August 22nd, 2012
Some of nature’s wonders require that you stop, pause and look closely. This isn’t one of them. There’s a reason the Buddleia is called a butterfly bush. It’s covered in swallowtail butterflies!
This butterfly bush is the Buddleia davidii ‘White Splendour’ (I think). It is approximately 8′ in diameter and nearly 10′ tall. It was relocated a couple of years ago to a more roomy location because I didn’t believe it could possibly grow this big.
All summer long the butterflies are numerous and industrious in our garden. It’s one of the reasons I grow dill but hardly ever get to eat any. The caterpillars eat it all. Gluttons. Glorious gluttons.
By far the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails outnumber the other butterflies. But we also have Painted Admirals, Black Swallowtails and—the glorious Zebra Swallowtail. (You can see those in the video below.)
A while back a friend of mine was envying our prolific Pawpaw patch because it is host to the larval Zebra Swallowtail. If you don’t know Pawpaws, they are a fruit tree native to North America. The fruit of the Pawpaw is rather sweet and mushy. For some it’s an acquired taste. But Zebra Swallowtails just love Pawpaws. In fact, it is also called the Pawpaw butterfly.
I wish I were a better photographer and videographer to share how the bush comes alive. This is definitely one of nature’s bigger shows in my garden.
Posted In: Nature and Wildlife
April 30th, 2012
A few years ago my then-teenage son convinced me to watch the movie Snakes on a Plane. It’s a movie about—you guessed it—snakes on a plane. Despite the fact that it was an incredibly stupid film, it gave me nightmares. But movie snakes don’t hold a candle to real, live snakes right at home.
This weekend I asked my husband to dispose of two ratty-looking topiary trees that were in large wooden containers on either side of the garage door. I watched from the kitchen window as he dragged them back to the compost pile. They were overgrown and pot-bound, so I wasn’t surprised when he tugged and pulled to try and extricate them from the containers. This went on for some time. I continued to watch as he stood with his hands on his hips thinking about the situation. Apparently reaching a conclusion, I saw him start in on the containers with a mattock.
And then I watched as he hot-footed it back to the house.
“Those pots are filled with copperheads!”
Now, I didn’t go out to witness it first-hand. It’s not because I’m a big old scaredey cat. Oh, no. Rather it’s because I have complete trust in my husband’s powers of observation and reporting of the local wildlife. I mean, if he says copperheads are out there swarming by the dozens, I don’t really need to go out and verify it with my own eyes, right? A marriage must be based on trust.
I hope it didn’t violate any Maryland state wildlife laws, because I’m going to tell you right here that Harry screwed up his manly courage, went back out and committed mass snake-icide. He was running around with a shovel smacking at the ground, hopping around and looking very threatening. I was afraid of him. I think he got most of the little buggers. I got nightmares.
Okay, so that I don’t leave you with that horrible image I’ll share some garden photos to calm you down. Let’s talk a little bit about hellebores, shall we?
One of the reasons I adore hellebores as much as I do is that they give me hope in the bleakest months of winter. Regardless of what I do, these babies show their little heads sometime in January and gradually emerge from under whatever nature has thrown their way. I have seen them emerging from under a foot of snow, in the freezing rain and even in those dry winter spells.
I help them along by trimming off the damaged greenery from the previous year, allowing the plant’s strength to be concentrated in flowering. They reward me by blooming and blooming. The flowers hang on through spring and even into summer. These are plants that really pull their weight in the garden.
Now that they are well-established I am faced each year with relocating or re-homing hundreds of little hellebore orientalis seedlings. Frankly, it’s not a terrible task and I always find takers. I’m looking forward to the time when I have the same issue with the ‘Kingston Cardinal’ hellebores. Massed together, they make a very nice statement while also crowding out weeds and looking good almost the whole year long.
Have you forgotten all about the snakes yet? Good. Whatever you do, don’t think about snakes. Especially don’t think about poisonous snakes in the garden. Dozens and dozens of swarming poisonous snakes in the garden.
(As always, click on photos to embiggen.)