It’s A Girl!

IMG_8836The first of the monarchs (Danaus plexippus) I have been fostering on my kitchen counter this past month hatched today and it’s a female. Like any proud parent, I think she is perfect and beautiful! I feel hopeful for her future, but it will be a long road for her, fraught with obstacles. After fattening up on coneflower, Joe Pye weed, zinnias and other favorite flower nectars, she sails 2,500 miles to the Michoacan Mountains in Mexico.

Overcoming human activity such as speeding autos, loss of nectar feeding habitats, as well as excessive cold, drought and predation will be daunting. If she reaches her winter roost site in the few remaining acres of oyamel pine trees (which are cut for their valuable timber by the local people), she must safely survive possible severe cold or snowstorms, predatory birds and mice that take advantage of the bounty of millions of clustered monarchs. If she survives until next Feb./March, she will then fly 500-700 miles north, mate, lay eggs on milkweed and then die. Her legacy will be offspring that repeat this process 3 more times, until her great-grandchildren reach us in July to start the process once again. How can anyone not be impressed by such a lifecycle?

Population estimates in 2013 numbered 33 million, down from a peak of one billion butterflies. A sustainable average is estimated to be 300 million. One particularly cold winter in the 90’s, 95 million died, so researchers were justly worried the species was at risk for extinction.

The good news is that many rallied to save this imperiled species by raising awareness, planting milkweed and other flowers favored by adults, eliminating the use of pesticides and Mother Nature herself gifting them with mild winters and ending the Texas drought that risked the first stage of their northward migration in spring. Last winter’s estimated number was 143 million, about halfway to the sustainable number goal.

IMG_8832This is the first year in many that I have even seen monarchs, let alone had breeding adults in July. While we still have a way to go, with a few more good years, we may reach sustainable numbers once again.

Truly a miracle of nature, this rare evolutionary anomaly makes this unique insect so worth saving. (Only one other insect, a dragonfly, migrates south, but only half the distance as monarchs and without generational changes.)

Below is a slideshow of this girl’s transformation (forgive the fact that some were taken through a glass jar):

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There were three successive waves of eggs laid in my milkweed patch this year that I have largely left to fend for themselves. At risk of predation by spiders and wasps (yes, contrary to the myth that eating toxic milkweed makes them immune), I chose to raise a few to increase their chances of survival.

When I think back to when I was a kid, raising monarchs was a fun science project. Today, it has become a quest for species survival.

Sources: 

http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/monarch/conservation_overview.html

http://www.monarchwatch.org

http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/monarch-migration.html

Posted in Field Notes, My Photos | Tagged , , , , , | 40 Comments

In A Vase On Monday – ‘Voodoo’

The first Dahlia ‘Voodoo’ flowers opened yesterday, so get star billing in this week’s IAVOM. I love their rich, red-velvet blooms with a green eye. Unfortunately, the Japanese beetles like them, too, alas!

 

Small ‘Lemon Queen’ Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) have opened as well… multi-branched, it looks promising there will be many more.

 

White and pink Phlox (P. paniculata), hot pink Cosmos ‘Sensation’ plus self-sown white Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata) with a rose backside were added next. Once inside the house, they will open their fragrant blossoms.

Spikes of Catmint (Nepeta racemosa) provide a lavender-blue accent. The deeply lobed foliage are leaves of wild Flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus) and the vase is one of my favorites, frosted white with etched ferns, complemented by the vintage hand-crocheted doily.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In the Garden, who hosts a weekly meme to showcase arrangements created from our gardens. Wander over to see what gardeners all over the world are arranging this week.

Posted in Country Gardening, My Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 68 Comments

Fourth Blogiversary

Animated happy face emoticon with fireworksToday, I’m celebrating my fourth blogiversary! Double eights are auspicious, a symbol representing infinity, so may this blog continue to expand and grow infinitely! I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed since I first nervously pressed ‘publish.’ I look back at that post and see how far I’ve truly come. It is a satisfying expansion and evolution.

Pink Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Pink Dogwood (Cornus florida)

I want to acknowledge and thank all of you who have found something here worth following, your many kind comments, compliments and likes.

Most importantly, thank you for welcoming me into your own blogs, sharing your creativity, ideas and news. I’ve learned, grown and become more through your inspiring posts and feel that many of you have become dear friends. I am proud to be a member of this marvelous WordPress community. May we enjoy many more fruitful years together!

IMG_6463

A New Dawn

Posted in My Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 104 Comments

The Tuesday View August 8

August 8, 2017

A somewhat grainy view of the garden from the upstairs window shows more of the back of the garden, usually hidden from my usual viewpoint from the deck.

Along the back left, vigorous Morning Glory (Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’vines, which I have finally learned NOT to plant in the too rich soil of the garden. After two years of trying, I realize that it needs a leaner soil to produce less leaves and more blossoms. But green hearts are nice to look at, I suppose.

Behind them are huge sunflowers that promise soon to be amazing. Pink self-sown ‘Sensation’ Cosmos, a smattering of yellow Calendula, a few dots of white Nicotiana, orange double Daylilies (Hemerocallis), flanked by two clumps of pink Phlox.

Nearer the middle, Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro) and pink Astilbe taquettii are passing peak, but still doing their thing.

Along the front from left, another yellow Calendula and Nicotiana across the path from a large yellow Daylily with a delicious fragrance, which may be ‘Hyperion.’ Patches of Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) flowering profusely, attracting bees and butterflies, especially more Monarchs, much to my delight. We’re now onto our third generation of larva on the Milkweed (Asclepias sp.).

The Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ show continues, spurring hummingbird territorial squabbles.

Further along the front, Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina), Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica) surrounded by Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella sativa) and a few more dots of white Nicotiana at the end.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting The Tuesday View, a meme showing the view of one or more of our gardens over the course of a growing season. Visit to see links to other garden views from around the world.

Posted in Country Gardening, My Photos | Tagged , , , , , , | 34 Comments

In A Vase On Monday – Floral Fireworks

With spikes of gold Ligularia ‘The Rocket,’ burgundy-red fountains of Beebalm (Monarda didyma) and sprays of Goldenrod (Solidago sp.), fireworks came to mind after I arranged this week’s vase.

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) are white sparklers and the lavender Hosta flowers are cascading Roman candles. Even the Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) foliage seems to be aflame.

And now that my Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus) have finally come in, I thought I’d share a vase of them as well. Is there a scent more heavenly?

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In the Garden, who hosts a weekly meme to showcase arrangements created from our gardens. Wander over to see what gardeners all over the world are arranging this week.

Posted in Country Gardening, My Photos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 83 Comments

Silent Sunday

IMG_8546

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , | 41 Comments

WPC: Textures

IMG_2908

In June, looking down off the deck, I’m treated with this pleasant, textured view of the garden below. It changes over time, but this stage is my favorite of the growing season.

via Photo Challenge: Textures

Posted in Country Gardening, My Photos | Tagged , , , , | 53 Comments