Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Throw Back Thursday: Wedding Blues.

Posted on | September 10, 2015 | 2 Comments

Most of my writing-time was replaced with kid-time over the summer.  Also, weeding-the-garden-time.  And the always enjoyable mowing-the-yard-again-time.  But I did take some pictures and I did have some thoughts.  They were random thoughts then and are mostly irrelevant thoughts now, but isn’t the entire point of a blog to force other people to read your random, irrelevant thoughts??  Suckers.

Assume this random irrelevant-ness happened sometime over the summer.  And I just didn’t have time to write about it while doing otherwise important tasks like screaming at the kids to feed the dogs, empty the dishwasher, and go the heck outside already.

Wedding Blues

While checking the fence line for breaks, I discovered a profusion of wildflowers tangled in and around the chicken wire.  I wasn’t surprised that they were flourishing in a spot where the lawn mower and the ruminants couldn’t reach them.  But it did seem noteworthy that so many of them were shades of blue and purple.

Oh, there were these guys, of course.

But the wild verbena….

red clover (which was way more purple than red)….

horse nettle….

Carolina petunia….

and bachelor’s buttons were flourishing.

It was as if the weeds themselves were prepared for wedding season, hoping to be snatched up for a homemade bridesmaid bouquet or table centerpiece.  And the wildflower varieties were perfectly suited to fulfill the traditional bridal rhyme:

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue,
and a silver sixpence in her shoe.

Self-heal (Heal All, Prunella) was probably the oldest plant in the mix.

The herb has an ancient history of being used for wound healing and headaches, but, as the name implies, the plant was also used for an endless array of ailments where it was found in Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America.  According to one source, those of us in the southern U.S. even used it as “a spinach substitute, prepared in a big pot with a piece of hog meat.”  Because down here, anything that is green obviously counts as “greens” and is, therefore, an edible vegetable.  And all vegetables should be sauteed in hog fat.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

The newest weed had to be the butterfly pea.

Oh, the weed isn’t a new to everyone, but this was the first summer that it appeared on my property.  The Latin name for the plant is clitoria ternatea because botanists thought it resembled a certain part of female anatomy.  I can picture a group of male scientists, standing in a field, scrutinizing the delicate flower while considering names saying,  “It looks so familiar, but I can’t quite put my finger on it….”  ‘Cause men have that problem some times.

The borrowed plant was this intricate purple stunner, Asiatic dayflower.

Maybe.  Asiatic dayflowers were introduced from East Asia and Southeast Asia and have become an invasive weed in some areas.  The problem is that the Asiatic dayflower is similar to the native Slender dayflower, which isn’t borrowed at all.  I’m fairly sure the translucent white petal at the base of the blue petals makes my plant an Asiatic dayflower.  There are some other determining characteristics between the plants including fused spathes, node rootlets, and leaf margins.  Which no one understands.

Regardless, the Asiatic dayflower played an important role in some interesting pollination studies. Turns out those dramatic yellow anthers and striking white styles are primarily for attracting pollinators and tricking them into pollinating the plant, despite its lack of nectar.  Altering the anthers or styles can decrease total amount of pollinators visiting the plant or result in pollen theft, where the visitor takes pollen but doesn’t place any on the stigma in return.   Similar studies weren’t done with the American native, Slender dayflower.  So there’s no real evidence that the Asian dayflowers are smarter than the American dayflowers.  But, you know, we can probably assume their SAT scores are higher.

Despite the fact that most of the wildflowers I found were blue or bluish, the blue one I’d choose for my wedding rhyme would have to be the morning glory.  Simple yet stunning.  Common but ethereal.

There every morning when you wake up, just like that lump under the covers beside you in the marital bed, slapping at the snooze button on the alarm clock.  And like any good marriage, the morning glory isn’t just around for the good times—–the sunny beginnings, the promise of a new day.  Instead, the morning glory sneaks back into bloom whenever the bright afternoon sunshine fades.  An overcast day or a bit of drizzle or an impending storm cloud sliding over the sun and the morning glory bursts open again.  Still here, it calls triumphantly.  Got bright and dreary covered, people.  For better or for worse.

I didn’t find anything silver.  But I did find an incredibly shiny dewdrop while I was photographing the morning glory.  A shiny moving dewdrop.  That wasn’t actually a dewdrop at all but a little golden beetle.  The edges of its shell were transparent and its bright gold shell winked in the sun, making it only appear to be a dewdrop sliding around the leaf of the morning glory.  It was a golden tortoise beetle.

In the photo off Wikipedia, you see how the transparent edge makes it look like it’s floating in water.

Golden Tortoise Beetle - Charidotella sexpunctata.jpg

The beetles are a common species and morning glory plants are one of their favorite snacks.   Although in all my years of planting morning glories on trellises and in plant boxes and stopping to admire their wild scrawl across fences and pastureland,  I’d never ever noticed one of the minuscule bugs.  Maybe they’d avoided my attention in the past by turning drab with their unique color changing ability. Or by hiding themselves under their anal fork.  Which is a real thing.  Because truth is way grosser than fiction.

But I finally saw a golden tortoise beetle that morning while I was working on the fence line.  There it was, a gold bug as glittering and striking as the gold band that has its own place in the marriage tradition.  Even though it actually does come in silver, too.  Perfect.

Funny how that beetle showed up just while I was casually strolling the fence line on a summer day.  Noticing the wildflowers.  Which reminded me of the wedding rhyme.  And then summoned the bug that rolled it all together into a blog post.  Life is magic like that, people.  Amazing, inexplicable, poop-wielding magic.  Which is probably the most powerful kind.


2 Responses to “Throw Back Thursday: Wedding Blues.”

  1. Charade
    September 10th, 2015 @ 11:22 am

    Wow, that golden beetle is very interesting. As much as I hate seeing beetles in our garden, I’d love to run across one of those when I happen to have my camera with me. Love all the info on your botanicals, too.

  2. Lisa D
    September 12th, 2015 @ 6:06 pm

    Wow. You thought about all this while checking the fence line. Impressive. And a level of mindfulness I can only strive for….

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