Friday, August 30, 2013

Summer 2013 garden wrap up

     The seven foot tall joe pye weed and cutleaf coneflower plants are dominating the garden as we near the end of summer. 
Joe pye weed's pink flower clusters can be seen leaning to the left in this picture. The yellow cutleaf coneflowers are in the center. A small pink phlox grows in front.
Blue/purple mistflower mixed with brown-eyed susan (cutleaf coneflower leaning in).
Bow watches the bees pollinate the flowers. He attacks them if they fly too close to him/the ground.
Pete smells the butterfly milkweed. He follows me around while I weed.

Close ups. Cutleaf coneflower.

Cutleaf coneflower and blue/purple mistflower.
Cutleaf coneflower and white boneset. 
Brown-eyed susan.
Butterfly milkweed.

Young Fowler's toad. The toads began to populate the rock garden portion of the backyard at some point this summer. 
We hear them sing some nights.   

     There have been no monarchs in the garden this year. We did not come across any brood II 17-year cicadas in our area either. Pete happily snacked on annual cicadas instead.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Plant invaders

     Our suburban neighborhood has a green space that runs adjacent to a creek, Roland Run creek. The green space includes a baseball diamond, fields, a small woods, and the creek's levee, one portion of which doubles as a trail. Many sections of this green space, along with all of the riparian area along the creek, are overrun with invasive plants. According to the Maryland Invasive Species Council (MISC) almost all of the plant species I catalogued are considered species of concern. (I've included a few photos and species names below to give you an idea.) 
Porcelain-berry covering trees and shrubs along the creek.

Multiflora rose growing at the field's edge.

A tree-of-heaven stand taking root on the levee.

    Invasive plants are more likely to take over habitats made vulnerable by rising temperatures, disease, and fragmentation, which basically describes our suburban area. At this point chemical application would probably be necessary to remove the invasive plants along the creek. Still, I contacted MISC to learn more and see what else could be done. Many people, from "weed warriors" to DNR officials, responded. Apparently, most of this area is in the jurisdiction of the Highway Dept. under the Baltimore County Dept. of Public Works.
     In Maryland, a stormwater runoff bill has been passed, which may provide money to help combat invasive species problems like this in the future.  We'll see.
    In the mean time, if you're interested in learning more, getting involved, or registering a complaint, contact Baltimore County's Dept. of Public Works, local representatives, and/or attend this public meeting regarding the Roland Run floodplain.

Monday, August 12, 2013


     Swallowtail butterflies, mostly the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), have been our constant companions this summer.

A male eastern tiger swallowtail feeding on common milkweed at Oregon Ridge Park in June.
A female eastern tiger swallowtail feeding on swamp milkweed in a school garden in July.

A variety of swallowtail species, and other insects, feeding on bergamot, milkweed, and queen anne's lace in Shenandoah National Park last week.
     While visiting Syracuse, NY this weekend, I saw a giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) for the first time.  I did not get a picture, but this University of Florida web site includes some wonderful life cycle photos. (Giant swallowtails are considered pests in Florida. The larvae feed on orange trees.)