With every season, the bee garden adjacent to our front field transforms itself, moving a quarter of the way through its annual cycle. In the winter, it is mostly bare, with only stem skeletons topped with dried seed pods left standing as feed for the winter birds. Spring comes slowly, signaled first by the arrival of the umbrella-like mayapples and fragrant magnolia blossoms. Then thimbleweed springs up with its almost iridescent white flowers rising from a whorl of dark green leaves, and the St. John's wort begins to put out massive yellow flower clusters. With the approach of summer, comes the coneflowers, beebalms and trumpet vine.
But it isn't until September that this native garden comes into its full glory, with royal ironweed and millennial-pink Joe-Pye weed reaching ever skyward, interwoven with 8-foot cut-leaf prairie dock's leafless stems boasting yellow blossoms that follow the sun as it makes its way across the bluest skies. The goldenrods and asters provide a striking mix of yellows and purples while the mountain mint, boneset and wild quinine provide the perfect landing spots for all sorts of bees and butterflies. The native grasses -- prairie dropseed, switchgrass and bluestem -- shimmer in the sun's light, while black-eyed susans sway cheerfully along the western border.
The honey bees buzz in and out of their custom-built home, delighted to have an all-you-can-eat nectar buffet just outside their hive entrance, while hummingbirds hover and dart, hover and dart. Cardinals, mockingbirds and song sparrows sing sweetly from the tulip tree, while goldfinch snack on the spent coneflower seeds.
All in all, it is a lovely time to wander the stone path that Ed and Jack helped me lay with stones lifted from Lutz Creek at the far eastern edge of Farm Dover.
Come along on a walk with me....
In the garden...
St. John's-wort, Hypericum prolificumDevil's Walking Stick, Aralia spinosa*
Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium*
Prairie Dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis*
Big Bluestem, Andropogon gerardii*
Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum*
Cut-leaf Prairie Dock, Silphium pinnatifidum*
Ironweed, Veronia gigantea*
Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium fistulosum*
Stiff Goldenrod, Solidago rigida*
New England Aster, Aster novae-angliae*
Eastern Bluestar, Amsonia tabernaemontana
Foxglove Beardtongue, Penstemon digitalis
Maryland Goldenaster, Chrysopsis mariana*
Slender Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium*
Gray Goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis*
Thimbleweed, Anemone virginica
Rough Goldenrod, Solidago rugosa*
Culver's Root, Veronicastrum virginicum
Wild Quinine, Parthenium integrifolium*
Smooth Blue Aster, Aster laevis
False Blue Indigo, Baptisia australis
Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium*
Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea*
Orange Coneflower, Rudbeckia fulgida
Bee Balm, Monarda fistulosa
Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum*
Lanceleaf coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata
Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca
Swamp Milkweed, Aclepias Incarnata
Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans*
Star Magnolia, Magnolia stellata