Tangled Branches: Cultivated
happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Better Bugs, Part 2
I'm reluctantly calling this butterfly a Banded Hairstreak. I really wanted it to be a Hickory Hairstreak (uncommon, and in MY yard), but after a lot of study I concluded it's the common, Banded one. I know it's so worn and tattered that it's hard to tell, but the blue spot on the hindwing just doesn't look big enough to make it Hickory Hairstreak.
While I was trying to photograph the hairstreak, a couple of skippers were cavorting nearby. Maybe someday soon I'll try again to identify skippers, but not today. The only one I can identify - the Silver-spotted Skipper - has been around the Buddleia 'Black Knight' for the last few days.
I took a good long walk (without the camera) through the neighborhood yesterday and saw a Red Admiral down by the stream, and several Clouded Sulphurs and Cabbage Whites over a large patch of crown vetch. But where are the Swallowtails? I haven't seen one for weeks.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Tired of looking at bugs I don't like, yesterday I went looking for some I do like. I love Ebony Jewelwing Damselflies, and there are loads of them down in the stream valley behind the house. I took a few gazillion pictures trying to get one good enough to post. The autofocus on the camera just didn't get it. But some of the pictures will do. One shows 3 jewelwings resting on some poison ivy (I didn't really want to lean over into it to get a better picture). One fuzzy picture shows one with open wings (usually they rest with them closed). And one is the best closeup I could get. For some good pictures by a skilled photographer, try this page or this one.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Now it's garden bugs instead of Blogger bugs.
I noticed that the daylilies have thrips. Last year, some of the red flowers were stippled and deformed, but I didn't think too much about it then. This year, almost all show signs of thrip infestation. I'm going to try to control it by daily deadheading and a very thorough cleanup this fall. The light colored flowers don't really show evidence of damage, but the red ones sure do.
And the Japanese beetles are back. I know they never really leave, but the grubs don't bother me as much as the adults. Last year, they did a lot of damage (defoliated) some Cupheas, and of course, they're always all over the roses. This year, the roses are gone and I'm hoping they'll leave me alone. But I'll hand-pick and drown the ones I find anyway. So far the numbers don't seem too high:
- June 26 - 6 caught and drowned
- June 27 - 2 caught and drowned
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Blogger Bug Workaround
Testing a workaround for Blogger's new bug. It seems that sometime last week, someone at Blogger added some HTML styling to all new posts. The new bit of code they added was: <div style="clear:both;"></div> at the beginning of the post and <div style="clear:both; padding-bottom: 0.25em;"></div> at the end of the post. The first set of tags has the effect of forcing your post to start below anything you may have in a sidebar (links to archived posts, for example). I came up with a quick and dirty workaround to add a negative top margin to the post by placed the following tags at the very beginning of the post: </p><p style="clear: none; margin-top: -30em">. If they've broken your template too, you can do the same, but you'll have to fiddle with the amount of negative margin you need to accomodate your sidebar. Then you'll probably have to take it out of the post you just created when you write the next post, but I haven't tested that part yet. Also, you can't preview your posts in the Blogger post editor if you've embedded this code. And I don't see any easy workaround for the end-of-post tags they added.
I have no idea why they did this, but I suspect it has something to do with them now hosting images in posts. I noticed today in reading other blogs hosted by Blogger that they've broken a lot of templates, not just mine.
Any Fawlty Towers fans out there? Remember the one with Dragonfly? No? Oh well, I have lots of real dragonflies here at home lately. The butterflies have deserted me and left dragonflies in their place. I've seen at least 4 different types in the last several weeks. For the last two days around 6 or 7 PM, a golden-brown one has been perching on a twiggy branch in my tomato container. I am guessing that it's sunning itself (if dragonflies do that) in the late-day rays. The sun is partly why the photos are not the best, and the rest of the blame lies with the photographer.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Have you prepared your bonfire for the Midsummer’s Eve celebration? Me neither, but we plan to grill hamburgers tonight.
Well, then did you gather auspicious herbs? No, I didn't do that either, but I did prune the rosemaries and sages this morning. I have no St. John's Wort in the garden either - I managed to kill one of those long ago and never tried again.
While I'm always happy to regard the winter solstice as the midpoint of the winter, summer seems too short as it is. For summer, I like to think of the solstice as the beginning of the season. Besides, we really haven't had all that much hot weather yet, and my daylilies are just now starting to bloom.....
Something has happened to my stylesheet formatting. No idea what. Will look at it later after the Midsummer celebration.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Galtonia candicans, or Summer Hyacinth, is a new plant for my garden this year. I expected it to bloom much later in the summer, but it started several days (weeks?) ago. So far I'm happy with the plant, but not so happy with where I put it. It's a very sturdy-looking exclamation point, and I've got it crowded in next to a PeeGee Hydrangea and a variegated Hydrangea macrophylla (mariesii variegata?). It needs more room to express itself. So......it's supposed to be hardy here, but I may dig it up this fall and replant in a more suitable spot next spring. Or.....just leave it and see if it comes up next year, and if not, buy more and put them in a more suitable spot. I'm also wondering how the foliage looks by the end of the summer. If it looks ratty, I'll dig it up sooner rather than later. And, although it's said to be fragrant, I don't detect any scent at all. Maybe this is one of those nighttime fragrance things?
Monday, June 20, 2005
Big Rocky Run Trail
After a long pause, we returned to Big Rocky Run Trail yesterday. A pleasant day for a walk - more like autumn than summer. (Today is even more like autumn - I wore a sweatshirt working in the garden this morning.) I took some pictures of interesting plants along the trail, and I found a milkweed whose identity I don't know. It was all alone, with one inflorescence in a very vivid shade of pink - very eyecatching among all the green leaves along the trail. I thought at first it was swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, but the leaves aren't the same. Possibly purple milkweed, Asclepias purpurascens? This was in a rather shady area.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Remember just a few weeks ago how I was whining about how cold and wet it was? Now it's too hot. And we could use some rain. Everything dries out in a hurry in the heat. I set up my copper sprinkler on some of the newer plantings in the woods this afternoon. This isn't much of a serious sprinkler, but more a decorative item (cheap and easy substitute for a fountain). Almost as soon as I turned it on, the songbirds came by to see what was going on and to get cooled off. I let the seed feeder go empty because I wanted to encourage the grackles to move on, and all the other birds dispersed too. The sprinkler brought them back for a short while.
I've seen baby bunnies in the yard the last couple of days. Sunday, the crows were squawking at something, and soon I saw a hawk fly just above the trees with something small and brown in its talons. Didn't get a good look, but did see a baby bunny again on Monday, so if that's what it had, it didn't get them all. The bunnies are so cute when they're little and although they do some damage in the garden, it's tolerable.
What is not going to be tolerable is when the deer show up. We've been seeing them lately during our morning walks in the woods behind the house and I think it's just a matter of time. The patch of woods around the stream valley in back of the house isn't all that large and seeing deer back there used to be a rare thing. They keep getting squeezed into smaller and smaller habitats around here - all the remaining woods are being cleared for housing. And the developers are no longer leaving some of the trees intact the way they used to. Just bulldoze everything, and pack the houses as close together as they can. Or worse yet, townhouses or condos. More people, more cars, more pollution. I was out driving today and starting thinking "Gee my windshield must be really dirty", then realized that no, that's just the air - brown and thick. Maybe we'll get a good downpour and wash the air clean for a while again (...ending where I started this post...).
Two Tiny Mice
Thanks to info from Lily at Cox Farms, I now have 2 'Tiny Mice' Cupheas. That's the good news. The bad news is that the hummingbird(s) like the feeder so much that the flowers are ignored. Maybe they'll find the flowers more attractive later in the summer?
Friday, June 10, 2005
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Been busy all week getting ready to get out of town. We have a big, conglomerated family celebration this weekend - 2 graduations and a birthday. So, blogging has to wait.
Couple of things worth mentioning though: the rosebay rhododendrons are in bloom, and the hummingbird was back this morning and - here's the good part - she was actually using the feeder. This is a first in my backyard. The first hummingbird feeder I had attracted only ants and bees. This is the second, but very shortly after I put it up last year the squirrels knocked it down and broke one of the perches. I didn't bother to put it back up. Now this year with the dome from the Big Top feeder over it, the squirrels have so far left it alone.
Back online sometime next week.......hope it rains while I'm gone.