2019 in review

Sharing memories of 2019’s garden, with hopes that this reminds us all that happy days will come again.

Best new addition

Meadow blazing star…

A stem with three purple flowers that look like bird nests

…which really is a monarch magnet.

stem of blooming purple flowers, leaning horizontally, with a monarch hanging upside-down

Other new plants

Swamp milkweed was successful in my yard for the first time!

two clusters of pink-colored milkweed flowers, the ones in the foreground blooming and the ones in the background budding

I planted this thimbleweed from seed several years ago, and it finally appeared.

six short yellow flowers

This is narrow-leaved coneflower, the native version of the popular purple coneflower found nearly everywhere. I bought just one of these plants and it seemed pretty lonely in its new spot in the garden. Hopefully it will spread quickly.

a flower viewed from above, with a spiky flower disk and long, narrow pink petals falling away

I also purchased two other blazingstars (rough and prairie), a bottle gentian, two blueflag iris, and aromatic aster. (The other pots are plants that are, ahem, still hanging around from 2018.)

13 potted plants resting on a staircase

Successes

All of the milkweeds and the blazingstars did well — possibly because we fenced them in and the rabbits didn’t get to eat them this year. (This one is whorled milkweed.)

closeup of white-colored milkweed flowers, half blooming and half budding

The false indigo produced one flower spike in 2018. The following year: about 60!

shrubby plant with a half-dozen purple spikes of flowers with orange pollen

It had a relatively short blooming period, but it was much loved by bees when the flowers were around.

two spikes of purple flowers, with a bee posing on the left

Wild ginger is doing spectacularly, especially in the more shaded backyard garden.

a mass of large, heart-shaped green leaves viewed from above

Fails

The bishop’s cap gave up after two years, possibly crowded out by violets.

the tag for a bishop's cap plant, nearly covered by a blooming purple violet

The butterflyweed up front, which was a huge two-colored beauty for years and was a host of many monarch caterpillar eggs in years past, and survived the sewer reconstruction of 2018, petered out in 2019. These buds did bloom, but that was the extent of the plant.

one cluster of orange buds, above somewhat curled leaves

Oopsie

When pulling grass from my backyard garden, I suddenly realized I had gone too far and hit the spiderwort.

about a dozen green stems that appear to have been cut at about 2 inches above the ground

Fortunately, it was early enough in the year, and it grew anyway, blooming for the first time.

a three-petaled purple flower

This wild columbine survived being eaten by deer (twice) and a transplant during the blooming season. What a strong plant!

closeup of a pink-and-yellow flower that hangs upside-down, with five more in the background

Unwanted

This pretty vine…

many six-inch stems with small oval-shaped leaves

…turned into the pretty but invasive crown vetch. Out it came.

overhead view of a round, light-pink flower

And I gasped when I saw this one: garlic mustard! I spend hours helping parks get rid of this terrible invader! And I probably carried seeds back home with me on my shoes from one of those events. I pulled it out long before it could create seeds.

overhead view of one small, four-petaled white flower above many large, scalloped green leaves

Best unexpected find

Bird’s nest fungus! It’s obvious how this one got its name. Notice the (small) clovers for perspective on just how tiny these treasures are.

10 small round cups with flat, light-brown circles inside

New bugs

This chrysalis was hiding under a common milkweed leaf. Could be a red admiral; I’m not sure. I watched it for a couple weeks but it disappeared — likely eaten, since the chrysalis “shell” was gone.

a brownish, spiky chrysalis hanging on the underside of a leaf that's been turned up

I believe this is a red admiral caterpillar. It’s so blurry because it was almost dark and my phone did the best it could to compensate. I was looking for caterpillars on the pennsylvania pellitory plants in my front yard, since I’ve heard they are a host plant, and I lucked out! Good reminder that what we may consider a weed (in this case, a mildly aggressive sticky weed) may be vitally important for our insect friends.

a nearly black, spiky caterpillar on a small, light-green plant

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