Booms and Blooms attracted almost 7,000 visitors to Powell Gardens on Friday night, July 3rd. It was fulfilling to see so many folks enjoying the grounds and landscape — it was a perfect day with sunshine and moderate temperatures.
I couldn’t help but think that our “natural” landscape was working. People were enjoying the lawns verdant green from the abundant rainfall and filled with blooming white clover flowers. The gardens’ flowers were riotous in colors set among lush growth of other plants. The harvest garden was brimming with those looking at our tasty food plants.
Booms and Blooms is the one time we let picnicking on the grounds as families listen to the music and wait for the fireworks show. Powell Gardens offers a slice of Americana, reminding me of childhood memories back in small town Iowa. No worries of lying in the grass, we use no lawn pesticides.
Children are allowed to explore safely and our “bears den” natural play area was its usual big hit.
Playing in the Fountain Garden was also great fun. Yes, this fountain is meant to interact with the visitor and is chlorinated.
Daylilies are a star attraction in the Perennial Garden around Independence Day and their blooms were spectacular, right on cue. There are over 400 varieties of daylilies on display in the garden — in every hue from red, orange and yellow to almost white, pink, lavender and burgundy shades.
The Island Garden and its Lego(R) sculpture of Mallards were a big hit. The waterlilies are just beginning to bloom well and the huge white flower heads of Annabelle hydrangea put on a showy backdrop.
The Heartland Harvest Garden remains open during Booms and Blooms until 8:30 so its last guests were treated to a gorgeous setting sun.
The Heartland Harvest Garden has been very productive and 1,000 pounds of organically grown onions and shallots were harvested on July 6th. Here they are all laid out for drying in our greenhouse.
This Monarch caterpillar on a common milkweed was a popular attraction on the Island Garden during the festival. I pointed it out to many a visitor and it must have been photographed a hundred times. The nature of our garden speaks to a healthy landscape and adds to the experience.
I also spied this little butterfly on the Island Garden nectaring on anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). It may not look like much but it is a Byssus Skipper which requires prairie habitat to survive. This butterfly is in decline in much of the Midwest but Powell Gardens has a healthy population
Gray-headed Coneflowers (Ratibida pinnata), a native wildflower, were spectacular — their yellow shuttlecock flowers abuzz with many pollinating bumblebees and others. This plant helps attract and sustain pollinators — needed to pollinate most of our other flowers and many of our food crops.
I photographed this Vernal Ladies’ Tresses (Spiranthes vernalis) on the Byron Shutz Nature trail on the Fourth of July. I didn’t notice the soldier beetle and honeybee until I looked at the image.
I also found this spectacular 5-inch dragonfly, a Great Blue Skimmer which is a southern swamp species that recently has been expanding its range northward. It can be identified by its large size, blue body, turquoise eyes and white face. Dragonflies are currently abundant at Powell Gardens and help control pesky insects like mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are seldom an issue here and we do not spray to deter them — we rely on the balance of nature. (I saw at least 12 other species here: Eastern Amberwing, Prince’s Baskettail, Green Darner, Blue Dasher, Mocha Emerald, Halloween Pennant, Eastern Pondhawk, Slaty Skimmer, Spangled Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Arrowhead Spiketail, and Common Whitetail — aren’t their names intriguing?)
This Five-lined Skink (a lizard) was a popular wildlife attraction on the Island Garden as well.
The Booms and Blooms’ fireworks were an awesome end to a beautiful day at Powell Gardens.
The nearly full moon rose after the fireworks display also offered a picture perfect scene and peaceful mood to those who lingered as the crowd went home. Mark your calendars for Booms and Blooms 2016 and enjoy a midsummer visit to Powell Gardens next year.