The garden plants have been quite thirsty the past couple of weeks, requiring me to water them frequently and deeply. The raised beds drain very well, almost too well, allowing the soil to dry out quickly. Even the native beds, which are stocked with mostly drought tolerant plants have appreciated the extra soaking with temperatures finally reaching the hundred degree mark for the first time this summer. Thankfully, the really hot weather held out until the last month of summer when those cooler days of fall are almost in sight again. I am very excited to see how the garden will look as we move into fall. The copper canyon daisies and fall aster have been sitting dormant while the rest of the plants are busy flowering away. Most should continue flowering through the fall, and I expect a better show than this spring now that they have had time to grow deep roots and grow a lot larger.
Of course, I can’t be in the garden any length of time before I’m distracted by a butterfly that has floated in to say hello. I continue to see a lot of black swallowtails, pearl crescent, bordered patch, yellow sulphur, and fritillaries. After working for awhile, I stepped inside to get a glass of water and returned to the back door to see the largest tiger swallowtail I have ever seen flitting about the verbena. It was seriously as big as my hand, but as soon as I snuck outside with my camera, she was off on the breeze … the one that got away!
Oh, but she was beautiful!
Not wanting to disappoint, the gulf fritillaries spent quite a bit of time in the garden, chasing one another around. An eastern black swallowtail stopped for most of the day to lay eggs on the fennel. She was pretty small and I didn’t see her deposit any eggs, but she was really trying! She’d wear herself out and then just hang there trying to regain composure, then she’d flit around and go back to laying. Sometimes she would stop for a brief drink on the verbena or lantana. I enjoyed her company most of the day, while the gulf fritillaries played over and through the fence.
Later in the afternoon, I had a visit from a variegated fritillary. She finally came to rest in the shade of spearmint stems under a Texas Lilac tree, allowing me to capture a few shots.