Seen in the garden recently

Hummingbird moth

Hummingbird moth at wild bergamot by the patio

Summer is such a nice time in the garden. Many of the flowers are in bloom, the grasses are really starting to come in, and there is a lot of bird and insect activity. We have TONS of bees, and I’ve seen a few tiger swallowtail butterflies and a monarch (which are sadly rare this year.) I recently noticed a hummingbird moth in the garden for the first time, which was very cool. It seems to favor the native wild bergamot (monarda fistulosa), while actual hummingbirds ignore that and go to the royal catchfly, or another variety of monarda (monarda didyma) which is not locally native, originating from the northeastern US. I’m ok with that because the hummingbirds love it (I’m assuming because it’s red), and the insects can enjoy the native version (which I have plenty of.) Everyone wins! I’ve noticed varies bird families in the yard with their fledglings, such as chipping sparrows, robins, bluebirds and woodpeckers.

Purple prairie clover

Purple prairie clover on the south side of the house

A year makes such a difference. Last year we were in the middle of a big drought and the garden was in bad shape (even native plants were stressed by lack of rain.) This year we’ve had a surplus and all of the plants are doing great. Unfortunately because of last year’s drought and this year’s long winter, monarch butterflies are in serious decline. I’ve only seen one caterpillar and a few adults even though we have plenty of milkweed.

Royal catchfly

Royal catchfly – a hummingbird favorite!

I’ve spent a bit of time in the back of the yard, which I’d let become a bit more “wild” than the areas closer to the house. Unfortunately that means there have been a lot of weeds but I’ve managed to get those somewhat under control. We had a huge amount of stinging nettle and various other undesirable things. I’ve pulled much of that and also have been transplanting more aggressive natives out back where there is more room for them (mostly cup plant and wild bergamot). It’s been very satisfying to see all of the wildflowers blooming and watch the wildlife activity, where there used to be buckthorn and other invasive plants.


Wildflowers at the back of the yard

There is still more to do, always buckthorn and weeds to pull, but I’m very happy with how the garden has taken off this year. When I first started tackling the yard 6 years ago, I had no idea how much work it would be and how much I would learn in the process!

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