Saturday, June 14, 2008

Butterfly Weed

Growing up on the Kansas prairie, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) was a common and favorite sight along the roadsides and across the grassy plains. For those of us who were in tune with these kinds of things, the flowering of the butterfly weed was the official harbinger of summer. It's brilliant orange flowers were impossible to miss, usually in individual splashes here and there in the roadside ditches, but occasionally in brilliant rivers flowing down the hillsides and across the open grassland. These memories from many years ago are still with me today.

I am reminded of it each day as I pull into the driveway and there in full bloom is one of the most spectacular clumps of Asclepias tuberosa I have ever seen. So spectacular, in fact, that I am considering giving it a name and introducing it to the nursery trade. It's a plant that I found a number of years ago that seemed much more robust and a LOT more profuse in its flowering than any other that I had ever seen, so I planted it out to see what would happen. I've kept an eye on it over the years and am convinced that it really does have serious garden potential. It will even re-bloom later in the season if it is deadheaded and given a light dusting of fertilizer after it finishes its initial flowering. I've seen flowers on it as late as September, which is at least two months after most of the others have finished.

When I pulled in this afternoon I noticed a beautiful butterfly fluttering and floating just above the plant. I just happened to have the camera with me and was able to get a couple of good shots before he or she flew off in search of the next great meal. Enjoy!

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