Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Seasonal Celebrations: Summer 2013

Officially summer begins on June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. And everyone loves summer right?


Summer is time for outdoor fun, lazy days, family time, and trips to the beach or the cool mountains. All things I love about summer. One of the things I enjoy most is not adhering to a strict schedule; getting rid of the dreaded alarm clock, and being woken up by the birds singing.

this wren serenades me every morning! He has a big voice for such a little creature
I am joining Gardens Eye View for a look at our summer garden and the great outdoors.

Celebrating Pollinators

In my last post (Lessons Learned~Spring) I mentioned that we saw fewer butterflies and caterpillars this spring and it seems that the cooler weather has played a part. As we are in June now and the weather and humidity are picking up so are the butterfly sightings.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)
Summer is the peak of butterfly season and one of the purposes of our gardens is to provide habitat for these amazing insects. This includes nectar sources for adults, larval host plants, puddling sites, shelter, water and most importantly avoiding pesticides.

Black swallowtail larvae on fennel
The most recent reports show that wintering Monarch butterfly populations in Mexico have declined. Add to that our colder and wetter spring and the outlook looks austere for these butterflies.  We have several species of milkweed growing in our garden, to help sustain the monarchs on their spring/fall migrations as part of the Monarch Waystation project. These plants are thriving with the significant rainfall we've had this spring but for this gardener, the unoccupied milkweed is a sad state and I am hoping that later this summer we will be able to celebrate the monarchs when they find their way to Southern Meadows.

Asclepias tuberosa

Sightings of all species of  butterflies have been down this season so I delight even more in those that I do see. Makes celebrating them even more meaningful.

High Heat Survivors

This Spring's bountiful rainfall has spared gardeners the effort and expense of supplemental watering typical at this time of year. Normally, Summer is harsh here. I celebrate plants that can stand up to the high heat and drought. These plants not only provide lots of vivid color in the garden but they also provide nectar and shelter sources for the bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and a multitude of other pollinators. Here are some of my favorites:

Rudbeckia maxima

This giant coneflower is hard to overlook with its powder blue leaves and tall stalks that grow up to 6' tall! The extra large cone in the center is a pollinator treat.

Echinacea pupurea
Not only are butterflies and bees (especially native bees) all over Eastern purple coneflower all summer long but hummingbirds will visit them too. Echinacea is the Greek word for hedgehog, referring to the prickly looking dome shaped flowers which, according to my children, makes the "cool" factor of this plant even greater.

Kniphofia uvaria 'Echo Mango'

This hot poker plant provides continuous blooms during the summer months while attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. The blooms are like torches that glow at dusk.

bumblebee on hot lips sage

Pollinator Week is June 17-23. These critical insects play such an important role not only in our gardens but are necessary for a balanced environment in nature.  Take a look at the Pollinator Partnership site here to see what is happening in your area and how you can participate.


Fruit is Fast Food
 
Summer is berry time....blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries...we love them all! Most of the time we pick them right off the plant and eat them in the garden.

my niece stuffing her mouth with raspberries

When we are good and full we start collecting them in our basket for freezing. I've never been able to collect enough at one time in our garden to make jams so a visit to our local U-pick farm is a must this summer. I am also registered for a Jams & Jellies class at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia to learn the fine art of capturing summer's best flavors from fig preserves to blueberry syrup.


How do you celebrate summer in your garden? Do share your traditions by going to Gardens Eye View: Seasonal Celebrations for meme details here. Best wishes for a successful growing season this summer and hope that you see lots of interesting pollinators visiting your garden!

18 comments:

  1. It's still very much spring here,Karin, a longer one than is usual for this area. I've yet to see any butterflies, but the bees are happily exploring a few early roses. Your photos, as always, are wonderful.

    -Karen

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    1. We had a real spring here this year too! It was lovely! But summer arrived full force this week with temps in the 90s. It feels like a sauna with the humidity level too! Enjoy the rest of your spring-like weather!

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  2. What beautiful flowers and great photography.

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  3. I don't have any monarch cats on my milkweed yet either. Keeping my fingers crossed for later. That picture of your niece reminds me of how we used to take our boys blueberry picking. Nice memories.

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    1. It is great to see kids delight in such moments in nature! I haven't heard from anyone yet who has monarch cats. It is very worrisome! Albeit, historically I see more monarch in the fall migration than spring in our garden.

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  4. Just reading your post, I feel really in summer, we just started to have normal temperatures last week, it has been very cold spring and that was good for here was more green and flowers than usual and now the dormant season will start. I wasn't successful with my raspberry brought from Brussels. This will be the second summer and I already miss all the berries season you mention, in return I will enjoy the sea and seaside vegetation. I saw last week also the red sage, It smells beautiful! Happy summer!

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    1. Unseasonal temperature seems to be the norm this year around the world. What a bummer that your raspberries didn't grow successfully. I hope you enjoy the seaside! That is a great way to spend the summer!

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  5. I've been watching for butterflies, too. I saw tons of them at the garden center about a week ago, but not many here. Saw one really pretty one today, though, but it flittered away before I could ID it. Good sign! Happy summer!

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    1. Yes, we do feel a bit of promise with each butterfly sighting. Since our summer heat has settled in this week I hope to see an increase in butterfly populations. The blooms are certainly there with all the rain we've had.

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    2. Summer heat hit with a bang (literally--thunderstorms!) this morning. Hopefully, more blooms and butterflies will follow! I just posted the Lessons Learned wrap-up: Thanks so much for participating!

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  6. Hi Karin, those are so beautiful shots, and i love your header! At least your summers are longed for, ours is too hot and dry and plants die too. We also just started our much awaited rainy season a month late on June 10. And that kid eating strawberry is so beautiful photo.

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  7. Wonderful photos! ~ Especially the wren ♥
    Great list of pollinator resources also...

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  8. It must be great taking kids to the u-pick-um farms. I can just see their beaming faces,(love the shot of your niece). But I bet they have the same joy in your garden too with all the plant varieties. The little wren does for sure!

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  9. I'm arriving late to this post since I've been on the road, but I'm glad I found it today. Lovely pictures, as usual, and we do love our pollinators, don't we?

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  10. I love the bumble bee on sage photo. Great photo of the little bird. Its a beautiful time of year.

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  11. I'm having my own Seasonal Celebration. I hope you'll visit. There is something to celebrate every day, I find, but especially in June.

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  12. The giant coneflower is very impressive! I could imagine all the pollinators that fight over it! Your bee photos are fabulous! And I loved the photo of your niece with the raspberries! :) I love picking fruit at this time of year (I, too, go to the pick-your-own places) and eating the fresh vegetables. Wish I were a better veggie gardener, but maybe I'll improve with time.

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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