I'd say the butterfly garden is coming along quite nicely. Sunday I was home for a good portion of the afternoon, and there was a female monarch coming and going throughout the day laying eggs. I keep seeing more eggs on the milkweed, but haven't see any caterpillars this week. Could be I just can't find them or else they fell victim to predators. I did see a tiny green praying mantis on the porch earlier in the week, so I know the predators are out and about. Besides the monarch, I saw skippers, cabbage whites, dusky wing and cloudless sulphers. Also, the hummingbirds are becoming more numerous now. I've seen them drinking from both the feeder in front of the house and on the patio. In addition, in the evening there has been a good number of white-lined sphinx moths. We are just going into the warmer months now so I'm hoping the butterfly garden will be in full swing in the next couple of months. Here are some photos I took over the weekend.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been preparing my garden for butterflies. Most of the milkweed I have is from last year, so I’ve been replacing some of the old plants with fresh ones. On Friday, April 14, I saw at least 3 new monarch caterpillars, so I know they’re out there even though they’re sometimes hard to see. On Sunday morning, April 16 around 11 am I saw a female monarch laying eggs. The front of the house is mostly in shade until after 12 pm, so she didn’t stay too long since it was a little chilly in the morning. The cabbage whites are starting to come around again too. Last year they were really interested in the catmint, so I need to make note to get more of that. There are quite a few skippers coming around as well. I should also mention that last weekend I saw what I think may have been an american lady butterfly. I didn’t have a camera with me, and didn’t see her long enough to make a proper identification, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it was.
Besides the butterflies, I have white lined sphinx moths nectaring on the foxgloves in the evening. I also spotted a tiny brown chrysalis on the patio which I think may be some sort of month. It’s still a little early and the weather has been on the cooler side, so I am hoping that when it warms up, there will be even more butterflies visiting the garden.
At this time, there are plenty of bees enjoying the flowers.
Recently, I noticed there’s been a decrease in hummingbirds at my feeders. I did some research as to why this could be because I was concerned since I always have an abundance of them all year long. From what I could find, it seems this is probably due to the “super bloom” we’ve had from all the rains. The hummers are getting their food from their natural resources (as well they should) and don’t need the feeders. I imagine once the blooms fade, they’ll be back. I did see a few on the feeder on Sunday throughout the day and while I’m happy they’re nectaring in their wild habitats, I admit I do miss their buzzes and chirps outside my window and on the patio.
Photos taken on April 16, 2017
Other garden notes:
April 14, 2017
My cat, Magic, watching the squirrel stealing from the bird feeder.
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)
Ranunculus, pincushion flower, gerbera daisy
Cosmos and lavander
Ranunculus under the green man and on the left, clematis
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.
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.