The Beauty of Ants

Peonies and ants

In the spring here in CNY, and throughout the summer, ants make a determined effort to gain access to our homes. They love our kitchens and the traces of spilled beverages or that speck of jelly. The loveliest cure I have seen for this is to place cloves along doorways or other openings. An orange oil cleaner I use seems to work.

Today I am watching instead the beauty that ants release in my garden. I inherited massive of huge Peony plants. They are red and white and a deep pink, perhaps more when they finally open.

It is said (the former owner even left me a note about this), that the ants are drawn to a nectar that the plants give off. The ants seeking out the nectar aid the opening of these massive, multi-petaled flower heads. In researching the question it seems that Peonies will open just fine if you kill the ants, but then you are left with pesticide residue, so since the ants aren’t harmful – just leave them. This article describes a symbiotic relationship that has the ants defending the plant against harmful pests. Who knows, maybe the Peonies are distracting the ants from getting into the house?

We had a lot of rain last night. I spent yesterday afternoon weeding, transplanting and watering. It was disconcertingly dry. Last evening I looked up to see what appeared to be a snowstorm in my front yard. The breeze had picked up just enough to to send wafts of Locust tree blossoms down over the house. A bit later it began to rain steadily, and it kept up all night.

I love to hear the birds after a rain. They seem to be joyful to ave everything washed clean, and more likely, to have plenty of bugs and worms driven out into the open. The grass is wet enough that the cat has spent the entire day so far on my rocker on the porch, so I write this from the kitchen table, with a view of the back yard through the window. The chickens are calling to be let out of their coop so they can join in the search for what the rain has brought up.