Geranium-like Yard Weed Pretty in Pink

This little hot pink weed drew my attention as I was weeding the herb patch.

It looks like a miniature Wild Geranium which blooms in late Spring, but this plant grows its vegetation in the summer and blooms a few months after the wild geraniums are done blooming for the year.

Hot Pink Geranium
Hot Pink Geranium

It is a geranium for sure, take a look at the simple flower construction and the long “beaked” seedpod at the top left.

How to find out which geranium, you ask? Of course the Internet can be your friend in seeking answers to all your questions, but sometimes an old-fashioned book is worth its weight in gold.

Try flipping through the color sections of Peterson’s Wildflower Field Guide to find a similar-looking drawing and read the specifics about your look-a-like plant. Match up the flower and leaf descriptions and you’re good to go!

Another great book to use for flowering plant identification is Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. It uses a key system to identify our pretty flowering friends. Decide if the flower construction is simple or irregular. If simple, how many repeating parts are there? In this case each flower has “5” pink petals. Answer similar questions to identify the plant type and leaf type and Newcomb will lead you to your flower.

If it’s a flower I’ve seen before and just can’t remember the name, I’ll flip through Peterson’s guide and usually find it quickly. Sometimes Newcomb’s guide can help you find a new plant faster, especially if it’s a flowering vine or shrub. Each book has their strengths and both are invaluable in the field, so take one along on your next wildflower walk.

Blooming Anise Hyssop Attracts Bees and Butterflies

Anise Hyssop or Giant Blue Hyssop has been blooming at the edge of our garden for a couple of weeks now.

This purple-flowering plant is native to the American plains, but we have found out that it grows quite well in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania.

The blooms are pretty spikes of purple that grow longer as the plant blooms for a few weeks time. That’s a nice thing about anise hyssop in that the blooms are long lasting.

Anise Hyssop in full bloom will attract bees and butterflies.
Anise Hyssop in full bloom will attract bees and butterflies.

Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers like crazy. Standing near the hyssop one can hear the buzzing of the bees that visit constantly. We’ve seen several kinds of butterflies and hummingbirds visit the blossoms as well.

The leaves smell of anise and can be used to make a tasty tea that is sweet enough to not require sugar or honey!

All-in-all Anise Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum, is one nice garden plant because it attracts pollinators, provides beautiful flowers to look at and leaves for tea, and it’s a perennial too!

Joe Pye Weed and Loosestrife Purple Along the Roadside

Several purple flowering plants can be seen along most country roads that haven’t recently been mowed.

Most notable among these pretty flowering weeds are the tall Joe Pye Weed and Purple Loosestrife.

Joe Pye Weed can reach more than 6 feet tall while Purple Loosestrife tops out at 4-5 feet tall.

The flowers of Purple Loosestrife are held in spikes with a vertical look to them, while the purple flowers of Joe Pye Weed are more like rounded clusters. The purple color is similar between the two plants.

Joe Pye Weed (left) and Purple Loosestrife (right) flowering along a country road.
Joe Pye Weed (left) and Purple Loosestrife (right) flowering along a country road.

Other purple flowering weeds are yet to make their presence known, including New York Iron Weed and New England Aster. Look for them to start flowering at the end of the month and well into September.

Mosquitoes Lay Eggs on Still Water No Matter How Shallow

Unforgotten buckets left to collect rain water can be perfect places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. The small amount of water that accumulates in discarded tires is deep enough for mosquitoes to carry on generations.

How shallow are we talking? Only a 1/4 inch or so is all the water that’s needed for a mosquito to lay her rafts of eggs on the water’s surface. As long as the water is still or stagnant mosquitoes will find and use the smallest puddles that can’t be used for much else.

Take this shallow indentation in a plastic chair. Rain water collected in the seat of the chair and was left to lay. Algae grew, leaves and dirt collected in there, and eventually a mosquito found her quarry.

Shallow water in a chair seat was deep enough for a mosquito to lay her eggs.
Shallow water in a chair seat was deep enough for a mosquito to lay her eggs.

Even though the depth of the water was minimal the stagnant puddle was perfect for laying eggs.

Watch this video showing how mosquito larvae wriggle around in the shallow water.

Shortly after that video was taken the chair was tipped over to remove the standing water. To reduce the mosquito population around your house, make sure to tip over any buckets or other objects that can collect rain water.

New Lavender Flower in Grassy Field

A new flower for me. Had I not taken a second look my scanning of the empty field would have lumped in this new flower with the chicory that was starting to bloom everywhere.

But wait a minute…chicory is a powder blue color and its blossoms seem to be stuck to the main stem at random places. This new flower was terminal on a long stem. The main stem rose up a couple of feet into the air and at the end was a single composite flower of irregular flowers.

Field Scabious Among the Tall Grasses
Field Scabious Among the Tall Grasses

(Photos taken 26 June 2014.)

Field scabious flowers held high among the grasses of an open field.
Field scabious flowers held high among the grasses of an open field.

The petals were a softer color more to the purple side of blue, like lavender. And the petals were shorter and didn’t have the teeth at the tips like the fringed petals of chicory. Continue reading

Is That A White Phlox Blooming in Summer?

The other day I was driving over to an Amish woman’s vegetable stand when I spotted this group of plants that looked like a small version of phlox blooming in white at the edge of a corn field.

How could a phlox be blooming in the heat of summer? I thought phlox was strictly a spring-blooming plant, so of course I had to stop to look a bit closer and find out what these pretty white flowers were.

Bouncing Bet flowering next to a country road near a cornfield.
Bouncing Bet flowering next to a country road near a cornfield.

(Photos taken 10 July 2014.)

Bouncing Bet has been introduced in North America and is native to Europe. It can be found across the United States in waste places and in great masses along roads and at the edges of fields.

The plants stood about a foot tall and may continue growing taller and still Continue reading

Teasel Fills an Empty Lot

Teasel is an alien plant and it looks weird, too.

Approaching 6 feet tall, the alien teasel plant is easily recognized, partially by its height and partially by its spines and prickles.

Teasel growing in the gravel of an empty lot.
Teasel growing in the gravel of an empty lot.
Teasel can be found as a roadside weed.
Teasel can be found as a roadside weed.

Long triangular leaves embrace the stem from opposite directions. Sometimes the pair of leaves form a cup that can catch rain water.

The long stems sport many prickles that announce themselves to anyone grasping the tall stem of this plant. Don’t they look absolutely painful in these photos?

Teasel is an all together prickly plant. The brown flowering heads from last year can be seen in the background.
Teasel is an all together prickly plant. The brown flowering heads from last year can be seen in the background.

The flowering head of the plant is topmost and full of spines just daring you not to touch it. Teasel, Dipsacus sylvestris, can be found flowering from late summer into autumn. It’s also known as Fuller’s teasel, D. fullonum. Continue reading

Bee Balm Blooming Brilliant Red in the Middle of July

The blossoms of bee balm are oddly shaped and at the same time beautiful. Bee balm blooms in bright red in sunny locations in the middle of July.

We checked an area that is known to have had bee balm growing there in the past and this year we were lucky to see some Monarda didyma plants blooming.

Bee Balm, Monarda didyma, blooming bright red in July.
Bee Balm, Monarda didyma, blooming bright red in July.

One year we came by this way and the very next day after we spotted Continue reading