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In the garden: Biophilia at the office (with mystery plants)

I'm counting 17 plant species that I know, and 7 mystery plants I do not know, all in view from my desk. (Of course, there are many others elsewhere!)

Here's a legend for the color coding:

Color Meaning
Red Flowers
Green Vegetables
Yellow Mystery plants (numbered #1 - #7)
Blue Infrastructure

(I didn't label "weeds." Queen Anne's Lace is not a weed, (a) because I like it and more importantly (b), Monarch butterflies like it. I haven't seen any Monarchs, however, although I have seen Fritillaries and, earlier this year, a Tiger Swallowtail.)

On infrastructure, the power cord is the power cord to this very computer at this desk.

The tomato stakes are self-explanatory; I used big wooden stakes that I really ought to Clorox before using, but I'm too lazy; I tie the vines to them, and otherwise let the vines be vines. (No pruning, no touching -- touching spreads disease.)

But I have also put stakes in the ground with "Deer Strips" tied to them -- Metallic strips that, I think, scare deer away. (Deer have very poor eyesight, and don't like change, being driven by fear, or lack of it. I change the location of the strips, so I think that creates an image in the tiny deer mind of scary metal knives or traps in the dark; the strips also rattle in the wind.) I also use the stakes as anchors for the black fishing line that circles the garden; the theory is that deer walk into the line in the dark, can't see it, become nervous, and go away. Other deer countermeasures include, er, irrigating the boundaries of the garden at night, and periodically adding blood meal near where I have seen signs of their depradations. It's a two-fer, because deer don't like the blood smell, and the plants like the nitrogen.

I don't know whether these techniques "work," or not; I saw that some flowers and -- snarl -- sunflowers and even tomatoes had been sampled, so I took all these precautions. I don't think they'd work with a herd -- apparently, nothing works, once a herd has decided an area is safe -- that I only get onesies and twosies where I am. Pests! None of that "Oh, they're so cute!" for me!

But now what you have all been waiting for! The mystery plants! Here are photos of mystery plants #1 - #7, and if you can tell me what species they are, that would be great!

#1: This is a perennial, and it fights off the weeds and spreads very well. I bought it, but I don't remember where, and I don't know what it is!

#2: Another perennial I bought this year at the Farmer's Market; notice the distinctively notched leaves. I'm told this grows quite tall.

#3: These pretty little flowers came in Johnny's "Shady Mix" of wildflowers, along with the orange poppies.

#4: Another perennial (I think) I bought this year, this one I think from the Church flower sale. I like the rich color.

#5: Yet another perennial I bought at the Farmer's Market. IIRC, it is suppose to grow very tall. Eight feet?

#6: This is a volunteer, but whatever it is, I like it, so it's not a weed.

#7: These too are wildflowers from Johnny's "Shady Mix." Although I used the same mix in several places, different plants come to dominate, presumably because of soil conditions, sun, water, competitors, sheer dumb luck, and so on. A salutary reminder of how various life can be, even in a tiny patch like my garden.

There are plenty of plants I don't know in other areas, too. Maybe I'll do another inventory....

* * *

I suppose I should do an inventory of animals, too, but I don't know if my iPad is good enough for that. Animals move around! And besides the hummingbirds, Chickadees, Cardinals, Robins, dragonflies, damsel flies, bumble bees, honey bees, wasps, flies, deer -- but no woodchucks! Or cats! -- I'd also have to inventory Japanese beetles, cucumber beetles, squash bugs, snails, and slugs. Not to mention the marvelously beneficial worms in the soil (and then, the microbes, but are microbes animals?)

NOTE I know the wide-angle photo is not the best, and JPG made it worse. During my waking hours, I have to shoot into the sun, and I get really bad flare. Today was a cloudy day, so the trade-off is much less flare but dull colors.

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5_mystery.JPG254.47 KB
6_mystery.JPG231.21 KB
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Submitted by lambert on

Via mail:

1) Euphorbia (there are many different varieties). If it is Euphorbia, you
may or may not know that the sap is toxic for most humans, so if you get it
on your hands, don't go rubbing your face or eyes with them.
2) Not sure
3) It looks like verbena to me. There are both perennial and annual
4) I think that looks like Salpiglossis (not a perennial. but an annual), a
very lovely plant that flowers in purple, burgundy, blue, or yellow,.
5) Not sure. Looks familiar.
6) Could it be Campanula (common name is "bellflower")?
7) I know what this is but can't come up with the name. The leaves actually
look very much like Spirea, a deciduous shrub. But the flowers don't look
like Spirea flowers!

A church lady tells me that #1 is spurge, the common name for Euphorbia!