Today blue vervain (Verbena hastata) is in bloom in the native garden. I absolutely love its flowers. Up close they look blue-purple. From a distance they look purple to pinkish-purple. The actual flower itself is tiny but grows in clusters on a spike. They start blooming at the bottom and work their way upward.
Toooooooooons of insects love this plant. (Listed above, information taken from The Illinois Wildflower website). I have witnessed many enjoying this plant but not yet small butterflies nor moths. My plant is in its first year so it’s tiny. I am looking forward to the coming years when it can fully develop to 5 feet tall.
Blue vervain likes moist soil, so I planted it at the end of a dry stream bed which is connected to my rain gutter down spout. When it rains, the water collects in the stream bed and the vervain benefits from the moist soil. Too bad in Chicago it has been super hot and super dry lately! We need rain!
It’s difficult to see but the baby blue vervain plant is circled in orange at the end of the dry stream bed.
In your garden, you don’t have to transform your whole lawn to help insects. Just incorporate one or two native plants in your yard and you will be blessed with butterflies and other pollinators. Turf grass has very shallow roots, therefore it cannot hold rainwater so it becomes runoff pretty quickly. The runoff takes with it pesticides and fertilizers which go directly in the waterway. This is why many nearby ponds have a thick green film in the summer because it has too much nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer runoff, creating algae blooms, resulting in fish kills and other aquatic deaths. Native plants have long, deep roots. The roots hold rainwater, cleaning it before it reaches the water table or has a chance to become runoff. Yay native plants! They’re superheros in more ways than one.
If you would like to see blue vervain in the wild, check near ponds that have full sun. Or check prairies that have moist soils.
Update on the black swallowtail caterpillar from last weeks post:
Unfortunately it’s gone. No chrysalis, no relocation to another plant. Just gone. In my human failings I anthropomorphized my caterpillar, like it was my baby. I was so upset!! Like really upset. Birds do not eat this caterpillar because of its bitter taste. Perhaps a raccoon came by to have a juicy meal. They’re omnivores and will eat just about anything. I have many raccoons in the neighborhood. I don’t know.
Bottom line is: God’s ways are not my ways. This caterpillar was needed elsewhere. It is well with my soul. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:21
Whether a happy ending or not, I am thankful to be able to share my nature adventures with everyone through this platform. Truly thankful.