Dog Day Hollow

The meadow is producing luscious forbs for bouquets ~ white yarrow, flea bane and Queen Anne’s Lace dotted like stars among the native grasses. Green sedges provide dramatic contrast with their seed heads and arching sepals. The Chicago Hardy Fig in the back corner has a nice crop, in its second full year now but not yet ripe. John has been bringing home Brown Turkey from Sprigg Lane.

As autumn turns to winter Sirius will sit at the foot of his master, the hunter Orion, and become the brightest star in the night sky, but during the sultry days of summer he rises unseen with the sun.

To the Greeks, the dog star foretold evil times of heat and fever and one could perhaps say the same in 2022, but here in the hollow our bubble of paradise persists and for us it means musky night scents of Nicotiana alata ‘Fragrant Cloud’ and the flutter of hummingbird moths as they weave through the bright white trumpets held like candelabras against the darkness. I do love a white garden around the porch. Lovely with early morning coffee and twilight drinks.

The orange Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, is of course the iconic nectar flower of the monarch butterfly, the latter declining for years and just placed on the endangered species list. Swamp milkweed, A. incarnata, its larval food, is a taller pink-flowered variety that thrives in moist meadows, currently making seed pods that will burst into angel wings when ripe in the meadow. Who will come to them now? Doug Tallamy in Bringing Nature Home tells the story of a planting of natives that attracted long-lost pollinators so we must hope for the best.

Unripe seed pod Asclepias incarnata


Everyone is commenting on the dearth of insects this year. Every one is precious now and each swallowtail, fritillary or cabbage moth I see is cause for a double take and close attention. As summer progresses, I see more and more and am grateful for the habitat we have to nurture them. They are like angels to me.

The Earth has miraculous powers of regeneration, but we must help her and change our ways. Will we see this happen? Can there be green shoots from our current evil days?

Swamp Milkweed


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