Tangled Branches: Cultivated
happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Another Day, Another Proboscis
Now that I've started looking, I'm finding butterfly proboscides everywhere. I was trying to get a decent picture of a Monarch butterfly that was feeding on a Eupatorium coelestinum, and this skipper stopped by for a drink. They're kind of cute with those big eyes, aren't they?
Speaking of Eupatorium coelestinum, I seem to have planted another pretty weed. Why didn't I research this before planting it?
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Didja Ever See
a butterfly proboscis? I thought I didn't have any good butterfly pictures to post, but then I looked more closely at some I took last week. I think this shows the proboscis of a female Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly. I first thought I was looking at part of the flower - one of the stamens or the pistil - but on closer inspection both of those are very light colored. So I'm sticking with the story that I have photographed a proboscis, unless somebody proves me wrong. For some really cool pictures of proboscises (probosci?), see here and here.
Oh, and here's a different picture of the same Eastern Tailed-Blue. It was just luck that I snapped this when she had her wings open.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
We're getting a break from the heat and humidity - enough that it was pleasant to have a cup of tea outside in the sun this morning. Shui Xian tea reminds me of autumn - woody (some say smoky), fruity, and sweet, all at once. Today begins the "Limit of Heat" according to traditional Asian calendars, and it seems to be right on schedule here.
The Passiflora incarnata flowers have outlived the Japanese Beetles and are now blooming in beetle-free bliss. This is an experimental planting, to see if 1) it will bloom where I planted it (yes), and, 2) it will survive the winter (tune in next spring for the answer). I started with one tiny plant this spring, and it's grown to the top of a Burkwood Viburnum (6+ ft.). The first flowers, besides being devoured within hours of opening, were too high in the shrubbery to get a good picture. And I had no idea these were so fragrant - just two open flowers perfume the yard for several feet around.
I'd read that hummingbirds can be territorial and aggressive at feeders, but I always thought that meant nectar feeders. We saw a Dog-in-the-Manger incident on Sunday evening, where a hummingbird chased a cardinal and a house finch away from the sunflower seed feeder.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Butterflies and Caterpillars
DH is a much better photographer than I am, but don't tell him I said so. We were trying out some of the features on his camera over the weekend, and he got a rare shot of a butterfly on the wing. I believe this is the dark form of the female Tiger Swallowtail, even though it doesn't look exactly like the pictures in my field guide. Other views of the same butterfly are here and here.
I got a nice sharp picture of a Spicebush Swallowtail, and a somewhat blurry picture of a Gray Hairstreak (and if you ask me, all pictures of gray hair[streaks] should be blurry).
I happened to look up after I photographed the hairstreak, and noticed one branch of skeletonized leaves on one of my favorite trees. Anybody know offhand what these caterpillars are? I haven't tried to identify them yet.
Looks like I need to take some pictures of flowers - just about all the ones I've posted lately have been of bugs.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
I was going to write a nice cheery note about how it seems we've finally turned the corner with the Japanese beetles. I had only seen one today, and assumed that they'd started to die off. Then I found where they had gone. My Passiflora vine, on which I noticed flower buds several days ago, is now blooming - sort of. There were open flowers. But on those open flowers were a few dozen Japanese beetles.
Well, OK, there's no rescuing the Passiflora blooms, so might as well pick some cherry tomatoes for dinner. That's when I found this. Another bad news/good news sort of thing. Yes, it's a tomato hornworm (or is it tobacco hornworm?), and yes, it chewed off quite a lot of the tomato foliage (bad news), but it's covered in Braconid wasp parasites (good news). So it's going to die soon, but I didn't want it to keep eating the tomato plant until it does - I relocated it.
And we do still have some nice bugs around - this afternoon I got a good picture of a somewhat tattered tiger swallowtail.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
DH arrived home late yesterday afternoon, greeted by his Scolding Wife. She was annoyed that he was late because this was no Ordinary Day - we were planning on Goin' Up to Wolf Trap, where Something Beautiful was about to happen. When I Am King (Queen), husbands will never be late. Further complicating things, we had planned on a quick meal beforehand - I ate as Fast As I Can. As it turned out, the tardiness was Consequence Free and we made the show on time.
Great Big Sea put on a good show - a nice mix of older and newer material, including one from the CD due to be released in October. When I'm Up from a show like that, I can't get down....
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Entangled in What?
Been busy. Sort of on vacation. Seeing new things. I was here, and here, and here, but now I'm back. We're planning some renovation on the house in the near future (not doing it ourselves - thank goodness) so the garden may end up feeling neglected while we dither about what needs to be done.
So what's been going on in the garden while I've been out of it (so to speak)? Well...some good things and some bad things.
- Good things:
- Tomatoes are ripe! And what's more, I've left them on the vine so long that they're very sweet - particularly the Striped Roman.
- The butterflies are finally starting to come around.
- Gloriosa lutea started to bloom. What a cool plant - sort of a floppy-stemmed exotic-looking lily - they cling to their sturdier neighbors using a curling leaf tip.
- One tuberose has begun to bloom (for more, see Bad Things, below)
- The Passiflora I planted this spring has flower buds.
- Bad things:
- A family(?) of hawks has been hanging around the back yard and woods. They were harassing the birds at the feeder, but I let it go empty for a while thinking the hawks would move on. They're still here. There seem to be 3 of them, and my best (not-s0-good) guess is that they're juvenile sharp-shinned hawks (or maybe not).
- Only one out of four surviving tuberoses is blooming and the other three show no signs of sending up flower stalks yet.
- Japanese beetles are still here. The was a article in the Washington Post a few weeks ago about how many Japanese beetles there are this year.
- It's dry here. It hasn't rained since July 27 by my reckoning, and it's been hot in the meantime.