When we think of milkweeds, we typically think in terms of those plants that Monarch butterflies eat. And yes, Monarch larvae are dependent on milkweeds. The leaves contain toxic chemicals (cardenolide) that the insects feeding on them can incorporate into their own bodies, making them unpalatable to predators.(more…)
I love a garden full of flowers, but that’s only half the story. A garden feels incomplete with just plants, no matter how pretty they are. We’ve set the stage. The background and props are in place. But where are the actors? That’s why I intentionally choose plants that attract birds and insects. (Rabbits? Not so much!) A summer day isn’t complete without the buzz of bees, the whirr of the Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, and especially fluttering butterflies—often as colorful as the flowers they visit.
If spring brings mating displays and nest building, then summer is sure to be filled with baby birds. Lately, everywhere I look I see frazzled parents bringing food to their ravenous offspring. No sooner have they stuffed the moth or grasshopper or beetle or dragonfly down that bottomless gullet than they’re off looking for the next morsel.
Many plants and animals have either common or scientific names that honor people, often the person who discovered the species, or someone famous. For example, ‘Prince Charles’ and ‘Princess of Wales’ are both rose cultivars. Ornithologist Alexander Wilson named Lewis’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) after Meriwether Lewis, who discovered the species, and Clark’s Nutcrackers were named after his fellow explorer, William Clark. I find it interesting to learn a bit about the person behind various names, especially of species that I’ve seen and photographed. (more…)
I try hard to create original material for my blog. After all, you can go read someone else’s writing somewhere else! But when I read this article, I knew I had to share it with you. It was that good.
We tend to think of geologic time on a huge scale, and the ice ages happened an incredibly long time ago. We forget how short our human history really is. This article made me look at the world with new eyes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
The Trees That Miss The Mammoths,
by Whit Bronaugh
Here’s one less thing to worry about in the coming year. Recently, one of the garden sites I frequent published a link to this article from the American Council on Science and Health, an organization devoted to debunking junk science: “The Bee Apocalypse Was Never Real; Here’s Why.” I strongly urge you to check it out.
I tend to visit botanic gardens by myself. It isn’t that I’m being unsociable—I’d love the company! It’s that I move at a pace that most find excruciatingly slow. I have been known to stop and examine every flower, every shrub, and, in this case, every leaf on every tree. And then, on top of that, I take photos. Hundreds of photos. Photos of the flowers, shrubs, trees, and yes, sometimes even the leaves. I can turn a two-hour garden visit into a 6-hour marathon. It drives most people crazy, hence my lack of companions.
But sometimes, that kind of close inspection pays off.
The neighborhood where I live seems to be a magnet for door-to-door salespeople selling services. One company in particular has been particularly persistent in their marketing attempts—an exterminator.
The first time they rang the doorbell, I politely but firmly told the guy I did not want my yard sprayed. I consider a diverse arthropod population to be a sign of a healthy landscape. I particularly want insects around to feed the birds I feed. Moreover, I had just planted a pollinator garden, designed to attract bees, butterflies, moths, and other fascinating creatures;. The last thing I wanted was to kill my invited guests.
Someone left the screen door open, and suddenly our house is full of annoying, buzzing, flies. They circle the kitchen while I’m cooking, tangle with my hair while I’m sitting at my computer, and zoom past my Kindle when I’m reading in the evening. I have to ask, did we really have to have flies, God?