Friday, August 30, 2013

Bulbucus ibis and a Glimpse of Deer

He-Who-Mows wanted to mow bushes (actually black cherry trees) in the far pasture. I insisted on going along to make sure he mowed as few as possible of Silk Grass, White Joe Pye Weed and False Foxglove. We drove around in the Mule and I pointed out important spots to leave.

Eupatorium with butterflies

It finally came down to this: "Mow ONLY those big bushes with the big leaves. LEAVE White things, Silvery things and Bright Green things. You are mowing bushes, not a lawn." I sat there until he finished. 

While I sat there, two does came out from his general direction and ran to what I call 'the 3-acre wood.' I got a pic of them, the next view was just  the woods they melted into.  The lead deer is diagonally down to the left of the light pole near the center of the picture. I think I've persuaded him not to mow any more for fear of hitting a little fawn hidden in the grass. I want meadows, but it's not really time to mow. Too much habitat at stake.

 I got pics of cattle egrets following the tractor to catch insects disturbed by the mower.

 Notice the zig-zag path down the opposite hill, leaving clumps of Bluestem while taking out bushes.
  Those birds found the wide cut a treat.

Bulbucus ibis are herons, commonly called Cattle Egrets. During mating season they have tan markings. Right now they are snowy white. They  have up to a 3 foot wing span. I know they're glad to see water in the pond again.

I was curious as to what kind of diet they eat. I found a little book called The Wilson Bulletin published in 1912 in which the author wrote:
Food of fifty meals of young White Ibis: 352 cut-worms, 308 grasshoppers, 602 crayfish, 42 small moccasins. 
Egrets are most welcome to whatever they find around the pond!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday in a Truly Wild Garden

Actually the pictures are from the other day when I went to see how much water was in the pond in my wildflower area. This area grows as nature plants except for mowed paths so that I can navigate from one view to another.

On the right is a patch of Agalinis, almost ready to bloom. In preparation for all that pinky purple bloom, Buckeye butterflies are flocking to the Gerardia and laying eggs. Caterpillars abound.

Buckeye caterpillar

Buckeye on wild Lantana and view of wing underside on Pentas in my regular garden.
Buckeyes have 'eyes' to scare predators. The underside blends into the background when they're still.

 Silk Grass put up tall pale bloom heads among scattered Agalinis here. Soon Silk Grass will have abundant yellow flowers.

Eupatorium sp. Boneset is already in bloom.

Elephantapus is already starting to bloom, more abundant this year than ever.
I'm not seeing Rabbit Tobacco at all. Weather dictates what grows in a given year.

Sumac had white blooms and berries, when berries 
turn red I know it is the good kind, not poison.

Sumac berries, deer treats.

Patches of Sumac underneath Live Oaks with Resurrection fern on limbs and Spanish Moss

Other Live Oaks have groves of Beautyberry which is now in that stage between blooms and Purple Berries. It's a haven for Wildlife.

Wildflower Wednesday is hosted at Clay and Limestone where Blue Mist is the Wildflower of the Day and many others have joined with their astonishing wildflowers.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Grasses and a White Bed and more Butterflies

So many pics pile up that it is hard to keep up with what I meant to tell and show you. There are a dozen or more butterfly pictures including a Skipper and an RSP that has finally tamed enough to sit still for portraits.


Satiated with butterflies I was beginning to neglect showing what is growing and blooming.

Cymbopogon citratus Lemon Grass
Descriptions of Lemon Grass always mention that it is used in Thai cooking.
Rarely there is mention of its lemon taste that even attracts my pets who chew it.

I did not come easily to using grasses in the garden, having grown up with the notion of  grasses being 'weedy.' The trick is to make them look intentional. Here they form a border edge.

Madagascar Periwinkles plant themselves annually.

Plans for the south side of the greenhouse did not come together exactly
as planned. Copious rains melted Sweet William, of which very few plants
survive. White Pentas did very well, the few planted.

White Lantana is a hit. I rooted 6 last winter and let them die for lack of watering.
Started over with one and now there are 3 plants in the bed and
4 extras yet to plant.

Pentas! I've changed from favoring the reds and
bright pinks to white and pale pink.

Purple Alternanthera planted itself here. The greenhouse is full of it. Time to cut it back. It is a
grand filler and foil for pale greens, toughter than Coleus and can stand a drought.

Chartreuse Alternanthera with Graptopetalum, Periwinkles and a leggy
Datura. Chartreuse Alternanthera, the trade calls it yellow.

Red Spotted Purple

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Spicebush Swallowtail Courtship Dance

Butterflies become more of a challenge when one already has hundreds of pics from which to choose. I captured this little drama today in my garden:

Spicebush Swallowtail Courtship Dance from Jean Campbell on Vimeo.

A male Spicebush Swallowtail is frantically courting a female of the same species. She goes right on nectaring on white Pentas. A bumblebee beside them is also unflappable, visiting the starflowers as if he doesn't notice their antics. You then see a Pipevine Swallowtail fly into the fray, not once but twice. I'm not sure what prompts a different species to do that, breaking up a potential romance.

Susie and I talked about the white Pentas today. She said that Miss Julie was not so impressed with the white and pale pink at first. We agree that they certainly attract swallowtails and are among the strongest growers. It's time to start taking cuttings.

Friday, August 23, 2013

What I Know about Buckeye Butterflies

When I went to the wild end of the farm today, Buckeyes were everywhere. I stopped my Mule and just sat until they settled enough to get a few pics. Most were blurred.

Good view of a Gulf Frit, blurry Buckeye.

Buckey with wings closed
Buckeye on Lantana.

There were many buckeyes fluttering around the stems of Agalinis.
I've seen Buckeye caterpillars on toadflax and on snapdragons.
This time of year adult Buckeyes are wild for Agalinis, false snapdragon.
Agalinis bloom will coincide with the emerging of many of these larvae into adults.
We see several broods of Buckeyes every year. Some adults stay over through the winter and some larvae will overwinter to hatch in spring.
A sidelight of my butterfly tour was seeing the limesink underwater. There is a limesink hole about 5 feet across and maybe that deep just in front of the tree to the left, identified by the green weeds growing in it. The dark area around it is water, so the limesink is holding water. Right now everything is holding water, including the ruts where the tractor ran.  This is as close as I dared.
Last year Agalinis grew where the pond had dried up. This year there are drifts of it everywhere.
The rest of the pics are of caterpillars on Agalinis.

My pics of very young instars were too blurry to see.
The small early caterpillars are orange in color, the near ready to eclose look as if they're wearing black and white plaid jackets.


I'll leave you with a Buckeye on Tithonia in my Front Garden.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Late Summer Lilies: Rhodofiala

They suddenly spring from the earth, where there was one stalk yesterday, there are four today.

These happen to be planted with Purple Heart. I can't remember if that was deliberate.

More of these are in the upper garden. No sign of them today. They may appear at any time.

I worried because the literature says to hold back watering mid-summer. Who'll stop the rain?

I wonder who nibbled on this blossom?

Spider lilies(Lycoris radiata) follow oxblood lilies (Rhodophiala bifida) in my garden. So far there are no signs of red Spider Lilies but they are likely to emerge between now and September, followed by Sternbergia.

Linking to Tootsie Time for Flaunt Your Flowers on Fertilizer Friday.

Please join us to see what's blooming and show your blossoms.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Goodbye, Wisteria. Maybe

We are never totally free of Wisteria. I hacked a little more than usual. It imploded upon itself. Pictures tell the story.

I've hacked more since the pics.