Take time to look up!
Looking a bit ragged now, Verbena bonariensis has been a hot spot in the garden for weeks. When not occupied by 7 or 8 American Goldfinches swaying gently on it, bees and butterflies are seen enjoying it.
I can’t seem to get a picture of the goldfinches but it has been fun to track the pollinators around even just after noon on this scorching day. Finding the verbena an irresistible lunch was today’s special visitor, a lovely Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).
I did not think to use slow-motion video, but this 10-second clip will give you a sense of the butterfly’s fluttering lifestyle. (Also try setting the playback speed).
Before seeing this one today, I’ve observed three other Black Swallowtails (one on July 21, 2015 and believe it or not, two exactly a year apart on August 27, 2015 and August 27, 2016) and this caterpillar on July 20, 2015.
(By the way, it’s too late to tell me I shouldn’t have planted Aegopodium…just one of many garden aggressors.)
Are you observing lots of butterflies this summer?
I spotted a large dragonfly Tuesday evening and yesterday had time to photograph it. For a long while it flitted about the garden, moving quickly away as I approached, until finally relenting, it selected an unattractive backdrop for perching. I still couldn’t get close enough for a good image, but the picture was clear enough to help with identification. (I googled to come up with a suggested ID, and had it confirmed this morning through iNaturalist, a fun and helpful tool for verifying garden visitors.)
As often is the case when I discover an unknown creature in my garden, my discovery yesterday proved to be an insect common across the Piedmont of North Carolina where I live as well as across the entire state and much of the US: Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa).
It doesn’t have to be rare to be interesting though. Good to know there will always be lots to learn about in this world and when the time is right, connections can be made.
Friday and Saturday the garden gratefully welcomed more rainfall. By mid-morning Saturday the showers had stopped and I hurried out to see the first daylily blooms of the summer.
The garden is taking on a summer look.
Only a few Shasta daisies have opened. There are many tight buds.
Monarda and cleome have been blooming about a week.
Though not very tall, much of this pink yarrow was flattened by the rain.
Scattered throughout the borders, Purple coneflower is having a good year. Last year it scarcely made an impact at all.
The color and form varies widely.
I especially like the white echinacea, but it does not spread like its pink relatives.
A couple of weeks ago the weather was unseasonably hot and dry. These are photos from May 27, 2019. Lots of butterflies were visiting the garden then, flitting from one flower to the next (especially popular was Verbena bonariensis—must be quite tasty.) This is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). Females are dimorphic and can be yellow or nearly black. Blue spots along the hindwing indicate this yellow form is female.
At some point this swallowtail apparently escaped a bad encounter, but managed to get back to lunch.
At first I thought this next one was a female dark morph of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail—I noticed it nectaring on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue.’ The coloring didn’t quite seem right though and I finally decided it is a Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus). The spicebush has blue markings, one of which is missing its orange spot.
I followed the same butterfly around the garden. It stopped to enjoy the Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ before moving on to the verbena.
Verbena and penstemon are also popular with bees. Shown here is an Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) sampling the buffet.
My husband and I began a six-week mindfulness meditation class yesterday. Among the exercises for the first week is one to choose an activity that you often do in automatic pilot and pay special attention to the activity, to what is happening right now.
My mind jumped immediately to the garden, thinking a stroll around the garden would be a great activity for noticing what is happening in this moment, becoming aware of sights, sounds, textures, colors. But this is expressly one activity that I never do in autopilot. Being in the garden naturally leads to curiosity, exploring, slowing down and savoring each moment.
Here is a sampling of the garden in early June, a few things that help me pause and just notice.
What are you savoring in your garden this June?