Wildlife Wednesday: A Feast For a Swallowtail

~

You may count gluttony among those seven deadly sins, but our little Swallowtail didn’t get the memo.

~

~

She was covered in so much wonderful sticky pollen by the time we spotted her, that we aren’t quite sure whether she is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail or an Eastern Black Swallowtail.  Since no white spots are visible on her body, we suspect that she is the black form of the female Tiger Swallowtail.

From my perspective a bit under her, while she enjoyed this rose of Sharon flower, it looked as though she was lying on the flower’s pistol, straddling it with legs akimbo.  You can see the pollen on her body, legs and even wings.

~

~

These rose of Sharon flowers, Hibiscus syriacus, must be enticingly delicious.  We watch the hummingbirds stop by these shrub several times a day.  Other, smaller butterflies and bees flew in and out and around while our Swallowtail feasted.

~

~

These beautiful trees are easy to grow in full to partial sun and reasonably moist, but well-drained soil.  They self-seed readily and grow with little attention from a gardener.  We let them grow in several places around the garden because they are so beloved by our pollinators.

You will find many different rose of Sharon cultivars on the market.  We’ve found many different ones growing around our garden, with new seedlings showing up every summer.  Rose of Sharon trees begin to bloom when they are just a few years old.

~

~

We may lose a tree or two a year, as they aren’t very long lived and grow on fairly shallow roots.  The largest one in our garden tops out at less than 20′ tall.  This is a good landscaping tree that won’t endanger foundation or roof if planted close to the house.  Growing it near a window provides hours of summer entertainment as the pollinators come and go.

Although it’s not native to Virginia, Hibiscus syriacus has naturalized here, and fills an important niche in our summer garden.

~

~

It is both beautiful and generous, and we enjoy watching the many winged and wonderful creatures that it attracts throughout the year.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

. . .

“Similar to a butterfly,

I’ve gone through a metamorphosis,

been released from my dark cocoon,

embraced my wings,

and soared!”

 .

Dana Arcuri

Advertisements

Garden Gold

Fennel flowers allow for easy access to their nectar.

~

The hotter it gets, the more gold in the garden glitters and shines.  As the mercury goes up, yellow and gold feel almost cooling.

~

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeds on Lantana ‘Chapel Hill Yellow,’ a fairly new perennial Lantana introduction. WBG

~

I don’t understand the alchemy of that, but I do understand the clear attraction of gold for all of our nectar seeking pollinators.

~

~

Gold flowers may just taste sweeter.  They certainly draw in the bees, wasps and butterflies who draw sustenance from their sugary depths.

~

Lantana ‘Chapel Hill Gold’ is also a perennial in Zone 7. WBG

~

All the while, these prolific flowers are also ripening seeds to delight goldfinches and other small birds who will feast on their ripe seeds well into the barren months of winter.

~

Flocks of goldfinches took wing from the wildflowers where they were feeding, as I walked through the Williamburg Botanical Garden yesterday afternoon.

~

Golden and yellow flowers often prove among the easiest for a gardener to grow.  Turn to dill, fennel and parsley for their distinctive round umbel inflorescence, all flat and easy to access;  Rudbeckias and Helianthus for their many petaled sunburst flowers.

~

The first black eyed Susans, our native Rudbecki hirta, have begun to open in our garden.

~

Coreopsis, Lantana, marigolds and Zinnias all bloom in shades of yellow, orange and gold.

~

~

The season ends on a wild and native note as Solidagos burst into bloom in September and October, towering over the black eyed Susans in our garden like great feathery plumes of living gold.

~

Solidago blooms alongside Rudbeckia in our garden, October 2017.

~

If the entire garden were nothing but green and gold, animated with swallowtail butterflies and goldfinches, what a beautiful display we would still enjoy.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

“Any patch of sunlight in a wood

will show you something about the sun

which you could never get

from reading books on astronomy.

These pure and spontaneous pleasures

are ‘patches of Godlight’

in the woods of our experience.”


.

C.S. Lewis

July 2018: What Is This Freedom We Celebrate?

~

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
     

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.

~

~

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

~

~    

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

~

~

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

~

~

  ” That is no vision of a distant millennium.    It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.
     

That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

.

Franklin D. Roosevelt,

excerpted from the State of the Union Address to the Congress,
January 6, 1941

~

~

Much like this butterfly with a damaged wing, each of tries our best to keep moving through each day, gathering what we need, caring for those we love and enjoying the time at hand.  With faith and determination we persist, finding sustenance and meaning where we can.

Let’s pause this week to consider again the wisdom given to us in past years by our country’s greatest leaders.  Their words echo across the years, as fresh and true as the day they were uttered.  Those who understand and remember our nation’s history are best equipped to resist all attempts to corrupt our nation’s purpose. 

It is by keeping our American ideals in heart and mind that we find the energy to persevere, and to prevail in preserving human freedoms and individual dignity for generations to come.

Persist, Resist, Prevail!

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

~

 

Sunday Dinner: What We Learn From Our Fathers

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly on Agastache

~

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies:

know more today about the world than I knew yesterday

and lessen the suffering of others.

You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

~

~

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character.

These are the qualities that define us as human beings,

and propel us, on occasion,

to greatness.”

.

R.J. Palacio

~

A Pearl Crescent butterfly feeds on catmint flowers.

~

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch,

a smile, a kind word, a listening ear,

an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,

all of which have the potential

to turn a life around.”

.

Leo F. Buscaglia

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

~

A female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeds on our native buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden.

~

Honoring the Fathers among us,
present and absent, 
yet alive and those departed;
biological Fathers and those
who become Fathers by affection and commitment. 
Being a real father is a choice. 
How would any of us be who we are today,
without their guidance and their love?

~

 

Sunday Dinner: Nostalgia

~

“Memory believes before knowing remembers.
.
William Faulkner
~
~
“Remembrance of things past
is not necessarily the remembrance of things
as they were.”
.
Marcel Proust
~
~
“The ‘what should be’ never did exist,
but people keep trying to live up to it.
There is no ‘what should be,’
there is only what is.”
.
Lenny Bruce
~
~
“There comes a time in your life
when you have to choose to turn the page,
write another book
or simply close it.”
.
Shannon L. Alder
~
~
“We are homesick most
for the places we have never known.”
.
Carson McCullers
~
~
“It is strange how we
hold on to the pieces of the past
while we wait for our futures.”
.
Ally Condie
*
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017 
For my friend, Janet, who I miss often, and learn from, always
~
~
 
“Nostalgia in reverse,
the longing for yet another strange land,
grew especially strong in spring.”
.
Vladimir Nabokov
~
~
“For children, childhood is timeless.  It is always the present.
Everything is in the present tense.
Of course, they have memories.
Of course, time shifts a little for them
and Christmas comes round in the end.
But they don’t feel it.
Today is what they feel,
and when they say ‘When I grow up,’
there is always an edge of disbelief—
how could they ever be other than what they are?”
  .
Ian McEwan
~

Fabulous Friday: Pineapple Sage In Bloom

~

A hummingbird came zooming across my shoulder just as I began watering in the front garden this morning.  It went first to the nearest Canna blossoms, towering now 8′ or more.  But then, it zoomed straight down to the bright lipstick-red blossoms of our pineapple sage, just opening for the first time this morning.

The little hummer flitted from blossom to blossom, drinking deeply from each long, tubular flower.  Pineapple sage is a great favorite of hummingbirds, and gives that extra boost of energy before they leave for their migration.

~

Pineapple sage, Salvia elegans, grows together with a small Buddleia in the heart of our butterfly and hummingbird garden.  It began blooming today, immediately attracting our resident hummingbirds to taste its nectar.

~

Pineapple sage, Salvia elegans, has grown easier to find at spring plant sales in our area.  It is often offered in small pots, right among the other herbs.  It is easy to grow in full to partial sun, and quickly grows from a small start to a nice sized herbaceous ‘shrub.’  Other than keeping it watered during drought, and pinching it back from time to time to encourage bushiness, it needs little care.

A native of Central America and Mexico, pineapple sage loves heat and humidity.  But it is the shorter days which signal it to begin blooming.

It’s best season is autumn, and it will cover itself in flowers from now until frost.  We are fortunate that pineapple sage tends to return in our garden.  Although it is listed as hardy to Zone 8, it will survive our winter if its roots are deep and well established.  A little mulch helps it survive through winter.

~

~

Like so many herbs, pineapple sage is easy to propagate from stem cuttings or by division.  In the spring, you often can pull a rooted stem, left from the previous season, away from the crown and plant it elsewhere to help this clumping plant spread more quickly.  But we’ve never had a pineapple sage ‘run’ or grow out of control.  It is far better behaved than the mints!

Edible, the foliage has a wonderful fruity fragrance all season.  It is beautiful in fall arrangements and mixed container gardens.  In containers, it might crowd out other plants over the long summer season.  But rooted cuttings or small starter plants would be beautiful in pots newly refreshed for fall.

~

Pineapple sage in a vase with Mexican blue sage, Artemisia and Hibiscus acetosella, October 2015.

~

Salvia elegans has been identified as one of the top three favorite flowers  hummingbirds choose for feeding, in a study done in Central Mexico.  It’s long, tubular flowers just invite a hummingbird’s beak!  And since the flowers are clustered close together, it takes little effort to move from one to the next.

Our hummingbirds are happily darting about the garden this week, enjoying the Lantana, Verbena, ginger lily, Canna, and now also the pineapple sage, just coming into bloom.  They visit us as we sit on the deck and as we water and work among the plants.

It is fabulous to see fall’s brightest flowers blooming at last!

~

Pineapple sage lights up our garden in October 2014.

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious,

Let’s infect one another!

~

Flowers  our hummingbirds enjoy visiting:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fabulous Friday: Color!

~

I look forward to September when colors take on that specialty intensity of early autumn.  They sky turns brilliantly blue and the roadsides turn golden with wild Solidago and Rudbeckia.

I planted a little extra splash of color to enjoy this month in our front perennial garden.  While the Rudbeckia were still small, last spring, I interplanted several different Salvias, some perennial mistflower and some gifted Physotegia virginiana divisions.  I wanted bright splashes of blue and violet to emerge through their golden flowers.

~

~

We are just beginning to enjoy the show as these late summer flowers come into their own.  The Rudbeckia grew taller this summer than I remember them in years passed.

We’re still waiting to see whether all of those Salvias will muster the strength to shoulder past the Black Eyed Susans and raise their flowers to the autumn sun.  Life and gardening are always an experiment though, aren’t they?

~

~

It is fabulous to see the sea of gold highlighted with other richly colored flowers.  Soon, the bright red pineapple sage and bright blue Mexican bush sage will burst into bloom, filling the entire garden with intense color.  September is a fabulous time of year, full of promise and energy.

May your last weekend of summer be a good one.

Our hearts are heavy from the many troubling events this summer has precipitated.  We remember those struggling with flood water and wind damage; those seeking peace and justice in the wake of this summer’s violence; those who have lost dearly loved ones; and all those who still hold the hope and promise our country offers to the world, as a living flame in their heart.

In these dark and troubling days, may your world be filled with the colors of hope.

~

~
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017
*
“Love was a feeling completely bound up with color,
like thousands of rainbows
superimposed one on top of the other.”
.
Paulo Coelho
~
~
Fabulous Friday! 
Happiness is Contagious; let’s infect one another!
~

Caladium ‘Desert Sunset’

~
“Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing?
Can one really explain this? no.
Just as one can never learn how to paint.”
.
Pablo Picasso

 

August Wonders

Azalea indica ‘Formosa’ in bloom on August 22, 2017.

~

A deeply pink blossom shone like a beacon in its sea of dusty August green.  What could that be?

I know that color; a color normally enjoyed in late April: Azalea indica ‘Formosa’.   But the Azaleas in our garden are old ones, planted years before the ‘Encore’ series of fall blooming  Azaleas was ever marketed.

I studied this beautiful flower, a wondrous anachronism, as I drew closer and saw that yes, it was blooming from an Azalea shrub.  In August…

August is filled with wonders. 

~

~

August often melts into a reprieve of sorts.  Relentless heat and drought eventually give way to soaking rains, cooler nights; and a chance for new growth to replace the burnt and fallen leaves of high summer.   Each new leaf whispers a promise of renewal.

~

Virginia Creeper

~

After the rains begin, one morning we’ll find living fireworks sprung up nearly overnight from long forgotten bulbs.

The spider lily, or hurricane lily, has awakened for another year.  Their exuberance is a milestone along the long downward arc of days from Summer’s Solstice to Autumn’s Equinox.

~

Hurricane Lily, Lycoris radiata

~

The cast of characters in our garden shifts through the seasons.  The topography of things changes, too, as Cannas and Ficus and Rudbeckia gain height with each passing week.

The poke weed I cut out so ruthlessly in May finally won, and has grown into a 12′ forest in one corner of our garden.

~

Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, proves an invasive native perennial loved by birds.

~

Countless clusters of beautiful purple berries hang from its spreading branches, an invitation to the feast.  Small birds flit in and out of its shelter from dawn to dusk, singing their praises of summer’s bounty.

~

~

After so many decades of gardening, one would think that I could have learned the twin disciplines of faith and patience by now.  It is a life long practice; perhaps never perfected. 

Time seems to slip past my muddy fingers each spring as I race to plant and prepare our garden for the season coming.  But nature bides her time, never fully revealing the bits of life she has nurtured through winter’s freezing nights; until she chooses to warm them back to life again.

~

Mexican Petunia, Ruellia simplex

~

At first I assumed it was a windborne weed, this bit of green growing up through the Oxalis in a humble clay pot by our back door.  I very nearly plucked it one day.  But something about its long narrow leaf was familiar, and echo of a memory of summers past.

And so I left it alone, keeping watch and feeding it, hoping it might be the newest incarnation of the marginally hardy Mexican Petunia.  My patience was rewarded this week with its first purple blossom.

~

~

Hardy only to Zone 8, this Ruellia is one of the plants I search for in garden centers each spring.   And this spring I didn’t find one.  And the pot where I grew it on our deck last summer with Lantana and herbs showed no life by mid-May, and so I threw its contents on the compost.

But this pot by the door sat undisturbed, filled with growing  Oxalis and a bit of geranium.  And obviously, the dormant, but still living, Ruellia’s roots.  How often our plants live just below the surface, waiting for the right moment to show themselves, bursting  into new growth.

We somehow have to wrap our minds and memories around the full scope of our garden’s possibilities.

~

Garlic chives spread themselves around the garden, blooming in unexpected places in late summer.

~

Autumn is our second spring, here in coastal Virginia.  It is a fresh chance to plant and harvest, plan and prune and putter in the garden.

~

Caladium ‘Desert Sunset’ has renewed its growth with vibrant new leaves.

~

We have ten or twelve weeks remaining, at least, before cold weather puts an end to it for another year.

As our season cools, we can spend more time outside without minding the heat and humidity of July and early August.

~

Hardy Begonias have finally begun to bloom.

~

We breathe deeply once again, and share the renewed joy of it all with the small creatures who share this space with us.

Late August is filled with wonders, teasing us out from the air conditioning of our indoor havens, back out into the magic waiting in the garden.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

 

First Ginger Lilies

~

Our first ginger lily of the year began opening a few days ago, wafting its intoxicatingly sweet fragrance across our garden.  These hardy perennials return year after year, growing to over 7 ft high in our garden.

~

~

I remain grateful to our neighbor who offered to let me dig some of these beauties from her garden in the weeks before she moved.  I’d never grown these  before, and simply trusted that we would enjoy them.

We had space for them to spread, and spread they have in the years since.  This part of our garden grows dense and tropical and full of life.

Oh my!  What a treat we look forward to in late summer each year, when our ginger lilies bloom.

Getting reacquainted with their pure white flowers today has made this a Fabulous Friday, indeed.

Woodland Gnome 2017
~
~
“Just remember to say THANK YOU sometimes,
for all of these everyday extraordinary gifts.”
.
Scott Stabile

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious, so let’s infect one another!

 

 

 

Fabulous Friday: What is Beauty?

~

We live surrounded by beauty.  But how do you define it?  Everyone has their own idea of what is beautiful, and what is not.

This is a conversation that has been going on for a very, very long time.  We know that people living many thousands of years ago discussed this a lot, and had their own, very definite ideas.

~
~
Anything in any way beautiful
derives its beauty from itself
and asks nothing beyond itself.
Praise is no part of it,
for nothing is made worse or better by praise.
.
Marcus Aurelius
~
~

We gardeners generally intend to cultivate beauty through our efforts.  That isn’t to say our gardens are always beautiful, though.   Beauty happens, but there is a lot of cleaning up of the ‘not so beautiful’ too.

And that is the space which interests me: when there might be disagreement as to whether or not something is beautiful.

~

Do you find this Eucomis beautiful?  Would you grow it?

~
“Everything has beauty,
but not everyone sees it.”
.
Confucius
.

Most of us find flowers beautiful.

But what about the perfect insects which drink their nectar?  What about the beetles eating their petals?  Can you see their beauty, too?

~
~

Perhaps my perception of beauty is a little skewed, but I find the insects, in their geometric grace and perfection, beautiful.

There is beauty in every leaf, every petal, every stem.  The longer you gaze, the more beauty one absorbs.

~
~

I was so pleased, when I walked through the garden this afternoon, to find these beautiful wasps enjoying our Allium blossoms.  There must have been 20 or more of them, each enjoying the sweet nectar at their feet.  They were peacefully sharing the bounty with bees and other pollinators.

~
~

There are people in my life who would have squealed and backed away at the sight of these busy insects.  But I was too fascinated to fear them, and instead took great joy in making their portraits.  They are interesting visitors, and we rarely see such large, colorful wasps.

~
~

Our garden’s bounty this week includes golden parsley flowers and creamy white carrot flowers, in addition to the Alliums.  There are Echinaceas now, lavender, Coreopsis, Salvias, crepe myrtle, Basil, and more.  All these tiny nectar filled flowers attract plenty of attention from hungry pollinators!

~
~

It’s a feast for our eyes, too.  Sometimes, it is hard to imagine the abundance of our June garden until it returns.

We’re celebrating the solstice this week, and we are surrounded by such beauty here, that it is a true and heartfelt celebration

~

~

I’ve always valued beauty.  To me, beauty can cause happiness, just as food expresses love.  There is beauty in truth, though you can argue that beauty may often be based in illusion.

We could discuss this all evening, couldn’t we? 

.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
~
~

Rather than ‘over-think’ it, which may be the antithesis of beauty, let’s just enjoy it.

Let’s simply celebrate this Fabulous Friday, this Beautiful high summer day; and like the bees, drink in as much sweet nectar as our eyes and hearts will hold.

~

Caladium ‘Highlighter,’ a new introduction this year. Do you find it beautiful?

~

Woodland Gnome 2017

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth
find reserves of strength that will endure
as long as life lasts.”
.
Rachel Carson
~

Clematis ‘Violet Elizabeth’

~

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is Contagious, Let’s infect one another!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 602 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest