The National Garden Bureau announced that butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, is the 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year, chosen by the Perennial Plant Association. What a great pick! Butterfly weed is a North American native, a butterfly magnet, and host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars. I love its distinctive flower formation: five petals that hang down, and five upright curved petals called hoods, each with one horn. It comes in orange, red or yellow. As you can see, mine is orange.
|Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa|
Butterfly weed has no serious insect or disease problems. (Mine tends to attract an orange colored aphid with no notable effect.) Deer usually avoid it even though it has very little poisonous sap found in other members of Apocynaceae -- the milkweed family. This long-lived perennial, thrives in full sun and average to dry soil. I have the perfect spot ...
I created a small pollinator garden with liatris Liatris spicata 'Kobold'; purple cone flower Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'; phlox Phlox paniculata 'David'; cleome Cleome hassleriana 'Rose Queen' (a self-seeding annual); and, of course, butterfly weed. As you can see below, butterfly weed and a few purple cone flowers are the first to bloom.
|The orange flowers of butterfly weed bloom before other perennials in my garden.|
|The pollinator garden in full bloom.|
Monarch butterflies love both milkweed and butterfly weed. I grow them in several spots in my gardens.
|Milkweed Asclepias incarnata|
"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly. "One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." -- Hans Christian Anderson
Amaryllis 'Ferrari' displayed eight gorgeous flowers on two stalks. When the flowers faded I cut off the stalks. A third one has a bud that is ready to open, so I placed the plant back in the south-facing window with 'Clown' and 'Picottee.' Clown has a bud but Picottee looks somewhat stunted.
|Left to right: 'Ferrari', 'Clown' and 'Picottee'|
|Bud on Ferrari's third stalk.|
I'll keep you posted.
The Great Backyard Bird Count
February 17-20, 2017
February 17-20, 2017
It is nearly time for the 2017 Great Backyard Bird Count when birdwatchers all over the wold document the number and species of birds that visit their backyards. I look forward to this event every year. Go to the GBBC website for instructions and a toolkit. I hope you decide to participate this year -- put the dates on your calendar. Here are some of the birds in my backyard today ...
I hope 2017 has started well for you.
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