world.

The deep scarlet of Cardinal Flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) in an early fall landscape provide a similar effect. In a slightly faded green world, the tall stalks (3 to 5 feet) full of ruby-lipped flowers provide the eye a welcome place to settle.

This beauty, native to our floodplains and swamps, adapts well to more formal garden settings. For most of the year, a low basal rosette of leaves waits patiently. As long as you don’t bury the leaves in mulch or let the soil go completely dry, flower stalks will shoot up in mid-summer. A few flowers open in early August, but in my yard, they set the landscape on fire from late August through most of September.

Hummingbirds, always seduced by tubular red flowers, are the primary pollinators. Although I also have observed swallowtail butterflies delicately inserting their long tongues for the nectar.

New plants form a clump around the original rosette and are easy to pull apart and replant when flowers are replaced by seed capsules. After I relocate the new rosettes, I carry the seed stalks down to my floodplain, shaking them vigorously to release the seeds. If I’m lucky, next year, scarlet spikes will glow among the jewelweeds and goldenrods that also light my autumn wetland.

Two years ago, I decided to add our other native lobelia to my landscape.  One of the many benefits of membership in the North Carolina Botanical Garden is the free seed giveaway that members are offered every year. They send you a list of the native seeds they have to offer, and you send in your selections. Of course, the sooner you send in your picks, the more likely you are to get what you asked for. High on my list: Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica).

Great Blue Lobelia seeds proved to be just as easy to germinate as their Cardinal Flower cousins. I ended up with many, many tiny seedlings. I opted to grow them in pots for a year to get them to a better size for transplanting success. Last fall, I set out the basal rosettes in areas where my Cardinal Flowers were already flourishing.

Great Blue Lobelia flower stalks don’t grow quite as tall as their carmine cousins, topping out at a height of usually no more than three feet. But the deep blue flowers provide a tranquil, cooling rest for the eyes. And hummingbirds seem to enjoy them almost as much as Cardinal Flowers.

Because all parts of both species are quite poisonous, they are supposed to be less tasty to deer. But I’ve noticed that hungry deer will happily eat the flower stalks if given an opportunity. However, inside my deer-fenced area, and in a few other protected spots, my lobelias are flourishing, bringing a welcome burst of color to my late summer landscape.

Great Blue Lobelia

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