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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The End of Summer

Well it may be Labor Day weekend, and officially that signals the end of summer, but don't tell the garden that!

This really is my favorite time of year in the garden. We're beginning to get increasing number of butterflies visiting and, of course, the hummingbirds are out in full force, emptying the feeders and building up their energy reserves for the migration ahead.

I know I've shown you this view before -- forgive me, but I just love sitting on the patio and looking across the island bed and waterfall. 

As always, you can click on each photo for a larger image.

The sound of the waterfall lends a gentle ambiance to the garden that makes it the perfect place to sit and relax (provided I'm in the shade!!)

The Profusion zinnias in this bed were all transplanted seedlings that had self-seeded in the other island bed.   It certainly lives up to its name - "Profusion".

Butterflies just love it, including this Buckeye - the first I have managed to photograph this year.

This Swallowtail was enjoying the zinnia too.  You can't see too clearly in this photo, but the photo below, you can see it had quite a significant rip in its left wing.

The butterfly didn't seem to notice anything amiss and fluttered from bloom to bloom quite happily.

At first glance, I assumed this was a Monarch nectaring on the Tropical Milkweed, but looking closer at the photo I realized it's a Queen. (Still regal, though :-)

While the zinnias are still blooming full strength, the daylilies seem to be winding down now, after blooming profusely through the heat of the summer.  This one is still going though. I don't think I've shown photos of it before. Of course, I have no idea what it's called as usual!

And finally, a couple of photos of our wonderful feathered friends, the hummingbirds.  We've seen six or seven in the garden at one time this week.  This female thinks the Crepe Myrtle makes a good lookout post.


We've got five feeders scattered around the garden, two hanging above the patio and three out in the beds.

The red dome over the feeder attracts hummingbirds and also helps keep them cool at the same time. It's all red color attracts nearby hummingbirds and the 12" diameter baffle blocks out sunlight which keeps the feeder underneath cooler. It's made by Songbird Essentials.  I have two of them, but would like to get one of each feeder eventually.  Perhaps next year...

What's happening in your garden this Labor Day weekend?

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hummingbirds Staking Their Claims

This summer, our back garden seems to have been claimed by not one, but two male Ruby throated hummingbirds.  Not that I'm complaining, you understand.  I was simply stating the facts :-)

After all, I've spent the past five years catering to them and making sure our garden offers what they need - shelter and food sources.

Hummingbird A has staked his claim on the Crepe Myrtle, and the feeders on the western side of the garden.  He can be seen sitting on a branch, keeping a beady eye out for intruders, or lady callers as the case may be.

Hummingbird B seems to favor the Vitex or Chaste tree, which is in dire need to pruning and tidying up but still offers some blooms.  He also lays claim to the feeder in one of the island beds.

I look forward to the next few weeks of watching their antics, and those of the other hummingbirds who stop by, and getting lots more photos!

You have been warned!

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Butterflies and Bees

I'm struggling to get over an upper respiratory infection that has had me wheezing all day and coughing all night for the past few days :-(  I finally managed to get in to see the doctor and am now hoping the medications kick in soon and I can get back to feeling normal again.

So today's post is just a quickie.  

If you saw my post last week, you may remember I showed you two Monarch chrysalises - one on the back of a chair on the patio and one on the eave of the house. You can see the post here, if you'd like.

I'm happy to report that both chrysalises hatched during the week. Although we didn't actually manage to catch the hatching in progress, as I was able to do last year,  we did get photos of the newly emerged butterflies drying out their wings.

 My car was in the shop last week and my husband had to drive me to the Park and Ride bus one day in the week.  When he got home, he saw this newly emerged Monarch on the eave of the house and, since he knew I probably would complain if he didn't, he ran in and got the camera!!

The following day I went out to check on the other chrysalis on the back patio and, sure enough, it has emerged too :-)

I took a bunch of photos, but I was battling with the humidity which caused the lens, which had been inside the nice cool house, to fog up almost quicker than I could clear it.  This was about the clearest I could get. 

Continuing the Wildlife Wednesday theme, the bumble bees certainly like this Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) that I planted in one of the containers by the birdbath not long ago. This is the first time I have planted these.  I love the color and think I'm definitely going to plant more in the future.  That should make the bees happy :-)


Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Monarchs are Back!

Earlier this year I read disheartening reports about the numbers of Monarch butterflies being dramatically down in their wintering grounds in Mexico. Did it signal the beginning of the end for the Monarch?

So I had been getting a little depressed that, after five years of seeing lots of Monarchs and caterpillars here in our garden, and being certified as a Monarch Waystation, so far this year I had seen... nothing.

Well that was until this week.  I was pulling nutsedge out of the new island bed and happened to notice two very healthy caterpillers on the Tropical Milkweed that I grew from seed.

So apparently we had been visited by at least one female Monarch - I had just missed her.  Inspecting the rest of the plants in the garden, I was pleased to find a few more caterpillars, contentedly munching.

This one decided to move to pastures green.  I thought he was moving to a neighboring plant, but when I looked the next day I couldn't find him.

When I got home from work, my husband showed me what he had found on the patio...

... look closer...

I'm not sure of course, but I like to think that this is the one I took a photo of, heading across the mulch of our island bed in a determined way.  Eric said when he first saw it, it was still a caterpillar, attaching itself to the chair and beginning to curl up.  When he looked later, it had fully pupated. Isn't nature amazing?

We also have milkweed in the front garden.  It's tucked in behind the shrubs, which is good because it's looking very ragged already.  I haven't seen caterpillars on it, but there must have been at least one, because I spotted this chrysalis on the eave of the house.

And then, as Eric and I were out in the garden on Friday evening, pulling weeds, harvesting cucumbers etc., we were finally visited by a Monarch butterfly.  It stayed around the garden for quite a while, nectaring on several plants, giving me lots of photo ops.

It wasn't until I saw this photo on my computer that I realized there was a caterpillar on the underside of the leaf, in addition to the butterfly.

For some reason, the Paul Simon song, Mother and Child Reunion started going through my head!

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.