This whole month it seems I have blogged only about plants so why not round out July with some garden flowers and a butterfly? Here are a few of the flowers currently blooming in my gardens. Above are beautiful salmon pink Asiatic lilies. In the same rock garden I have echinachea and a Bugnet shrub rose.
The echinachea attracts hordes of bees and butterflies. Here a butterfly I believe is the Great Spangled Fritillary sips at nectar. The Great Spangled have been very common here this year, the conditions must have been favorable for them. Their caterpillars feed on the leaves of violets and we have plenty of those.
I’ve also added a new plant this year. I found seeds from this plant at my relatives’ place on the sea coast and sowed them in my yard. I’ve only ever seen this plant growing at the coast and was very thrilled when several plants developed from the seeds this year. The plants are about four feet tall, not the five to seven feet they reach at the coast. I’ve discovered this is called Himalayan balsam or cultivated jewelweed and it is considered an invasive plant, something I did not know when I added the seeds last summer. I have plants with both dark pink and light pink flowers
Where I have placed it, the balsam will not be able to spread very far. We mow around the whole area and it is unlikely the seeds will be carried beyond our yard to establish elsewhere. In Connecticut the plant is banned, but not in Maine. Here it seems to coexist and not become a big problem. I love the giant flowers, as do the insects. These plants produce copious nectar for the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. In the photo at right a wild honey bee is completely inside the flower. The plant is edible for humans and the flowers can be made into jam. They have a light, sweet scent. The balsam is growing on the edge of a patch of wild, native jewelweed and I will be able to control its spread by pulling unwanted plants. It will be necessary to monitor this flower to be sure it does not escape cultivation.