At first it was just a sea of oregano and mint. Waves of it waist high, in my mother’s garden. Then the buzz of honeybees. Then the darts of orange. Bright orange and glossy black, several wasps came and went like tiny missles. On the mint, and mint only, they fed in the afternoon sun. I took a seat and steadied my camera.
In the moment I didn’t know the wasps’ name, but these great golden digger wasps were hooked on the nectar, and did not seem worried about me in the slightest. Sure enough, when I looked them up later that night I learned that these stunning wasps are not much of stinging threat to humans. They’re solitary and parasitoidal. Meaning, the females find prey and stun it, drag it into the hole they’ve dug, and lay an egg on the living catch—an eventual meal for the offspring. A brutal technique, and like any good villian they do it dressed for success.
“The act of gardening, too, is much like that of sculpting. A gardener often actually shapes the earth, hollowing it out, casting it up, making one space level and another contoured. But the ground is not the gardener’s only medium. A gardener sculpts the air also, hollowing out of its insubstantial mass forms and structures.”
There’s a lot more to say about this new addition (Azalea ‘Arneson Gem’), but first I have to share an image taken last night at 7:28pm. I didn’t consider sunset when siting it, but it sure is in the right place.
Check out these perfectly green leaves and yellow flowers
This is Rodgersia—doesn’t roll off the tongue, but it’s worth the effort. These bronzy, new leafs are really interesting from above, but look how they catch the morning light from below. This is planted up the hill in the backyard, so I was able to spot this color from inside in the house. I grabbed my camera, of course.
I bought this perennial at the Rhododendron Botanical Garden two years ago but planted it only this winter. The leaves will get much larger, reach up to 3′ or higher, and turn bright green in the summer. And now that it has room to stretch out, it’ll spread (rhizomes) to 3-4′ feet as well.
The ID tag it came with calls it mohogany rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia ‘Rubrifolia’). Mohogany sounds nice but this is not aesculifolia, which has more ovate leaflets and resembles a horsechestnut tree (Aesculus)—hence the name. This plant is Rodgersia podophylla. I’d say I’m surprised by how misidentification seems pretty common, but I’m sure that would just make an old gardener laugh.
For more info on Rodgersia, Great Plant Picks has three.