Fabulous Friday: Mystery Visitor

~

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.
It is the fundamental emotion
that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
.
Albert Einstein

~

~

Its shape first caught my eye, a different shape and size than other butterflies we’ve enjoyed all summer.  But it was moving so fast, and far enough away that I couldn’t quite see it clearly.

~

~

At first, I wondered whether it might be a sphinx moth.   As I drew closer, it would fly up and away.  And then when my attention turned elsewhere, I’d soon find it sipping nectar nearby.  It was quick and agile, wary and focused on the important business of survival.

~

~

This mystery visitor seemed alone, elegantly formed but unfamiliar to my gardener’s eye.  Later, looking at its portraits, I decided it must be a butterfly because of the shape of its antennae.  I am hoping that one of my Master Naturalist friends will recognize our mystery visitor and supply its name.

Other more common pollinators fed nearby.  A Buckeye, bumblebees, skippers and other small feeders enjoying the Solidago and Verbena, Buddleia and Rudbeckia that drift in tangles in the upper garden.

~

~

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Curiosity has its own reason for existence.
One cannot help but be in awe
when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity,
of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.
It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend
a little of this mystery each day.
.
Albert Einstein

~

~

This morning was the first in a while that I dedicated to spending in the garden.  And it shows….

I’ve been timid about going outside to work after a sting that took weeks to heal.   And there have been things to do, and people to meet, and promises to keep.

I lost the rhythm of it, and the garden has grown on without taking any notice of my absence.

Rain and heavy dew has kept it well watered.  Wildness has grown dense and beautiful and has filled the paths.

~

~

Flowers bloom and seeds ripen.  The beautyberries have turned deep purple.  Vines twine where they will, and everywhere bees and all manner of small winged creatures have their way with the flowers.  Plumes of intensely gold Solidago sway in every breeze, leaning under the weight of their blossom.  And the greenness is so intense I can almost taste its cool and pungent bite.

February’s dreams are made of this.

~

~

I was torn, this morning, between photographing every beautiful thing and getting down to the business at hand.  Japanese stilt grass has claimed more real estate than I care to admit, and all the pots wanted a drink of water.  There is an ever growing collection of pots with plants wanting their roots freed into the soil.  There is some dead wood to prune away and Caladiums to dig.

Oh, so much to do before this warmth fades into November’s chill! 

~

~

But I chose the meandering path of a dilettante.  Up the hill and down the hill, hose in one hand and rake in the other.  I took inventory of the tasks at hand.  One must get one’s thoughts in order before accomplishing much of value.

~

Re-blooming Iris ‘Rosalie Figge’ has returned, so fragrant and beautiful.

~

But it is too soon to disrupt the magic of our autumn garden with digging and trimming back, and too warm, still, to begin planting the bulbs waiting in the garage.

I’d rather watch the butterflies, secure in the knowing that the first hard frost will do much of the work of weeding and clearing for us.

Soon enough, the garden will appear cleaned and tidied by the elements, soothed and covered in a blanket of fallen leaves.  And then there will be plenty of sunny mornings to prune and plant, tidy things up and mulch, undistracted by the flowers.

~

~

Better to appreciate it now, and celebrate its tremendous growth on this Fabulous Friday.  And wonder about our mysterious visitor, who shared the garden with us this morning.

~

~

“Love is an endless mystery,
because there is no reasonable cause
that could explain it
.
Rabindranath Tagore

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018

*

Update: 

Many, many thanks to Master Naturalist Joanne Sheffield, who identified our mystery butterfly as a Long-tailed Skipper, Urbanus proteus.  Native to South and Central America, this butterfly does turn up in the Southern United States and can be sighted up into the Northeast. 

Its host plants include beans and other vine legumes, hog peanuts and Wisteria.  Its caterpillar is considered a pest when it feeds on snap beans.  We grow none of these, but this individual must have been attracted by the nectar rich flowers we offer.

What a great treat to see him today!  I will be curious to see whether more individuals show up this fall, and whether the Long-tailed Skipper becomes a regular visitor in our area.

*

Fabulous Friday: 

Happiness is Contagious,  Let’s Infect One Another!

Advertisements

Sunday Dinner: Evolution

~

“Life belongs to the living,
and he who lives must be prepared for changes.”
.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

~

~

“Keep your best wishes,
close to your heart and watch what happens”
.
Tony DeLiso

~

~

“All men make mistakes,
but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong,
and repairs the evil.
The only crime is pride.”
.
Sophocles

~

~

“Change is the end result of all true learning.”
.
Leo F. Buscaglia

~

~

“The only way to make sense out of change
is to plunge into it,
move with it,
and join the dance.”
.
Alan W. Watts

~

~

“When you come out of the storm,
you won’t be the same person who walked in.
That’s what this storm’s all about.”
.
Haruki Murakami

~

~

“I give you this to take with you:
Nothing remains as it was.
If you know this, you can
begin again,
with pure joy in the uprooting.”
.
Judith Minty

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

“When she transformed into a butterfly,
the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty,
but of her weirdness.
They wanted her to change back into what she always had been.
But she had wings.”
.
Dean Jackson
~

Sunday Dinner: Shining

~

“The world is indeed full of peril,
and in it there are many dark places;
but still there is much that is fair,
and though in all lands love
is now mingled with grief,
it grows perhaps the greater.”
.
J.R.R. Tolkien

~

~

“In a time of destruction,
create something.”
.
Maxine Hong Kingston

~

~

“Life’s under no obligation
to give us what we expect.”
.
Margaret Mitchell

~

~

“Hope can be a powerful force.
Maybe there’s no actual magic in it,
but when you know what you hope
for most and hold it like a light within you,
you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
.
Laini Taylor

~

~

“There is some good in this world,
and it’s worth fighting for.”
.
J.R.R. Tolkien
.

 

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist.
Children already know that dragons exist.
Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

.
G.K. Chesterton

~

~

“The best way to not feel hopeless
is to get up and do something.
Don’t wait for good things to happen to you.
If you go out and make some good things happen,
you will fill the world with hope,
you will fill yourself with hope.”
.
Barack Obama

~

Sunday Dinner: Accomplishments

~

The resolve to accomplish your goals is what counts.

If you earnestly put your mind to something,

your brain, your body, your environment-

-everything-

-will start working toward achieving that end. 

Daisaku Ikeda

~

~

“I am only one, but I am one.

I cannot do everything, but I can do something.

And because I cannot do everything,

I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

.

Edward Everett Hale

~

~

“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do

if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

.

Ronald Reagan

~

~

“Do the best you can in every task,

no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time.

No one learns more about a problem

than the person at the bottom.”

.

Sandra Day O’Connor

~

~

“It’s no use saying, “We are doing our best.”

You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

.

Winston S. Churchill

~

~

“To accomplish great things,

we must dream as well as act.”

.

Anatole France

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018

~

~

“If you can’t do great things, Mother Teresa used to say,

do little things with great love.

If you can’t do them with great love,

do them with a little love.

If you can’t do them with a little love,

do them anyway.

Love grows when people serve.”

.

John Ortberg

Wild Thing Wednesday

A female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeds on Lantana.

~

The beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail shares our garden through much of the year.  It is frequently the first butterfly we spot each spring and can be seen deep into autumn, enjoying our warm and sunny Indian summer days while seeking every last drop of nectar our flowers can produce.

~

~

This is the first butterfly recorded by an English explorer on this coast of North America.  John White drew an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in 1587, while he was exploring Virginia with Sir Walter Raleigh’s third expedition.  John White called his drawing “Mamankanois,” which is believed to be the native word for ‘butterfly.’  This beautiful butterfly received its official Latin name, Papillio glaucus, from Carl Linnaeus in 1758.

~

~

You’ll find this butterfly across the eastern half of North America.  The species once included butterflies in Eastern Canada, too.  But Eastern Tiger Swallowtails living in Canada were given their own species designation in 1991: ‘Papilio glaucus canadensis.’

An adult female may lay two or three broods of eggs over the summer.  Host plants include wild black cherry, sweetbay Magnolia, tulip poplar, cottonwood, common lilac and willow.  You may notice that these are all common trees or shrubs.

You can easily spot the females by the beautiful blue markings on their wings.  Females may have mostly yellow wings or mostly black wings; but they always have blue markings on their hindwings .

~

A male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeds on Lantana at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden in mid-July.

~

Males have yellow wings with the distinctive black striping that earns them the name, ‘Tiger Swallowtail.’

~

~

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies remain fairly solitary, and are often found high up in the canopy of host trees.  They live mostly on nectar, though they may be seen ‘puddling’ on damp ground to drink water.

These are common butterflies that have adapted to a wide range of habitats, nectar sources and host plants.  They aren’t officially considered endangered, though shrinking habitats and use of insecticides has certainly affected their populations, too.

~

~

The quickest, easiest way to attract swallowtail butterflies to your garden is to plant Lantana.  Butterflies love Lantana, though its not a native plant in our area.  They don’t care.  It must have lots of sweet nectar, because it is common to see several species of butterfly gathering around the Lantana in our garden.

~

~

You’ll see swallowtail butterflies on other flowering plants, too.  They especially enjoy clusters of many small flowers, where they can stand and drink at their leisure.  Purple coneflowers, Rudbeckias, Monarda, Verbena, dill and fennel flowers also attract their attention.

~

~

If you love watching butterflies, you’ll love the Butterfly Festival at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden this weekend.  Come into the tents and enjoy hand-feeding these lovely creatures and observing them up close.  There will be several species of butterfly on display, including Monarchs, several different swallowtails and painted ladies.

There is no charge to enjoy the garden or the butterflies, and there will be lots of fellow butterfly enthusiasts on hand to share the excitement.  Butterfly host and nectar plants will be available for sale, and there are crafts for the little ones.

~

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

~

Native butterflies are an important part of our history and our heritage.   As we watch them float around the garden, we are simply the latest generation in an unbroken chain of naturalists, smitten by their beauty.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018
*
“Butterflies are nature’s tragic heroes.
They live most of their lives being completely ordinary.
And then, one day, the unexpected happens.
They burst from their cocoons in a blaze of colors
and become utterly extraordinary.
It is the shortest phase of their lives,
but it holds the greatest importance.
It shows us how empowering change can be.”
.
Kelseyleigh Reber

~

The Devil’s Walkingstick, Aralia spinosa provides nectar when in bloom, and thousands of tasty berries in the autumn.  It also supports 7 larval species.  Here, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoys its nectar.  2017

 

 

In Pursuit of Happiness

~

“I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage
with my books, my family and a few old friends,
dining on simple bacon, and letting the world
roll on as it liked,
than to occupy the most splendid post,
which any human power can give.”
.
Thomas Jefferson
~
~
“Do you want to know who you are?
Don’t ask. Act!
Action will delineate and define you.”
.
Thomas Jefferson
~
~
“Determine never to be idle.
No person will have occasion
to complain of the want of time,
who never loses any.
It is wonderful how much may be done,
if we are always doing.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

~

~

“The equal rights of man,
and the happiness of every individual,
are now acknowledged to be
the only legitimate objects of government.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

~

~

“Peace and friendship with all mankind
is our wisest policy,
and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

~

~

“There is not a sprig of grass that shoots
uninteresting to me.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2018
at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden

~

~

“I like the dreams of the future
better than the history of the past.”
.
Thomas Jefferson

Fabulous Friday: Hide and Seek With the Butterflies

~

I’ve been playing ‘Hide and Seek’ with the butterflies at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden at Freedom Park, trying to spot as many different pollinators and butterflies as I can among the lush growth of flowers.

~

Silver-spotted Skipper on a Zinnia

~

It feels like the entire garden is designed to welcome every beautiful winged creature that frequents our area.  Flowers grow everywhere, interspersed with those host plants butterflies need to raise their next generation.

~

The Williamsburg Botanical Garden grows lush with summer flowers.

~

There is the widest possible selection of native flowering plants, augmented with many bright nursery trade annuals and perennials filled with sweet nectar.

~

Can you spot the bee, coming to share the nectar?

~

There are places for caterpillars to find shelter as they gorge themselves on delicious leaves and grow towards their future as bright butterflies, spots for butterflies and other pollinators to find a drink, and lots of shelter for them to rest.

~

~

One might expect the air to be thick with butterfly wings above this tempting wildlife banquet.  Where are they all this week?

~

Common Sootywing butterfly on Basil

~

I stopped by all of their favorite nectar plants, watching for the fleetest glimpse of wing.  There was the Tiger Swallowtail that flew away before I could focus the camera and the Black Swallowtail spotted by a friend.

~

Pearl Crescent butterfly on Lantana

~

I’ve no photo to offer you of either of these beauties, just one from a few weeks ago of a lovely Zebra Swallowtail.

~

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly on Agastache June 15, 2018

~

Lantana proves a butterfly magnet, and there is plenty of Lantana growing now in the garden.  If you want butterflies to visit your garden, planting Lantana, still available in local garden centers, is a reliable way to attract them.

Zinnias also prove popular, and our native purple coneflowers.  Please be careful to avoid using insecticides if you want to attract butterflies and pollinators.

~

A Common Buckeye butterfly feeds in this bed of Lantana, with bronze fennel growing nearby.

~

I like to plant nectar plants together with herbal host plants such as parsley, fennel, and dill.  Many gardeners also plant Asclepias, the preferred host plant of the Monarch.  Butterflies also feed on native trees or shrubs.  These may already be growing in or near your garden.

~

Some gardeners might think it strange to grow plants intended as food for insects. Others recognize the beauty of participating in this magical web of life.  Asclepias incarnata grows here in our Forest Garden.

~

By this time in the summer, the hunt is on for caterpillars. 

~

This instructional garden stone was crafted by a Master Gardener custodian of the Botanical garden, and rests in the pollinator garden.

~

You may notice ragged foliage before you see them, as they start off very tiny from their eggs.

I wonder sometimes, do butterflies remember their days spent munching leaves as caterpillars?  Do they fly back to their host plants, only to get distracted by nearby flowers, instead?

~

~

It is fabulous to find ourselves enjoying the magical beauties of summer, once again.

~

A bumblebee enjoys native Monarda fistulosa.

~

I trust you will find those creatures you are hunting for, and enjoy their rare beauty as we celebrate summer together.

~

Male Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on a button bush flower, June 14

~

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is Contagious… Let’s infect one another!
*
Woodland Gnome 2018

Most photos were taken in the Williamsburg Botanical Garden

at Freedom Park in James City County, VA

~

~

“There are times to stay put,

and what you want will come to you,

and there are times to go out into the world

and find such a thing for yourself.”

.

Lemony Snicket

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?

~

 

Time for Autumn

~

“For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.”
.
C.S. Lewis
~
~
“This is a wonderful day,
I have never seen this one before.”
.
Maya Angelou
~
~
“I cannot endure to waste anything
so precious as autumnal sunshine
by staying in the house.”

.

Nathaniel Hawthorne
~
~
“He found himself wondering at times,
especially in the autumn,
about the wild lands,
and strange visions of mountains
that he had never seen came into his dreams.”
.
J.R.R. Tolkien

~

~

“There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood—
Touch of manner, hint of mood;
And my heart is like a rhyme,
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time.”
.
Bliss Carman

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

 

Painted Lady

Painted Lady Butterfly

Painted Lady Butterfly

We were both so happy to see the Lantana alive with butterflies again this afternoon as the temperatures climbed  into the 80s.  Two Painted Lady butterflies  enjoyed feeding on the flowers.  They shared the bed of Lantana with a single Swallowtail, its wings badly damaged, and with the beautiful clear yellow Cloudless Sulphur butterflies who have been dancing in the air all summer. Oct. 2 2013 surprise lily 011 Several small moths joined in their feast.

We are due for a stretch of warm afternoons over the next few days, and we are looking forward to enjoying the flight of the butterflies for a while longer.

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

Join 623 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest