May 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The Cape Ann Monarch Milkweed Project was positively a resounding success. Thank you to everyone who ordered and picked up your milkweed plants. Thank you to Joe Ciaramitaro from Good Morning Gloucester who turned my small seed of an idea into a fabulous community-wide project and who also very kindly offered Captain Joe and Sons for mug up and pick up. Thank you to Felicia for taking valuable time from writing the world’s-greatest-cookbook-ever and spending the entire morning making and serving coffee and Sicilian gigilani cookies (I know that is totally misspelled) and for helping with the plants and for just being a great friend. Thank you to all my GMG fellow contributors and all the FOBs for coming, and for everyone’s enthusiasm in the project.
And, most importantly, the Monarchs thank you!!!
We have exactly fourteen plants remaining and all fourteen are spoken for. After all the plants are picked up and the money totaled, we will have enough to make a donation to the Rocky Neck Cultural Center. So thank you again. I am very inspired by the success of the program and plan to later in the summer have a Cape Ann Monarch Aster and Goldenrod Program.
Monarch Butterflies at Eastern Point
How to Plant and Care for Your Milkweed Plants
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) has a taproot. Plants with taproots do not like to be disturbed once established so it is best to plant your Common Milkweed seedlings as soon as possible. Common Milkweed is not too fussy about soil and is the milkweed we see growing in fields, roadsides, dunes, and meadows. It can reach up to six-feet in height, but more commonly grows two- to four-feet. Common Milkweed spreads by underground shoots and by seed dispersal.
The Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) are well-rooted year-old plants and can be planted in the garden now, or within the next month or so. Marsh Milkweed grows best in good garden soil and/or moist areas. Marsh Milkweed is clump forming and does not spread by underground shoots.
Both milkweed species prefer full sun, but will take some slight shade. Plant with the soil line equal to the soil line in the pot. Place a stake nearby so that you do not step on your little milkweed seedling. Water gently. Check frequently on your milkweed plant until it is fully established. Water when dry, but do not over water. Monitor for milkweed aphids. Milkweed aphids are tiny soft-bodied orange insects. If you do see any aphids, gently wash them away with water; no soap or strong pesticides needed!
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
Please join me Monday evening for a tour of the butterfly gardens I designed for Willowdale Estate. Come experience a taste of Briar’s gracious hospitality and enjoy refreshments served in the conservatory. The tulips are at their peak and look simply spectacular this year. I will also be showing several of my short films. Please RSVP to Sarah at: Sarah@WillowdaleEstate.com ~ 978-887-8211.
I hope to see you there!
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 § 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.
April 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Habitat Gardening Post #2 ~ Beauty in Our Midst
Blooming now along the water’s edge and wetlands is our native Pussy Willow (Salix discolor). The first photo is cropped (click to view larger) so that you can easily see the Pussy Willow tree on the far right at the pond’s edge– a pretty pale yellowish-green. The small tree, or large shrub, can either easily be pruned to a standard shape, or allowed to grow in its more unruly, wildy way. Prune the branches down to the ground and the following year you will be rewarded with straight shoots for cutting and bringing indoors. Salix dicolor grows easily in average, wet, and moist areas, and grows best in full- to part-sun.
Pussy Willows are pollinated by wind and by insects and produce a very high-sugar nectar. They are an important early food source for native bees. One Pussy Willow catkin contains about 200 fruit-bearing flowers. Cardinals and finches find the flower buds tasty, too. Willows are dioecious, which means some twigs produce beautiful golden stamens (male parts), while others bear slender greenish pistils (female parts).
I often see Mourning Cloak butterflies around the berm between Niles Pond and Brace Cove; the leaves of the Pussy Willow are a larval host plant (caterpillar food plant) for both the Mourning Cloak and Viceroy butterflies. The Mourning Cloak is one of the earliest butterflies seen in our region because they overwinter in the adult form.
The bark and roots of Pussy Willow contains a compound called salicin, and the herb is used similarly to aspirin in treating mild fevers, cold, infections, headaches, and pain. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a synthetic replacement for salicin.
Mourning Cloak Butterfly nectaring from milkweed, image courtesy Google image search
April 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
Over the weekend and next several days, when you have a moment, please watch my newest video. I have submitted it to a video contest sponsored by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from their debut album The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created the beautiful “Same Love” video that I posted previously. The winner will be announced after April 8th.
April 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
So many, many thanks to my former botany professor, Dr. Kanchi Gandhi, who sent my BomBom Butterflies video to many of his colleagues, friends, and students. My video is getting a growing number of hits in India! I loved every second of Doctor Gandhi’s class and wished often I could be his full time student. Professor Gandhi’s classes are held in the Harvard University Herbaria, with more than 5 million plant specimens. Along with its library, the Herbaria forms the world’s largest university owned herbarium.
Doctor Gandhi’s interests are in the areas of plant nomenclature, plant morphology, and plant taxonomy. He is currently working on the International Plant Name Index, the HUH lookup tables, and Flora of North America project. In 2010 he was awarded the American Society of Plant Taxonomist Distinguished Service Award, which is only given occasionally and reserved for individuals who have made exceptional efforts for ASPT or the plant-systematics community in general.
India is a country rich in flora and many species of butterlies. A beautiful Indian butterfly we on Cape Ann may find particularly interesting is the Blue Tiger Butterfly (Tirumala limniace).
It bears a striking resemblance to our Monarch Butterfly (both members of Nymphalidae, sub-family Danainae, or Brush-foot Family of butterflies) with the clearly defined mitten-shaped cell on the underside of the hindwing. And like our Monarch caterpillars, Blue Tiger caterpillars generally feed on the milkweed family of plants (Asclepiadaceae). Another similarity is that the Blue Tiger migrates through Southern India, although the distance traveled is not quite as long as that of the Monarchs.
Images Courtesy Google Image Search
March 30, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Lecture Tuesday night, April 9, at 7:30 at the Manchester Community Center: Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden.
Cabbage White Butterflies Mating in the Native Flowering Dogwood Foliage
The lecture tonight is based on the book of the same name, which I wrote and illustrated. In it I reveal how to create the framework, a living tapestry of flora, fauna, and fragrance that establishes the soul of the garden. Using a selection of plant material that eliminates the need for pesticides and herbicides, and guided by the plants forms, hues, and horticultural demands, we discuss how to create a succession of blooms from April through November. This presentation is as much about how to visualize your garden, as it is about particular trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and annuals. Illuminated with photographs, and citing poetry and quotations from Eastern and Western cultural influences, this presentation engages us with an artist’s eye while drawing from practical experience.
For a complete lit of my 2013 – 2014 programs and workshops, visit the Programs and Lectures page of my blog.
The Cecropia Moth, or Robin Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is the largest moth found in North America, with a wingspan of up to six inches. He is perched on the foliage of our beautiful native Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay Magnolia), one of several of the caterpillar’s food plants. You can tell that he is a male because he has large, feathery antennae, or plumos, the better for detecting scent hormones released by the female. This photo was taken in our garden in early June.
The Manchester Community Center is located at 40 Harbor Point, Manchester.
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
March 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment
In several places along the footpath, there are cuts clear through the granite dune and a sandy beach is forming on the Niles Pond side. Shrubs, wildflowers, and ground covers that help retain the sides of the causeway have been uprooted and washed away.
To read more about what makes this narrowest strip of land dividing Niles Pond and Brace Cove so unique, see JoeAnn Hart’s beautiful story about Niles Pond.
Niles Pond and Brace Cove Footpath Storm Damage
January 27, 2013 § 2 Comments
The male Eastern Bluebird shows a brilliant indigo blue on the head and back, with a rusty reddish brown breast. The female is more softly colored overall, with elegant gray wings, tinged in shades of blue, and paler breast. Joe Ciaramitaro photo
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
Several days ago my friend Joe from Good Morning Gloucester blog captured (with camera) a pair of Eastern Bluebirds. Everyone who responded in the comment section spoke so fondly of this beautiful bird that I thought we’d all enjoy knowing a bit more about its current status in Massachusetts. And too, sightings at this time of year give reason to share a favorite Emily Dickinson poem—“Before you thought of spring, except as a surmise…”
Before you thought of spring,
Except as a surmise,
You see, God bless his suddenness,
A fellow in the skies
Of independent hues,
A little weather-worn,
Of indigo and brown.
With specimens of song,
As if for you to choose,
Discretion in the interval,
With gay delays he goes
To some superior tree
Without a single leaf,
And shouts for joy to nobody
But his seraphic self!
Bluebirds do indeed appear to sing with great joy from the treetops, and reading this poem always makes me smile, thinking about “a fellow in the skies” singing to nobody but his rapt self. As is so typical of her work, Emily Dickinson’s poem is an astute and honest observation of the natural world, but I also interpret her poem to mean that joy is an emotion that doesn’t need an audience; that it can be expressed for the sake of joy itself.
Eastern Bluebirds sing several types of songs; one is a liquid birdsong—sort of a turee song—and another is a soft melodious warble. When trying to attract a mate, unpaired males typically sing from a high perch, and sometimes even in flight. Both male and female sing in all seasons to keep in touch with each other and to signal to nestlings that food is on its way. Bluebirds are in the Thrush Family, as are American Robins, and Robins too sing a lovely liquid birdsong.
From the Mass Audubon State of Birds:
“The very widespread breeding distribution seen in the Eastern Bluebird in Massachusetts today is, in large part, the result of considerable support received by concerned citizens who, for more than half a century, erected large numbers of nest boxes across the state and helped save the species from near-extirpation.”
What does “extirpation” mean? Not that a species has become extinct from our planet, but that it is no longer found in a particular area. We are very fortunate that the Eastern Bluebird did not become extirpated from our region. Bluebirds are cavity nesters and use suitable bird boxes, tree cavities, and old woodpecker holes in trees and fence posts to build their nests. During the era when settlers cleared forests and planted fields and orchards, the Eastern Bluebird became quite common. In the 20th century their population decreased by nearly 90 percent for several reasons, two of which are because vast areas of New England have reverted to forest, and because the bluebird is competing for nesting sites with the alien European House Sparrow and European Starling. The return of the Eastern Bluebird during the spring and summer breeding period is due in large measure to citizens throughout the state building and placing nest boxes along “bluebird trails.”
Eastern Bluebird and Winterberry
If you are fortunate enough to have bluebirds visiting your backyard, you may want to provide them with supplemental food. Bluebirds are primarily insectivores. They do not visit bird feeders because their bills are not designed for cracking open seed and nut shells (but they will eat hulled sunflower seeds). They eat berries at this time of year because there aren’t any insects. The winterberries won’t last long on the bush with flocks of hungry birds descending to your garden. Mealworms (which aren’t really worms at all, but are the larval form of the darling beetle) are the most nutritious supplement you can provide bluebirds. For more information on feeding mealworms to bluebirds go to this fact sheet: North American Bluebird Society’s Mealworms Fact Sheet.
For a wonderful FREE downloadable 15 page education packet designed for grades 1-5, with coloring pages and puzzles follow this link: Education Packet
For more information on how to build, and where to site, bluebird nest boxes, along with plan drawings, follow this link: Getting Started with Bluebirds
To read more about the devastating effects of European House Sparrows and European Starlings follow this link: House Sparrow Control.
Just this past week, 15 Eastern Bluebirds were spotted at Allens Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Westport, Massachusetts. See Bluebird Nestbox Walk at Allens Neck post for information about an upcoming.
Additional images courtesy Google image search.
December 31, 2012 § 1 Comment
December 7, 2012 § 1 Comment
Perhaps the Future Holds a Friends of the Gloucester Harbor Walk Gardens
Available on the High Line webstore, and at the top of my Christmas wish list, is the book High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s park in the Sky, written by Friends of the High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. 100% of the proceeds from this book go toward maintenance and operation of the High Line.
From the High Line website: The High Line is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. Founded in 1999 by community residents, Friends of the High Line fought for the High Line’s preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition. It is now the non-profit conservancy working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to make sure the High Line is maintained as an extraordinary public space for all visitors to enjoy. In addition to overseeing maintenance, operations, and public programming for the park, Friends of the High Line works to raise the essential private funds to support more than 90 percent of the park’s annual operating budget, and to advocate for the preservation and transformation of the High Line at the Rail Yards, the third and final section of the historic structure, which runs between West 30th and West 34th Streets.
Special thanks to Lucia Droby, COGDesigns Executive Director for organizing the event and for assistance with my ticket!
October 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I am often asked about the Banded Wooly Bear caterpillar and questions range from, “Why am I seeing a Monarch caterpillar in the fall” (the Wooly Bear is not a Monarch caterpillar) to “how will the Wooly Bear survive the winter?”
The Wooly Bear caterpillar is the larva stage of the Isabella Tiger Moth. They are typically seen in autumn as they search for a place to curl up for the winter–under a rock, log or leaf debris or in the chinks of bark. The heavy coats of members of the Acrtiid family of moths help them overwinter, along with their ability to produce a natural sort of antifreeze called cryoprotectant.
The following spring, the caterpillars emerge from their winter nap, begin to feed, form a cocoon (pupate) and emerge as the adult form of the Isabella Tiger Moth. Female Isabella Tiger Moths deposit their eggs on a wide variety of plants including birch, elm, maples, asters, sunflowers, spinach, cabbage, grass, and plantain; all caterpillar food plants. In our region there are usually several generations per year and it is the last generation of the growing season that over winters, nestled in, well-hidden and wrapped in their furry coats.
Fun fact from wiki: Caterpillars normally become moths within months of hatching in most temperate climates, but in the Arctic the summer period for vegetative growth and hence feeding is so short that the Woolly Bear feeds for several summers, freezing again each winter before finally pupating. Some are known to live through as many as 14 winters.
Isabella Tiger Moth image Courtesy wiki
October 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Last week while filming on Eastern Point I had the pleasure to meet Kate, who works at Wolf Hill. She was with a friend and they were looking for butterflies through binoculars. I had seen Kate often at the garden center, but never stopped to chat. We were talking about all things butterfly when she mentioned that she had a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on a parsley plant back at the nursery office. She offered the caterpillar to me and I gladly accepted. My Black Swallowtail film is nearing completion but there was one missing piece to the story.
The swallowtail chrysalides that I had on film were all greenish gold. Oftentimes the Black Swallowtail chyrsalis will turn a woody brown, but no matter how hard I looked, I could not find a woody brown chrysalis. Not showing the brown form, I knew, would confuse viewers, especially families who are interested in raising swallowtails.
Kate’s caterpillar pupated while she was away from work for a few days. When she returned she found the chrysalis had wandered from the parsley plant and it had pupated on the razor thin edge of an envelope-as office caterpillars are want to do. Well, you guessed it–the Wolf Hill pupa was the brown form!
I know it is said often on the pages of this blog, but Kate’s thoughfullness goes to show once again what a beautiful community is Gloucester–stunning visually, and most special of all, are the beautiful, kind-hearted people who call Gloucester home. Thank you Kate!
Not finding a brown chrysalis is a relatively escoteric problem, to say the least, but I think you will agree that the two forms of the pupal case are remarkably different in appearance. In this photo you can see where I have taped the envelope behind a tree trunk in order to film. This is how you would find the chrysalis in a more natural setting.
There are several openings remaining in my Close-up Photography Workshop at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, which will be held this coming Sunday morning at 9:00 am. I would love to see you there! Follow this link to register.
Capturing a sharply in focus close-up of a butterfly, especially one in mid-flight, is one of the greatest challenges of photography and I will be revealing techniques such as these, and more; techniques that have taken many, many hours over many years to perfect. All the photos I have shot in the past year and a half were taken not with a zoom lens, but were shot with a 23mm prime lens. I am typically photographing within a foot’s distance of the butterflies!
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 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
In response to my friend Marty’s question ~
Marty your photo is that of the Painted Lady. Typically in our region we would most often see the American Lady however, this is an irruptive year for the Painted Lady. There has been a population explosion of Painted Ladies reported throughout New England and beyond, which is especially unusual and interesting because this past spring (2012) was also an irruptive year for the closely related Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).
The easiest way to tell the difference: Painted Ladies have four large spots on the underside of their hindwings, close to the outer margins, which you can easily see in your lovely photo. American Ladies have two “eyespots” on each hindwing, and the spots are considerably larger.
I am calling the summer of 2012 the “summer of ten thousand butterflies.” Just incredible! I would have answered this is in the comment section, but I don’t know if it is possible to add a photo and will post more in a future post about the two species but am in the middle of making dinner. Did you take this shot with your new camera?
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
Willowdale Estate Courtyard
Monday night I was filming at Willowdale as we are in the early stages of creating a web page about the butterfly gardens for the Willowdale Estate website. I was hoping to film the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at dusk and did succeed! They were nectaring from the Rose Mallow, hosta, Snowberry Bush, and butterfly bushes.
I love the new bistro lights in the courtyard garden–so romantic!
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.
August 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Painted Lady–never a more aptly named butterfly! Although ubiquitous, the sheer number of Painted Ladies found in gardens this summer is simply astonishing.
This morning in our postage-stamp-of-a-lot, there were quite possibly over one hundred newly emerged Painted Ladies nectaring from the Joe-pye, Baby Joe, zinnias, butterfly bushes, phlox, and Rudbeckia.
August 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
Introducing ‘Henry Eiler’s’ Quilled Sweet Coneflower ~
New to our garden this year is the Quilled Sweet Coneflower. The finely quilled sunny yellow petals are simply lovely, as is the overall shape of the plant. The wildflower is a North American native and bears the name of the southern Illinois horticulturist and prairie restoration specialist who found it growing in a railroad prairie remnant.
When lightly rubbed, the leaves of Rudbeckia subtomentosa reveal their sweet vanilla scent. I’ll let you know if it attracts bees, butterflies, and songbirds when the center florets open.
Railroad Prairie Remnants
“…the only remnant of any virgin, unplowed prairie that remains is along railroad tracks. When the railroads were originally built in the 1800′s, if they were going over a natural prairie, all they had to do was lay down the wooden crossties, pack in bed fill, and lay the rails….the remaining right-of-way remained essentially undisturbed. In many locales, a road also was constructed parallel to new tracks, so that the few hundred feet of railroad right-of-way trapped between the tracks and the road remained unplowed to this day, and in many areas has reserved a remarkable diversity of prairie species. In most areas, accidental fires happen fairly regularly, which enhances the vigor of the prairie vegetation.” Larry Lowman, Arkansas nurseryman and native plants specialist.
August 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Tomorrow, Sunday, at noon, is the dedication of the Gus Foote Park. Following the dedication, I will be giving a mini-talk about the butterfly gardens along the walk. A yummy clam chowder tasting is planned, provided by the Gloucester House Restaurant. At 12:45, we’ll Walk the Walk with Mayor Kirk. The theme of Sunday’s walk is Gloucester’s maritime heritage.
Sunny skies are predicted for tomorrow–perfect weather for strolling through the gardens while listening to sea stories. I hope you’ll come join us!
From left to right Peter Sollogub, Principal; Ethan Lacy, Chris Muskopf, Tim Mansfield, and Rosie Weinberg.
Gus Foote, now 82 years young, is a retired Gloucester City Councilman. He represented Ward 2 for more than three decades. In 2011, Gus was reappointed by Governor Deval Patrick to serve another five-year term on the Gloucester Housing Authority .
Gus Foote Image Courtesy GMG 2009
August 10, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Yesterday was the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony of the Gloucester Harbor Walk. I designed the pollinator gardens that you see along the walk. While there photographing, deadheading, and weeding in preparation of the big event, not only did I see myriad species of butterflies and bees, a flock of goldfinches flew into the scene and were dining on the seed heads of the Echinacea. Needless to say, I didn’t do much dead heading of the coneflowers!
A few ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the area know as I4-C2. The before photos were taken only a few short months ago, in May of this year. The after photos were shot in August. Click photos to view larger images.
Gloucester Harbor Walk August 2012
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.
July 31, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Nearly five years ago in late September 2007, I photographed a male Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly (Battus philenor) nectaring in my garden. I found mesmerizing its dark beauty, with black wings punctuated by brilliant orange spots and shimmering iridescence. The wings flashed electric blue in the fading late day sunlight and I became completely captivated!
Although the Pipevine Swallowtail is not rare in its southern range, this exotic looking butterfly is an unusual occurrence in the northeast, and even more rarely found on the eastern outer reaches of Cape Ann. Mine was a stray, carried in on a southerly breeze. I imagined that if a male can drift into our garden, so can a female. And if a visiting female found in my garden her caterpillar food plant, she would deposit her eggs. The following spring we planted the Dutchman’s Pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla). Four years later, and our pipevine has grown well. With emerald green enormous heart-shaped leaves, she is quite a showstopper clambering over the back fence. The plant is named for its flower, which resembles a Dutchman’s pipe, although when ours flowers, the blooms are so small, so few, and so lost in the foliage, I barely know when it is in bloom. Our pipevine took several years to become established, but once firmly rooted, it grew vigorously, but not invasively. At the end of the growing season, or the beginning of the next, I cut the vine hard, down to the ground. Dutchman’s Pipevine grows in full sun and partial shade and is hardy in zones 4 to 8.
Aristolochia macrophylla had its glory days in gardens during the two previous centuries, prior to the invention of air conditioning. It was planted to cover porches and treillage; cooling and shading the rooms within. When looking through old photos you can easily spot the porches and arbors that are embowered with pipevine because of the distinctive heart-shaped foliage. I imagine Fred Bodin may even have a few pictures of pipevine shrouded porches in his treasure trove of vintage photographs.
While doing chores in our backyard, about a week ago Saturday, I noticed the rapid movements of a dark butterfly investigating the pipevine. I immediately paused because say, for example, if it was the more common Eastern Black Swallowtail, which deposits eggs only on members of the carrot family, it would not show the least bit of interest in the pipevine. Upon close investigation, it was a Pipevine Swallowtail and, without doubt, it was a she! After first zooming in and out of the house to grab my camera, I observed her as she fluttered from tendril to tendril. She deliberately chose the tenderest leaves, pausing briefly several times to curl her abdomen to the underside to deposit her eggs. After she departed I ran in the house to tell anyone who would listen of the Great News. In our household my butterfly news is pretty much the family joke, although my husband kindly offered to get the tallest ladder from the basement. He held tight while I climbed to the top rung in search of eggs. I struck gold! Unlike the female Monarch and Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, which deposit eggs singularly, the Pipevine Swallowtail oviposits eggs in clusters. I counted somewhere between 25-30 eggs (very approximately) in the clutch we cut from the plant. I hope we have enough pipevine to feed this many hungry Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars!
~ Map courtesy NABA
July 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Congratulations and thank you to Mayor Kirk, Sarah Garcia, Chris Muskopf, Jay Ramsey, and including everyone involved (there are many, many more than named here–these are the people I have had the pleasure to work with on the project) for having the vision, courage, tenacity, and talent to create Gloucester’s Harbor Walk.
The Harbor Walk is nearing completion. Despite the plethora of unforeseeable problems with the landfill at I4-C2, and current drought, the walk looks gorgeous. Come, take a stroll!
Gus Foote Park Last Year at this Time. What a difference–the build phase of the project was accomplished in only a few short months!
I will be bringing you more ‘before and after’ photos, as well as information about the native plants habitat gardens (and how you can translate that information to your own garden), in the coming months.
July 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This striking Baltimore Checkerspot was photographed last week in a field of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The field is located in Ipswich’s town center.
Notice the Baltimore Checkerspot’s vivid orange antennal clubs and white and orange dotted abdomen. The caterpillar’s food plant, or host plant, is mainly turtlehead (Chelone glabra) in low lands and gerardias upland, e.g., Smooth False Foxglove (Aureolaria flava).
I find absolutely the most interesting creatures in fields where grows Common Milkweed, which tells us that the plant provides a wealth of nourishment for a diverse range of organisms.
Note: The underside of butterfly wings are referred to as ventral; the upper surface as dorsal. An easy way to remember the difference between the terms dorsal and ventral is to think of the dorsal fin of a dolphin.
June 26, 2012 § 4 Comments
Perhaps you may recall the photo of the wild silkworm cocoon that was posted back in April. I was becoming a little discouraged at the lack of activity and wondered if we should place the cocoon, which was housed in a terrarium and protected from the sun by our shaded porch, into full sun. My worries were for nothing because during the heat wave Thursday, sometime in the mid-morning hours, a gorgeous female Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus) emerged from her cocoon.
The Polyphemus Moth is so named because of the giant eyespots ringed with yellow, blue, and black on the hindwings. In Greek mythology Polyphemus is the one-eyed Cyclopes and son of Poseidon and Thoosa; the name means “much spoken of” or “famous.”
The Polyphemus Moth has also transparent spots on the forewings. Antheraea polyphemus is one of North America’s largest moths with a wingspan of four to six inches. Like the Luna Moth and Cecropia Moth, the Polyphemus Moth belongs to the Giant Silkworm Family or Saturniidae.
Male Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus). Note the comb-like feathery antennae of the male, which are nearly double the size of the female. The large antennae can more easily detect pheromones released by the female.
I was hoping a female would emerge, knowing that she would release pheromones, which would attract a male. Thursday night we set up the terrarium outside in a sheltered area around back. The following morning, sure enough, I discovered a perfect male specimen clinging to the back door. They don’t fly very well when their wings are not warmed sufficiently so he was easy to capture. I placed him into the terrarium with the female. Her abdomen is bursting with eggs and she had already begun to deposit unfertilized eggs everywhere—on leaves, her old cocoon, and the glass walls of the terrarium. That night I woke up every hour on the hour to try to photograph their mating, but I don’t think a pairing took place.
She is continuing to deposit eggs each evening. Her abdomen is still quite swollen. I am keeping my hopes up that they will get it together so the male will fertilize her eggs and we can then rear the caterpillars! Both male and female emerge without mouthparts; they do all their eating in the caterpillar stage.
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 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I never know what interesting species I am going to encounter when at Willowdale– usually tending to find more of the native variety–
From wiki: Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, is a resident breeder in South Asia. The peacock is designated as the national bird of India and the provincial bird of the Punjab. The term peafowl can refer to the two species of bird in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. Peafowl are best known for the male’s extravagant tail, which it displays as part of courtship. The male is called a peacock, and the female a peahen. The female peafowl is brown or toned grey and brown.
Come join us tomorrow evening in the garden at Willowdale.
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.
June 3, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Trumpeting the Trumpet
Early blooms are an important feature for the vine planted to lure hummingbirds. You want to provide tubular-shaped flowers in shades of red and orange and have your hummingbird feeders hung and ready for the earliest of the northward-migrating scouts. If nothing is available, they will pass by your garden and none will take residence. Hummingbirds can easily distinguish red contrasted against green. We go so far as to plant vivid Red Riding Hood tulips beneath our hummingbird feeders, which hang from the bows of the flowering fruit trees. Although hummingbirds do not nectar from the tulips, the color red draws them into the garden and the flowering fruit trees and sugar water provide sustenance for travel-weary migrants.
Lonicera sempervirens, also called Trumpet and Coral Honeysuckle, is a twining or trailing woody vine native to New England. Trumpet Honeysuckle is not at all fussy about soil and is drought tolerant. Plant in full sun to part shade. If Trumpet Honeysuckle becomes large and ungainly, prune hard to the ground—it grows rapidly and a vigorous pruning will only encourage more flowers.
‘Major Wheeler’ flowers in a deeper red than that of the carmine of ‘Dropmore Scarlet.’ ‘John Clayton’ is a cheery, cadmium yellow, a naturally occurring variant of Lonicera sempervirens, and was originally discovered growing wild in Virginia. The blossoms of ‘Mandarin’ are a lovely shade of Spanish orange.
Trumpet Honeysuckle has myriad uses in the landscape. Cultivate to create vertical layers, in a small garden especially. Plant Lonicera sempervirens to cover an arbor, alongside a porch pillar or to weave through trelliage. Allow it clamber over an eyesore or down an embankment. Plant at least one near the primary paths of the garden so that you can enjoy the hummingbirds that are drawn to the nectar-rich blossoms. I practically bump into the hummingbirds as they are making their daily rounds through the garden flora. Did you know they make a funny squeaky sound? I began to take notice of their presence in our garden, when at my office desk one afternoon in late summer, with windows open wide, I heard very faint, mouse-like squeaks. I glanced up from my work, fully expecting to see a mouse, and was instead delighted to discover a female Ruby-throat outside my office window, nectaring at the vines. Trumpet Honeysuckle not only provides nectar for the hummingbirds, it also offers shelter and succulent berries for a host of birds.
Lonicera sempervirens is a caterpillar food plant for the Snowberry Clearwing moth.
May 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I am receiving a mountain of emails about the beautiful butterfly with underwings of mottled brown and upper surface banded brilliant fiery orange-red.
The Red Admiral butterfly is having an “irruptive” year and millions are streaming northward through gardens from Texas to Canada. An irruption for a species of butterfly can best be described as a sudden sharp increase in the relative numbers of a population.
This has been an amazing spring for butterflies, not only because they emerged earlier, but because they are present in much greater numbers than is usual. I have also been filming many more Question Mark and Painted Lady butterflies than is typical for this time of year.
The following is excerpted from an article about the Red Admiral that I wrote several years ago. Click here to read the complete text.
Red Admirals are Holarctic, a term used by zoologists to define the ecozone covering much of North America and Eurasia, which share many faunal characteristics. In our region Red Admirals are a migratory species that cannot withstand cold winter temperatures. Their numbers in any given year vary, from uncommon to abundant, and their abundance depends on the nature of that year’s migration and the success of the resulting breeding season. In the first week of May, Red Admirals begin to appear from overwintering populations in North Carolina and southward. Males perch from advantageous lookouts and will dart out to investigate passersby— prospective mates, other insects, and humans. Famously friendly, the Red Admiral readily alights on people, attracted by the salts in perspiration. They are on the wing almost continuously from May to October. The second, and quite possibly third generation, from the initial spring flight, begins the southward migration in late August to October.
Red Admiral Nectaring at Common White Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
The caterpillar’s primary food source is nettles—in New England these include Stinging, Tall, False, and Wood Nettles, all of which are unsuitable for the garden, particularly a small garden. The caterpillars “sew” the edges of the nettle leaves together with their silk and feed from within the shelter. The adults nectar at a wide variety of plants and are attracted to sap flows, rotting fruit, bird droppings, and wet soil.
Nabokov referred to V. atalanta as the Red Admirable and they appear several times in his novels to foreshadow death. “Its coloring is quite splendid and I liked it very much in my youth. Great numbers of them migrated from Africa to Northern Russia, where it was called ‘The Butterfly of Doom’ because it was especially abundant in 1881, the year Tsar Alexander II was assassinated, and the markings on the underside of its two hind wings seem to read 1881.”
May 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Video Walking Tour of Gloucester Harbor Walk with Good Morning Gloucester creator Joey Ciaramitaro
May 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Chris Muskopf and the newly planted Tulip Trees at St. Peter’s Square
Friday late afternoon I took a stroll along the Harbor Walk to have a look at the newly planted gardens. I heard a friendly hello from behind and there was Chris Muscopf, primary architect and project manager for the Harbor Walk, stopping by to check on the gardens, too. Chris was later meeting JD MacEachern and they were on their way to a running race at Good Harbor Beach.
Chris Muskopf and JD MacEachern
Chris lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife and young daughter Beatrix and rides his bike, or runs, to his job at Cambridge Seven Associates nearly everyday, rain or shine. I’ve gotten to know Chris a little bit over the past year and he is an all around great guy, with a wonderful sense of humor. Chris is working tirelessly, and always with much enthusiasm, to make the Harbor Walk a success. Stop in and see the work in progress. I think you’ll agree, the Harbor Walk is coming along beautifully!
May 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Jay Ramsey with his crew Mauriocio Tuquerres and Mike Rogers planting hawthorn Crategus viridis ’Winter King’ at Gus Foote Park.
Last week Jay Ramsey and his crew planted the garden at I4-C2 and two trees at Gus Foote Park. Jay (Farm Creek Landscaping) suggested the hawthorn ‘Winter King’ and project architect Chris Muskopf and I agreed it was a great suggestion. Jay has had good success with ‘Winter King;’ notably with the several he planted along a windswept bank of the Annisquam River. ‘Winter King’ is relatively disease and pest free (atypical for members of the Rose Family) and is noted for its profusion of white flowers in May and tight clusters of bright red fruits that persist through the winter. The fruits are usually not eaten by birds until late winter. Crategus viridis is tolerant of poor soils and urban conditions. Crataegus means strength and viridis refers to the greenish bark of the species, however ‘Winter King’s’ bark is more silvery.
May 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Welcome Tulip Trees!
The magnificent Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), also called Tulip Poplar or Yellow Poplar, is named and noted for its tulip-shaped flowers. Tulip Trees are native to the eastern United States and are relatively fast growing, without the problem of weak wood strength and the short life span typical of fast growing trees.
The foliage of the Tulip Tree has a distinct four lobed shape, with a beautiful fluttering habit when caught in the wind. Come fall, the tree is ablaze in brilliant clear yellow. Rich in nectar, Tulip Trees are a major honey plant of the east. In our region the tree typically flowers in June. The nectar also invites songbirds Cardinal and Gold Finch, as well as Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Liriodendron tulipifera is one of only two species in the genus Liriodendron in the Magnolia Family.
Fun fact from wiki: Native Americans so habitually made their dugout canoes of its trunk that the early settlers west of the Appalachian Mountains called it Canoewood.
May 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Monday the Tulip Trees were planted at St. Peter’s Square and Tuesday was devoted to Whale Watch and General Store planting areas. Today we are tackling Gus Foote Park. You may notice a few bare spots; not all plants have been delivered. We’ll be adding more to the gardens as they arrive.
Jay Ramsey and his crew from Farm Creek Landscpaping are doing a top-notch job—professional and so enthusiastic. We are all so excited to see the installation of the city’s Harbor Walk gardens underway. I’ll be bringing you information on some of the native beauties we have planted and their value to the landscape and to wildlife. People often ask me why they have so few bees in their garden and I respond, “What have you planted for the bees and for all the pollinators?” When you plant for the pollinators, they will come!
April 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
You could say I have an obsession with spring flowering trees, especially our native dogwoods. Is it a mystery why?
I adore flowers, and branches shrouded with tree-flowers are even more romantic, perhaps because we are seeing repeating flower shapes, en masse.
Native Flowering Dogwood ~ Cornus florida
Even with only the tiniest bit of space, I encourage everyone to plant a tree-garden. Contact me if you need help in finding the perfect tree for your garden.