Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Life in the Meadow Garden

My little meadow garden is much farther along this year than it was this time last year. Mostly this is due to plants spreading both by seed and underground rhizomes, bulbs, and other such root divisions. I need to weed out some of the Creeping Charlie becuase it's climbing all over everything. But otherwise it's fairly weed free. Rudbeckias are coming up all over the place and should form a nice carpet of yellow later in the year, but for now I have the bright pink blooms of Western Spiderwort, Tradescantia occidentalis, to enjoy.

The earliest bumblebee workers as well as an assortment of hover flies have been pollinating them. I love how soft looking the pollen anthers look; as if they were made out of foam or something.

Elsewhere in the garden hover fly larva feed on aphids, and somehow go unnoticed by ants or even other aphids.

Along the Coreopsis tips a plethora of lady beetles have landed (free of charge) and help to control the aphid numbers. There are four of them in this picture alone.

Pavement Ants, Tetramorium species E. have taken to tending some of the aphid herds. This is somewhat unusual becuase pavement ants don't usually climb plant life to obtain a meal, at least it seems less in their nature as seen in other ant species.

Leaf Hoppers are a distant cousin to the aphid, but they've opted for mobility and don't have as many associations with ants.

Young Baptisia alba, plants I'd started as plugs when I first planted the meadow garden three years ago are finally going to flower. I'm not sure if the addition of this plant was a good idea or bad. Because they produce their own fertilizer, they're nitrogen fixing, and encourage certain types of plants to grow better than others.

Also flowering for the first time this year is Purple Milkweed, Asclepias purpurascens.