Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spiraea densiflora--Rose colored Meadow Sweet

Fuzzy Fragrant pink balls of tiny flowers on a short shrub. Then brownish seedheads that can be used in dried arrangements. Bronzy red fall color.

In bloom and for sale on the plant deck at the UC Botanical Garden now.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Epipactis gigantea--Stream Orchid

I put these in my blog about a year ago. They are blooming again and I can't resist another post.

This orchid likes moist places and grows all over the west, not just in California. A very beautiful orchid in a subtle way. To appreciate it one has to take a moment to actually find it and look at it, because the maroon and green flowers can fade into the background. In bloom now at the UC Botanical Garden.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sidalcea malvaeflora--Checkerbloom

Yesterday it warmed up and the butterflies came out. While I was looking for eggs in the front yard (to take to the old folks home, see previous post) I found this West Coast Lady on the mallow in my driveway. I put the plant in years ago and never expected it to survive, since I don't baby my plants. All I do is pull up the weeks occasionally. But it has done rather well between the concrete strips of my ribbon driveway. And I think it is great that this butterfly thought it was the perfect place for her offspring.

So, this plant is easy to grow. It has pretty pink flowers. It tends to flop over and has grown very close to the ground in my yard, but I have read that the bloom stalks are often more upright. This plant can withstand heavy clay soil, like that found in Berkeley and beyond. That is unusual for native, it seems like most of them like good drainage. This plant is a real winner in my book!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living

Today, Andy and I went out to Danville to give a butterfly presentation at an old folks home. The people were really sweet, they really enjoyed seeing all our specimens. It was a very pleasant spot. It had comfortable seating on the patio. Art made by the residents lined the walls. A huge aviary with beeping birds was being cleaned while we were there. And of course, they had a nice common room with a lovely tv for the presentation. Some people fell asleep soon after we started, but that was okay. Usually, we have people come up to the table to see specimens, but instead we walked the jars around the room. That seemed to work pretty well. After the presentation, we walked out to the garden and gave them some ideas about where to put butterfly plants. So it all went very smoothly, even though it was our first time at an old folks home. But I'm glad I don't live in Danville. It was hot!

Monday, June 13, 2011

I've got Gulf Fritillaries eating my Passiflora subpeltata "Berkeley." This variety of Passion Vine has white flowers with a lavender halo.

If you look carefully at the pics of the caterpillar, you can see the shed skin (exoskeleton) behind the larva and the shed head capsule in front. It has just finished molting.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lonicera involucrata--Twinberry

The fruit of the Twinberry is the most distinctive feature, as the name would suggest, but I didn't get a pic of the berries (in the last photo). They are dark, almost black, and come in pairs, like the flowers. The flowers are nice, but I think bracts (in the first photo) are prettier. After the flowers fall, the deep red bracts open and become quite showy. Seems kind of pointless to have such showy bracts when it is not trying to attract pollinators. I wonder what is going on there.

This bush is native to the west coast, all the way from Mexico to Canada. As you might expect, given the range, it tolerates a wide range of conditions. It likes full or part sun, is not picky about soil and is drought tolerant although it looks better with water. It is a great ornamental plant and is available now on the plant deck at the UC Botanical Garden.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Prunella vulgaris--Heal-All or Self-Heal

This plant is called for Heal-All and Self-Heal. Does it cure itself when it gets sick? I don't know. But I do know that it has been considered a panacea in many different cultures for a very long time. It has been used for pink eye, diarrhea, sore throat, internal bleeding and on and on. All parts are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked, although it is a bit bitter. Because of the taste, many herbivores don't eat it. But bees and butterflies use the nectar.

It has pretty purple flowers and can make a lovely ground cover in part shade. However, it can be invasive.

I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago, but it has a long bloom season so it is probably still flowering in the herb garden at the UC Botanical Garden.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Potentilla anserina--Cinquefoil

I like this low-growing plant with ferny foliage and bright yellow flowers. But I have found that the Potentilla doesn't sell very well. Seems like people don't buy plants with yellow flowers because they are too ordinary. But this is a very dependable plant for sunny areas. Give it a try! I dare you to buy one and put it in your garden!