Tuesday View: The Tropics 8.2.16

Finally I’m back for a real visit with Kathy’s Tuesday View meme.  After two weeks away the tropics have taken off here and the heat (and now rain!) have really brought everything to life.

cannas and verbena bonariensis

In the view today is damp soil, overcast skies and plenty of humidity.  The cannas have exploded along with just about everything else and exuberance is the word of the day.  How do you like the ferny green lump of kochia (summer cypress) just in front and to the left of the olive-green planter? I love it btw

My biggest fear when I left was that my new bananas and precious castor beans would just pine away waiting for rain, so two days before we left I added an extra line to the drip irrigation system and set up a few drip emitters to some of the most precious plants.  Good thing I did since this bed was the only part of the garden where lush greenery welcomed me back from our midsummer vacation.

castor bean carmencita

I have blooms on my ‘Carmencita’ castor bean plant.  I love the bright red seed pods and I hope they stay that way for a while… and the leaves aren’t too shabby either!

I’ll try not to go on too much about every single plant.  Here’s an overview of the farther side of the bed, beyond the path to grandma’s pool 🙂

cannas and verbena bonariensis

The purple of Verbena bonariensis has nearly taken over large swaths of the bed.  I’m fine with that but the old flower stalks on the salvia ‘Caradonna’ just irritate me to no end.  I’m sure no one but myself notices them, but there’s a good chance I snap this week and pull them all out!

The old red leaved cannas are nearly as tall as me now and will likely break the six foot mark by next week and I love that.  In no time this will be a garden you look up to 🙂

fennel with verbena bonariensis

My poor planning skills are often saved by horticultural volunteers.  Here the chartreuse froth of blooming fennel mixes in with a pale green nicotina and of course more Verbena bonariensis.  You can’t even see the dahlias which are supposed to fill this space.

You may have noticed a few of the sunflowers which peek out of the far corners of the border.  After relentlessly weeding them out through the spring I finally let a few of the latest sprouts in the hard to reach spots go on with their lives.  I love them of course, and I’ve already seen the goldfinches stopping by to check on the seeds.

sunflower and long horned bee

Sunflower with a few long-horned bees making themselves at home.

New to me this year are the bees which can be found on each sunflower bloom.  I’m sure they’ve been there every year but after I found the long antenna interesting I realized they’re not the regular honeybees.  According to this face book group >click here< they are either a type of sunflower bee or most likely a type of long-horned bee, both of which belong to the solitary bee group which includes some of the hardest working and most effective pollinators out there.

sunflower and long horned bee

I’m leaning towards long-horned bee for these two, since they both share the almost comically long antenna, but I have no clue as to which species.  Apparently there are more than a few! 

Something new to me which I came across while investigating bees is that these solitary bees are much less aggressive than their colony-forming cousins due to the fact they have no hive to defend.  They only sting when handled roughly and are considered more docile… although I’m not sure who did this investigation of insect manhandling.  I’ll take their word for it though and skip starting my own investigative bee-bullying program.

Oh and one more thing.  Solitary bees are fine feeding on nectar from a wide range of flowers but the individual bee species is much more specific in where its pollen comes from.  It’s called oligolecty, and if you want to add that one to the vocab list it describes bees which specialize in collecting pollen from a limited palette of flowers, often only one species.

A usual I’m as surprised as to where this Tuesday view went but it’s been an interesting ride for me and I hope it’s at least been somewhat interesting to you as well.  If you’d like to expand on the visit stop over at Words and Herbs and check in with Cathy to see what the other Tuesday views are up to.  There’s always plenty to explore!