The whole time we were gone I was itching to get back and see how my plots were growing. My student technician sent me regular updates with lots of pictures which served as nice teasers before I finally returned to them a few days ago.
The plots are lookin good, folks.
Lance leaf coreopsis (pictured above) is the most dominant species right now, just as it was last year. This wildflower is a real star: it's easy to establish, its foliage is attractive, its blooms are lovely and long-lasting, and pollinators love it.
Prairie coneflower is just starting to bloom, but my plots are currently covered in their attractive buds which should all soon start to put out petals.
I have a lone purple coneflower that has put out its first petals. I am very excited to see all the purple coneflower this season. The plots are absolutely covered with this plant--the same species that only produced a single specimen last season is going to be a powerhouse this season.
Purpletop verbena is also doing really well so far. Last year we only had a handful of blooms the whole season which didn't start until the end of July. This year we already have several of these plants up and blooming at most of my sites!
We even have a few new species up and blooming. Already this year Eastern columbine (a new species) has bloomed and faded, and we have two additional novel species up.
Ohio spiderwort is the first blue species to bloom in the Operation Pollinator plots--and also one of the prettiest, in my opinion.
And smooth pentstemon, which is really fighting to get some light through the forest of lance leaf coreopsis, is also up.
There have been an amazing number of pollinators on these plants, primarily lance leaf coreopsis. I'm seeing many more of both European honeybees and large social bumblebees than I saw last year.
I've also seen many natural enemies, like this ladybird beetle larvae, utilizing the Operation Pollinator plots!
I've been sampling the plots all week, and I'll be sure to write about some of our methods in a later post.
I couldn't be more pleased with these sites. This season is starting off wonderfully.