Saturday, February 14, 2015

Gardening for Butterflies

It's cold outside, but in my heart it's almost summer...well, springtime, at least.
Seeds have been purchased and I'll be ordering shrubs, roses, and perennials soon.
As I think about flowers in my garden, I also think about the wildlife that benefit from my garden. Today it's butterflies that I want to talk about.

Last summer we had quite a few butterflies and it's not by accident. I garden for butterflies.

From the first three images below, you would think that that monarchs really like zinnias - and you would be correct!
In the Polk County Master Gardener's Discovery Garden at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, I captured this image and the one below. There were many monarchs there.

In my own garden - a favorite shot.

The butterflies spend a great deal of time on the Verbena bonariensis. Above is a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (I think). This website talks about yellow and dark colored Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. Images on the site show a butterfly that looks almost exactly like this one.

Another Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on the Verbena bonariensis. If you don't have this plant in your garden and you want to attract butterflies, I highly recommend it - it's a butterfly magnet!

 Here a monarch is enjoying Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate (Persicaria Orientalis)

 I told you zinnias were popular with the (Painted) ladies! lol

To have true success attracting butterflies in your garden , you also need host plants; that is, plants where the females lay their eggs and the young hatch and grow.

 Milkweed is the host plant for monarchs. Above, two monarch caterpillars on common milkweed.

This is common milkweed in my garden

 Another type of milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa, commonly known as Butterfly Weed

 Asclepias incarnata, commonly known as Swamp milkweed, Red milkweed, Marsh milkweed, and Rose milkweed

I also grow host plants for Black Swallowtails. Their host plants include dill, fennel, Queen Anne's lace, parsley, and celery.

To be a good steward of your butterfly garden, avoid use of insecticides and plant native plants.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What a difference a day makes!

Just a couple of days ago, I was photographing and blogging about the green in my garden. Well, being midwesterners, we all knew winter wasn't over yet. A major snowstorm had been forecast for our area, and the meteorologists' predictions came true. It started raining here mid-day Saturday.

My son, daughter-in-law, and grandson came late afternoon and shared a dinner of taco soup and raspberry pie with ice cream; then the three of them played "Trivial Crack" on their phones - have you heard of it?

By the time they left, it was snowing in some areas of our city (not ours); they even saw a snowplow in the ditch on the way home. Now, doesn't that inspire confidence?!!

It was snowing before we went to bed; in fact, quite a lot. I took some photos in evening light; all was beautiful, peaceful and quiet:

 Looking from our backyard to the west into the neighbor's

 The trees were (and still are) covered with snow. So far, no tree casualties here.

 Love this Black Spruce! It's got a great shape to it - and it really looks pretty when covered with snow.

Another view of the Black Spruce.

Back to my story: We had quite a bit of snow when we went to bed, and it has continued to snow well into Super Bowl Sunday. Many churches cancelled services, including ours. It has been a quiet day, with intermittent trips outside to use the snowblower (twice already, need to do it again...), and let the dog out. By early afternoon there were approximately 10" of snow, with more coming down!

I am SO glad I have nowhere to go. This is staying home weather at its' finest.  :)

It's a PERFECT afternoon for a cup of tea. I bought an electric tea kettle upon the recommendation of my daughter - I'm liking the ease of use.

 Here's my new tea kettle on the kitchen counter.

 Perhaps you noticed this memory board in the kitchen...thought I'd give you a closer look.  You'll see a photo of my daughter as a teenager with our dog, Libby; a photo of me at Tulip Time in Pella, and a newspaper clipping with a photo I really like. It's all about "my" Iowa State Cyclones. There are two small bunches of dried lavender from my garden - they look different because one is 'Munstead' and the other is 'Hidcote.' Please don't ask me to remember which is which - I'm thinking the one on the right is 'Hidcote.' Not sure though. The corsage is from Aaron and Kendra's wedding and the ribbon is one I won at the Iowa State Fair for a scrapbook page.

 Back to teapot is from Pella, Iowa. It looks Dutch but is not from Holland.

 The teacup is Delft, from Holland. It belonged to my grandmother, who collected teacups (I do too.)

 My grandma placed a piece of masking tape with the name "James Hart" on the bottom of the teacup, because Jim, her nephew, brought this to her from a trip to Holland.

Today I'm drinking Icewine tea from Canada. Mmmmm, good!

 Love this photo! Perhaps you noticed the other snow pics have a blue cast to them and these have a grey cast. It's all about the light; these were taken on an overcast morning and the others were taken at dusk.

On the left, the Black Spruce and on the right a sugar maple and our berry patch

 Along the fence row (pasture behind us) are several HUGE trees. They are hackberries. There's also a mulberry tree back there. They sure look pretty with snow covering their branches. The smaller tree toward the front is our sugar maple. A couple of years ago, I did a tree count and I believe we had almost 30 trees on our property (a half-acre lot).

Super Bowl Sunday has been a good day to stay inside and drink tea.


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