Random Observations and Thoughts While Mowing

Earlier today, I read that at any given time there are 10 quintillion insects on this earth. Written out that number is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000. That's eighteen zeros after the ten. I don't know if that is an accurate number or one that has just propogated itself across the internet and therefore seems true because you see it on several web sites.

But if it is true, it's a lot. I wonder how many of those insects are in my garden? Or your garden?

If you combine my share of those insects with all the weeds I've got growing, which might number close to one quintillion on their own, it's a wonder that I have any garden at all!

But I observed that I do have a garden, more or less, and several flowers caught my eye as I walked back and forth with the mower this evening.

First up, I noticed this Columbine (Aquilegia sp.) which has mysteriously rebloomed with these ghostly white flowers. The first blooms earlier this spring were more bluish in color and I've left their seedheads to mature on the plant because I don't mind if these self-sow a bit in the garden. I'll have to watch to see if these white flowers, these ghosts of springs past, form seedheads, too.

In another part of the garden, these Stachys monieri 'Hummelo' are blooming as good as they've ever bloomed in the three years I've had them.

They are a perfect example of how perennials seem to "sleep, creap, leap". I remember when I bought these in a one gallon container how disgusted I was with how rootbound they were. I could have kicked myself for not checking for that more closely before I left the garden center with them.

But I used a serrated knife to whack carefully divide the plant into three divisions, and planted those divisions out on a hot June day, which is not a good time to plant perennials around here. They looked terrible that first year, but I watered them when I remembered to and hoped for the best. Then last year they looked pretty decent, but this year they look great. It's either my talent as a gardener that's got them to this point or all the rain we've had this spring.

I'm guessing it is more due to all the rain we've had this spring and not any talent I have as a gardener.

Not far from where the Stachys is blooming, these daylilies are putting on their annual show, providing evidence that I don't do well at making sure my flowers match each other.This particular daylily is 'Apricot Sparkles' but the color this evening reminded me of those Orange Pushups that we used to beg to buy from the ice cream truck when it came through our neighborhood "back in the day", blaring its siren song.

For a brief moment I contemplated getting some Orange Pushups at the store but decided that they probably wouldn't taste as good to me now as they did when I was eight or nine years old. Some foods are just better left in the past.

I just hope after all this reminiscining, I can remember to call this daylily 'Apricot Sparkles' and not 'Orange Pushups'.

But forget about those daylilies for just a minute, and look at this hot pink coneflower. It's blooming amongst some other coneflowers, which now look dull and lifeless to me compared to this one.

I got very excited when I saw this because I didn't remember planting any "special" coneflowers. So I thought this one just showed up like this, giving me the opportunity to name it something like 'Dang That Is Pink'. But I found the tag, and it looks like it has a registered trademark name of Echinacea purpurea 'Primadonna® Deep Rose' so I'd better not confuse myself by naming it 'Orange Pushups' or 'Dang That Is Pink'.

Finally, back in the vegetable garden, I noticed that the zinnias I started from seed on May 15th have flower buds forming now. They also have some tell-tale holes in the leaves that look exactly like what it looks like when Japanese beetles eat them. I haven't seen one of those beetles yet, but I know that's what is eating those leaves. Those Japanese beetles show up every year right about now, all 10 quintillion of them, give or take.

Time to get a bucket of soapy water and see if I can pick off at least a few quintillion Japanese beetles, right after I pull out a quintillion weeds.


  1. Carol, yes they are back. I just posted a photo of one I found on a coneflower this eve. And funny-I also mentioned a bucket of soapy water. At least we can have the satisfaction of drowning the little buggers. That is a PINK conefower. One I hadn't seen. 10 quintillion is a lot of insects-like one for every dollar the nation is in debt! :)

  2. I admire your push mower technique in a high tech world! You certainly can see more and contemplate about all the insects and flowering plants. Love the metaphor of ghostly white for your columbine... the Stachys look beautiful and so healthy! I agree about leaving some food in the past! Lovely daylily and coneflower and what would we do without those insects... food for birds, pollinators and yes... hole makers where we least want them... we have had terrible little beetles eating the viburnum and the slugs (not an insect) are feasting with all the rain! As gardeners we must be ruthless in order to protect some of our plants. Then there are the fireflies! Enjoyed your post!

  3. Oh the critters are all over the place. We need some rain!!!

  4. Could we somehow send Darla some of our rain?!

    I hope most of the quintillion Japanese beetles stay in Indiana--I don't think even my community of toads could keep up with that many. I love your daylily and that perfect coneflower--they are gorgeous! I also think you should submit your names to plant breeders--"Dang! That is Pink" would certainly catch a buyer's eye:)

    Everything is looking good, Carol; you are too modest--your garden certainly shows off your talent.

  5. That's certainly a lot to be thinking about while you are mowin', mowin', mowin'! You can keep the Japanese beetles. I'll get to experience some when we come visit the end of July -- they usually share the upstairs bedroom with us!

  6. I like your names for the flowers better than the "official" names! Since I have so many day lilies out there that I don't know the names of, by gum, I think I'll go out there and give them some.

    Only ten quintillion bugs in the world? I'm sure that must be wrong, I have that many just around here, added to your population we have just doubled the population.

    Your stachys is beautiful, and a perfect example of benign neglect producing near-perfecton.

  7. I think the difference in the flower color of the Columbine has to do with the weather. One of mine usually looks white, but does look a bit pinker in cooler weather, and I have a very pale blue one that sometimes looks white. They are normal flowers and you've probably gotten a rebloom because of the cool temperatures and rain we've had up to now.

  8. I do not even want to think about the number of bugs there are around me at anu one time, eekkkk and yuck!!! But may goodness aren't you glad you had a good wee nosey at your own patch. What beautiful flowers columbines are, I think I have to have some.

  9. Mowing is a good time to think. I just noticed the Japanese beetles this past weekend. Not as many as in previous years but one is too many. I love the Stachys.

  10. I have been facinated by the bugs in the garden for most of my life. I tried to id all of them. I gave up. Too many bugs and not enough time to hunt down their species. As to weeds, well, I have qutinamillions of them.

  11. But I like 'Orange Pushups' and 'Dang That's Pink'. Can't we call them by those names?

  12. With all the heat we have been experiencing, I haven't seen too many insects, but once the rains come, it will be a different story. Now, the "too many to count" weeds are something else. How do they survive the drought?

    Always Growing

  13. Love the DTIP Echinacea! As for the Hummelo Stachys, perhaps it's due to a combination of your gardenerly talents and the rain!

  14. Here in Maine, the japanese beetles arrive right after 4th of July. I kill them with a squirt bottle full of diatomaceous earth. When you squirt one of them happily munching a rose leaf, for example, that bug dies and falls off, but the scent he leaves behind calls others to that spot and they plop right down in the little pile of DE he left behind him, and once they touch that powder they are history.Also i hsave found that i can shoot down flying beetles with the stream of DE from my home-made applicator[it is a honey dispenser with the hole made smaller via a bit of masking tape], and once powdered they are so slow i can knock them out of the air with my hand. Most satisfying. i am having as much fun shooting down japanese beetles as a kid has with a bb gun. Second childhood, maybe. Try it, DE is sold in hardware stores and garden centers. It is not a poison but is made up of the shells of prehistoric sea creatures, microscopic shards of glass, harmless to anything bigger than a bug. Works on lily beetles too.


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