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A Window On My World

This is not a daily blog.
Posts will be published on occasion and irregularly as I am able.
Some of these posts are from my web site The Garden At Crocker Croft.
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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Summertime Has Arrived

June 21, 2006:
Today is the first day of summer; with humidity level at 67% and predictions of 91 degrees F., it definitely feels like summertime. The hot, muggy days deplete my scant store of energy more than the activity of gardening. I would consider that a sign of my age, but a fatigued young helper said, "The work isn't that hard, it's the heat!" So, maybe it isn't my age after all... I tell myself.

June 26, 2006:
Here I am, about to perish from the heat when I read that on Monday, June 12, New Zealand had about a foot of snow the heaviest and wettest in 50 years. New Zealand spawns serious gardeners. They are having a tough go of it now with broken trees, shrubs, and broken just about everything. I have deep empathy for them. The last big one they had was in June 2003. That was the year we had our extremely damaging ice storm in February - then they caught the weather in June. Wild Weather!

July 1, 2006:
My attention deficit problem is acting up today - thoughts and ideas splattered all about, can't get into the groove. Must be the heat. Will pull myself together here and get at it. Much needs to be done with the weeding!

Reminds me of the sign one gardener had in her potting shed that read something like this:
"Gardening is doing:
what should be done,
when it should be done,
the way it should be done,
whether you feel like it or not."
She's exactly right. And, I wish I could remember what magazine I saw that in so I could give her credit here.divider
Maybe a glass of nice strong iced tea will set me right.

July 2, 2006:
Today I discovered the Fahrenheit and Celsius conversion formula by which I can translate today's punishingly hot 95 degrees F. heat to approximately 35 degrees C. Whew! That sounds much better.
(I found the information here: http://vathena.arc.nasa.gov/curric/weather/fahrcels.html)

Wish I could bundle up some of it, and send it to gardeners in the Southern hemisphere who are worrying about the possibility of frost tonight. I do have difficulty getting used to the concept of their winter in July and August, and preparing for December holidays, such as Christmas, by mowing their verdant lawns.

Eastern Black Swallowtail on Lantana

July 3, 2006: Parsley in the whiskey barrel.

I like to start parsley from seed in order to have a large number of plants. Then I set them everywhere in all the beds for the baby Black Swallowtail butterflies. The females lay their eggs on plants of the carrot family which includes parsley. Also, I like to have some up close so I can watch the babies' development... thus the ones in the half-barrel.

At first, they look like tiny bird droppings, then morph to look like larger bird droppings; that is nature's way to protect them from the bird predators who might eat them. Before long, they are lovely, slick, and colorful black, white, yellow and/or green larvae. We usually call them caterpillars. If disturbed or provoked, as in being tickled with a blade of grass, they will show their beautiful orange antenna that emits an odor that surely sends the message: 'I'm not good to eat!'

The following photo shows two different stages of larvae. In the lower left-hand corner can be seen one younger than the large one on the right. The younger one does resemble a bird dropping, but at first they are much smaller than this one.

The Above Photo:
Black swallowtail larvae (Papilio polyxenes)
Used with permission from:
Hannah Nendick-Mason
Copyright © 2004

Above: Notice its little feet.

The larvae are little feeding machines, munching and munching away, so soon they are plump little things that remind me of our four babies when they wore pajamas that had feet. These fat little butterfly babies eat for days and then go off to make their cocoon.

The first time I cultivated some where they could be watched, I thought they were falling out of the large planter, so I kept putting them back in. Then they would "fall out" again. I finally realized they were through entertaining me, and were trying to go find a good place to attach to, where they would make their cocoons. They were ready to move on with their lives so they could become beautiful, graceful flying creatures.

This summer I have watched them eat the parsley totally up leaving nothing but a ring of little short stubs of stems.

Now the parsley is growing back again! Hmmm... Second crop of parsley? Second crop of babies? Will have to wait and see.

Addendum 2008:
Parsley grew, but there were no more babies in the whiskey barrel.

July 4, 2006:
A few years ago when an old black locust tree that stood in the back yard fell, I planted a small butterfly and hummingbird garden around the stump.

Several things including four Butterfly shrubs (Buddleia davidii) were planted on top of the many spring bulbs in the soil. The shrubs were planted approximately north, south, east, and west around the stump. There were one each of white, pink, lavender, and dark purple.

When I bought them, the woman assisting me said the dark ones are not as hardy and do not survive the winter as well. I wanted to try anyway. But she was right, the dark one did not come back the next spring. The others have done well. This year I noticed of the three, the pink butterfly bush bloomed first. Could that be because it is on the south side of the round bed? That would be my guess.

July 21,2006:
Humidity hangs thick and heavy. When I step outside it feels as if we could cut it with a knife. Even the birds are quiet... means storms are brewing.

July 22,'06:
Yesterday it stormed at six o'clock p.m., then in 30 minutes the electricity went off for ten hours. Rough weather.


Mother Nature said...

Hi, Barbee,
Nothing like a big glass of iced mint tea to keep you going. I get up incredibly early and usually do not work in the garden after 9am. Then, at the end of the day, I have another go at it. Those goblets remind me of my grandmother...fond memories. She had some similar.

Brenda Kula said...

I finally got around to planting a butterfly bush this year. It was rather small at $4. I hear it gets really big if it lasts in this East Texas heat! I absolutely love that first photo of yours of the butterfly on lantana. On my blog banner, that was the shot of the butterfly I got: on the lantana! Boy they love that stuff!

Cinj said...

Wow, 35 does sound MUCH cooler than 90! Love the butterfly pictures. I too do my gardening work when it's cooler before 10 or after 6. I can't stand the heat, although that hasn't been much of a problem this year....

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Love the catterpillar. I taught the middle monkey to make mint iced tea. He will be a southern gentleman.

Ewa said...

Butterfly on lantana is amazing! Are the catterpillars holy in your garden too? 'Eat what you want management style'? :)

Amy said...

Really, really gorgeous photos!

We had a week of super hot weather when it was 34C in the shade, then it switched to thunderstorms and humidity. Now we're getting some nice cool days and needed rain. I can't imagine the humidity you deal with in summer - that's rare here. Even when it's really hot, it's usually very dry so even the heat is pretty bearable.

Ulinne said...

Du scheinst einen wunderschön wilden Garten zu haben, Barbee.
Ja, dass ich mit Blotanical sehr viel Zeit brauchen werde, habe ich schon gemerkt, obwohl ich erst seit gestern Nacht dabei bin ... ;-)
Liebe Grüße

Barbee' said...

Mother Nature: You are so smart to get up and at it before it gets too warm in the garden! One of my grandmothers had goblets like these, also. She made the best tea in the world, and we drank it from them. We inherited these from an aunt of my husband.

Brenda: Hi. Yes, they do get large. Some winters they die back in this area, so we just go ahead and cut them back in late autumn. That way they don't get too large, too. I like lantana almost as much as the butterflies! It is so easy. Of course, it freezes out, but it is easy to find new plants to set out for the butterflies and me.

Cinj: I can't stand the heat, either; it makes me ill. It is a real struggle for me, because I am a night person, not an early morning person. The ironies of life!

Debbi: Now middle monkey has a specialty! I remember when my mom showed me how to make the tea. Then it was my job. Do you have these butterflies in Texas? Maybe not, as they are named Eastern Black Swallowtail. The larvae are cute, aren't they.

Ewa: Absolutely! I plant food plants for them and say: Dinner is served, eat all you want! I enjoy them so much.

Amy: Thank you. I have not spent much time in British Columbia, Canada (just one quick trip), so I didn't know much about your climate. I am glad you don't have the oppressive humidity routinely. Ours is like working in a sauna. I read that Christopher Lloyd said (during his visit to America) he found that the American gardens have many species to choose from, and that the limiting factor was the climate on the gardeners themselves.

Ulinne: Thank you for visiting and leaving your nice comment here about my garden. Yes, parts of it are very wild.

(This is a translation of Ulinne's comment as produced by an online translator from German to English.)
You seem to have a beautifully wild garden, Barbee.
Yes that I will need very much time with Blotanical, I already noticed, although I am only for yesterday night thereby… ; -)
Love of greetings

Louise said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. You have a lovely garden and I wish I have more space for gardening. I live in a condo and I mainly do my gardening in containers. I'm from New York and the humidity today is at 54%, it's good for my vegetables but not for me :-). Thanks for posting the link for Celcius and Fahrenheit because I'm from Canada and originally from Hong Kong, so I'm used to the Celcius system. :-)

Barbee' said...

Louise: Thank you for coming over to visit and for the nice comment. There are some other container gardeners in Blotanical. You might enjoy reading The Balcony Garden Also, if in Blotanical you filled out the section about your experience, you can see that other people are listed in the Balcony/Apartment Gardener category. Then if you click on the little person image it takes you to a map of the world showing where they are located. Clicking on the flowers on the map takes you to that person's information.

Tejvan Pettinger said...

Some nice pics. I love the caterpillars and butteflies as much as the plants

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Barbee, that was just wonderful. To read your journal and the corresponding photos, it made me so happy.~~Dee

Barbee' said...

Tejvan P.: Thank you for the positive feedback. I do, too. Some of the plants are grown simply because they draw the butterflies into the garden so we can enjoy them.

Dee: Thank you, so much. I didn't know if people would enjoy reading a post in journaling form. I am glad you enjoyed it. It completely confused some people.