Tag Archives: butterfly

Garden bliss

Today was one of those magical garden days where I was incapable of thought.

Incapable of planning.

Incapable of finding fault.

Incapable of tinkering and pulling and snipping.

The garden just was and that felt fucking awesome.

I appreciated all that it took for these visitors to make it here and personally thanked them for bringing my garden to life.

butterfly joe pye 2

 

butterfly joe pye

 

joe pye butterfly 2

 

joe pye butterfly

 

I wish I could remember the exact day when I allowed Joe Pye Weed to come into my life. Because that day should be celebrated each year.

joe pye playroom bed

 

playroom bed

 

planter bed

 

There is nothing like the feeling of the sun burning your neck, the dirt under your fingernails and the feeling of warm earth in your fingertips. But it can be eye opening and rewarding to take a step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor every once in a while.

side bed 4

and then stepping back some more …

side bed 3

and some more …

side bed 2

Shit, I created that and it’s kind of great.

When this blissful type of day arrives, I can even tolerate the clashing of colors because they had to bloom their asses off to clash in the first place.

dwarf sneeze

So why not enjoy them for what they are on their own and not sweat how they interact with others. The fleeting nature of flowers/perennials is why we love them so damn much.

dwarf sneeze 2

 

The fading of flowers is part of the process and one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the years. Sure, I could cut the spent blooms to promote new blooms and keep things all tidy and sometimes I’ll do just that. But allowing the blooms to fade gracefully while others take the lead role just feels right. Take yourself out of the equation.

white coneflower

 

coneflower susan

 

And some times plant combos create themselves through some sort of divine intervention. Like this Anemone bloom crawling up inside this Blue Grama Grass. I have no memories of planting this Anemone and have never successfully seen one bloom in my own garden. Now we sit back and enjoy.

blonde ambition anemone

QOTD – Who is better, “Blissful John” or “Let’s take all the fun and enjoyment out of gardening John”? Not that I can control who appears when, but I’m curious just the same.

 

 

 

 

The latest and not always greatest in the garden

Some observations from out in the garden:

This white bee balm is the only one to have survived last winter and while it is nice to see it blooming, it honestly doesn’t do much for me and the powdery mildew is real bad, worse than with all of the other bee balm. We don’t know until we try, right?

white bee balm

 

Right plant for the right location = happiness, as seen with the Physostegia (Obedient Plant) below. This first photo was taken back in May when I dug up and divided a massive batch of these and relocated them to my newly extended and very empty garden bed.

divided obedient

Two months later and they are thriving in a very wet and full sun location. I am very psyched for the massive pink display to arrive next month.

obedient vivid

 

You’ve all seen all of my numerous pics of Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ and read my raving reviews of this perennial but in the spirit of my last post and with full disclosure, here is the reality of the “legs” on these right now.

veronica bad

Fortunately, I’ve shielded most of them with other low lying plants so the blooms remain the attraction.

veronica good

 

I love how one ‘Karl Foerster’ grass (Calamagrostis) can break up a mass of perennials and not only lend a different height/uprightness, but a different texture as well.

front bed

 

I cleared this area of nasty Canada Thistle by cutting them all at soil level and not by attempting to pull out the roots like a dope which has failed me miserably for years now since it actually multiplies the number of weeds when pieces of root break off.

thistle path

I will now finally track the results properly. Here is one example of the cutting.

thistle cut

And about one week later. I’m going to now cut it back again soon and will continue to do so until it kills itself by sapping all of the plant’s energy. Or so I hope. More to come.

thistle

 

I just purchased a few ‘Delft Lace’ Astilbes solely because I fell in love with the red stems and red tinged foliage. I’ll be sure to track this one for you and hopefully I don’t fry them since you know, they need constant moisture and it is the dead of summer. Smart.

delft astilbe

 

My attempt at a path with a true destination worth visiting.

 

These purplish bee balm are incredible right now and are my favorite current place in the garden. 

planter bed 2

 

planter bed

 

bee balm 2

They are bringing in a ton of visitors. 

hummingmoth 2

 

butterfly bee balm 2

 

Check out all of the action with this video.

QOTD – Where do you purchase most of your plants? And I want specific names and locations please.

Thank you.

 

Butterfly and Bee chasing

I really wish I could record myself as I’m busy chasing around the butterflies and bees. There is nothing goofier than watching a 6 foot 3 inch man run from flower to flower trying to get the perfect shot of one of these creatures. The only thing funnier than watching me gallop around like an infant chasing a balloon, is watching me attempt to get into position for the money shot. It’s like a lesson in how not to perform a yoga move. Downward Dog gone wrong.

So as you look at these photos and the video below, just keep in mind what went into securing them. Know that there is someone on the other end of the camera who puts his own awkwardness aside for the benefit of the reader/viewer. A true selfless man who looks possible injury in the face and pushes on.

I am a warrior.

Grats.

butterfly coneflower

 

butterfly cone flower 2

 

macro 2

 

butterfly bee balm

 

butterfly bee balm 2

 

macro

 

 

Butterfly hunting at the Horseshoe Bend Preserve

I know it is cliche, but it is also dead on – Some of the coolest and most interesting things are in your own backyard.  

When I read the following article this past weekend, it all hit home as I felt excited yet stupid all at the same time:

Horseshoe Bend Preserve is Home to Gray Comma Butterfly

First off, a little background. I literally live right down the street from this park/preserve and have never been there. How that is possible, I don’t know. I wish I had a bunch of valid excuses, but I don’t. I’m just unaware, dumb and lazy.

But even worse than that, is how clueless I was about the battle/negotiation that has been going on for years over the preservation of this land. You can read about all of the details here, but the short of it is that there was approval to build 70+ homes on this land before the Hunterdon Land Trust stepped in and aided in the preservation.

I vaguely remember seeing the battle in the newspapers/media over the years, but not once did I educate myself on the details of the negotiation. And that is a shame. I can pontificate all I want on land preservation but here was a chance to step in and get involved and I didn’t do that. Strike two against me.

So now is where I step in and avoid strike three. It is time to explore and enjoy this treasure and I did just that over the weekend immediately after I read the article above, specifically the phrase – “the big butterfly news of the year”. Are you kidding me? This is the only spot where the Gray Comma Butterfly has been spotted in New Jersey? I am on this and will locate one myself. It reminded me of a search I attempted as kid to find Bigfoot in the woods, except this is a little less terrifying and life altering (long story).

So off I went with camera in hand ready to spot me some rare butterflies. In addition to the Gray Comma, I was also looking for a White M Hairstreak and a Sleepy Orange.

Nothing was going to get in my way.

Upon entering the preserve, you immediately take in the vistas of the Delaware River Valley:

It was stunning and worth the trip just for the views.

I found a spot to park along the side of the road and realized I was the only one around within miles. My Bigfoot nightmares were creeping back in but I fought them off and ventured on.

There were a number of available paths to travel down and I had no idea where to begin:

I eventually settled on the main passageway figuring I was less likely to get lost and eaten by coyotes if I kept it simple. Upon entering into the “forest” I was immediately taken by how the sunlight filtered through the trees:

It was beautiful and a reminder of how this blog started simply as a diary of my own garden but now has given birth to my love of photography. I am light years away from grasping all of the intricacies of photography, but I can tell you “filtered light in the woods” was something that never crossed my mind even three or four years ago.

Just like with yesterday’s post, I was totally digging the early stages of the changes in foliage color as we enter into Autumn:

I may have only hung out in the preserve for 45  minutes or so, but in that time, a whole lot of lightbulbs went off. Besides the aforementioned photography love, I was reminded that plant life is a lot more interesting and diverse beyond the nice clean plants I’ve added to my own garden. I couldn’t tell you the names of any of the plants I cam across in my little sojourn, but I feel determined to change that:

But enough of my life altering discussions, we were here to find those butterflies and become famous better educated. I hunted high and low for any signs of critter activity and the first thing I spotted was this caterpillar that I’ve yet to identify:

Pretty cool but I need more details before I can determine if it was “special”.

But ladies and gentleman, the moment we’ve been waiting for. Did he or didn’t he find the mysterious butterfly?

I am happy to report, after running around like an idiot for minutes on end, I am 95% sure I found the elusive creature. I couldn’t get a perfect shot but I think I got enough to prove that I was a successful butterfly hunter:

What do you think? Let’s compare to a good photo I found online:

  
I think I nailed it right?

I’m liking this A LOT so watch out for more “hunting” in the near future. Not to mention, enjoying what my part of the world has to offer and getting frggin involved once and for all.

Good times.

John

Photographic journey

It is hard for me to believe how little I had photographed my garden and it’s surroundings prior to this year. I spent all my time on digging out new beds and moving plants around with reckless abandon, never stopping to enjoy it all – very task driven.

Well, I now find myself taking out the camera and wandering aimlessly, not really sure what I want to photograph, yet by the end of the sojourn (like that term, huh?), I’ve got a ton of photos to look at and it allows me to sit back and actually enjoy what the garden and the creatures who live in it have to offer.

Here is the latest collection of said shots, and while I am aware of the fact that it may be overkill, I am still too geeked up to stop.

Enjoy.       

The butterflies are in full effect and I’ve even started to attempt to identify them. Good times. 

Monarch

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

I admit to being relatively clueless when it comes to bird identification but I will work my way there soon because I have seen so many different species this year and homey needs to know what they are. Just a few shots I took on a whim.   

Letting nature take it’s course – I have been monitoring the ladybugs to make sure they are properly disposing of the aphids and so far they have been graded out as a C+. They need to get their asses in gear before I step in and take care of business. 

I have actually allowed some “weeds” to mature just to see what they really are, and in some cases, I am digging the results. I don’t know exactly what these purple flowers are, but they have remained within bounds so they can stay.  

My first year with a Yucca (loving it) and the first sign of a new rosette forming next to the plant. Sweet.  

And finally, some blooms to round it all out.

Sedum ‘Matrona’

Phlox ‘David’

Clethra ‘Ruby Spice’

Zinnia mix