Thursday, September 29, 2011

Petunias in the Butterfly Garden

The lowly petunia is not only easy to grow, 

it is also a draw for many butterflies, such as this orange sulphur, also often called an alfafa sulphur.

Not every butterfly can reach the nectar that is deep inside the petunia.

According to Kris Wetherbee's article 'Gardening for Butterflies' for Audubon Magazine, skippers, monarchs and painted ladies have long tongues, swallowtails and most whites and sulphurs have medium-length tongues, and many brushfoot butterflies have very short tongues.  Though in general, butterflies have nothing on many moths - the proboscis of some sphinx or hawk moths can measure up to 14 inches!

For this small petunia, the orange sulphur has no problem reaching the nectar.  However the deeper petunia blossoms apparently require some 
s t r e t c h i n g ...

to get one's fill of sweet petunia nectar.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Anything but Crabgrass

There is one plant that I seem to be quite proficient in growing.   If we have a very rainy season, it thrives.  If there's a drought, it thrives.   If I try to pull it up, it still thrives.  I wish I were talking about clematis or foxgloves or something even remotely pretty...

The dreaded Crabgrass. 

Here you can the crabgrass taking over what is supposed to be the mulched area of my backyard.

Last week Mr. Red House and the kids went and got me a cute little red-topped bird feeder to put in the back yard.  It has been a lot of fun watching the birds, but all that crabgrass kept staring back at me.

It was time to do something about it!  
However, I noticed that all the little ground feeding birds seemed to love the crabgrass.  

I had to put in some plants to replace the crabgrass so the birds will keep hanging around the yard, some ornamental grass perhaps! There was really no option but to go buy more plants.  
(Hey, that's the story I told to Mr. Red House, and I'm sticking to it!)

So I took a trip to the plant store. 

Much better than crabgrass!

Mums, Salvia 'Sensation White', and variegated Liriope make up most of the bed next to the preexisting Buddleia 'Santana'.  I bought some sort of native grass for the other end of the bed.  It was the only one of its kind at the store and, sadly, unlabeled.

If anyone knows what kind it is, please let me know!  It has a few purplish tufted blooms on it.

Now I can enjoy the non-crabgrass section by the bird feeder, and the birds (and butterflies!) can enjoy the little garden too.

Though those sparrows and other little feeder birds do still seem to be drawn to the unweeded sections of crabgrass in the yard... enjoying the crabgrass seeds, no doubt.

And I still see a lot of crabgrass... 
Maybe I need to buy more plants?  Some more ornamental grasses?
For the birds, of course!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where's Waldo?

Can you spot the camouflaged wildlife in these photos?







Could you find the critters?
Here are the answers:

(1) Cabbage White Butterfly

(2) Toad (maybe someone else can ID which type?)

(3) two Sparrows

(4) Eastern Fence Lizard

(5) Clouded Skipper Butterfly

(6) Imperial moth

Did you find them all?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When Butterflies Distract

 I've got a project to do - a table to paint before the 2-year-old wakes up from her nap, so no distractions, okay?

But look at me!!
A Monarch!!  I've been waiting for one to visit the Red House Garden.  Welcome, welcome!
Okay, back to the painting..

But what about me?
 Okay, one more and that's it.  Now, butterflies, you have to go away.  I have to get this table painted...

But you have to come over here and notice me!
Don't forget about us little skippers!
And us swallowtails!
 Seriously?!  Now the little one has woken up and the clouds are rolling in.  The kids will now have to watch a video to keep them out of trouble while I hurry up and get this table painted before it rains.   
So no more butterflies!

Not even little old me?
Ooo, oo, take a picture of me!

Are we about done yet?  
Can I paint now?

Right before it starts to rain!
And believe it or not, there were even several more mischievous sulphurs and blues flitting around trying to distract me while I was trying to paint!
Do you think they knew?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Juniper Level Botanical Garden Part 2 - For the Hosta Lovers

The other weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the Juniper Level Botanical Garden and adjacent Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh.   One of the things they are known for is their hosta breeding program.  The gardens are filled with beautiful hostas tucked in among the other plantings. 

Everywhere I turned there was a medley of texture:

Top:  Silk Kimono, Moon River
Center: Alleghan Fog
Bottom:  Laura and Darrell (the leaves of this one were gigantic!),  Deep Blue Sea

There are many hostas with different and sometime unusually variegated leaves:

Row 1: Tambourine, Pineapple Upsidedown Cake
Row 2: Abby, Prestige and Promise 
Row 3: Earth Angel, Blazing Saddles
Row 4: Stitch in Time, Popcorn

 My favorite hostas were the little miniatures.  So cute!  Here are some closeups of those little gems:

Top: Cherry Tomato
Center: Little Treasure, Mighty Mouse, Snow Mouse
Bottom:  Holy Mouse Ears

There are also several different fields filled with new hosta seedlings that will be evaluated and possibly named and released for market.   Plant Delights Nursery has already produced quite a few new cultivars.

Hosta Seedling Evaluation field
Of course I could not come home without a couple hostas of my own. 

Two little Hosta 'Cameo' plants now reside in the Red House Garden, tucked into the shade garden among the impatiens.

They are little things and rather overshadowed by the impatiens, but every garden needs some secret treasures meant only for those who seek.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Visit to Juniper Level Botanical Garden - part 1

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the Juniper Level Botanical Garden and adjacent Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh.

Agave ovatifolia makes a dramatic statement.
The gardens, established by the horticulturalist and plant explorer Tony Avent, serve as a research and trial field as well as a display area for new perennials.  

Titanotrichum oldhammii
 The gardens and nursery are known for their hosta breeding program, having introduced many new cultivars.   They also have an extraordinary collection of agave, crinum, hardy elephant ear, trillium, and much more.  Plant Delights Nursery is a mail-order nursery which is open to the public four times a year and helps fund the research and the botanical garden. 

Hosta Seedling Evaluation field
Colocasia esculenta 'Black Marble'
The Botanical Garden has several different areas filled with plants including a hardy tropical garden, a rock garden, a sunken aquatic garden, and an alpine garden.  According to their brochure, in total it contains over 17,000 different plant specimens!

Hibiscus 'Summer Storm' overlooking the Aquatic Garden.
I'm not even sure if I saw all of the parts of the garden - I think I got lost wandering around the many winding pathways...

I did enjoy the unexpected pieces of art that popped up occasionally.

The locally famous 'barrel monster' sculpture by Joseph Carnevale
 After wandering the gardens, the real fun began - plant shopping!  

One of the greenhouses with plants for sale at Plant Delights Nursery
According to their brochure, Plant Delights Nursery offers around 1600 different plants for sale at any one time in several large greenhouses.  It might be good to browse the catalog ahead of time!  Here you can find many plants that you can't find anywhere else - but beware, they don't come cheap.

I managed to escape with only five plants by avoiding some of the greenhouses.  There might be a little drool left on a certain $28 hosta though...  Good thing this nursery is only open to the public four times a year!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...