Thursday, July 22, 2010

Milkweed City

Take me down to milkweed city, where the flowers smell great and the bugs are pretty... ...well, beauty is rather subjective. I'm sure another Milkweed Stem Weevil could be attracted to this one here.
Monarch butterfly caterpillars are the usual residents of milkweed city, since the plants are their favorite food. However, this large stand of plants has attracted many different tenants... this pretty black Virginia Ctenucha Moth. I never realized that some moths are so active during the day.

This gorgeous Garden Spider was quite small, but they can get really large.
Here are two more monarch cats, munching away.... they can grow beyond their current teeny size.

What's this? A drag race?

I never noticed this pretty butterfly before!
Turns out it's a Red Admiral.
This Daddy Long Legs looks small on the large milkweed leaves...

....but the Red Milkweed Beetle is easy to spot!
This sleek pollinator is a Bald Faced Hornet...
...and my froggie friend the Spring Peeper enjoys the sturdy leaves, cover, and insect buffet!
This exquisite Crab Spider has spots that actually match the blooms! Excellent camo!
A less attractive resident is this Robber Fly...perhaps he represents the "criminal element"of milkweed city.
Along with plenty of ants, milkweed city hosts the Banded Longhorn as well...
.....along with a spider I wasn't able to ID ( becomes a kind of obsession with me :) I'll edit in whatever I find out later. Update 10/20/12: this is a Long-Jawed Orb Weaver, more info here and here ...better late than never, eh?
But it's the well-known "celebrity" of milkweed city, the Monarch butterfly, who's the star of the show (and the reason I've happily let this stand of milkweed get so huge). They aren't always too easy to photograph clearly, and I followed this one a long time to try and get a shot with the wings open. This was as good as I got....
.....most were near-misses like this (see it taking flight in the upper right-hand corner?)

They're even more dizzying in their "holding patterns" above the city...
....looking for a place to land.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Harvest Picks Up

Lots of progress to report with the veggies! I planted peas rather late, but I'm eating a few here and there. This is 'Alaska' snow pea... ....and a nice-looking squash! I think this is spaghetti squash 'Small Wonder', but I'm not sure since the fruit isn't turning yellow. A friend grew this from seed, and she didn't always keep her markers straight. Guess I'll just have to harvest it and see what it is!

Baby corn 'Bonus' and summer squash 'Cocozelle' are coming along nicely....

...and the squash are delicious! I've harvested 5 so far, most at 6" or less....

...cute and tasty!

I got one cuke from the 'Tasty Jade' in this planter....

...and several beans from 'Royalty Purple Pod'.

This old grill became a garden on June 24th....

...after removing the lid, I filled it with dirt and planted little rows of: spinach 'Bloomsdale Long Standing', swiss chard 'Bionda Di Lyon', and spinach 'Bordeaux'.

They all germinated pretty quickly, I was already thinning them by July 1st.

My winter-sown and indoor started annual flowers are beginning their bloom, this is snapdragon 'Terra Cotta Mix'...

...and 'Pandora's Box' pansies (with a alpine strawberry 'Yellow Wonder' and alyssum 'Compacta'.)

This image doesn't do the bloom justice, it's actually much more colorful than it appears here. This is petunia 'Flambe'...

...and more of the aforementioned snapdragons....

...and more petunias. Starting my own annuals doesn't give the instant bloom gratification that larger, store-bought plants do...
...but it's much more worthwhile for the rewarding feeling of growing them from seed (and saving the money!)

P.S. I started this post on the 9th, everything has really taken off since then! (Especially the tomatoes!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Three Phases of Cool

Storms yesterday brought the most interesting sunset colors! Yellow... orange.... blood red!

And then the rains came.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Say Hello To My Little Friend

I was putting in the garden the other day, and saw this odd-looking little bug. He had an eye on me, too...moving around the stem as I tried to check him out.

Finally I got a look at his face! Let me introduce you to Ceresa diceros, a.k.a. Tree Hopper.

He's only the size of my pinky nail, and very geometrically shaped...

....and frankly pretty! I can't decide if he looks prehistoric or futuristic.....

...though he does remind me of that bar scene in the original Star Wars movie.

GROW Project Breaking News

Just a few days after my scheduled post for the SeedsGROW Project, blooms have appeared! Several in fact!

They sure add some splashes of color to this group of veggie planters...
....with more blooms to come! Hooray! :)

"I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project, thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

More Water Garden (for Monica :)

Monica the Garden Fairie wanted to see the fish in my water gardens, but I'm afraid this is the best I can do. I've switched to "Rosy Reds" from the goldfish of last year, and as you can see not all of these new fish are red (in fact only one was). In other news, this image taken today shows the algae bloom I have going on (I'd added fertilizer made for water plants about a week ago). The right tub is worse (it gets more sun), but the peat/barley extract I use is helping a lot. Plus you can see the plants have grown quite a bit, too....
...progress is good!

Water Garden Tubs, 2010

I got the new water garden tubs started on June 14th, using a combo of wintered over and seed-started plants. I call them "new" because I've retired last year's tubs to be veggie planters and cleaned my plastic pot jungle from these two so they can be pressed into duty. In the right tub here we have (clockwise from left) ornamental black rice 'Black Madras' (from seed), varigated rush, a "wild" water lily with a marimo ball in the pot. The little decorative "cage" around the rice is the frame of a bird feeder I got for free from the dump (score! :)
In the left tub, there's "wild" cattail, cardinal flower and fiber optic grass potted together (from seed), and a store-bought water lily.

I had some extra plants from seed, as well as this small bit of "wild" cattail. So this insert from a buffet table makes a nice little "marginal plant nursery".I use this to keep the water clear, and stocked each tub with three "Rosy Reds" (minnows, basically.) The water lily in the left tub is this cute red that I found on clearance. I only bought it because I saw growth...made the mistake of hoping for growth last year with the very same one and got nothing but compost.

This year I want to see color!