Cardinal Flower by the Hour

Cardinal Flower, photographed by Jeff Zablow in his Perennial Garden, Pittsburgh, PA

The red was lipstick red, and you could see it from 100 feet away. My 7 Cardinal flower plants were grouped together, inside the iron fence, just 8 feet from the sidewalk. In full sun from morning to sundown, they should have been a bit miffed, but I watered them in daily, and these moisture loving perennials showed their appreciation, by growing to more than 6 feet in height. They produced dozens and dozens and dozens of those fantastic blooms, as if in appreciation for my thoughtfulness.

Blooming for many weeks, they put our front perennial garden on the map. Map? Whose map? The internal map of the Ruby Throated hummingbirds in the East End of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They zoomed in every hour on the hour, straight to these red nectar pumps. (the flowers, that is) Methodically, bloom to bloom, leaving when someone come walking past, on the other side of the fence. They return moments later.

Our menu presented the hummingbirds with variety: False dragonhead, Salvias, Crocosmia, giant Zinnias and others for the pleasure of sipping nectar. I did not attempt to photograph the ruby throateds, content as I am with the photographic output of Virgina, Chuck, Marcie and others.

Spring will return and bring in the third season for my cardinal flowers. Where and how did I acquire them? From a fantastic native plant nursery, right here in Pittsburgh, just ½ mile from  my Beechwood Boulevard home! Sylvan Natives, where I found my American plum trees, Pagoda dogwoods, American hornbeams, Chokecherries, Tulip tree, Sennas and couple of others. Save for the deer and woodchucks, I’d be able to report 100% success . . .

Oh, and nary a single butterfly seen at the Cardinal flower.

Jeff

Spring Antidotes XII – Wildflowers of the Field

September View of Doak Field replete with wildflowers photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 9/5/14
Late summer in a 100+ acre field in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I went there almost every day for 2 weeks. This September 5th, 2014 view was in the southeastern margin of the field. Wildflowers grew along the treeline. Nectar? More than enough for the butterflies, flies, wasps, bees, moths and ruby-throated hummingbirds that worked the field.

If. If I would have counted the number of goldenrod blossoms in the entire field, I would say a reasonable count would have approached, 10,000,000. The purple New York ironweed plants were few in number and strategically located, for reasons of their own, no doubt.

Three hours in the field that day, and, not a single other person about. Monarchs flew there that morning. Why weren’t you there?

Jeff

Success by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jeff Zablow's Perennial Beds Pittsburgh, PA, 7/10/07

I have read this often, and attempt to emulate it in my own life, whether gardening to attract winged beauties, or with family and friends, in my spiritual life, and in the field, as I attempt to capture ever more beautiful images of butterflies, darners, wildflowers, whatever . . . .

Success

To laugh often and to love much . . .
To win the respect of intelligent persons
and the affections of children . . . To earn
the approbation of honest critics and to
endure the betrayal of false friends , , ,
To appreciate beauty; to give of one’s self . . .
To leave the world a bit better whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch, or
a redeemed social condition . . .
To laugh and play with enthusiasm and to sing with
exultation and to know that one life
has breathed easier because you have lived –
. . . That is to succeed . . .

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

This perennial garden that I loved brought butterflies from great distances, nurtured scores of butterflies, bees, moths and ruby-throateds, the latter coming every hour on the hour. It brought joy to family, though concealed from the world, as it grew behind the house, and remained unknown to most.

Jeff

Monarda

Monarda wildflowers photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

I’m still shooting with film and I try to conserve my photographing to butterflies and related subjects– but. This clump of Monarda (the bee balm family) almost demanded that I give it a look and photograph it. A native wildflower, Monarda is an important part of open field habitat.

A type of mint, they attract lots of nectarers including butterflies, hummingbirds, bee and flies that seek nectar. It’s as if I expect to see a great spangled fritillary butterfly or a ruby throated hummingbird to swoop into this picture at any moment.

Why do the cognoscenti collect a monarda leaf, drop it into their tea and then relax on their verdant patios?

Jeffrey