What a weird, wet growing season this has been! One of the negative effects of an unusual amount of rain has been a perfect environment for mosquitoes to thrive. Today, I walked out to the back of our garden to see if the systemic insecticide I applied last week to our beautyberry had begun to work (it had not), and in those few minutes, I was swarmed by mosquitoes. I didn't put on insect spray because I thought I'd be moving quickly and would be out and back before they realized I was there. Wrong. I'm scratching my hands and arms as I type. The rest of me was covered up. I'm just thankful that we have not yet had any instances of locally-acquired zika virus in our area but I'm afraid it is just a matter of time.
On a more pleasant note, on my walk to check on the beautyberry, I paused long enough to snap this picture of a stand of cardinal flowers. (That's probably when the mosquitoes got me.) How these cardinal flowers got here is something of a mystery. I have cardinal flowers growing in an area nearby but these came up last fall (apparently from seed) in an area about 20 feet away from the other plants. This spring the little rosettes made a thick mass. I transplanted some of them to other places, gave away some, and tried to find new homes for the others. When I was not able to give them away, I just let them grow in the spot where they planted themselves and they are now beginning to bloom. For some reason, they don't seem as pretty this year as in past years. The hummingbirds feel the same way, I suppose. Normally, cardinal flowers are hummingbird magnets but I have not seen as many hummingbirds around this year.
While I'm complaining, I'll also mention that I have not been pleased with my annuals this year. I planted far fewer annuals this year than I normally do, but none of them have done well. The annual vinca I planted died. The petunias I planted are living but look scraggly and blighted. Looking around the neighborhood, it appears that no one is having much luck with annuals this year. How do the flowers look in your neighborhood?