Winner Weeds and a Few Garden Natives

Winners because field finds at this time of year are soft and magical and oh so needed for the wildlife. In between the images of the wild growing plants, you will see slices of garden life. Hope you find what is blooming to be just as nice as if it were planted on purpose. I can tell you, the wildlife does. Don’t the weeds take on a new life in a framed image?

The garden is quite pretty this time of year with the hydrangea, Caryopteris, Asters, Phlox and Roses in full swing, but I do show the full garden quite often and just did so at the beginning of the month with What to Plant for When the Weather is Dry.

To me, this time of year the insects and weeds need a showing. I find the weeds fascinating due to their survival methods. Some flourish in this type of dry weather with deep growing tap roots. Weeds grow more slowly in these conditions and also develop thicker cuticle on the leaf surface to control water loss. What can’t get out can also not get in, limiting herbicide control for some weeds. But this post is more about celebrating weeds for their contribution of getting insects through a dry summer.

The Caryopteris below is a bee and butterfly magnet, but only because it is in the garden at this time of year.  I have four of these planted in the side yard where it could not be any more hot and dry.

The thing about dry weather, is that it is not the same the world over. I have been reading comments (not from a reader here) that try to ‘one up’ on the dry conditions by making comparisons and saying one climate is not as dry as another. Like saying we have dry weather here is just not any type of drought condition. The farmers would beg to differ.

What really matters is what plants are growing in those conditions. Mediterranean climates are much better suited with adapting native plants to dry summers than say temperate climates (crop belts) with what grows there if rainfall is limited and insufficient. Just thought to add this … let’s get on with my photos…

The Pasture Thistle below is a plant that attracts many insects. All you have to do is stand motionless and they will come.

This is a long post, so I hope you have some time. I usually split up my garden and the field finds, but this year, with the weather so dry, the insects are taking what they can get. What is most available and blooming is weeds, or at least what most folks call them. The juxtaposition of desirable plants and those not so makes no difference to the insects and birds. They are just happy to get a meal.

I have four varieties of Aster and they come in different sizes to please big and little buzzers. Hybrids, these asters have their weed counterparts in the fields.

Native to Eastern and southern Asia, one variety is native to here in the US according to the USDA list, Caryopteris Bunge. Many believe this plant above is a native plant, Caryopteris x clandonensis, yet it is not. They self seed like crazy, so beware. They attract bees like crazy too.

The Monarda in the rain…. It is a hybrid, but also native to most of the US. It runs so it can overtake a bed in no time flat.

A cardinal in the rain… one of my favorite birds of the North East, especially in winter. No prettier shot of this bird can be taken than one in the snow.

Whether a weed is a friend or foe to us, it benefits some organism in the complex chain of life. And for me… it makes for a pretty photo opportunity. I look at the weed above and see the complex shape and form, the way the sun adds a touch of gold, and how big was the seed head. Maybe not as pretty as my roses, but then again, maybe it is. It is all the perspective on things I guess. This plant can live in conditions where the rose cannot. It has survival attributes that the hybrid rose does not.

Kinda like a squirrel, they assimilate just about anywhere they can get a free meal. A squirrel in the bird food… if you missed the Happy Monday post, Shock and Awe, Squirrel Style, which is on the humorous side, check it out for a funny squirrel tale. It is so funny what they do all day.


Dry or fresh, the yarrow is a pretty photo subject, but just ask any insect and they will tell you it is a great food source.

Tiny Sweat Bee on my littlest Aster.

What can I say, this caught my eye.

The bird bath is getting a bath… and catching a few raindrops. Yes, we have been having some much needed rain. But not enough to equal what we should be getting. Trees will be affected next year and I am betting the stressed maples produce a lot of seed.

The colors are so relaxing.

A feather in flight… without its Sparrow. That is what happens when a hundred Sparrows take flight!

Yellow and white, such a happy pair. Not to mention an insect paradise.

Oh, don’t you love when the hummers visit. This was taken at 3 pm on August 12th. I have no clue how these birds can tell time, but they show up on the hour pretty often.

So soft, you want to touch it.

No caterpillars!

Ailanthus Webworm was all over the Phlox last year, but this year there are multitudes of them on the Veronica. No Tree of Heaven in this neighborhood, luckily. I was literally eye to eye with this moth. They are about 3/4 long, and my macro lens was six inches away. No zooming on this lens or you would see his face much closer.

Can you see why I like fields and meadows. The insects like them too.

This Carpenter Bee is really loaded down. His flight was a bit iffy. He just left the Monarda, a plant that pumps out pollen like a spouting oil well.

Do you think it is rude to take a butt shot? I saw this on another blog and he said it was rude. I’m not so sure the bee would be at all offended.

A little wind gives a nice angle.

This was some strange lighting on the Bloodgood, but it made an interesting photo.

Grasses are the most pleasing at this time of year with form and color.

The hummers like the nectar, and visit the Monarda a couple of times a day. All the hummer photos were taken at different times. You will see a post coming up where I had the camera on Continuous shoot, following around one hummingbird. I am going to try to make a still video out of the hundred or so images. If I do this right, it will be like a video documentary. My movie making skills are poor, but we will see. I do have a video camera too. Maybe, I’ll try that for a change.

Snails are not so common here, but their naked cousins, the slugs are.

I find Chicory as pretty as cultivated asters, but their growing habit is not very aesthetically pleasing.

My favorite image. Such a delicate looking scene and I love the lighting too. Thank you for making it to the end of my very long photo packed post. I appreciate the time you took viewing.

Linking to May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
This entry was posted in Bees, Butterflies, garden, Gardening, Native plants, Nature, photography, photos, weeds and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Winner Weeds and a Few Garden Natives

  1. Each and every photo is stunning. I love the last one, it is lovely. Love the non-blurry wings out photos of the jay and the hummers. The butt end of the bee is funny…that is one pollen laden bee!!
    I am surprised your Goldenrod is blooming now…ours is just about to open. I would have thought we were a couple weeks ahead of you. hmmmm…. interesting.

    • The butt comment came from a very famous nature/wildlife photographer. I read it twice in two different publications of his. And ironically as this may sound, I talked on the phone with him today. When I called the office for a question on a subscription to his company’s magazine, I never thought they would transfer the call to him for something he would have nothing to do with. The woman asked if I wanted to speak to him, and I almost could not get out a resounding yes I was so excited. It was the highlight of my day today. I already had this post prepared for days and the reference to the butt comment, so what a coincidence that I would get a chance to talk with him.

  2. The squirrels and birds should be so happy to be immortalized by your spectacular photography!

  3. Jeanette says:

    I like your new frame design both in the light colors and this black and gray. The wildflowers and wildlife shots are delightful. Your photo of the bee is not rude…. a butt is not a butt if it is a bee butt…. say that fast, five times.

  4. I find weeds really attractive and they make great photo subjects as your shots demonstrate! Are you launching your own photo line? You should! Your work is spectacular! My asters are not blooming yet. I have taken my share of bee butt shots so I think they are perfectly acceptable…they are so cute laden with pollen dust :O)

    • No Karin, I just did the framing for kicks and because my GA post and tutorial was getting quite a few emailing me with if it can be done in black. I like the look on the blog, it does make it look professional, though. I find when I am shooting most animals, I always seem to catch them running or flying away. I am always shooting butts. According to the pros, they say to time your shots and have good approach technique, but the animals always seem the wiser and show me there hind quarters, even if they are still standing there. Bees too. How the heck do they know to do this. I can be right on top of them, and the point the butt right at the camera.

  5. nicole says:

    You have captured “weeds” in a new light! Beautiful!

  6. Love your photos – I hear nature calling:)

  7. GirlSprout says:

    Your photos are a like a breath of fresh air on a hot summer day. Everything looks so light and airy. The bumble butt is hysterical.

    • That is why this time of year the weeds look good. The flowers are so delicate and light. And they backdrop with the beginning of tawny grasses. Those big Carpenter Bees have so much personality.

  8. These are simply beautiful, I loved them all. The little chipmunk is too cute.

  9. Your photography is amazing as usual and you have shown weeds in a whole new light! Wonderful!

  10. Helene says:

    Beautiful photos! Even the snail looks great 🙂 My first visit to your blog, I will be back some other time!

  11. stone says:

    I like meadow plants, And I wouldn’t call them weeds. Weeds are those horrible things that reproduce while your watching, and push out all the pretties. Think mulberry weed, chamberbitter, purple nut-sedge and florida betony. You may not have any of these… but they’ll leave an impression…
    Personally, I’m not a fan of the frames…
    Tell us how you captured the rain drops! When I shot the rain, I had to get it coming off the roof to get anything to show, You get the shot that I was after!

    • I only call them weeds for effect… I write many posts with weeds in the title and body text, and tag and categorize them weeds. It gets a lot of searches. Plus, sometimes either they are so obvious to name and other times I don’t have a clue what they are, they are just photographically interesting. But most important, the insects LOVE them. Oh don’t get me started on nut-sedge. I do not like it one bit.

      I mentioned my thoughts in the first post I used them with my logo in Scenic Sunday. It is a bit over the top for me as an amateur, but I get quite a few pros asking me how to do this in Photoshop. It is so easy and can be automated for convenience quite simply.

      Your question on the raindrops, I get asked that often too. My lens was a 55-300mm pushed to only 180mm with f5.0, 1/80 sec, at ISO 2500. The camera was handheld. But the big point is that I was inside behind a window. That is why the washed out look. The window makes a bit of slight white haze at certain angles, caused by the glass thickness and light hitting it. You would get better bouncing off of the rain if you were actually outside under a porch roof. Then you would have better conditions for an image of more depth and clarity.

      The hummingbirds were shot at f5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO 1000 at 270mm for comparison. Also inside, but mostly perpendicular to the glass. I planted the Monarda in that bed in that spot ONLY for that reason.

      Good luck on your rain images. I should put on my camera’s raincoat and shoot these backyard images right though. Get out in the trenches so to speak.

      • stone says:

        I should’ve invited you to have a look at my rain pictures.
        Bummer ’bout the typos in my above comment… I can’t seem to catch those until after it’s too late…
        I don’t have those cool lenses… I’m using a point-n-shoot… Not sure how to apply your information.

        • I don’t use the presets like Macro, Night and Landscape, but there must be a mode to choose to make the subject slow if you cannot manually make adjustments. A Night setting would open the shutter longer and raise the ISO. Try it and see.

  12. lula says:

    Summer images of scenic wildlife are so beautiful. My favorite would be the Bloodgood!

    • Thank you. I think I would have guessed you like the image that you did. It is so much in your style of photographing now that I think of it. It is moody and a little on the under-exposed side for effect.

  13. Donna the golden light in many images is glorious. I do love the weeds and many natives this time of year. We had another huge storm so we are getting more rain and cooler temps finally this the meadows.

    • I do like the golden hour, but I find it challenging to get a good exposure. I know if I would venture out at that time more, rather than all the mid-day times of the day, I would get better at it. I think Fall, rather than Spring, is the special time for the natives. The seed heads are out and the grasses start to brown. Insects are working hard like in Spring. I like the true meadows too. What grows, grows, nature plants them.

  14. Ogee says:

    Can I come over for a photography lesson? Just beautiful. As always.

  15. Ogee says:

    I will check it out. Thanks for the tip! I appreciate so much that you offer help along with inspiration 🙂

  16. Was that a dandelion? That’s my favorite.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Donna, You have packed a lot of lovely shots into this post. This is the time of year when wildflowers and grasses sing. I can see why that last shot is a favourite. The light is perfect and the flowers look so delicate.

    • Hi, Jen. I was without Internet most of yesterday and could not get back to many comments or blogs. But, yes, Fall is time for the weeds to shine. Insects too. As busy as they are in Spring, it still does not compare to what one can find in Fall.

  18. Donna, I think you have advanced beyond a mere amateur photographer. Congratulations on your success. I am amazed that you find time to do all these things.

    • You are very kind. A friend of mine said if you even sell one photo, you are a professional. I have sold a few but still feel that experience, time and passion make the pros. I feel I still have some things to learn before I ever elevate upward in my work. Architecture is my profession, and not much time for another.

  19. Town Mouse says:

    Stunning photos! Yes, I agree, the term “weed” is very much open to interpretation. Who can argue with pictures like this?

    • Like I said to Stone, I say ‘weed’ more for effect. I think most can tell my ‘affection’ for weeds. I even let them grow in the garden in Fall to flower, then chop them down before they seed. The wildflowers are every bit as pretty as the hybrids. But I keep harping on many ‘natives’ in gardens are really plants made and copyrighted by some company. My Monarda is a great example. The insects don’t seem to care either.

  20. Rose says:

    Donna, your photos are a feast for the eyes! Simply beautiful; as much as I like the last one, I don’t think I could pick a favorite from all of these–the hummingbird photos are just amazing.

    I have developed an appreciation for weeds, too. Living on a farm, we have lots of weeds/wildflowers growing around the outbuildings, especially this season because my husband has a bad knee right now and hasn’t been able to keep up with the trimming. I’ve learned to appreciate their beauty, and certainly the insects love them. Chicory is one of my favorites! Even thistle, the bane of farmers, is a butterfly and finch magnet.

    • Thanks, Rose. I have seen the wildflowers that you let grow on your farm in a recent post you did. I commented how beautiful those areas were and you are so right about thistle. All I have to do is stand by thistle and the insects come. You know, last year was the first year in my own garden where the finches were busy picking off seed from plants I never saw them eat. I let lettuce bolt last year and they were either eating the seed or the aphids on the plants, but they were funny trying to hang on to the flimsy stem of the lettuce plant.

  21. Garden Tips says:

    Fantastic pictures. What a great blog!

  22. wiseacre says:

    Great pics as always.
    A request:
    I’d like to see a great photo of a lobster bee. (they love phlox) Hummingbird clear-wing moths seem to dart about quicker than a hummer. I can’t quite get one with my point and shoot. (Oh, and title the post Lobster Bee. I promise it will attract a lot of people searching to find out what that mutant bee they just saw was. 🙂

    I’ve been hunting ambush bugs on goldenrod but they seem scarce this year. They’re another subject worthy of your camera.

  23. HolleyGarden says:

    I think some weeds are just as pretty, sometimes prettier, than the plants most of us covet. But, I am reminded almost daily when pulling the dayflower here, that a weed will take over everywhere if left to its own devices. I’ve almost decided this weed can stay – not because I think it’s pretty (because I do), but because I can’t see ever winning the war!

    • There are so many that I cannot pull them fast enough. This dry weather has really been beneficial to many of them. They are replacing our desired plants by muscling them out. I can sympathize with you on dayflower, but being blue, it may get a reprieve in my garden.

  24. Incredible shots, as always, Donna. I especially enjoyed the Monarda in the rain, and the bird and squirrel at the bird bath.

    • You pick two images that others probably would not. Neither are pretty, just kinda snapshots of the garden with a little action. The Monarda feeding the bees and hummingbirds is my favorite duty for them.

  25. Bernieh says:

    Fabulous images. The wildflowers and grasses are just so lovely, and the wildlife you get to see is fantastic. You’re so right about dry weather not being the same all over the world. But whatever the dry experience is, it’s always hard for gardeners and farmers.

    • So true, Bernieh. The drought this year is affecting food crops the most, but the one late last year affected trees. The trees took a second hit when the 80° February weather turned to frost in late March. Deciduous trees were budding and a large amount of conifers were burnt back and lost as commercial trees this year. It will take them two decent rainy years to recover. With the drought, the farmers are irrigating often, which will reflect in pricing at the market. So when bloggers compare, it is in no way a fair comparison.

  26. Scott Weber says:

    A truly beautiful post…wonderful photos…and I totally agree on the thoughts. I really love the wild areas in the country…there are so many lessons, not to mention inspiration, to be taken from them 🙂

    • You are correct, the way plants grow in nature can be brought into the design world if one studies the landscapes. The massing, the textures, the colors, the conditions, the topography, etc. all have practical application.

  27. gail says:

    beautiful post Donna, what a joy it must be to visit your garden…and I love the framed photos.

    • Thank you Gail. I live one half block for the glorious Niagara gorge, so it is like having that nature in my back yard. Only a couple of images came from the farm meadows, the rest were from the gorge or my garden.

  28. Brian Comeau says:

    Amazing! I’m not sure what else to say. These are all beautiful images. I really do love the black framing.

  29. You’re a very talented photographer. I especially love the photograph of the bee with pollen.

  30. Bom says:

    How can one not scroll down to the bottom of the post when there are all those wonderful flora and fauna images? I like how you are framing some of your pictures now. The colors pop out more.

Comments are closed.