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Sunday, October 8, 2017

The October Garden and Monarch Foster Success

I'm afraid I haven't blogged in a while.  The garden just looked too sad throughout the dog days of August, especially after Hurricane Harvey blew through.  The island beds and the back border were taken over by Bermuda grass and other weeds that I just couldn't keep up with.

That's not to say that the weeds are now under control - they aren't, by any means.  But it always seems that the garden gets its second wind in October.

The Lantana, which seemed to languish all summer, is blooming profusely again.  I have several, in containers as well as in the island beds.  Lantana is always a favorite with the butterflies, which makes it a favorite of mine too!

I have three Rose of Sharon bushes, all sprouted from cuttings I brought over from my last house 9 years ago.  The one below, which gets afternoon shade from the fence on the west side of our property, seems to do best.  The one on the other side of the garden, which struggles with full sun all day, as well as turf grass all round, is barely hanging on.  I may transplant it somewhere else this fall.

Last year, this Pink Muhly grass was little more than a big ant hill.  I have at least, managed to banish the ants, if not the Bermuda grass that seems to invade everywhere.  I was so happy I happened to look out in to the garden at just the right time to see the plumes turn vibrant pink in the morning sun.

 If you recall earlier this year, I raised and released some Monarch butterflies. I had hoped to raise a lot more but things didn't go as planned and I only released a few more and had a few sad losses which almost made me give up.  Then one of my friends told me she was going out of town and asked if I would mind keeping an eye on the chrysalides she had been raising, and releasing the butterflies when they were ready.

Would I ever!!

So Barbara brought over two hampers with a total of about 60 chrysalides and since then I have released six or more of them each day!

Luckily the hampers are easy to carry out and set on the patio table, and then I just let each on crawl on my fingers and make a note of whether it's male or female, before letting it fly off into the garden.  I'm at 51 and counting as of today!

I'll finish my post with a volunteer that showed up in the garden.  It's in more or less the same place that the wild bergamot grew and bloomed earlier this year.

I did a bit of sleuthing and have identified it as Mikania scandens, also known as Climbing Hempweed, Climbing Hempvine and Climbing Boneset.

It's very definitely a weed, having taken over a corner of the island bed and twined itself around the wind chimes.

I would have yanked it out of the ground at first sight except that the blooms reminded me of clover blooms.  Knowing how much honey bees enjoy clover, I wondered if this attract them as well, so I let it grow and bloom.

Sure enough - on close examination today I found several bees enjoying the flowers, like the one in the photo above.  So I guess it can stay for a while :-)

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