I’ve written before about how much pleasure I get from our backyard prairie garden. It has a nice diversity of prairie flowers and attracts an astonishing number of insects. The garden also provides me with an opportunity to watch competition between prairie species in a small contained setting.
This year has been a good one for the five-year old garden. The plants have largely filled in the spaces and now stand shoulder to shoulder, providing abundant color and great habitat for a number of tiny animals. Here are a few June photos from the prairie garden this year.
Prairie wild rose ( Rosa arkansana). Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, 1/320 sec, f/13.
Butterfly milkweed ( Asclepias tuberosa). Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 200, 1/50 sec, f/20.
Serrate-leaf primrose ( Calylophus serrulatus). Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, 1/320 sec, f/13.
False sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) with a few florets that grew unusually. Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 200, 1/100 sec, f/13.
Purple poppy mallow ( Callirhoe involucrata). Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, 1/200 sec, f/11.
Fly and butterfly milkweed. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, 1/250 sec, f/10.
I’m not sure what kind of bee this is. I was concentrating on photographing it too much to look at the rest of the body. It flew off just a moment after this photo was taken. Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 200, 1/250 sec, f/10.
Hollow stems of ironweed ( Vernonia baldwinii), left tall from last year’s growth, are hosting several small native bee nests ( Ceratina sp) this summer. Nikon 10.5mm fish eye lens. ISO 200, 1/60 sec, f/13.
False sunflower close-up. ISO 320, 1/160 sec, f/22.
Small bee ( Halictus ligatus?) on black-eyed Susan ( Rudbeckia hirta). Nikon 105mm macro lens. ISO 320, 1/160 sec, f/22.
False milkweed bug nymph on false sunflower. Two ‘imposters’, neither of which deserve their given names. Nikon 105mm lens. ISO 200, 1/80 sec, f/16.
False sunflower. Nikon 10.5mm fish eye lens. ISO 400, 1/100 sec, f/18.
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About Chris Helzer
Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups.
Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
Your prairie garden pics are awesome. I’m new to your blog, so didn’t know about your prairie garden, but I am a huge supporter and believe people with lawns to be mowed should be fined or something. (I learned a lot about the value of wildflower gardens from a talk I heard from a bee expert; something like 18,000 bee species in U.S., as I recall.) Carry on!
I would love to see a picture of your whole garden! Does your camera do that? :)
Your black bee is likely Melossodes bimacula. Not uncommon but very pretty bees.
I would love to know where to get seeds for all of these plants! I see packets in various nurseries, but we have a large prairie environment here at Tallgrass Independent Living, We could scatter many seeds here to encourage better ecology for our polinators! We are in the Flyzone for the Monarchs!
I echo the requests above to see more landscape images of your garden. Just looking for ideas for native plant combos for pollinator plantings :-)
I’ll take a stab at the bee ID. I think the black one is Melissodes bimaculatus. I have many in my prairie garden right now. Males are aggregating to sleep together on the dried stems of my wild geranium. The second one looks like a Megachile sp. See the pollen on the abdomen. Can we see a pic of the whole garden?
Hi Kathy – great to hear from you and thanks for the help on ID. I’ll try to put up a photo of the whole garden sometime… Hope you’re doing well these days!