Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Garden

Spring has arrived!  I have been counting the days!  The garden got a complete refresh and I've cleared out some of the old plants and brought in some new ones to honor the new season.  I've been trying to mostly stick to flowers that attract bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.  It's not quite time yet for the garden centers to stock up on their butterfly friendly plants, so I'm trying to be patient.  Here is how the garden is looking currently:

Canterbury Bells - Get these every year.  Bees love them.
Ranunculus on the patio.  I don't know that these flowers are particularly good for pollinators, as I have never seen any attracted to them, but they were so pretty that I got them just for show. 
 Brugmansia (Angel Trumpet blooming)
 Pincushion Flower
 Ranunculus, pincushion flower, gerbera daisy
 Cosmos and lavander
 Ranunculus under the green man and on the left, clematis
 California Poppy
 Gerbera Daisy

Friday, February 17, 2017

Garden notes: January & February 2017

It is February 17th as I write this and I have been trying very hard to wait until it is officially spring before I go crazy with new plants and flowers for my butterfly garden.  The Verbena bonariensis is starting to shoot up new growth from their pots and most of the butterfly weed is starting to show new growth as well.  In January, I saw one lone monarch caterpillar on the one butterfly weed plants that I didn't cut back.  I was surprised he was hanging on since we've had so much heavy rain this year.  

After I cleared out the old, tired rose garden, I decided it would be nice to have a least just one rose.  I chose "Bewitched" which seemed appropriate.  This year I am creating a garden that will be entirely made up of pollinator, butterfly and humming bird plants.  That's why I've been holding out on buying anything new.  I'm waiting until the garden center brings in the good nectar filled plants.  

Here are a few pictures I snapped with my phone over the past couple of weeks with what's going on in my garden.

February 14, 2017
Bleeding hearts blooming just in time for Valentine's Day
February 4, 2017
These pots in front of the window are mostly filled with butterfly weed.  
New growth is forming on them now.
Buddhelia -  I have about 5 of these.
The bleeding hearts as they began to put out flowers.
Anyone who knows me, knows that foxgloves are a staple in my garden.  
I planted some new ones that I'm hoping will flower this year.
Fairy Primrose - It's one of my favorite flowers for this time of year.  I actually prefer this over the larger blooms of the English primrose.
Lavender - I have lots of this for the bees.  
They seem to appreciate it this time of year.
Forsythia - I had one of these in my parents' yard as a child.  The aroma brings me right back to my childhood.  I know the blooms won't last, but it was on sale and it looked so pretty so I couldn't resist.
January 21, 2017
Here is that monarch caterpillar I mentioned.  
He's just chomping away despite the heavy rain.
January 8, 2017
My new Hybrid Tea, "Bewitched" rose.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Butterfly Garden Notes- Catching up August 27-December 27, 2016

It's been a few months since I've had time to update my garden blog.  During the past several months, I'd been letting the garden maintain itself.  I'd planted enough butterfly and hummingbird plants so that the garden could flourish without my interference and nature could do its thing.  I didn't take many photos over the last few months, but here are a few with notes.

August 27, 2016
The front porch was filled with butterfly plants.  Some of the top hits were:  Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed), Asclepias curassavica (Tropical Milkweed), and I also found Asclepias fascicularis (Narrow Leaf Milkweed).  Although this is native, I found the monarchs seemed to prefer the other two varieties for egg laying.  Verbena bonariensis was also a huge hit with all types of butterflies, so I was sure to have plenty of that on hand.  Lastly, Profusion orange zinnia was also top favorite.
 Profusion orange zinnia
September 4, 2016
The patio with profusion orange zinnia and verbena bonariensis and coreopsis
October 17, 2016
Female monarch laying eggs
October 31, 2016
Gulf Fritillaries were abundant during the month of October and laid their eggs on a passion flower vine that sprung up out of the ground from some seeds that had spread last year.  Here they are enjoying the coneflowers.
 Gulf Fritillary caterpillar on passionflower vine
 Monarch caterpillars on the patio
November 5, 2016
More monarch caterpillars on the milkweed in front of the house.  I hope they changed into butterflies.  I didn't keep track of them this time.
December 26, 2016
And here we are the day after Christmas.  I spent Christmas day pruning the rose garden.  Unfortunately, I decided at the end of the day to retire all of them and start anew in the spring.  I'd had my roses in pots since 2013 and sadly, they had outgrown the pots and were so root bound that neither I nor my husband could get them out.  We tried as best we could but eventually, the clay pot gave way on the first one we tried and it broke.  I made the decision it was time to say goodbye and rethink the new garden for 2017.

I pruned down the milkweed and verbena bonariensis and cleared out the rest of the spent summer flowers.  Instead of a rose garden this year, I've decided to use the space for a larger butterfly garden.  As beautiful as roses are to look at and smell, I'd rather create a garden with purpose for the wildlife.  However, I will admit that earlier today as I walked around the rose garden at Descanso Gardens and and smelled the wonderful fragrance, I was already missing my roses.  There is a possibility I may get at least one fragrant rose to mix into the butterfly garden.  It's still winter, so there's plenty of time to decided.  

As a start for the new garden in 2017, I've purchased three more Buddleja or Butterfly Bushes for the front of the house; two on the porch and two where the roses used to be.  The photos below show the garden in it's current state.  Most of the pots are filled with the milkweed and the verbena bonariensis that I pruned.  There is time now to think and plan what it will look like in the new year.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Butterfly Garden Notes, August 22, 2016

Here’s what’s happened over the past two weeks…

Well, my monarch caterpillars are gone.  The predators must have gotten them before they had a chance to grow larger.  I’m not sure how many of them will make it now with all the milkweed bugs, aphids and that praying mantis hanging around.  I really miss seeing those monarch cats crawling up and down the milkweed.

Luckily, this past Friday a Giant Swallowtail egg hatched on the rue.  I’m hoping this little guy grows large enough to disguise himself as “bird poop” and he makes it through to become a butterfly.
 About two weeks ago, I picked up a popcorn cassia at the garden center which the Cloudless Sulphur just loves to visit.  There are always Sulphurs fluttering about the courtyard, but they kept bypassing my garden.  I specifically got the cassia for them and sure enough, they are lingering in my garden now.
Finally, this past weekend I was treated to a Giant Swallowtail which came into the patio garden to nectar on the verbena bonariensis.  This plant is a butterfly magnet!  I bought a lot of it this year and the butterflies have been enjoying it all summer.  I also picked up some of the big, open giant flower head zinnias.  I’m not sure what the correct name for them is.  All I know is the butterflies flock to them.  They like these much better then the kind with the double blooms because the flower makes a nice big landing pad and they can easily access the nectar.  The Gulf Fritillaries seem to really enjoy the zinnias.
Lastly, besides the above mentioned butterflies, I can always count on my garden to be full of different skippers and also a few duskywings.  These little guys are there all the time flitting from flower to flower.  I can always count on them to be there even when some of the larger butterflies are absent.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Butterfly Garden Notes, August 9, 2016

I saw two freshly hatched monarch caterpillars on the patio milkweed this weekend.  It’s now Tuesday, and I haven’t seen them again.  They were so tiny that either I’m just not seeing them, or they were eaten.  I’m guessing the later which seems to happen a lot.

The praying mantis is still living on the patio.  I watched her climb onto the bee balm and stay there perfectly still until a skipper few near.  Then she’d turn her head around quickly ready to catch it if it came close enough.  She didn’t have any luck.  She gave up after a while and crawled away on to another plant.  I didn’t see her at all yesterday, although I’m sure she’s still lurking around someplace.

I picked up more zinnia this weekend.  These are the big, flat flower head kind.  The butterflies love them!  I was finally able to get some nice images of a fritillary nectaring on the front porch.

I have a nice variety of nectar flowers right now.  I live in such an urban section of Pasadena, that I’m amazed I get butterflies at all.  But as I was told, plant it and they will come.  And they have!

Besides the butterflies, I have failed to give the bees any credit.  This year I’ve had so many of them!  I take them for granted as I also do the hummingbirds since they are always in my garden in abundance.  I took a photo of one of the bees on the milkweed.  I’ll try and get some photos of the hummers in a future post.

So far this year I’d say I’ve had a very successful pollinator/butterfly garden.  I am hoping more caterpillars make it through their cycle to become butterflies before the summer is over.