May 15, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Hooray–our milkweed plants shipped from Missouri Monday and should arrive to Gloucester by Thursday!!!
Plants will be available for pick up at Captain Joe and Sons, 95 East Main Street, Saturday morning at 9:00am and we will be there all morning until noon. Felicia is helping and we will have coffee for everyone. Written instructions will be provided on how to take care of your plants. Looking forward to seeing you all at the first ever Monarch~Milkweed Mug Up!
I did not collect the funds ahead of time. Please everybody, if you ordered plants, be sure to pick-up Saturday morning. I am counting on you!! If the project is successful, we will do this again later in the season, with Seaside Goldenrod and New England Asters, but we can only have another plant sale if everyone honors their commitment. Thank you!!
For more detailed information, see previous posts:
WOW and WONDEFUL—150 milkweed plants ordered!!! (Actually, 190 plants were ordered!!)
May 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Thank you to everyone participating in the Cape Ann Milkweed Project!
Monarch Butterfly Nectaring at Common Milkweed ~ Good Harbor Beach
Milkweed may not be for everyone’s garden; even if you did not order plants, you are welcome to come on down to the dock Saturday morning, the 18th of May, and learn more about the Monarch-milkweed connection. The plants are being shipped on Monday the 13th and I will keep you updated on their progress.
April 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
Order Your Milkweed Plants Today!
In case you missed the details see Sunday’s Post: Cape Ann Milkweed Project
Tonight I am placing the order for the milkweed plants. Please get your orders in.
Thank you, thank you to Everyone participating in our Cape Ann Milkweed Project!!!
Newly Emerged Monarch Butterflies. I called these two butterflies the” Twins,” because they completed every stage of their life cycle within moments of each other, including pupating and emerging from their chrysalides.
April 29, 2013 § 1 Comment
Order Your Milkweed Plants Today!
Monarch Chrysalis on Rib of Common Milkweed Leaf
Everyone who wrote in yesterday and placed an order has been recorded. Anyone interested in ordering either Common or Marsh Milkweed today, please place your order in the comment section of this post or yesterday’s post, which explains the project, and includes all details. Don’t forget to specify whether you are interested in Common or Marsh Milkweed and how many plants you would like.
Thank you so much to everyone who is participating. Keep the orders coming!
Monarch Caterpillars Feeding on Milkweed in the Summer…
Equals Millions of Monarchs in the Fall!!!
April 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
Order Your Milkweed Plants Today!
In March I shared an article about bringing back the Monarch Butterflies. Great interest in planting milkweed was expressed by many. The way to bring as many Monarchs as possible to our region is to help recreate the butterfly’s habitat in our own gardens. The number one way to do this is by planting native wildflowers, milkweed for the summer caterpillars, and asters and goldenrod for the fall migrants. Number two is to make a commitment not to use pesticides, which will indiscriminately kill all the creatures that your milkweed plants invite to your garden.
Milkweed is the only food plant of the Monarch caterpillar and the flower is a fantastic source of nectar for myriad species of bees and butterflies.
So many readers wrote in requesting milkweed plants that my friend Joey from Good Morning Gloucester blog has very generously offered his place of business—Captain Joe and Sons—as our go-to-place for picking up plants!! It’s going to be a super fun morning–stop by with your coffee, visit, learn about milkweed and Monarchs, and pick up your order.
Please place your order today or tomorrow. I am not pre-collecting the money and am fronting the funds to purchase plants. I don’t want to have dozens of homeless plants, so I am asking everyone to please be on the honor system.
We are ordering two types of milkweed. The cost is 7.00 per plant, which will come in a 3.5 inch square pot. The plants are on the smallish side however, that is the ideal size for shipping and transplanting milkweed. I am writing instructions for planting and they will be provided at the time of purchase.
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the milkweed we see most typically growing in our dunes, meadows, roadsides, and fields. It grows quickly and spreads vigorously by underground runners. This is a great plant if you have an area of your garden that you want to devote entirely to milkweed. It prefers full sun, will tolerate some shade, and will grow in nearly any type of soil. The flowers are dusty mauve pink and have a wonderful honey-hay sweet scent.
Marsh Milkweed (Aclepias incarnata) is more commonly found in marshy areas, but it grows beautifully in gardens. It does not care for dry conditions. These plants are very well-behaved and are more clump forming, rather than spreading by underground roots. The flowers are typically a brighter pink than Common Milkweed.
Monarchs deposit their eggs readily on both types of milkweed and in my garden I grow Common Milweed and Marsh Milkweed side-by-side.
The cost of the plants includes shipping from Missouri. Hopefully everyone will be good and if they place an order, will honor their commitment. If there is any money beyond what was spent on plants and shipping we will donate it to the ongoing fundraising drive for the Rocky Neck Cultural Center purchase of the beautiful center on Wonson Street.
Plant pick-up is at Captain Joe and Sons, 95 East Main Street, Gloucester, on Saturday, May 18th from 9:00am to 12noon. If you cannot pick up your plants at that time, please ask a friend.
My order to the nursery is being placed on Tuesday night, so please get your orders in asap. Place Your Milkweed Order in the comment section of this post. Be sure to indicate which type of milkweed, Common or Marsh, and number of plants.
Our deepest thanks to everyone who is participating.
Rain date pick up: Sunday, May 19th from 9am to 12noon.
March 30, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Snapshots from last night’s fabulously fun opening at Cape Ann Giclee.
Eaves Family left to right ~ Yianni, Anna, Dimitri, and James
Thank you Anna and James Eaves for hosting the First Ever Good Morning Gloucester/FOB/Cape Ann Gilcee photography show, running now through April 7th. The quality of work in the show is simply outstanding. Come on over and have a look, meet Anna and James, and learn about the services Cape Ann Giclee provides for all your photography and fine art reproduction needs. Cape Ann Giclee is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm. While the GMG show is up through April 7th, they are also open on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.
March 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
I am going to look into purchasing a large quanity of milkweed seedlings at wholesale prices for anyone in our community interested in cultivating milkweed. If interested, please leave a comment in the comment section, which will help give me an idea, very approximately, on how many plants to order. You can also wait until the fall and sow ripened milkweed seedpods. (Note: Please do not dig up any wild milkweed).
The following timely news release was in my inbox this morning!
MONARCH WATCH ANNOUNCES
‘BRING BACK THE MONARCHS’ CAMPAIGN
“In real estate it’s location, location, location and for monarchs and other wildlife it’s habitat, habitat, habitat”, said Chip Taylor, Director of Monarch Watch. Monarch Watch (www.MonarchWatch.org) started in 1992 as an outreach program dedicated to engaging the public in studies of monarchs and is now concentrating its efforts on monarch conservation. “We have a lot of habitat in this country but we are losing it at a rapid pace. Development is consuming 6,000 acres a day, a loss of 2.2 million acres per year. Further, the overuse of herbicides along roadsides and elsewhere is turning diverse areas that support monarchs, pollinators, and other wildlife into grass-filled landscapes that support few species. The adoption of genetically modified soybeans and corn have further reduced monarch habitat. If these trends continue, monarchs are certain to decline, threatening the very existence of their magnificent migration”, said Taylor.
To address these changes and restore habitats for monarchs, pollinators, and other wildlife, Monarch Watch is initiating a nationwide landscape restoration program called “Bring Back The Monarchs.” The goals of this program are to restore 20 milkweed species, used by monarch caterpillars as food, to their native ranges throughout the United States and to encourage the planting of nectar-producing native flowers that support adult monarchs and other pollinators.
This program is an outgrowth of the Monarch Waystation Program started by Monarch Watch in 2005. There are now over 5,000 certified Monarch Waystations – mostly habitats created in home gardens, schoolyards, parks, and commercial landscaping. “While these sites contribute to monarch conservation, it is clear that to save the monarch migration we need to do more,” Taylor said. “ We need to think on a bigger scale and we need to think ahead, to anticipate how things are going to change as a result of population growth, development, changes in agriculture, and most of all, changes in the climate,” said Taylor.
According to Taylor we need a comprehensive plan on how to manage the fragmented edges and marginal areas created by development and agriculture since it is these edges that support monarchs, many of our pollinators, and the many forms of wildlife that are sustained by the seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, and foliage that result from pollination. “In effect,” Taylor argues, “we need a new conservation ethic, one dealing with edges and marginal areas that addresses the changes of the recent past and anticipates those of the future.”
The above photo of a male (right) and female (left) Monarch Butterflies on Marsh Milkweed is part of the GMG/Cape Ann Giclee photography show, currently on view at Cape Ann Giclee.
March 29, 2013 § 3 Comments
The above photo of a male (right) and female (left) Monarch Butterflies on Marsh Milkweed is part of the GMG/Cape Ann Giclee Photography show, opening tonight, Friday. Hope to see you there!
I am often asked the following question at my butterfly and pollinator garden design lectures. How exactly are Monsanto’s products ravaging the Monarch Butterfly population?
First, it is important to understand that all butterfly caterpillars rely on plant foods specific to each species of butterfly. For example, Monarch caterpillars only eat members of the milkweed family, Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat plants in the carrot family, and Heliconian butterflies eat plants in the passionflower family. Some caterpillars, like the larvae of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail eat plants from a wide range of plant families. That being said, it is worth repeating that Monarch caterpillars only survive on members of the milkweed family.
Imagine a farm with row upon row of corn. Growing amongst and around the edges of the cornfields are wildflowers of all sorts, including milkweed. The wildflowers draw to the fields myriad pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds.
Monsanto has genetically modified the seed of corn and soybeans so that it will withstand extremely heavy doses of its herbicide, called Roundup. Monsanto’s corn and soybean seed is actually called Roundup Ready. Roundup Ready plants can withstand massive doses of the herbicide Roundup, but the milkweed and other wildflowers growing in the corn and soybean fields cannot.
Each year massive amounts of Roundup are sprayed on the corn and soybean fields, killing everything in sight, except the Roundup Ready corn and soybean. Additionally, Monsanto’s Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which has been tied to more health and environmental problems than you can possibly imagine.
Now imagine you are a Monarch Butterfly, having flown hundreds of miles northward towards breeding grounds of milkweed. But there is no milkweed to deposit your eggs. The circle in the chain of life is broken.
Since the use of genetically modified Roundup Ready began, milkweed has disappeared from over 100 million acres of row crops, or a roughly 58 percent decrease. Milkweed is not only the Monarch caterpillar host (or food) plant, the nectar-rich florets provide nourishment for hundreds of species of bees and other Lepidoptera.
The Monarch Butterfly migration is one of the great migrations of the world. Climate change and the loss of habitat are also factors in the decrease of butterflies. The Mexican government and the people of Mexico have enacted policies to help protect from logging the remaining oyamel fur trees in the Monarchs winter habitat.
There are several steps that we in the United States can undertake. 1) Avoid as much as possible genetically modified food, especially corn and soybean products. 2) If you own shares of Monsanto stock, get rid of it (Monsanto also developed Agent Orange). Thirdly, we need to start a national movement to cultivate milkweed and to create awareness about the important role wildflowers play in our ecosystem.
Calling Everyone: Plant Milkweed! No matter how small or large your garden, give a spot over to milkweed and watch your garden come to life!
March 21, 2013 § 1 Comment
October 8, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I sent the following to my friend Joe a few days ago (Joe is the creator and Editor-in-Chief of the blog for which I am a daily contributor, Good Morning Gloucester): Thought you would like to know–Several days ago, at sunset, I was filming B roll at the Eastern Point Lighthouse. A German couple was there, with binoculars, and they had just arrived from Germany. I asked what they were looking for and they said, “Monarchs,” because they had seen all my butterfly postings on Good Morning Gloucester. Sometimes I think I am posting TMI about butterflies, but I thought you would think this pretty funny, and amazing; straight away from Germany to Logan to Gloucester, for butterflies!
To the lovely couple from Germany that was at the Lighthouse yesterday: Come on down to the dock to get your Good Morning Gloucester sticker and meet Joey C, the creator of Good Morning Gloucester. He’d love to meet you! Captain Joe and Sons is located at 95 East Main Street.
October 7, 2012 § 1 Comment
Inquiring minds want to know, “Where do the Monarchs go?” I am often asked this question, not by children, but by adults. Most children have studied, or are studying, the butterfly life cycle and the have some degree of knowledge about the Monarch migration. The reason the majority of adults never learned about the Monarch butterfly migration is because the great mystery of their winter destination was only discovered as recently as 1975! The Monarchs that are journeying through Gloucester at this time of year travel approximately 2,000 miles to the transvolcanic mountaintops of south central Mexico, near the town of Angangueo. I have the National Geographic issue from 1975 that tells the tale of one man’s determination, including all the scientific intrigue that goes with great discoveries, and I will try to post more about this fascinating story in the coming weeks.
As everyone who reads my blog probably knows by now, I am in the midst of shooting my Monarch film. What you may not know is that I have written and illustrated a book that tells the story of this most exquisite of creatures and its extraordinary journey. I am hoping to find a publisher. Just putting this out there ~ If anyone knows a friend of a friend of a friend, or has a suggestion for a very high quality publisher or top-notch agent, please let me know. Thank you.
September 21, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Click the photo to view larger and you will see the little Monarch flakes heading into the cherry tree. The clustering Monarchs are well-camoflouged by the autumn foliage nonetheless, their silhouettes are clearly visible in the setting sun.
Another passel of Monarchs poured onto the Point Thursday at dusk, carried in by the warm southerly breeze. Overnight the wind shifted, coming in from the northeast, and by day break Friday morning, the Monarchs had flown from the trees, carried to shores further south by the blustery tailwind.
September 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Registration is still open however, my close-up photography workshop, Nature in Focus, is nearly full. The workshop will be will beheld at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard, at the Hunnewell Building, on Sunday September 3oth, at 9:00 am. I especially love teaching at the Arnold Arboretum. The facilities are beautiful, the staff wonderfully helpful, and September is a particularly gorgeous month to visit the gardens of the Arboretum. I hope you can join me!
|Nature in Focus: Taking Great Close-ups Kim Smith, Photographer and Filmmaker1 Session: Sunday, September 30, 9:00am–NoonLocation: Hunnewell BuildingLearn tips for taking great close-up photographs from celebrated butterfly and garden photographer Kim Smith. Through slides and hands on demonstrations, Kim will guide you in capturing the beauty of the flora and fauna found in nature. Bring your camera and questions, and a tripod if you have one. You will gain more from the class if first you familiarize yourself with your camera’s manual. (Note: This is not a macro-photography class.) See examples of Kim’s great images.
Fee $40 member, $55 nonmemb
September 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Recently I attended a lecture given by an expert in a field to which I am passionately involved. I was really looking forward to this lecture and I have on many occasions actively promoted this lecturer. To get to the point, I was stunned to recognize that the third photo into the slideshow was one of my own photos, and it was presented without acknowledgement. I sat stupefied listening to the rest of the lecture. I hoped that no other photos of mine were part of the presentation. Unfortunately that was not the case. One of the last photos presented was one of my best selling photographs and the audience was audibly moved by the photo. It would have been so simple at that point to say something like, “Thanks to Kim Smith, the photographer, who is here with us this evening.”
The following morning I wrote the lecturer a very polite email stating that I don’t mind sharing my work. I simply requested that he use any one of several photos that I attached for him, with my name discreetly added in the lower right corner. In reply I received a curt and condescending note from the lecturer stating he would delete my photos from his presentation and from his files.
I spent three freezing hours before a long workday in a windy wet field hoping to get that shot that the lecturer was using as part of his presentation. Taking credit, either by claiming it as your own, or by lack of acknowledgement is unethical, at the very least. I really empathize with people who experience more extreme cases of appropriation. Some may find this case to be relatively minor; I found it totally unnerving.
I love to share information and photos about wildflowers and butterflies—as my new friend Hannah says, “You am working for the butterflies.” I blame myself for not watermarking the photos, although I believe very sincerely that most people are honest, have integrity, and give credit when credit is due. For example, when Maggie Harper, the producer from the television show Chronicle, borrowed my Greasy Pole footage, they not only ran my name across the top of the footage, they also provided a link to my blog on the Chronicle website. Maggie had seen the footage on Good Morning Gloucester and contacted Joey, who graciously provided her with my contact information. From the Chronicle link, I received many thousands of hits on my own blog. As another example, when a non-profit national wildflower organization wanted to use several photos for their publication, I gladly said yes, and only requested that I receive a photo credit, which they did provide. I am honored and touched beyond measure that people enjoy my photos and films. My policy is the same as many artists in that I request that if someone wishes to use my work for presentation, that they would please let me know, prior to use.
Enough with all that. Many have written requesting information about this year’s Monarch Butterfly migration. I have been shooting daily hours and hours of video and still photos and will be sharing all. I have figured out how to add a watermark in photo shop, but am hoping to find a more efficient and faster method of adding a signature.
Happy Last Days of Summer!
Many more photos from this year’s migration to come.
September 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
While I am finishing editing my Black Swallowtail film, I am also shooting footage for my film about the Monarch butterflies. I am looking for scenes of wildflower meadows and drifts–milkweed, asters, and goldenrod, for example. If you have a favorite place and know of such a scene on Cape Ann (accessible to the public) or are willing to allow me to come film and photograph on your property, please let me know. There is no extensive equipment involved, just me and my camera and tripod. Please feel free to email me directly at email@example.com. Thank you.
September 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Butterfly caterpillars molt four or five times as they grow. Each different caterpillar stage is called an instar.
In the photo below you can see the caterpillar’s crumpled discarded exoskeleton.
Molting Monarch Caterpillar
The caterpillar first grows a new skin under its old skin. Then the caterpillar draws its head out of its head capsule. Occasionally it will need to use its front legs to help remove the head capsule. Next the caterpillar crawls out of its old skin. This is called molting. After the molt and while the new skin is soft and pliable the caterpillar swallows a lot of air, which expands the body. As the new exoskeleton hardens it lets out the air to allow room to grow.
Molting takes a great deal of energy and after each molt, the caterpillar rests quietly for a brief period before then eating its discarded exoskeleton.
September 10, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Sneezeweed, Butterfly Weed, Ironweed, Milkweed, Joe-pye Weed–these are names European colonists assigned to the wildflowers they found growing in North America. Is it any wonder these native beauties have long been overlooked for gardens. The name Butterfly Weed gives us a clue that what to the early settlers was a “weed,” is a pollinator’s dream.
“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
For the past week, our blooming patch of six-feet-tall Joe-pye Weed has been covered in a bevy of butterflies including more Painted Ladies than ever I even imagined visiting our garden, dozens of newly emerged Monarch butterflies, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Question Marks, and thousands of bees.
The Eupatorium growing in the Harbor Walk Gardens is a lower growing species called ‘Baby Joe,’ and it too is as equally attractive to the pollinators.
September 10, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The Ciaramitaro Family stopped by Willowdale for a tour of the butterfly gardens. We were lucky to see several Monarchs and dozens of Painted Ladies.
Madeline was determined that a butterfly would climb onto her finger–first trying the Painted Ladies and then very, very patiently, and holding very, very still, encouraging the Monarchs. She was thrilled when one did–and it did so several times–very sweet to see her joy. Madeline and Eloise were expertly identifying the male and female Monarchs and explaining to all in how to tell the difference.
August 5, 2012 § 1 Comment
For Devera, who wrote in asking how to tell the difference between a male and female Monarch Butterfly ~
Click photos to view large.
The first photos shows all male Monarch Butterflies necatring at Seaside Goldenrod. Notice the pair of little black pockets, or dots, on the inner vein of the hind wings. These are pockets of pheromones, or what scientists actually refer to as “love dust,” which the male sprinkles on the female during courtship.
The female Monarch Butterfly lacks the the black pockets on her hind wings. Notice too that her wing veination is thicker and smokier.
During courtship, male and female join, and he carries her to higher ground. This photo shows the male and female mating, with the male above.
August 3, 2012 § Leave a Comment
June 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Last summer the Ciaramitaro girls stopped by our garden to see a newly emerged Monarch butterfly. After releasing the butterfly, Eloise wanted to learn more about the Monarchs, and butterflies in general. This year she remembered from their visit the previous year that the Monarch caterpillar food plant is milkweed. Eloise, who I am convinced is a budding naturalist and artist, is an avid gardener (just ask her about her vegetable patch!), so I promised her milkweed plants. We scouted out a sunny a corner of the family’s yard and, after mom Jill helped dig up the sod, we planted a petite butterfly garden, with Common Milkweed for the Monarchs, parsley and fennel for the Black Swallowtails, and marigolds to attract the nectaring insects. We’re looking forward to their first butterfly sightings!
June 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Reminder to save the date ~ A week from Tuesday, on the evening of June 12th, I am giving a tour of the butterfly gardens at Willowdale Estate. We will be showing my short film about the gardens at Willowdale and Briar’s delicious refreshments will be served. I am very excited to share the gardens and show how to translate this information to your own garden. I hope you can join us for what promises to be a lovely evening!
R.S.V.P. to Info@WillowdaleEstate.com.
February 22, 2012 § Leave a Comment
“Beauty and seduction, I believe, is nature’s tool for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with.” –Louie Schwartzberg
Friends who are aware of my butterfly and nature film projects send me the most exquisite images and links to films and videos. Thank you Emily for sharing The Hidden Beauty of Pollination, created by Louis Schwartzberg, award winning photogragher and cinemetagrapher, who has been filming time-lapse flowers and pollinators for over thirty years. Once on youtube, click the icon to see the full screen version, which is without a doubt the best way to view this extraordinary short film (only about 7 minutes in length). The second link leads to a brief talk given by Schwartzberg, also very well worth seeing.
The second sentence in Schwartzberg’s quote reminded me of a quote from Baba Dioum, the noted Senegalese poet, “In the end we will conserve only what we will love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
October 31, 2011 § Leave a Comment
A full schedule is planned this week–fall plantings, the premiere of The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale, and my lecture in New Hampshire. Rather than cooking half the night away, I planned ahead and spent the weekend making lots of treats for Thursday’s premiere. I hope you can come!!
Thursday morning’s lecture in Amherst, Butterfly Gardening, promises to be a joyful, and informative, program. This summer my Fujifilm x100 gave me many new photos that I can include in my lecture series and I couldn’t resist creating an entirely new slide show. I sorted though thousands of new photos over the weekend. And now, to tackle the video footage shot this summer and autumn—a daunting task ahead, but one I am sure will be rewarding!
I hope you are warm and cozy and not without power. Sixty-degree temperatures are predicted for the weekend! New England weather—so very predictably unpredictable!
Warmest wishes, Kim
October 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
Come join us Thursday, November 3rd, at 7:00 pm at the Friend Room of the Sawyer Free Library for the premiere of my new series of video specials titled Through the Garden Gate, featuring “The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate.” The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served. I hope you can come!
Premiere Sponsored by the Sawyer Free Library
Just a few of the many butterflies, and their nectar plants and native host plants, featured in The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate:
October 12, 2011 § 3 Comments
In the garden of mid-Ocotober’s dissipating beauty ~
And the fabulously fragrant remontant roses ‘Souvenir de Victor Landeau’ and’Aloha’
October 12, 2011 § 4 Comments
October 10, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Happy Columbus Day!
The gorgeous weather coinciding with the long weekend is a gift and I am trying to enjoy every spare moment, spending time with my family along with taking advantage of the added opportunity to film more “B” roll for video projects. While photographing at Good Harbor Beach late in the day yesterday afternoon two Monarchs heading south flew past. There is a little passel traveling through Gloucester this weekend, along with a host of yellow sulphurs. Look for the butterflies on asters and seaside goldenrod.
I am delighted to tell you about several of my upcoming fall programs:
Wednesday, October12th, 6:30 Lexington Field and Garden Club Annual Meeting at the National Heritage Museum ~ The Pollinator Garden
Thursday, November 3rd, 10:30 Amherst , NH Garden Club ~ Butterfly Gardening
Guests are welcome to attend!
Getting ready to make the fabulous Ken Duckworth’s Lobster Risotto!
September 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
Eloise and Madeline Send Monarch to Mexico
The Ciaramitaro family graciously agreed to pose for me for a video project. On the way to the beach to film, the girls stopped by our home to give a send off to a newly eclosed male Monarch, our last butterfly of the season to emerge from its chrysalis. Farewell Monarch ~ Safe Journey to Mexico!
September 1, 2011 § 2 Comments
Eye to Eye
A butterfly’s eyes are relatively enormous, spherical structures referred to as compound eyes. Consisting of thousands of hexagonal shaped omatidea, each omatidea, or mini-sensor, is directed at a slightly different angle from the others. Collectively they are directed forwards, backwards, left, right, up, and down. For this reason, butterflies are able to see in nearly every direction simultaneously.
Vision is well developed in butterflies and most species are sensitive to the ultraviolet spectrum. The ability to see colors may be widespread but has been demonstrated in only a few species.
August 9, 2011 § 1 Comment
Recently a design colleague wrote inquiring as to the best time to mow her client’s fields as she was concerned about disrupting the breeding cycle of the Monarch butterfly. I am often asked this question and it is well worth considering, not only for the sake of the Monarchs, but for the survival of the myriad species of butterflies, bees, and other pollinating and beneficial insects that find food and shelter in untilled fields.
August 4, 2011 § 1 Comment
At this time every year readers write in to inquire about the mysterious and startling “furry shrimp” flying in their gardens. Perhaps you have a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth I write back? They are often seen nectaring at our North American native wildflowers bee balm (Monarda didyma) and white flowering summer phlox ‘David’ (Phlox paniculata), as well as the butterfly bushes and Verbena bonariensis. Scroll down through several posts to see article..
July 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
This morning I had the pleasure of presenting my Monarch butterfly program to the Cape Ann Garden Club. The meeting was held at the charming and beautifully maintained Annisquam Village Hall, located in the very heart of Annisquam. Thank you Cape Ann Garden Club members for your enthusiasm and for your interest–it was my joy!
These lovely arrangements are created by the members and then gathered up at the end of the meeting to be distributed to nearby nursing homes.
May 2, 2011 § Leave a Comment
In organizing my Monarch book proposal to send to a friend, who has a friend who publishes children’s books, I am sorting through my illustrations. This painting was completed at the end of summer last and illustrates a male Monarch (above) and female (below) ascending towards a maple tree during their mating flight. He carries her and together they stay joined, abdomen to abdomen, for several hours–truly a beautiful thing to observe.
I lay down on the ground under a neighboring maple tree and sketched while looking up into the canopy. This is what I imagine the leaf net canopy looks like to the Monarchs as they ascend into the trees.
PLANT MILKWEED AND YOU, TOO, WILL HAVE MONARCHS MATING IN YOUR GARDEN!!
Milkweed is the food plant of the Monarch caterpillars. I often observe females drinking nectar from the milkweed blossoms one moment and the very next, depositing an egg on the underside of a freshly unfurled leaf, near the top of the plant. We observe the greatest numbers of caterpillars on the foliage of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).
April 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly
In preparing for my upcoming presentation to the Gloucester Garden Club, Wednesday, April 13th, I am discovering new images shot last summer. The photo shows a freshly emerged Monarch clinging to its chrysalis, with crumpled wet wings yet to fully expand. Butterflies Days can’t get here soon enough! Later in the afternoon we will be attending Ellen Lefavour’s art opening and book signing for Did you Know at Alchemy of Art Gallery. I hope to see you there.
March 15, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Dear Gardening Friends,
We are sending our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Japanese people. Viewing the broadcasts reminds me that it was just over a year ago that the devastating earthquake struck Port au Prince. Can a person ever fully recover from such an event? The utter destruction of the tsunami is confounding, now coupled with threats of nuclear meltdown. My wish for the people of Japan and their nation is as speedy a recovery as is possible.
We are so very blessed living where we do. Perhaps I mentioned that I am developing a television series, which will air on our local cable television station, Cape Ann TV, as well as other cable stations. I believe it was early last summer that Donna Gacek, the director of Cape Ann TV, approached me about the possibility of creating a show based around my writings and butterfly photos. A tv show would be a magnificent medium to share about the joys of creating organic habitats designed for people and pollinators. We can visit gardens, fields, meadows, and wildlife sanctuaries–and connect how to translate habitat information found there to our own gardens, examine gardening trends, loves, and literature, conduct interviews, undertake how-to projects–the possibilities are limitless. I hope, too, for some room for spontaneity and fun–once I get a handle on the process. I knew what I was getting myself into and knew it would be enormously time consuming, which it is, however I am so pleased with our initial progress and thought I would bring you this trailer for the first episode as well as behind the scenes updates.
Instinctively it was clear that the first step in development would be to film and photograph as much as time would allow, especially as this past summer, gratefully so, was THE summer to photograph Lepidoptera–day after day of hot, dry, sunny weather–a butterfly, and a butterfly photographer’s, dream conditions The past few months have been spent organizing all photos and footage from this summer, as well as footage and photos from previous summers, into handy categories from which I can draw, while simultaneously writing the first script, and thinking about future scripts.
I chose the butterfly garden I designed at Willowdale to be my first subject for several reasons. I know the grounds and garden intimately; the Lepidoptera seen there are the same species seen all around the northshore, and throughout New England for that matter; the setting is undeniably gorgeous; over the past few years I have shot many photos there and some video footage; and because the garden is on occasion open to the public.
While writing the script I tried to imagine how the information would relate to, and be of interest to, a wide audience. Creating ‘wild gardens’ (by wild gardens I mean to say gardens that utilize native wild flowers that support wild life) is meant to be joyful and easy for everyone– for the millions as well as the millionaire! The next phase was to organize the video and still photos, loosely, around the script. Then, and this part was really new and challenging for me, came layering the narrated voice tracks and precisely synching it to the footage, and still retain existing ambient nature sounds audibly. Much tweaking was necessary. Have you ever wondered where your speaker is on your computer? It took me the longest time to locate mine (iMac)– a pinhead-sized hole in the center of the top, right above the camera lens–and they do not produce very good or usable quaility input sound. All the audio will have to be redone at the tv studio, however, it was time well spent as I was able to experiment and learn the basics on my own time.
The first production meeting with Donna went really well. The next phase will be to redo the audio tracks, under the guidance of the staff at the tv station, and continue to work on the next two episodes. In developing a series, it is suggested that you have at least three to begin with – getting all your ducks in order, so to speak. I am working furiously on all because spring and summer are my peak seasons for garden design work and for presenting lectures and programs.
So far, everything has fallen into place, from the gorgeous weather of last summer, to finding a beautiful recording for the into and outro, to working with Donna and the staff at CATV!
My mission for this wonderful project is to create as vibrantly beautiful, and as informative and interesting, a viewing experience as is possible. I am also very interested in working in collaboration with anyone who may have an interest.
Perhaps after reading the above you can help me decide the title of the show–so important to get it right! I love the title of my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! because there is no other like it. Perhaps I shall call it The Garden of Fresh Possibilities Show.
Some other candidates:
The American Gardener’s Journal
Through the Garden Gate
Garden for All Seasons
Welcome to the Wild Garden
Any comments, thoughts, or suggestions would greatly appreciated.
March 6, 2011 § 1 Comment
Brooke O’Donnell Photo from Michoacán
From Brooke’s Mom, Janet:
When I looked at the photo, I immediately thought of your inspiring exhibit at the Sawyer Free Library. Brooke had an eight or more hour bus trip, then an hour horseback ride up to the 10,000 foot elevation in Michoacan state to see the migration. I wouldn’t be surprised to find you up there!
Back down here at sea level, I wish you a glorious Spring!
October 4, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Update: Monarch Butterfly Migration Late Summer 2010
Dear Gardening Friends,
So many have telephoned or emailed inquiring about the status of the annual Monarch butterfly migration through our region. This past summer I have observed umpteen Monarch butterflies and caterpillars in cultivated gardens, wildflower meadows, and along the shoreline; however, I did not see the great numbers in great heaps roosting in any one particular place that I have in some years past. Rather I would find a small passel here and a small passel there—perhaps several dozen at a time—roosting in the wild black cherry trees (Prunus serotina) at Eastern Point, awakening in the early morning and nectaring at the Seaside Goldenrod in the meadow below.
Although the Monarchs are guided genetically, using their internal sun-compass navigation and circadian clock, each year the annual southward migration takes a different form that depends on many variables, primarily the weather conditions in their overwintering site in Michoacán, Mexico as well as weather patterns in their US and Canadian breeding grounds. Because Cape Ann is located at approximately 43 degrees latitude north, our peak migration pattern is estimated at around September 11, but I modify this pattern because of the strong winds and storms we often experience in the late summer living along the coastline.
I have read reports of fantastic migrations that are taking place this year, from Long Island, south to Cape May, and west to Virginia—some saying it is the best they have seen in decades! I continue to remain on the look out because the air temperatures were atypically warmer this summer, creating a longer breeding season than usual, which would indicate that there may be newly emerging Monarchs on the scene. While photographing during this year’s migration, I encountered a pair of Monarchs mating, a very unusual occurrence at this time of year. The “Methuselah” Monarchs that we see in late summer and early autumn are generally speaking sexually immature and do not mate until next year, after they journey south and after they overwinter and awaken in Mexico.
Monarchs observed in late summer and early autumn are intent on nectaring and not easily distracted. This later generation of Methuselah Monarchs is feeding aggressively to increase and store their lipid reserves for the long journey south. We provide plenty of nectar-rich blossoms to help the Monarchs in their exhaustive migration, taking cues from marsh and meadow. Blooming freely at this time of year are copious members of the Composite family—goldenrods, asters, pearly everlasting, zinnias, ironweed, Mexican sunflowers, and Korean daisies. If one diligently deadheads the butterfly bushes and Verbena bonariences, they too will be available for the migrating Monarchs.
My favorite goldenrod is Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), which blooms from August to November. Seaside Goldenrod is the gorgeous brilliant golden wildflower we see growing and glowing along the edge of the sea. It is easily differentiated from other New England goldenrods in that the flowerheads are comparatively larger and the leaves are thicker and fleshier, with a waxy feel, an adaptation to the drying effect of salty sea spray. Seaside Goldenrod grows prolifically in rich, moisture retentive soil, less so in drier conditions.
Although I strongly discourage digging plants from local marsh and meadow, perfectly acceptable is the practice of collecting ripened seed stalks and shaking them about. That is just how we obtained our Smooth Asters (Aster laevis). With cheery one-inch button-shaped flowers borne along the lengths of the stalks, the pale-hued lavender-blue ray flowers and yellow disk florets of Smooth Asters are attractive to bees and butterflies. We have observed Common Sulphers, Pink-fringed Sulphurs, Monarchs, American Ladies, Red Admirals, and Cabbage Whites nectaring simultaneously on a clump growing in the sheltered border along our fragrant path. Pinch back the developing growth tips during the early part of the growing season (until roughly July fourth) to encourage a bushier and more compact plant. Asters provides nourishing sustenance for transitory butterflies when many nectar-rich plants have finished blooming for the season. Not particularly fussy in regard to soil conditions, Smooth Aster grows and flowers profusely in full sun to light shade. Smooth Aster and Purple-stemmed Aster (Aster puniceus) are the asters we see blooming along the backshore at this time of year. With golden yellow florets at the center of their ray flowers, asters and goldenrods create a convenient landing pad for nectaring Lepidoptera. Flowering alongside ripening red berries and surrounded by changing autumnal leaf color, goldenrods and asters transform the seasonal tapestry.
September 20, 2010 § Leave a Comment
The most recent issue of Butterfly Gardener magazine features my photo on the back cover of an American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) butterfly nectaring at Korean daisies. The North American Butterfly Association, or NABA as it is more commonly known, is a worthy organization to support. As a member of NABA four times a year you will receive two magazine subscriptions. I eagerly anticipate the arrival of both magazines. American Butterflies is edited by the world renowned lepidopterist Jeffrey Glassberg and is brimming with stories and species accounts of butterflies found throughout America. Butterfly Gardener, is chock-full of useful information about gardening for butterflies. I enjoy editor Karen Hillson’s missives and asides and find especially useful Lenora Larson’s quarterly column on caterpillar food plants.
Mr.Glassberg writes in a recent issue of American Butterflies about why he believes butterflies are an ideal portal to the natural world “…once one becomes interested in butterflies, one almost certainly becomes interested in plants, in other components of nature–in the whole web of life. To find adult butterflies one must soon learn the important nectar plants in one’s area and especially the caterpillar foodplants. And the captivating transfomation of caterpillars into adult butterflies brings a very high percentage of butterfliers to a deeper appreciation of life histories and the larger ecological picture.” To learn more about NABA and how to become a member visit their website at www.naba.org (membership fees are very reasonable).
September 12, 2010 § Leave a Comment
This female Monarch emerged from her chrysalis late yesterday afternoon. She stayed hidden under foliage overnight. Mid-morning she alighted onto my hand and I placed her on a fresh blossom of the butterfly bush ‘Nanho Blue.’ She is easily recognized as female because her wing venation is thicker and smokier than that of a males wings, and because she does not have the two small black pockets of pheromones on each hind wing.
June 20, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Dear Gardening Friends,
I’ve updated the article on common milkweed (see below). The second video of the caterpillar pupating goes a bit dark in the beginning because I was trying to capture the caterpillar’s exoskeleton splitting apart, just below the head.
My husband, Tom Hauck, was quoted on Sound Off in this week’s issue of Time Magazine. His quote can also be found here (scroll down).
Looking at our thriving patch of common milkweed, I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Monarch butterflies to our garden in Gloucester. It is difficult to reconcile the enjoyment we derive from life’s simple pleasures when looking into the faces of the victims struck by the unfolding tragedy in the Gulf Coast region—a tragedy for the nation. I hope and pray that the net result of this catastrophe will be a wake up call, and that we will all come together to fully realize the potential of non-polluting alternatives to our unsustainable use of fossil fuels.
Best wishes, Kim
The pair of Monarch caterpillars, hanging in the characteristic J-shape, are attached to the underside ribs of common milkweed (Asclepais syriaca). They were filmed at approximately 7:30 am on August 22, 2009, one hour prior to pupation. The “twins” pupated within six minutes of each other. “Twin #2″ is pupating in the video.
June 20, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Inside a moment’s time, the exoskeleton behind the caterpillar’s head splits apart. With undulating wave-like contractions the developing green chrysalis is revealed as the exoskeleton shrivels. With rhythmical repetitious revolutions, twirling first left, then right, and back again, he throws off his last striped suit. More gyrating rotations and he fastens himself securely to the pad of silk with his newly formed cremaster.
June 18, 2010 § 1 Comment
Common Milkweed ~ Asclepias syriaca
Recently a friend inquired that if I had to choose one native New England plant to grow to attract butterflies to the garden, which would it be, and why. It was a challenging question because butterflies are typically drawn to the garden planted with a rich and varied, yet very specific, combination of species. A successful Lepidoptera habitat is comprised of many elements all working in tandem. Sunny and protected areas in which to warm their wings, trees and shrubs that provide shelter, and a host of nectar plants for the adults, as well as specific caterpillar food plants, create the successful Lepidoptera garden.
Perhaps if I had to choose a favorite butterfly and therefore a favorite plant to grow to drawthis butterfly to my garden it would have to be common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), which is both a larval host plant and nectar plant for the elegant Monarch butterfly. People often speak unkindly about common milkweed, rather I think it deserves applause for it is plant without rue and thrives wherever found—in the cracks of city sidewalks and along country roadsides, highly-trafficked soccer fields, and in the most neglected of neighborhoods. Whether in the garden, along the shoreline, or local meadow, it is on the foliage of common milkweed that we find the vast majority of Monarch eggs and caterpillars. Noteworthy also is that we observe many different species of butterflies and skippers nectaring at common milkweed—sulphurs, swallowtails, and fritillaries, to name but a few. In our garden we grow common milkweed alongside marsh milkweed (Asclepias incarnata); marsh milkweed blooms slightly earlier than common milkweed as it is sited in a sunnier locale. Both species attract a wide variety of winged pollinators. Male and female Monarchs nectar from the blossoms, while the males simultaneously patrol for females. The females utilize the foliage of both species to oviposit their eggs. Typically we observe females freely flitting alternatively between our common and marsh milkweed, depositing their eggs on the choicest leaves and buds, while pausing frequently to nectar.
The milky sap that flows through milkweed veins lends the genus its common name. Monarch butterflies and their caterpillars have evolved to withstand the toxic milk, but not the predatory bird that attempts to eat one. The adult Monarch’s unique wing pattern and caterpillar’s striped suit warn of its dreadful taste and lethal toxins. A bird that is tempted becomes sick and may even die, and if it survives, remembers never again to try to eat a Monarch. “The larvae sequester cardiac glycosides from the milkweed leaves that they consume. Concentrations of these heart toxins in their bodies may be several times higher than those occurring in milkweed leaves. The glycosides consumed by the caterpillars are carried forward both into the chrysalis and adult stages, affording them protection as well.” (Caterpillars of North America David L. Wagner).
Common milkweed is highly adaptable and grows in nearly any soil. The size of the developing colonies and individual plants reflect the conditions in which it is grown. Planted in a rich, moist soil, protected from the wind and where it receives some light shade, it will grow six to seven feet. I use it extensively in my butterfly garden designs, planting in rich, average, and dry conditions, and find it especially appealing and useful for shoreline gardens. In sandy soil, sand dunes, and meadows, where it is exposed to wind and/or salt spray, common milkweed is equally as vigorous, but of a much shorter stature, typically obtaining the height of two to three feet.
A. syriaca thrives in full sun to light shade. In a moist, protected area, plant in the back of the border. In a more exposed site, plant in the mid-ground. Because of its ability to spread readily and rapidly, use in an informal, natural setting as opposed to planting in formal beds.
Common milkweed is highly fragrant and is the most richly scented of the species of milkweeds found in Massachusetts (A. incarnata, A. syriaca, A. quadrifolia, A. tuberosa, A. amplexicaulis, A. exaltata, A. pupurascens, and A. verticillata), with a complex wild flower honey fragrance. I have heard it described as similar to the scent of lilacs, but find lilacs have a much sweeter fragrance than common milkweed. Fragrance is highly mutable and subjective.
One- to two-year-old plants are easier to transplant than established plants. Common milkweed takes approximately three years to flower from seed. The method in which I have had the greatest success in propagating Asclepias syriaca, best attempted in early summer, is to dig up a rhizome, found at the base of a plant with newly emerging shoots. The rhizome would ideally be obtained from a friend’s garden. If collected in the wild, be sure to dig from an area where there are many shoots present. You need a fairly large chunk, at least a half-foot, with both roots and new shoots present. Replant the rhizome at the same depth. Water throughout the summer. Towards the end of the growing season you will be rewarded with newly emerging shoots. Common milkweed self-seeds readily, but spreads primarily (and rambunctiously) by its rhizomatic root structure.
Milkweed in general, and in particular, common milkweed, attracts a host of pollinators—bees, wasps, butterflies, and purportedly hummingbirds. I have yet to see the Ruby-throated hummingbird nectar from common milkweed, but it may also be the case that they are attracted to the plant for the multitude of tiny insect populations frequenting the flowers (over ninety percent of a Ruby-throated hummingbird’s diet is comprised of insects). We typically findMonarch eggs and caterpillars on milkweed plants during the months of July and August.
Buddleia davidii ’Nanho Blue,’ with blue-violet racemes, melds beautifully with the muted lavender rose florets of the softly drooping flower heads of common milkweed. The brilliant white of native Phlox davidii and vivid purple-pink of Liatris ligulistylus attractively offsets both. All are famously attractive to Monarchs (and myriad other species of Lepidoptera) and will provide a long season of nectar-rich blossoms and Monarch caterpillar food.
A note about the video: Monarch butterflies deposit eggs on common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and marsh milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in eastern Massachusetts. The chrysalis in this video was attached to a marsh milkweed stem. For a wealth of information on butterfly gardening, read Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!
June 13, 2010 § 1 Comment
This beautiful Summer Azure butterfly (Celastrina ladon ‘neglecta’), seen in our Gloucester garden, is ovipositing eggs amongst the buds of native meadowsweet (Spirea latifolia).
She tightly curls her abdomen in a c-shape and deposits her eggs amongst the unopened flower buds, while pausing every now and then to drink nectar from the opened florets. Just as many species of milkweed plants (Asclepias) are utilized by Monarch butterflies, to both take nectar from the florets and as a larval host plant for their caterpillars, the blossoms of meadowsweet provide nectar and the foliage is a food plant for the caterpillars of the Summer Azure butterfly.
Plant native meadowsweet near to where you will enjoy their delicately shaded rose-pink blossoms and the insects attracted. We grow ours along a sunny path and also grow a patch in the dappled shade cast by our pear trees. The plants sited in sun bear far more blossoms. The shrub grows fairly quickly, three to four feet high and equally as wide, and is easily divided. To create a tidy shape, prune lightly, in very early spring. Playing host to the azures, long season of blossoms, and lovely bright green and finely-cut foliage, meadowsweet is a fabulous native shrub for the ‘wild’ garden.