Rather odd.... August 09, 2007
There are many things to catch the eye at the governor's residence. Fountains, art, water gardens, many unusual plants, and sometimes, the insects they attract. During the tour, I had the good fortune of being in the back-corner garden where there is lots of shade as well as full sun. This portion of the garden represents the Unglaciated Appalachian Plateaus. There is a enormous chunk of Peebles Dolomite rock, transported from southern Ohio to the heritage garden with all of the plants in tact, Columbine and Walking-ferns just to name a few. The Big Leaf Magnolia with its giant "eared" leaves is only a couple of years old, but the Umbrella Magnolia is starting to tower over our heads. This corner reminds me of all the wonderful sights in Shawnee and Adams County.
On the front side of this garden, out in the sun, several Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata are growing to unusually large sizes. One became quite the talk when the Perennial Plant folks came to visit. "Is that a regular Asclepias incarnata?" It seemed to have questionable heritage. In fact, gossip started at lunch with the botanists.
"Hey, have you seen that Milkweed out back? I think the Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata and the the Sullivant's milkweed, Asclepias sullivantii from the prairie garden have been mixing it up at night. Oh yeah."
The snickering comments comprise a little botanist's humor- very little humor, I might add. :) And once you look closely you realize, that is rather odd looking Swamp Milkweed. Instead of flat topped inflorescences, it has a rather round- looking, globular flower heads and fairly wide leaves. Rather odd indeed.
Once while inspecting the oddity during the course of the tour, this even more peculiar looking bug landed for a respite. Quickly snapping a photo allowed the time to browse the Kaufman insect guide this afternoon for a proper ID. And although I thought it may be a beetle, I was greatly surprised to find it is a moth. It is an Ailanthus Webworm Moth in fact. Even more amazing, this day flying moth is a flower pollinator.
So, keep your eyes open wherever you are: oddities abound. They always told me- it takes one to know one!