garden ponderings

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Monarch Butterfly workshop

This morning I attended a workshop to learn how to attract and raise Monarch butterflies.
While they live and mate in my area, they need to migrate south for the winter.

Their survival rate can increase from 10% to 90%, when you raise the caterpillars in captivity.  There are so many predators in nature.


In my gardens I have the flowers the butterfly needs for nectar during their short life span.  I purchased seed for 2 varieties of milkweed plants it needs to lay eggs on and for the caterpillars to eat.


Flowers of the different varieties of milkweed do not necessarily look alike.  These were particularly pretty and colorful.  That is a monarch caterpillar on the milkweed leaf above.

When a butterfly first emerges from the chrysalis,
it’s wings take a few hours to fully open up and get un-wrinkled.
In the right photo, the dark colored chrysalis has a butterfly ready emerge.

The native plant and butterfly gardens were gorgeous.

Here is a link to the place I visited:



Some Things I’ve Learned About Dahlias

Watching my dahlias grow the last few years, has taught me a couple of things about that flower.  I imagine I’m just starting to scratch the surface of dahlia knowledge 🙂

In first year, one flower topped one stem on each plant.
During the second summer, two blossoms appeared.  This is now the third spin around the sun for these plants, and there are 4 buds per plant.  I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high that the number of flowers will double again next year, as it has annually, so far.

These two plants live in different flower beds, around the house.
On a southwest facing corner, which is shaded in the morning, the red one grows.
The pink flowered plant gets sun all day long.  All of my flowers are shaded in the late afternoon by evergreen trees at the edge of our forest.  As the trees have grown from seedlings in the past 35 years, my yard gets a bit more shady every summer.


Asides . . .

Sometimes a thought or a photo strikes me.
Not enough for a full blog, but sticks in my head.
I think, wonder and philosophize.  So much to ponder in nature.
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Secondary Colors


Purple (foxglove), orange (California poppies) and green (leaves) are secondary colors, they are painting mixtures of the primary colors of blue, yellow and red.

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How do you photograph the scent of a particularly aromatic flower?
You cannot.
Plant and nursery catalogs, as well as winemakers,
go to great lengths to describe the smell and taste of their product.
But words can never do justice to what the nose senses and our brain feels.
Aromatics also stir memories, positive and negative.
While the lilies pictured above may bring fond memories and smiles,
Rue, pictured below, would probably more often bring on negative thoughts.
Thus, it is aptly named!

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Garden Surprise

I wish all my garden surprises were as good as this one:

These photos were taken from opposite ends of a 30 foot
(just over 9 meters) planting bed.

The sunflowers are all volunteers from a couple of plants last year.
They were planted late, and never harvested.
I forgot all about the seeds multiplying!

Earlier this year, I planted broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts seedlings.
The sunflower shade is appreciated by the brassicas, and they are thriving.
I’ll have to remember that for next year.
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Amarinth is the red-flowering plant also growing in the brassica bed.
Last summer, I had many amarinth, and feared they would dominate this area by reseeding.  Surprise! it was the sunflowers that dominate.
If you are wondering, that is broccoli on the left, and brussels sprouts on the right of the amarinth.  Baby Romaine lettuce are bunched together behind it.


Green on Green

This plant in the papyrus family reproduces itself freely, which leads to
many babies in my flower beds.  I then transplant said seedlings to any place
that tends to get waterlogged in the rainy season.
Nothing scientific, just a sense that papyrus grows near water, and I have areas with bad drainage, so I am trying to make the best use of challenging areas in my garden.

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This Eryngium, or Sea Holly, also reproduces freely – almost too freely for me.
I mean, it grows well, is deer and rodent resistant, and I am still looking for where to move it so it won’t poke me while I weed around it.
I cut some of the ‘flowers’ and laid them in a cool, dark area to dry, just in case they might look good in another season.  Chances do not look good, as I found the stems to be hollow, which is not a characteristic of any other flower that dries well.

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A visitor to my garden recently asked me about this ‘flower’.  These are seedpods of a spring flowering daylily.  No flower here!  When the stems turn brown they pull away easily, so I wait a few months, and it is one less plant to deadhead.