A Goldfinch amid the sunflowers
The sunflower patch is getting so ratty looking, I’m considering cutting them all down. But just when I begin to contemplate such drastic action, I come round the corner of the house and get rewarded by the up and down swoops of a goldfinch flying away. I can’t cut the sunflowers down yet! There are sunflower seeds for goldfinches to eat.
She even came back to eat some more. See? I know it’s a “she” because female goldfinches have the same patterns on their wings as males, but where the boys are golden, the girls are dusky brown. Actually, by now, the male goldfinches aren’t golden, but more of a greenish lemon color. And they both like sunflowers.
Now that the heat has hit, I can barely keep up with the flowers. This sunflower bloomed a few days ago, and today already the flowerhead is busy making seeds. The bees have done their work.
Traditional varieties of sunflowers are great bee flowers. They give so generously of their pollen, that bees get covered with it, going round and round collecting all that delicious (to bees) gold. The little pollen-covered bee is Halictus ligatus, which I like to call “saddlebag bee”. They have a rare talent for finding the flowers with the most pollen and filling up the pollen baskets on theirs legs so much they stick out like little saddlebags. The green bee is my garden stalwart, Agapostemon. They show up like flying emeralds all summer long.
As for what kind of sunflower this is, I think it’s descended from the black oil sunflower seeds that I feed the birds. Seeds get into the compost, I spread the compost, and in the sunny spots, sunflowers volunteer, year after year. My kind of flower.
Poor old Sonny the Sunflower! Somebody knocked him over and chawed his face off.
Maybe the raccoons are peeved that the bird feeder is empty at night.
Posted in garden
Want to eat from the sunflower? Take a number!
The sunflowers are so pretty right now. Some of them are dressing up in russety orange. Honeybees come and meticulously work their way around the rings, getting every bit of pollen and nectar from the flowers. And when the sunflowers go to seed, forget how ratty they look. Goldfinches will arrive and it’s pretty all over again.
There is no more doubt about the mystery plants. It’s a sunflower. Several sunflowers, that is. Everything about them says “Sunflower”: the broad leaves, the flat yellow disks, the mathematical spiral in the centers, the honeybee, the green Agapostemon bee, and more bees to come.
Got a couple of mystery plants. One is new, one is old. I have a guess for both, but I’m never sure.
The new one is a several ones all sprouting near where a small sunflower grew last year. Is it another sunflower? Or a Black-Eyed Susan? It might even be a coneflower. Or something else, eager to prove me wrong. I will wait for it to flower before I call it.
The old one is a shrub flowering very prettily as it does every spring. It’s clearly one of those robust varieties that have been around for years. It grows in a corner that it really hard to get at, so looking at it from a distance and wondering if it’s a mock orange is the closest I can get.
Sunflower on the rocks
Some sort of sunflower appears to have found just enough of a foothold in the moss on a stone wall. I’ve been wrong before about “sunflowers“, but it’s too high up for me to see anything but a yellow composite flower. It might as well be a sunflower. It even seems to like the heat!
Posted in garden
I come to praise my sunflowers, not to pull them up and compost them. When they were blooming, the sunflowers offered pollen to the bees. When they were dying, seeds to the goldfinches. The plants have finished dying and dried up, but they’re not done.
Male bees gathering for the night
I’ve been wondering if bees sleep since I saw all these black bees zooming about in the early evening. They seemed to be chasing each other. Then they clustered on a few stalks of grass, jostling and fighting for the good spots, until they finally settled down.
When I looked them up, I was told they were Melissodes bimaculata in a male sleeping aggregation.
They were asleep?