I took a few garden shots for you today during my morning walkthrough. Clinging to an iris leaf is this cicada exoskeleton, empty and crisp. Those guys really made a racket this year! In some areas you could barely carry on normal conversation outside, it was so loud.
My coneflowers have bloomed all summer, through high heat and drought and in part shade. Prairie plants are tough! I love these flowers, and I'm grateful for them.
Black-eyed Susan is a reliable favorite, too. They remind me of going to see my grandmother in Boone when I was a child. There every garden has them and most mountainsides do, too. Deer will nibble these, but less often than the coneflowers, I find.
These plants were all planted in this spot, this year. That's coneflower, Shasta daisy and pineapple sage in the foreground and beautyberry behind them. It's the first time we've had beautyberry and there are six of them. I inspect these shrubs every day for changes, and every change is exciting to me!
First the tiny pink flowers, which the bees loved. Then the stamen-fuzzy flowers faded and tiny green ovaries started to expand. The tiny green balls got bigger and bigger and then seemed to whiten somewhat.
Now they are nearly their mature color. At least I think so. They're fairly purple. I suppose it will intensify as time goes on. I don't know what to expect from the birds yet, so I'm not sure how long they will last.
This is a pretty terrible shot of this great plant. It's Solidago 'Fireworks.' I divided and moved it this year and it seems to do fine anywhere. I have been so happy with it. In another few weeks it will be covered with yellow flowers. Fireworks has strong stems, doesn't mind some shade, has foliage all the way to the ground -- no naked stems. It blooms in mid- to late summer and into the fall.
See the nest looking thing slightly southwest of the center of the photo? That's the bird's nest and the three gray things are eggs. All the tan balls in the picture are the same fungus, but in that one, the tan ball (don't mind my terminology) has lost it's covering and exposed the eggs which contain spores.
What's interesting about the nests is that they serve as splash cups for the rain that falls. Their size and shape is just perfect for a raindrop to cause the spore bodies to splash out when it hits the cup. If the eggs land in a favorable spot, they will release spores which eventually grow into more tan balls.
I should mention that the nest in the pic is about 7 or 8 mm wide, so quite small. Mulch is a great substrate for all sorts of fungi...take a look at yours!
This is the bed all the pictures above are from. It was totally redone this year, and I have enjoyed it so much. A couple of plants still need to be removed, like the none-too-happy lavender, and a dead euphorbia (voles, I believe). The conditions here are filtered sun most of the day and very dry. We watered quite a bit this year.
I'm so happy to see blooms on the sedum, which hasn't produced any flowers at all for a couple of years because deer kept it chewed to the ground. (I used Liquidfence this year for the first time.)
Extreme top right you can see that prolific reseeder, garlic chives, just about to bloom. I have that and lemon balm in this dry bed because I like them both but didn't want them to go too nuts and take over. So far, so good.