Persicaria polymorpha, White Fleeceflower

Persicaria polymorpha, White Fleeceflower  or White Dragon Fleece Flower, grows in USDA zones 3-9. This photo is from a stand growing in the MN Landscape Arboretum. The plant is quite tall; over three feet. It seems to have originated in China or Japan. The white flower has an intriguing texture; however, the fragrance was not especially attractive (to me). There are diverse descriptions of growing the plant, so it must grow and adapt in a variety of conditions.

WI Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus with yellow flower

WI Prickly Pear Cactus with yellow flower

I didn’t expect to see this, today, in Menomonie, WI. This cactus is one of three varieties of Prickly Pear that is native – and hardy – in zone 4 of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Gardener has a nice video clip about WI cactus. The Cactacae family is one of about 60 different families that constitute succulent plants. I first saw this cluster of plants (about 10 x 20 feet), last year and wondered if they would survive the winter. They did. In this image is a single open yellow blossom, a bud about to erupt and several spent flowers. The areoles and spines are also visible. I think this is Opuntia humifusa. I have some native Opuntia fragilis growing in my rock garden. Over the last few years, the cold hardy Fragile Prickly Pear cacti have begun to slowly multiply in a small “nest” area of the rocks. The slightest pressure against the spines will result in a pad section breaking free from the parent plant to catch a ride to new potential colony sites. They are readily started by sticking the “cutting” into a nearby sand pile. According to Lewis & Clark, they grow as far north as upper British Columbia and southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada!

Hummingbird at rest

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris,

This hummingbird perched, briefly, on a flower stake. In the next moment the bird flew off to sip at the feeder. I boil four cups of water and add one cup of sugar to make a syrup for them. I think this is a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). The male was repeating his swooping flight pattern a few feet away. I have never been able to locate a hummingbird nest – even though I’ll see young birds later in the summer.

Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis

 Sandhill Crane,  Grus canadensis

Sandhill Crane, Grus canadensis,

These two Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) have been hanging around the fields for several weeks. They seemed to be out for a couple’s stroll today. I wonder if they have a nest nearby. I enjoy seeing the cranes and hearing their calls.

Poppy

Poppy

Poppy

I have a lot of orange poppies (Papavee) that self-seed. But, this poppy plant creates only a few large flowers each year. The flower petals are each a solid peachy-salmon color. There are no additional black spots or markings on the petals. The stamen and pistil are completely black. I think it may be Papaver orientale, Helen Elizabeth; but, I’m not absolutely sure. Hopefully, you can see the fuzzy, serrated green leaves – that I think of – as classical poppy. There are a variety of different kinds of poppies that include the Iceland Poppy (Papaver nudicaule), the Shirley poppy (Papaver rhoeas), the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and the Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale) which is what I grew up with as a the definitive poppy.

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens is a little hard to differentiate from the Hairy Woodpecker. Both are welcome on my feeders. This bird is only about six inches tall and its bill seems relatively short – so I think it’s a Downy. One of the woodpeckers insists on pounding on my metal siding. S/he has been doing this for about four years. I have never been able to see which kind of woodpecker it is since I’m usually inside when I hear it and going outside is fruitless as it flies away. It is amazing how many woodpeckers live with me on my little piece of Heaven. There are at least 15 Downys and Hairys as well as Flickers, Red-Bellied, Pileated, and, on occasion, Red-headed woodpeckers. It’s one reason I don’t work too hard at removing dead trees. The woodpeckers and their young must eat tens of thousands of bugs each year.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Prairie dropseed

Prairie Dropseed

Prairie Dropseed

Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) is a relatively deer resistant perennial grass. This short grass thrives in full sun, tolerates sandy soil and some dryness. It takes about four years to reach blooming size from seed. The scent of Prairie dropseed is often likened to buttered popcorn. Plains Indians ground the seed to make a tasty flour. In this image, the Prairie dropseed gracefully drapes over the snowy drifts; seeking a moment and a place for its cold-moist seed germination. And a new birth in the Spring.

I have a Nov. 15, 2014 photo of the grass growing.