A photo essay starting at the end and evolving backwards.
Clusters of berries that have been partially eaten, perhaps by birds that will spread the seeds to new areas:
Beautiful ripe berries:
Because there are berries, these two plants were female.
But get this: next year, both of these same plants will probably be male! Jack-in-the-pulpits change sex depending on how much energy they have stored. Producing berries takes a lot of energy, so usually the next year they’re male.
Family photo of four blooming jacks under their tall, umbrella-like leaves. I assume the two plants on the right are male, though I didn’t know to check while they were blooming. Next year I will look more closely!
Milkweed is such an important plant. Its leaves are the only thing monarch caterpillars will eat, and its flowers attract all kinds of pollinators. So it’s exciting to see several kinds of milkweeds taking off in my yard this year.
The whorled milkweed is the big winner. For several years I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t grow, even though I bought six-packs of plugs in two different years. And then we put up a rabbit fence, which has made all the difference. There are so many individual plants now that I lose track when counting.
I could tell, right when it first started coming up, that there would be more this year — notice the old stems next to the new shoots.
Now it seems like there are more and more whorled stems every day.
Poke milkweed is such a fun variety. This year it nearly quadrupled.
Swamp milkweed doubled…
…and it’s looking really good.
The common milkweed always shows up by the dozens, so I can’t honestly say that there are more than ever. But there are a lot, and that is good enough.
The prairie milkweed has never done much, but the two plants are back, so I’m happy.
So far, I’ve seen less butterfly weed than before. But it is always a late bloomer compared to the others, so maybe there’s still time for more to pop up.
Added together, there are hundreds of milkweeds in the front and back garden, which makes for great habitat for monarchs.
Now it’s caterpillar season. My garden has been fortunate to host possibly two dozen (or more) from this first generation of 2019. Even the whorled milkweed, with its skinny leaves, has four residents.