Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Coping With The Heat...

   I can't complain, I'm sure somewhere it's been slightly hotter, drier, and downright more miserable, but this summer has just been plain hard. I try not to think about it, just put my head down and water. Yes, although virtually my whole garden is drought tolerant, it's not invincible. We've had three weeks of averaging a hundred degrees and no rain for over a month. I've been dutifully watering to keep everything alive, I've just worked too hard over the years and spent too much money to let everything die. Not only that, since all the wild plants growing in open areas outside our yard have long since gone crispy taco, the local insect population still needs to feed and I feel like I'm not only keeping my plants alive, but the insects that feed on them and from them too. In fact, this week I've noticed a significant increase in the amount of good insects (and bad, if you count Japanese Beetles) buzzing around my flowers, here's a sampling of who's beating the heat, and this time I won't be including any shots of the flower beds as a whole, it ain't pretty any more.

Today was the first day I noticed the Sulfurs were out, I think they look stunning on the Purple Coneflowers.

The Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) was quivering as if there was breeze (of which there was none!) with all the bees coming and going.

I had really hard time getting a decent picture of this fella, it wouldn't sit still! This Flower Fly is a Yellow Jacket mimic.

This hoverfly must be a girl since it seems to like diamonds...but I guess boys can like diamonds too ;-)

A Honeybee on Anise Hyssop, like the Wild Bergamot, the whole plant vibrates in the afternoon with so much bee activity.

Thread-wiasted Wasp on Short Toothed Mountain Mint (Pycanthemum muticum), I read this plant was a pollinator magnet, but I had my doubts until this week when the really cool wasps began to show up.

Wasp on Short Toothed Mountain Mint (Pycanthemum muticum).
*Remember! Wasps are a gardeners friend, many are predatory towards garden "pests", they're natural pest control, they are not to be feared, and are important links in the ecosystem chain! Never use pesticides anywhere!

A Long-Horned Flower Beetle hiding amidst the tangle of foliage

A beautiful Assassin Bug looking for a snack on the Anise Hyssop

A mystery bee or bee mimic, this one really has me perplexed. It's about the size of a honeybee, but looks white, and the wings are lighter in color than a bumblebee or honeybee. Any guesses?


  1. this time I won't be including any shots of the flower beds as a whole, it ain't pretty any more.

    I know the feeling... I don't get many wide angle shots either...

    Wonderful bug / flower pictures!

    I was always amazed at the sheer numbers of wasp varieties that showed up for the Mtn mint in my clay garden... not seeing them so much in the sand-hill garden.

  2. What GREAT SHOTS, Julie! Can't get over that first bee on the fistulosa--tongue showing and all! I feel the same as you--gotta water to keep the rest of the critters alive, not just the garden itself. We are in a blessed location--regular small amounts of rain by virtue of mountains and two National Forests. Since one of those is classified as a temperate rain forest, though, "small" amounts of rain don't always keep the natives happy. Rain barrel gets refilled just about the time we're about to run out...

  3. Some of the best photos I've seen. Congrats! You should Pin some to Pinterest for the educational value. That is, if you like Pinterest. I mostly wanted to say we are also very very hot, but nothing like last year. I lamented a lot last summer. Then, the rains came in fall, and my garden rebounded. Hang in there. Keep doing what you're doing.~~Dee

  4. Thanks everybody for the kind words about my photography!

    RK-You live in a beautiful area, we're well familiar with Western NC, used to go to Nantahala a few times a year, but haven't been in a while. Hmmm, maybe a vacation this fall...

    Dee-Thanks for stopping by! I've considered Pinterest, I'll definitely give it more thought.

  5. Julie,
    Awesome pollinator shots! We got some relief from the hot weather finally so it's coming your way hopefully.
    I don't know what your last bee is but the wasp (not thread-waisted) on the mountain mint is a Sand Wasp. The second bee photo is a Wool Carder Bee (Anthidium sp). Great diversity.

  6. Amazing photos!! Did you say you use a Canon camera?

    Very impressed.

    And I totally sympathize about the heat and rain. We've finally gotten a break from the heat, but except for one overnight rainfall, all the other showers in our region over the last couple of days have missed us completely. It's like there's a giant invisible umbrella over our neighborhood :(

    Wide-angle shots or not, you've got some beautiful blooms in your garden and some very happy bees & wasps!

    ps - Have you tried using the anise hyssop as an edible plant? I've heard that both the leaves and flowers can be eaten, but I'm not sure if it's true and I've never tried it personally...

  7. Heather- Thanks for the corrections!

    Aaron- Yes, I use a Canon Rebel T3i, and I love it. Way better than the Nikon 40D that I used last year. I have a 100mm Macro lens for the insect and flower shots, and a 100-400mm whopper lens for the bird pics. The right lens makes all the difference in the world.

  8. Thanks for the info, Julie. Wow! The T3i is a-mazing!

  9. Aaron- I almost forgot, my tripod is essential, without it I wouldn't be able to take such crisp images. Otherwise it doesnt matter how nice your camera is, I use a Gitzo brand tripod, the best!

  10. You have amazing photos! So beautiful. Are you a professional photographer?

    I can imagine that you have more than enough heat there. We are in the middle of the summer here in Finland and this summer it's raining almost every day. I would love some warm and sunny days, but there aren't any.

    If you want to see, how it's in a Finnish garden right now, so you can visit my garden blog. I warn you, my pictures aren't even near yours...

  11. Sadun blogi- Thanks for visiting my blog! I always imagined Finland as a cold and snowy place, but your blog shows that it is indeed quite beautiful. Very green and lush!

  12. Hey! Have you ever paid attention, has your writting technique upgraded lately?