Jewelweed Hollow

The drone of bees among the Jewelweed is louder as summer wanes.

Here on the glider porch, their hum and buzz blends with the background of grasshoppers and other small cheepers that sing throughout the day. It is the only sound except for the muted hum of the fan from inside – a perfect late summer chorus.

It began with a solitary bee making his way from blossom to blossom and now I count half a dozen along with a large bumble bee, black and yellow swallowtail butterflies, a small wasp or two and a greenish slender-bodied fly, not to mention the hummingbird (who sounds like a large bee itself) who visits throughout the day. Everyone is busily trying to eat as much as possible before the end of summer and the beginning of their journeys south or into the ground.

The self-seeded border of Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) that I ponder has been a happy accident. A native along our creek, a lover of shade and moisture, it crept into the front porch border and has not been browsed by the deer. Apart from its utility to pollinators, it’s quite lovely as a summer screen as long as it doesn’t bake in afternoon sun.

Pale long-stalked blue-green leaves flutter in the slightest breeze and provide a lush backdrop for the multitude of tiny turk’s cap blossoms speckled tangerine and brown. This 4′ tall panorama is just a few feetĀ  from where I sit on the glider and to watch the play of insects among the forest of flower stalks is a delight. Before frost kills them, they will form tiny green seed pods that explode on contact, fun to show the kids.

If you’d like to collect seed from a wild patch when pods are just getting plump and ready to explode, bend their heads into a baggie before cutting the stalks so they fall in. Then scatter these on top of the ground right away in a moist shady spot. Look for them to sprout next summer after the soil warms up. Don’t amend the soil. They want native acid clay loam.

If you don’t have any at home keep a look out for these lovely natives on your trail walks, especially along streams and ditches and wetlands.

The east meadow is entering its ugly phase with the Verbesina stalks turning black, but there’s still enough yellow and green left to quibble with Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” ~ Nature’s first green is gold/Her hardest hue to hold.

Here in the hollow, we beg to differ.




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