A bumblebee’s paradise

Bumblebee on toad lily in August‘Sinonome’ toad lily (Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’) begins flowering in early August in this garden, several weeks earlier than other cultivars. When first opened, the tepals do not spread fully, so that bumblebees that are so numerous in the garden must pierce the base of the flower to obtain its nectar (above). Somehow, this seems like cheating, but it has no obvious effect on the flower except that the mechanism by which pollen is distributed is bypassed. The implicit agreement between pollinators and flora is that pollen is dispersed in exchange for nectar, and in another week or two the bumblebee’s obligation is fulfilled as the flowers open fully to allow access beneath the pollen laden anthers (below).Miyazaki toad lily and bumblebees ‘Sinonome’ is a somewhat vigorous grower that spreads amicably around its neighbors, stopping immediately at the point where even a lanky stemmed geranium begins. Some care must be taken to manage other perennials not to encroach on the toad lilies’ domain, so that the gardener is rewarded with flowers on one cultivar or the other from August until frost. The flowers of ‘Sinonome’ are smaller and less substantial than other toad lilies, but the earlier flowering is reason enough to include it in the garden.Worcester Gold Blue mist shrub in August The half-woody stems of yellow leafed blue mist shrubs (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold’, above) died back to the ground after a cold winter, and then with a cold spring, growth emerged later than is typical. In recent years only the outermost parts of stems have required pruning, but with a handful of days below zero it is not surprising that stems died to the ground.Hint of Gold blue mist shrub The foliage of ‘Worcester Gold’ and ‘Sunshine Blue’ fades long before flowers begin to appear in late July, but while in bloom the foliage is of little concern. A more recent introduction, ‘Hint of Gold’ (Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Lisaura’, above) has woodier stems that demand only minor spring pruning, and foliage is larger and the yellow color more bold. It seems not to flower as heavily, but the contrast of foliage and flower is more vivid. ‘Hint of Gold’ and variegated ‘Snow Fairy’ and ‘White Surprise’ flower a few weeks later, so there will be delightful blue mist blooms long into September.

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2 thoughts on “A bumblebee’s paradise

  1. Having problems with my caryopteris…leaves are wilting and one has given up the ghost. This happened last year and I pruned the remaining healthy part. Don’t think it’s a watering issue as I have a sprinkler. I gave about ten of then in a mass so will be frustrating if they all succumb. Plan to fig the dead one up and take to a nursery. There were no signs of bugs before when they checked. Sigh. I’m going to adding some asters to get more purple in the fall garden.

    • I’ve had similar problems this year with caryopteris. Portions of the shrubs wilted once temperatures heated up, while the remainder looks fine. I suspect that this is a root problem, not bugs, probably related to damage from the winter. I’ve pruned the dying branches out, and the problem does not seem to be progressing. If the entire plant wilts I suppose there is a chance that it could be cut to the ground and it could possibly survive, but this seems unlikely.

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