Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wild Autumn Asters & Other Growings On

Romie and I took a walk down to the cemetery after we got home from him getting his weekly allergy injection. It was such a nice evening, and very warm for October. The average temperature for this date in our area is 69° F. We reached 84° F today.

It's a short distance from our house to the cemetery, with a shallow ditch on the west side of the road. As we were walking, I noticed all the familiar autumn wildflowers and other things growing there. I had taken my camera along and was glad I did.

The first thing I noticed was the dock growing right in the ditch bottom. It looked exactly like my bloody dock (
Rumex sanguineus) I'd gotten earlier this year that was currently residing in our new pond, except it didn't have the dark red veining. I think maybe I'll dig a couple of clumps and situate them just outside our pond, next to the bloody dock.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) grows along the roadside much of the summer and while its bloom season is pretty much over, there are still a few blooms here and there. I've always loved this wildflower and have been tempted to relocate some to the garden. Kara has mentioned that she wants to do this as well. I've planted native wildflowers in my gardens many times before, but rarely have I let them stay, because they tended to want to take over. After reading Jodi's blog entry from last week, I think we'll both try this one.

There was moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia) growing all over the place, as usual, because it's a very vigorous groundcover (read: invasive). Romie likes the looks of it and two summers ago, he had me dig some up to plant in a small area by the front door. It didn't take it long before it totally took over, and while I like it a little bit, I don't like it a lot, and I dug it all out. He'll just have to admire it down in the ditch on our walks.

I saw a fair amount of Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota), so I checked to see if it had the little dark purple floret in the center. Sure enough! It's not something that you might notice if you weren't aware it was there. It actually shows up better in the picture I took than it does in real life. The legend is that Queen Anne pricked her finger while tatting lace and this dot is a spot of blood.

For some reason, not each flower head of Queen Anne's Lace will have the purple floret in the center, though most do. The purple color is caused by anthocyanin, which is present in most red and purple flowers, as well as like-colored fruits and vegetables. Its purpose in Queen Anne's Lace is to attract insects, most of them very beneficial to the garden. Anthocyanin is also a powerful antioxidant, which is why red-skinned fruits such as apples and grapes are so healthful.

As we got to the cemetery, we heard a high-pitched "Whoop!" coming from the back of the cemetery. We both stopped and looked at each other, as if to confirm that we had not imagined the sound. We heard it several more times and quietly walked towards it, keeping our ears and eyes open for more clues as to what it was. Romie spotted it first, sitting at the highest point of a small tree - it was a rather large owl and as I tried to zoom in with the camera to capture a picture of it, it took flight back to the woods. We could hear it whooping back there for quite awhile afterwards.

Last summer, I'd heard a similar sound in the early evening in our back yard. It wasn't the normal owl sound, so I didn't recognize it as such, but used logic in trying to figure out what kind of animal or bird makes sounds like that after dark. It was the mating call of a female owl. I forget now which kind of owl it was, but it was an awesome thing to hear and definitely not something you encounter often. The one we heard tonight reminded me of that.

As we were leaving the cemetery, I looked down and noticed an almost perfectly shaped dandelion (Taraxacum sp.) seed head. The sun had set just moments before, and the sky was that beautiful shade that is somewhat ephemeral, only lasting a matter of minutes before the night sky begins to take over.

I got right down on the ground to get in close, yet tried to include the beautiful shades of color the sky had become. I wasn't entirely successful in getting the image I was hoping for, but I'm still pretty happy with the result of my efforts.

As we returned home, I noticed yet another wildflower that was abundant on both sides of the road. I grabbed a handful of them to take home for a water-filled glass and Romie and I discussed what it was. He said daisy, I said aster. It could have been either, but the season of bloom and the clusters of flowers made me think it was more likely to be a wild aster of some sort. I got out my Wildflowers of Ohio book and as far as I can tell, it's probably Heath Aster (Aster pilosus).

Once home, I checked on the Monarch chrysalis and noted no change. Looks like we just might have to take it on the road with us tomorrow, as Mom and I, along with Sue (from the Van Wert Parks Department), are going to Cleveland to accept an environmental award for the Smiley Park Children's Garden tomorrow night.

Saturday, we're going to visit another Petitti's Garden Center location in Strongsville and hopefully get to meet Kim (a.k.a. blackswampgirl) there. We tried to meet up earlier in the spring, but it didn't work out. Maybe this time!


Unknown said...

How wonderful of you to focus on some of our lovely wildflowers, Kylee. I happen to belong to that scandalous group of individuals that loves dandelions--even in my lawn! They save many a bee's life in the spring when they are producing food for hungry pollinators.

I got a real chuckle out of the thought of you and your Mum taking your chrysalis on your road trip. I REALLY wish I could draw cartoons! Safe trip, all of you....

Anonymous said...

That dandelion photo is stunning. Maybe not what you were aiming for, but beautiful nonetheless. Have a great roadtrip and I can't wait to see the butterfly emerge!

MrBrownThumb said...

Nice pics Kylee. The dof on the last one is really nice.

Mamma Sarah said...

I love your dandelion photo (both actually). Amazing how a "weed" can be so beautiful!

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