Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hibiscus; Mushrooms; Weeds & Wildflowers; Garlic Mustard

Hardy & Tropical Hibiscus 

Hardy Hibiscus
The hardy hibiscus (or perennial hibiscus) is a very large perennial. When you are purchasing them for outdoor use in the northern climates be sure to buy the hardy ones. They are a very large and tall plant so give them plenty of space. They can grow up to 10' tall. The flower itself is very large and dramatic as well. The plant needs plenty of water. They do not flower until the end of the season, usually late August or September. This plant will die down to the ground each winter and sprout up new growth in the spring. They usually are late coming up in the spring. The hardy hibiscus usually does not do well in warmer climates.

Tropical Hibiscus

The nurseries in our areas also sell the tropical hibiscus, but they are not hardy for the northern zones. You can have the tropical hibiscus outside for the summer, but they will not tolerate a freeze. The tropical hibiscus will stay green year round indoors and will continue to flower if located near a sunny window. The tropical hibiscus has leaves that are shiny and smaller than the hardy hibiscus and the flowers are smaller.

My Late Clematis Bloomer

Clematis: Mr. President
I had to cut this clematis back earlier in the season because it's leaves were pretty bad. Had a lot of brown curling edges. Not sure what caused it, but my clematises didn't do that well this year. I think it might have had something to do with all the rain we had earlier in the season. So when I cut this back I really wasn't expecting anything, but it sent up nice green leaves, and the buds started forming, and. . . . Voila!

Rain drops on redbud leaves 
I was walking in my backyard this morning and I thought these were just leaves on the ground,

but upon closer examination. . .

I have no idea what kind of mushrooms these are. I can see where something has been nibbling on them. Maybe a mouse? And there is a slug on top of it (in the upper middle of the above photo). Maybe the slugs eat them. I have a friend that loves mushrooms and has picked and eaten them in the past, but she advised me that some mushrooms are very poisonous and by even touching them you can get sick because of the spores on them. I checked this on the Internet because I wasn't sure about it and she was right. Here is a link to Exposure to Mushroom Spores. Unless you are very knowledgeable of the different mushrooms I wouldn't handle them or allow children to handle them either.

I think the light areas on this mushroom is from something that was eating them. 

"What is a Weed?

   A plant whose virtues have never been discovered."

 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Weeds & Wildflowers

This thistle plant was coming up in one of my gardens and I just let it bloom!  I love the white highlights on this flower. It looks like it's a fiber optic light. (I left this in my garden too long and it went to seed.)

Wild Asters & Goldenrod

Wildflowers in bloom across the road from our house.

Goldenrod and ??? I don't know what this pink flower is-- sorry.
Probably some flower that I accidentally dug up and discarded. 

Wild asters

Joe Pye Weed

Tried growing Joe Pye Weed a few years ago and it didn't do very good at all so I guess I'll have to be happy just seeing them bloom in the field down the road from us.

Queen Ann's Lace

The photo below might appear to be a "weed" to some people. It is milkweed. All that fluffy stuff that blows around in the fall that looks like dandelion fluff. Well, without milkweed, we might not have the monarch butterflies. The monarch butterfly only breeds where milkweed is found. It is the host plant where the monarch lays its eggs and when they hatch the caterpillars feed off the plant. They will eat the nectar from several other flowers though.  Link to Monarch Butterfly Habitat.

Milkweed pods
I hope that the milkweed plant continues to flourish so that the monarch will continue to exist. Unfortunately, the black and pale swallow-worts are crowding out the milkweed in some areas. It looks very similar to the milkweed plant. And if the monarch were to lay their eggs on the swallow-worts the larvae would die. They swallow-worts are poisonous to the monarchs. For more information on the swallow-worts you can check out one of my previous issues of my blog. (Scroll to the bottom of the link for Invasive Plants: Swallow-worts)
Monarch Butterflies on wild asters
Orange Sulphur Butterfly (For more info: Orange Sulphur Butterfly)

The pretty blue flowers you see growing along the side of the road in the gravel is Chicory.

Seeds from Jack-in-the-Pulpit. They may take up to 3 years to germinate.

Red Clover

Invasive Plants

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Garlic Mustard - 1st year. The 2nd year plant has more triangular leaves.
Garlic mustard is found in several states and three Canadian provinces. It is found from the east coast to the west coast. This plant was originally found in Northeastern Europe which had plenty of insects to keep it in control. It was brought to this country as an edible plant. This plant here in the US is endangering our natural grasses and tree seedlings by spreading out into woodland areas as well as taking over areas of our natural woodlands where native spring flowers are growing such as trilliums, bloodroot, and wild ginger. The plant produces a chemical in the soil which slows down the growth of native plant materials. It can also be found in yards and along the road. The garlic mustard plant is also crowding out a native plant (toothworts) which is a host plant for three of our native butterflies which lay their eggs on it. The plant usually grows in the shade, but can be found in full sun. The Garlic Mustard is a biennial which was explained in a previous issue of my garden blog on foxgloves.
Deer in campground in Adirondack Mountains, New York   Photo Ted Link

Garlic mustard, unfortunately, is helped being spread by our deer which eat our native plants and thus makes more room for the garlic mustard to get established in those areas. Also, the seeds stick to the deer's fur which helps spread it to other areas. This was evidenced by my husband and me when we were camping in the Adirondack Mountains this past fall. We were staying in a popular public campground and there were several deer around. Right next to our campsite there was a large clump of first year garlic mustard growing. I think this might also be spreading by our pets as well when the seeds get stuck to their fur if they are in an area where garlic mustard is growing. There are no known natural enemies of the plant, and it doesn't require cross fertilization.
The best way to get rid of garlic mustard is by pulling them out before or when they have just started flowering, but before the plant goes to seed providing you don't have an extremely large area to cover. It helps if you do it after a rain when the soil is moist. They do pull out fairly easily. Be sure to pull up the entire plant and get the roots as well. I recently found these plants growing around our house in small numbers. Do not place these plants in compost where the seeds might still be able to germinate, but discard them in bags in a landfill where they will be buried.

Here is a  very good video from Wisconsin on Garlic Mustard and the impact of the situation on our environment:

More information and pictures of Garlic Mustard flowers:  NYS Invasive Species Garlic Mustard

Invasive Plant List from New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation: NYS Invasive Plants

This is a great butterfly site that includes a link to Butterfly Identification: Identifying Butterflies

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There won't be much color left in the gardens or fields once we get our first frost. It won't be long now before all the leaves are down and the fields are brown. . .