When it comes to backyard wildlife, the cup plant does it all. To me, it is like the flag-bearing perennial for bees, butterflies and birds. It is a stalwart and is native in 34 states, from Louisiana, north to Canada and sweeping across all states east.Its size makes it seem like it is the composite, or aster, that ate New York. It is big, bold and wonderful, and this is the time of the year it shines the most.If you are interested in the cup plant but unfamiliar with the flower, it is known botanically as “Silphium perfoliatum” and, as I alluded above, is cold hardy from zones 3 through 9. It can grow tall — 4 to 10 feet — and colonize, so it is a plant for the back of the border. Here at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, ours are around 7 feet.Although it may be hard to imagine that they can dwarf a brown-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba or Brazilan sage (Salvia guaranitica) are both considered large plants and terrific partners for the cup plant. Within close proximity, the pagoda flower (Clerodendrum paniculatum), Java glory bower (Clerodendrum speciosissimum) and baby lace (Hydrangea paniculata) all do their part to bring in hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.Why is this called the “cup plant”? As the plant grows, it develops large, square stems that give the impression that they are piercing the center of the large leaves. There are actually two leaves without petioles that are attached to the stem, forming a perfect cup with which to collect rainwater. Small birds, like finches, take advantage of this natural reservoir of water. These same birds also feed on the seeds as they mature and disperse.The blooms will eventually be covered in what may best be described as a “pollinating frenzy.” Every kind of bee, including honeybees by the hundreds, bumblebees and more, like wasps, are there doing their thing. On a recent morning visit to the Coastal Botanical Garden, I saw eastern tiger swallowtails, long-tailed skippers, fiery skippers and yellow sulphur butterflies. It was like a park for pollinators. Though I didn’t see any, everyone reports hummingbirds on the plants as well.The nature lover will find the cup plant to be one of the most thrilling plants to incorporate into the landscape. Get a chair, a pair of binoculars and a camera, and you will be ready for a day of journaling.Gardeners may need to adjust before planting. First, they must be ready to incorporate such a tall aster family member into the back of the border. Then, they must accept a colonizing racehorse of a plant, so to speak. Not only will gardeners have rhizomes spreading, but they will have reseeding. In other words, there will be some maintenance required to confine the plant to the space allotted.Native plant nurseries sell the plants, and if we can buy them, so can you. They are also easy to start from seeds. Sow unstratified seeds in the fall or stratified seeds in the spring. If using stratification, give seeds a three-month cold, moist treatment in the refrigerator. Putting moist, coarse sand and seeds in a plastic bag is a good method. Then, choose a sunny location with good soil moisture.Since this plant will be the backbone of your wildlife habitat or pollinator garden, choose companions that are not only beautiful but will incorporate the cup plants. I mentioned salvias and brown-eyed Susans, but Joe-Pye weeds, milkweeds and ironweeds native to your region would partner with cup plants well. Other favorites could be anise hyssops like ‘Blue Fortune,’ ‘Blue Boa’ and ‘Black Adder.’ They would give that complementary sizzle of opposite colors. Lastly, use the cup plant to create mystery in the garden by blocking a view and forming an area of transition.The cup plant does it all for wildlife and pollinators, all the while showing dazzling 3.5-inch yellow blossoms. You have to agree that it is pretty doggone special.Follow me on Twitter @CGBGgardenguru. Learn more about the University of Georgia Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at www.coastalgeorgiabg.org/.
Authorities in California have arrested a homeless man who reportedly randomly attacked a small dog and a lifeguard at a beach.The incident occurred on August 9th at Ormond Beach in Port Hueneme.Authorities say lifeguards witnessed the suspect, Dylan McTaggert approach a beachgoer and her dog from behind, pick up the dog and punt it in the air.The dog reportedly went into shock and lost consciousness.When the lifeguards intervened in the situation, McTaggert then became violent and punched at least one of them.Authorities eventually located McTaggert and took him into custody.He has since been charged with fighting in public, assault on a lifeguard, and felony animal cruelty.According to the report, the dog was kicked so hard that she was “diagnosed with having a collapsed lung and displaced heart.”She is recovering at home under the care of her owner.
Follow Aubrey on Twitter @aubreykragen It’s been an eventful two weeks for USC football, but the Trojans are now putting their 62-41 loss to Arizona State and the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin behind them to focus on their upcoming opponent — the Arizona Wildcats.Welcome back · USC senior tailback Silas Redd is expected to make his long-awaited season debut on Thursday against Arizona. – Daily Trojan file photoInterim head coach Ed Orgeron will lead the team against Arizona in his first game as a head coach since 2007.On the mendMany a USC fan’s heart stopped last Saturday when junior wide receiver Marqise Lee was injured in the fourth quarter at Arizona State.Since being diagnosed with a knee sprain, Lee has been spotted on crutches and has not practiced.Orgeron is doubtful that Lee will return to practice this week, but didn’t rule him out completely for Thursday’s game, allowing a shred of hope for the Trojan faithful.“Thursday night’s a long time from now, and guys seem to make miraculous recoveries, so we’ll keep on working,” Orgeron said.If Lee sits out of Thursday’s game, the Trojans will be left with only two healthy wide receivers on scholarship — sophomore Nelson Agholor and redshirt sophomore Victor Blackwell.Perhaps the absence of Lee won’t doom the Trojans this Thursday, though. Agholor has proven capable of making big catches, and when redshirt junior tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer have been targeted, they’ve been successful.The lack of depth at the receiver position might prompt more emphasis on the running game than usual, so senior tailback Silas Redd’s return couldn’t come at a better time.Redd’s knee surgery last spring has kept him out of the first five games of the season, but he wore full pads on Monday and looked explosive as he blew past defenders despite wearing a brace on his left knee.With Kiffin’s departure, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Clay Helton will serve as the playcaller, and time will tell whether he will utilize Redd as a boost to the already-impressive running game headlined by redshirt sophomore tailback Tre Madden and freshman tailback Justin Davis.Polar oppositesRedd’s energy in practice exemplified the atmosphere of the newly installed Orgeron era.Though Kiffin usually remained stoic on the sidelines, there was never a dull moment at practice on Monday, as Orgeron barked out orders, and the players raved about the newfound intensity of the team.“Oh, we love it,” redshirt junior cornerback Josh Shaw said. “He brings a lot of energy in here and we feed off him … Energy is up about 10 times, you could say.”The team will need to maintain this energy in Thursday night’s game, as they face a formidable opponent in Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey, who is ranked fifth in the nation in rushing yards per game.As a sophomore last year, Carey led the nation in rushing yards, earning him a spot on multiple preseason awards watchlists for 2013, such the Walter Camp Award, given to the best college player of the year.USC’s No. 14th-ranked defense will do its best to slow down Carey and quarterback B.J. Denker, who has been a running threat this season, totaling 280 rushing yards and a team-high six touchdowns.MilestonesThe game against the Wildcats will represent a number of firsts for USC.It marks the first regular season, non-Thanksgiving Thursday night game ever hosted by the Trojans.But that note has been eclipsed by the fact that it will be the first time Orgeron will run out of the tunnel as USC’s head coach.Orgeron, who served as the head coach of Mississippi from 2005-2007 and has worked as the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at USC since 2010, has no reservations heading into his first game calling the shots.“[There’s] a little pep in my step — I’m ready to go,” Orgeron said. “I’ve seen the guys … they fire me up. I mean, the eyes and the way they’re reacting, they’re smiling and walking around here enjoying practice.”The players explained their motivation to help Orgeron record his first win as USC’s interim head coach.“Everyone wants to come out here and play as hard as they can because everyone likes Coach O and they want to make sure we do good for him,” sophomore defensive end Leonard Williams said. “We just want to play up to his expectations and just have fun.”