Thursday, August 11, 2016

Straggling in to the End of Summer

Here in Massachusetts we've been having a drought, so we were all so thankful to finally get some rain yesterday.

Hibiscus 'Cranberry Crush'
It's been so hot this summer that I've had trouble going out to the garden to weed.  (How did I use to garden down south in North Carolina?)  My garden is looking rather neglected.

Every summer I wonder why it is that the weeds thrive on heat and drought, while the plants we want throw up their hands and cry uncle.  Thankfully many of my plants are pretty drought tolerant - or at least the ones that aren't drought tolerant have died already so I don't notice them anymore.  (Sometimes it pays to have a short memory.)

Thank goodness for Purple Coneflowers and Cosmos!
The veggie garden has been a struggle this year.  The plants are doing fine, but I am not reaping the fruits of my labors.

half-eaten green tomato
The chipmunks, on the other hand, obviously feel like they are at an all-you-can-eat garden buffet.  They've eaten almost every tomato and ground cherry the garden has produced.

I no longer think chipmunks are cute.

At least the chipmunks don't like onions!
The snakes that used to live out behind our neighbor's house must have moved away as we've seen so many critters move in this summer in addition to the normal band of roving deer.  One rascally groundhog, a small horde of chipmunks, and two bunnies have settled in this year.  (I'm expecting around 100 little bunnies next year.)

But I've spotted a few beauties around the garden, too.

Clearwing Moth and Lantana
I always welcome the pollinators to the garden.

bee on Liatris
It is interesting how different years see rises in different populations of butterflies.  While I haven't seen a lot of butterflies in general this year, there have been a number of Swallowtail butterflies, especially Spicebush Swallowtails, which I am delighted by.

In other news, this past weekend marked five years since I started the Red House Garden blog.  I can't believe it's been five years already.

Happy gardening, everyone!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Naughty Norman

This is Norman, our local groundhog.

Norman and I have an agreement.
If he stays out of of the garden, he gets to enjoy an unlimited buffet of clover and other weeds. 

 And boy do I have clover and weeds aplenty for the discerning groundhog appetite!

Good Norman!

Uh, Norman, what are you doing?

Warning, warning! You are in a restricted zone!

Step away from the flower!

Yes, that flower.

Yes, I know it smells delicious.
But so does clover, right?

Uh, what are you doing? Resist the temptation!

Noooo!!  Bad Norman!

Yes, you!  I saw you!
You still have something hanging out of your mouth, for crying out loud.

I still know what you did.

Okay, our agreement now is officially off!

You are a very, very naughty groundhog!

Anyone else get the feeling that my groundhog is developing a little bit of an attitude problem?

He must be taking lessons from the squirrels.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Monarch Sighting!

This weekend we had a Monarch Butterfly sighting at the Red House Garden!

Monarch butterfly on Rose Milkweed
This is a big deal here, as this is only the second Monarch I've seen in the last three years since moving up to Massachusetts.  It's also a cause for celebration, as Monarch numbers have been on the decline in recent years.  We having been fighting against the real possibility that their Great Migration, which encompasses several generations of butterflies and thousands of miles across North America, could face extinction.

Gardeners across America have been planting nectar plants and Milkweed plants, which is what their caterpillars eat, in order to help the butterflies out. We were very optimistic after reports this winter showed that the numbers of Monarchs overwintering in Mexico had increased significantly...

Graph of area covered by the Monarch overwintering population in Mexico
graph by WWF
Unfortunately, an unexpected disaster struck.  In early March, right as the Monarch butterflies were coming out of hibernation, a large winter storm hit Mexico.  Millions of Monarchs were killed.

Thus it gives me great hope to see a Monarch way up here, especially one early in the season.

This one is a female Monarch.

Here's hoping for babies!

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