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Posts Tagged ‘butterfly’

Bug Photo Challenge

Grapevine Beetle

I had no idea what type of insect this was; I’d never seen one until it appeared in my garden in 2015 and I haven’t seen one since. The famous entomologist, Herr Google, leads me to think it’s a Grapevine Beetle, also known as a Spotted June Beetle. I enjoyed capturing photos of it, but I wish I’d run a lint brush over it before I started.

While heavily drugged after surgery last spring to remove a tumor from my pancreas, I gave myself ten “seven photos in seven days” photo challenges. So far, I’ve posted seven. This eighth post reveals seven of my favorite bug photos from 2015. Some are of baby bugs—caterpillars rather than winged adults. I pointed that out in case anyone feels baby butterflies and moths don’t qualify as bugs (I suppose it’s a stretch but there are many definitions of “bug”).

I hope you enjoy my bug photos. It’s a seven-day/seven-photo challenge, but all the photos are here in a single post.

Cabbage butterfly on lavender

I love to see cabbage butterflies in my garden, though they have seriously diminished my excitement for growing broccoli (I hate the part of preparing homegrown broccoli where you float the broccoli crowns in salt water for an hour so the worms die and float off the food.) The “antique white” of this butterfly delightfully complemented the delicate lavender color of my… lavender.

Cicada

Since moving to Pennsylvania 21 years ago, it seems I’ve heard in five or six summers that this was the year of the seventeen year cicada. In one of those years, there was actually an abundance of the magnificent insects in our area, though they did not inundate our living space and crunch under foot. Every year we hear the cicadas’ buzz, and I often find visitors in my small kitchen garden. This one was resting on a tomato stake in my plot at the community garden.

Golden digger wasp on marjoram

I first saw wasps like this one in 2014. I was able to find photos online that identify it as a great golden digger wasp. Many of them started frequenting my garden when the marjoram was in bloom. The wasps show no interest in me, but focus exclusively on the marjoram’s delicate flowers.

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

For 18 years, I’d harvest wild black raspberries in meadows up the street from my house. Each year I’d also inspect milkweed plants in those meadows for evidence of monarch butterfly activity. Finally, in 2015, I found the caterpillar in this photo. Sadly, but for one building lot, the meadows are all gone. The landowner subdivided the land and there are houses on nearly all of them. No more milkweed. No more black raspberries. I wanted to live on a farm far enough from the nearest neighbors that we wouldn’t see the light on the pole in their barnyard. We bought a house on the edge of town 21 years ago, but town is an invasive weed that has grown in around us.

Grasshopper

I’m not particularly fond of grasshoppers, but they tend to make themselves available for decent photos. This one lingered on my garden’s rabbit fence near the tomato patch.

Dragonfly in rain garden

I love having dragonflies visit my kitchen garden. The main attractant, I think, is the “rain garden” I dug several years ago. I haven’t completed the project; I still need to line a ditch with gravel, lay perforated pipe in the ditch, and fill around the pipe with soil. Oh, and I should come up with a few rain-garden-appropriate plants. Still, in heavy rains, the collection pool fills and as it drains, moisture holds on at the bottom for days after the rest of the garden has dried.

 
Small Kitchen Garden – Bug Photo Challenge

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Garden Bloggers Bloom Day in Central PA, September 2015

Ageratum up close and personal

I assembled a hanging planter this spring and included in it ageratum and begonia. It was cheaper to buy a six-pack of small plants than to buy a single pot holding a large plant. I bought the six-packs and extras ended up in our front planting bed. Ageratum, I think, looks best up close.

It was a beautiful day and I spent quite a bit of it in the garden taking photos. To participate in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, I selected a mere fraction of those photos to post here. These blooms are from all over the Cityslipper ranch—both the vegetable beds and the various (and increasing) ornamental beds.

The vegetable garden is still going strong, but with diminishing sunlight and cool nights, things must certainly be slowing down. I’d love to harvest another half bushel of tomatoes and a bit more winter squash before frost shuts things down. In any case, I hope you’ll have a my blossoms. Maybe you’ll agree I had a pleasant time in the yard.

Begonias as bedding plants

I don’t think I’ve met a begonia I didn’t like. This variety is super common in area gardens. The blossoms are spectacular though tiny. Planting a whole lot of these close so they grow together would make a dramatic display. Two or three of them in a large planting bed are no more than a color bump.

Flox blossoms

This is crazy. Flox plants in our south-facing planting bed are still putting out gorgeous flowers. In past years, flox has blossomed copiously but for a limited time; plants usually look rather ratty by mid-September.

Jolt Pink Dianthus

This dianthus won’t quit. I brought it home from Cultivate15 in July when it was in full bloom. By the time I set it in the garden, the blossoms had finished but a few weeks later it was back in full bloom! Since then, it has continued to blossom less dramatically but impressively. It hasn’t been tested for cold hardiness, so I can only hope it winters over and puts on another show next season. The variety is “Interspecific Jolt Pink” and it’s an All America Selections award winner.

Gaillardia in shadows

Hiding in morning shadows, the gaillardia has thrived in its second year. My wife had planted gaillardia several times over the years, but this is the first time any has survived a winter in our garden.

Gladiolus

We have three or four gladiolus beds. Blooms in the main bed finished almost a month ago. These blooms are from bulbs I planted late.

Viola blossoms

Just three feet from the gladiolus, violas are spreading in the shadow of a young hydrangea. I brought the violas home from Cultivate 15 and have been impressed at their enthusiasm to display blossoms even as they divide and conquer the planting bed.

Russian sage and photo bomber

Our Russian sage plant lacks the form of ones I see in photos on line. It puts up spindly branches that seem to fall every which-way which works for me cuz every which-way is an excellent description of our garden design style. I love the delicate blossoms and the silver-purple colors… and apparently they appeal even more to cabbage butterflies.

Gaillardia hanging on

I’m calling this gaillardia though it only vaguely resembles the gaillardia my wife planted. I sprinkled a bag of “instant wildflower meadow” on the bank of my rain garden and this is the only plant that emerged. In its second season, I don’t want it where it is… but I love having it in the garden.

Holly blossoms

We have a holly bush “next to” our front walk. It overhangs the walk, blocking about 1/3 the width. Clearly, it doesn’t belong in the space it was given and I’m afraid moving it would require removing some of the walkway. We’ll probably continue to abuse the poor plant for years. That said, it’s in bloom. The blossoms are gorgeous but you really have to lean in to get a look.

Sedum in bloom in the rock garden

Sedums in the new rock garden are in full bloom. I love the red here, and in the way back a pink that barely shows in the photo. There are clouds of white blossoms in a corner you can’t see… but still plenty of bare spots I’ll fill in with new additions next spring.

Late-blooming lavender

The lavender blossomed months ago and faded. I was a bit surprised to find several spikes of fresh blooms today.

Tomato blossom

Tomato blossom! It’s too late in the season for a tomato blossom to produce harvestable fruit before first frost. I guess the plants don’t know it… there are plenty of fresh, hopeful blossoms.

French Gold pole bean from Renee's Garden

By far my favorite bean is the French Gold Pole Filet Bean. The vines don’t overwhelm trellises as some bean vines do, but they produce well and the beans taste great. I’ve found seeds for these only at Renee’s Garden, and I plant them every year. These flowers hang below a trellis; that’s the tip of a ripening bean entering the frame from the top right.

Canna and humming bird

The most awesome moment in my garden today came when I was taking photos in the rock garden. A soft buzzy hum made me look up to see a humming bird drawing nectar from the canna flowers. The little photo-bomber managed to get into several compositions.

 
Small Kitchen Garden – Garden Bloggers Bloom Day Sept 2015.

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Wordless Wednesday: Monarch on Dianthus

Monarch butterfly on dianthus blossoms

 
Small Kitchen Garden – Wordless Wednesday: Monarch on Dianthus

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Marjoram in Bloom and Pollinators

Pair of pollinators on marjoram

It’s hard for a single photograph to do justice to the pollinator population in my marjoram. This one reveals two revelers: a honeybee and a fritillary butterfly—probably a Meadow Fritillary, but what I know about fritillaries I learned in the last five minutes using Google and The Butterfly Site.

Two years ago, marjoram got its own place in my garden and last year it found a place in my heart. I wrote about it here. The stalks flowered for about two months and attracted pollinators more than any other plant. It’s back!

My marjoram busted out blossoms last week while I was out of town. Today, after morning rain, sun illuminated the herb garden. Pollinating insects flitted about the entire planting bed, but the biggest concentration was on the marjoram flowers.

Nearby, oregano, lavender, and mint plants all sported blossoms and each drew its own complement of insects. In fact, the peppermint forest’s visitors may have rivaled those of the marjoram, but most of them were flies… probably beneficial, but far too reminiscent of house flies.

Honey bee on marjoram

My marjoram blossoms are pink and delicate, and they attract an enormous number of honey bees.

Marjoram is naturally unruly; the stems grow tall and slender and the weight of the blossoms bend them toward the ground. Rooted in a three-foot circle, the plants can drape themselves over a 10 foot diameter circle of real estate. If that bothers you, you can use hoop trellises to hold them upright.

Whether you let the stems sprawl, or you force them vertical, you should grow marjoram. The leaves and blossoms are excellent seasoning for many foods, and the blossoms may very well become the center of activity for thousands of pollinators in your garden.

Meadow Fritillary butterfly-probably-on marjoram

A butterfly—probably a meadow fritillary—spreads its wings in my marjoram patch. The marjoram is by far the liveliest place in my yard while herbs are abloom.

 

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Butterflies and Puddling in my Small Kitchen Garden

The flower beds my wife maintains near my small kitchen garden get a lot of attention from butterflies.

My wife has established various ornamental plants near my small kitchen garden. Many of these, she has heard, will attract butterflies. I can attest that at least some do; there are often colorful butterflies flitting about while I till soil, plant vegetables, remove weeds, prune, and otherwise muddle about in my vegetable beds.

I enjoy the variety of butterflies that come and go, and I have two observations I want to share.

A Kitchen Gardener’s Deep Thought about Butterflies #1

Butterflies? Really? Whatever about butter made someone name these insects butterflies? I reviewed the Word Origin discussion at dictionary.com and found a silly explanation that mentioned witches, butter, milk, yellow wings, and excrement. Clearly, this is an effort to cover a more astonishing truth: No one ever named them Butterflies.

Trust me: there can be no doubt that the original name for these insects was Flutterflies. You can find hundreds of literary references to the fluttering of these colorful creatures. Anyone lacking even primitive imagination would have named them Flutterflies, and that they did.

Then, near the beginning of the Renaissance, a scribe was copying an authoritative manuscript about Flutterflies. This scribe was known for pushing the tolerances of his quill and he accidentally turned the “Fl” into a B on the nearly-finished cover panel. Rather than recreate the cover from scratch, the scribe copied the entire text of the book using “B” in place of “Fl” wherever the word Flutterfly appeared.

Sheep that we are, we continue to call Flutterflies by this silly dairy-related name. There’s no going back.

A Kitchen Gardener’s Deep Thought about Flutterflies #2

Marauding cabbage flutterflies puddle after I water my small kitchen garden. I love that they do this… especially if it keeps them away from my broccoli. Yes: broccoli worms are baby cabbage flutterflies.

Puddling. If you’re a gardener, you’ve probably seen puddling, but you might not have heard of it. Often after I water my small kitchen garden, a flock of flutterflies assembles on the moist soil. This, my dad used to tell me, is how flutterflies (though he called them butterflies) ingest essential minerals that simply don’t exist in nectar the flutterflies typically consume.

So, while my wife plants flowering ornamentals to attract those pretty insects, I do my share by watering the vegetable garden from time-to-time. Of course, my brassicas wouldn’t mind if someone would come to puddle besides the cabbage butterflies.

 

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