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Friday, May 15, 2009

Beauty + Beast; Bloom Day May parts 1 and 2

1. The gaillardia 'Oranges and lemons' has returned from its winter cut back with a satisfying splash of orange-lemonade. My local katydids (Scudderia furcata, fork-tailed bush katydid) feed on flowers in general, and compositae especially but they are drawn to this gaillardia like dogs to freshly-turned earth. This nymph is seen grazing on the disk flowers; they also chew notches into the ray flowers and kind of spoil them for us human admirers. Fortune has it gaillardia produces lots of flowers to share.

2. I planted this a few years back, liking the shape and soft green color of the leaves. The plant has formed a low mound about 3' x 18" tall and tolerates low water conditions well. No insects seem to bother with it and the interesting (?) flowers are an early summer seasonal bonus. The bad news is the smell. Every once in a while, someone in the family remarks (usually right after I've been in the garden watering or deadheading) "What Is That Awful Smell?" (especially if the front door has been left open to allow the smell of the brushed leaves to waft into the house). For some reason I didn't notice the odor the foliage gives off as I was planting it squarely in front of the door. Maybe this is one of those odors that is highly subjective, people like me not finding it offensive; or possibly I was mentally blocking its offense when the urge to plant took control. Anyway, I thought this plant was called dogbane, the silent smell (to me, not a dog) scaring wayward canines out of the garden. Maybe that was another reason I originally bought it. But the wisdom of the internet does not agree on that identification and I must be mixed up. Anyone know the name of this stinky thing?

May 20 update: So I was looking through pictures from last summer and came across one of a plant tag that reads "Coleus canina" or Dog-gone plant. I remember now I saw this plant at some retail nursery and took the photo so I would remember (!) the name of this plant already growing in the yard.
A bit of research reveals this is one of those hoaxy plants sold at the likes of Lowe's or OSH, supposedly to scare animals out of your garden with its stench, variously described as skunk or male cat urine; except the gardeners at Dave's Garden describe it as simply "aromatic". Gardeners are such kidders! Nobody seems to think much of the flowers, but I find them pretty cool, especially the buds.


Town Mouse said...

What a great blog! Happy bloom day (and now I'll read about the spittlebugs)

Susie said...

Great blog, I love the layout & the content. Bugs rule!

Moe said...

Gorgeous blooms.

I need to find me a good plant that actually keeps rodents out of the yard with its smell. That plant would be worth its weight in gold, I tell you.