Goldfinch intent on eating coneflower seeds
It’s so amazing when these bright bits of canary yellow come swooping into the yard. That’s how you know that the coneflower seeds are ripe. Sunflower seeds are good, too, but only straight from the flowerhead. Goldfinches are so exacting about what they eat, but when they find something they like, they seem to really enjoy it. This one totally ignored me stalking around it, trying to get a clear view for a picture, until I finally came to my senses and just sat down and watched it eat.
More coneflowers have answered the first coneflower‘s call.
This is one of the great bee flowers. My trinity of bees — honeybees, bumblebees, and Agapostemon — visit them, methodically going through the spikes of pollen in the centers. When the Halictus bees are done with the sunflowers, they’ll come to the coneflowers too. Together they prepare the coneflowers to set seed for the goldfinches to eat.
And the coneflowers roll on to the next year.
Coneflower calling for summer daze
Coneflowers belong to hot summer days and lots of bumblebees. Not to grey rainy skies. And the bees are hard to please, and they prefer the raspberries. So this lone coneflower is the vanguard, scouting things out for when it’s safe for the rest of them to fully bloom.
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The full trinity of bees have found the coneflowers. Bumblebees, honeybees, and Agapostemon Virescens. Let’s call her Aggie.
First coneflower ready for the bees
It’s easy enough to say “Plant flowers” for the bees, until you ask which flowers? If I had to pick one to start with, I would say Purple Coneflower. Bumblebees and honeybees love it. Other native bees, too. As a bonus, the seeds will feed goldfinches. But then, they’re coming into their full color right now, so maybe that’s why they leap to mind.
If you want more, there are places you can look up lists of suggested plants to attract bees and other pollinators. Mostly I looked at what was drawing bees, both in my yard and in the nursery.
So the list I started last year is now:
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.
A late coneflower
Snow or no snow, this is the last coneflower of the year. All the others, after blooming and feeding bees, have ripened into spiky seedheads. And the goldfinches have found them.
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Masses of coneflowers
Bumblebees on coneflowers
Coneflowers are buzzing.
Buzzing with bumblebees.
Fly on coneflower
Honeybees on coneflower
Buzzing with honeybees.
Buzzing with … flies? That doesn’t even look like a syrphid fly. But you know what? There’s lots of coneflowers for everyone.
Ah! Another barbeque perfect day. How long can it last?
And the first coneflowers are stretching out their purple wings, oblivious to their inevitable, tatty fate. For now, they’re sunny and happy and ready for the bees.
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Collards are not dead yet
Well, the collards that poked their heads above the snow from time to time are definitely dead. But the collards out back on the hillside, the ones I didn’t see up close all winter not only survived, but look downright robust. They’re as tough as pansies.