A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Posts tagged ‘butterflies’

The Butterfly Garden and The Reason for My Missing Butterflies

The perennials in the garden have rebounded wonderfully.  The abundant sunshine and warm weather has been good to them, although the lack of rain necessitates a frequent watering with the garden hose.  We are thankful, however, for the recent rain.  It wasn’t nearly enough, but it did manage to saturate the first couple inches of soil.  I know the plants appreciate the rain water more than the city water, so I won’t complain.  Can I ask for more, though?

The perennial hibiscus is really bushing out and I suspect that, some time in May, it will begin flowering.  This variety has fluorescent fuschia blooms, which will bring additional color to the side of the house and is sure to captivate the attention of beneficial insects.  This is between our deep red-colored knockout rose bush, which is starting another wave of blooms, and the herb garden.

perennial hibiscus

The fall aster looks as if it is going to grace us with a pre-fall show this spring.  It is growing some flower buds as we speak, which will add a nice lavender splash between the orange and yellow lantana blooms.  It will continue to grow throughout the summer and put on its big finale in the fall.  It promises to be a good show.

fall aster preparing to bloom ... in spring!

In this photo, fennel flanks three dill plants at the very left side of the bed against the fence.  Surprisingly, the black swallowtails have been quiet the last few weeks after an early start of laying eggs and hatching baby caterpillars.  I don’t currently have a single egg or caterpillar on the hosts plants.  I’m hoping the rain will bring them back.  I mean, I have a total of twelve host plants for them!  Ding-ding goes the dinner bell!!

The three mounds of leaves on the right are black-eyed susans, which still have a little time before they’re in bloom.  At the back of the bed are my thyme plants that are finishing up their blooming stage.  I’ll shear them back when they’re done and encourage them to send up some new growth.

Texas lantana blooms

As a last minute decision, I sowed more Russian Mammoth sunflower seeds (I had four growing last year).  I had twelve come up, but some little creature ate two of them completely to the soil.  I still have nine going strong and another struggling a bit.   The six plants in the foreground below were planted at the same time as the others, but are already much larger than the other four.

Russian Mammoth sunflowers

The sedum wilts slightly in the heat of the day and rebounds by morning.  It seems to catch a lot of falling moisture as seen by these big balls of water.  I think I may need to shade them a little better.  They’re in the same bed as the Turk’s Cap, which enjoys partial shade.  The corner WAS in the shade when I planted them last fall, but the neighbors severely pruned the Texas Lilac tree that used to shade them.

water droplets on sedum leaves

Turk's Cap budding

It’s a challenge to photograph the honeybees on the gauras.   They move quickly from flower to flower, and the entire flower stalk sways so easily in the breeze.  These two photos came out fairly sharp, however.

Indigo Spires salvia barely lets on that it died back to the ground over winter.  These foot-long spires of flowers are everywhere and more are on their way.  In the second photo, the white Autumn Sage can be seen in the background, as well as the yellow blooms of Zexmenia.

The scissor-tailed flycatcher is Oklahoma’s state bird, but still calls the neighbor’s Mulberry tree its home.   Also known as the Texas Bird of Paradise, it is common in our area.   It is a beautiful bird, but I suspect it is the reason why I haven’t seen many butterflies and why the black swallowtail caterpillars disappeared.    It eats berries, grasshoppers, crickets, butterflies, moths and caterpillars.  I sure hope it got the squash borer bug, too.  Here it sits in the top of another neighbor’s tree at sunset.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher ... and butterfly eater!


Texas Discovery Garden’s Butterfly House

The family took a trip to the Texas State Fair to have a little fun this past weekend. While we were there, we stopped into the Texas Discovery Garden’s Butterfly House to see some beautiful species of butterflies, some of which are not native to this continent or even this hemisphere! While we didn’t see every butterfly listed on the brochure, we did get a glimpse of several species. I just had to snap a few pictures!


Cloudless sulphur being released (native)



Queen butterfly or Monarch?



Longwing butterfly (Native to the Americas)



Zebra Longwing (North to South America)



Tiger Longwings (Central and South America)



Scarlet Mormon (native to Asia)



White Peacock (North and Central America)



Male Great Mormon (Native to Asia)



Paper Kite (Native to Asia)



Palamedes Swallowtail (native to U.S. coastal states from East Texas up to Virginia)



Tiger Longwing



Tiger Longwing ventral side



White Peacock


And here are a few flowers I found intriguing as well:

Ain’t Seen Enough Butterfly Pics Yet?

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

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.

Laying eggs on fennel flower

Nectaring on Prairie Moss Verbena

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.

Gulf Fritillary on spearmint flower

Gulf Fritillary on trailing lantana

Gulf Fritillary

What a beautiful pattern on the underside of her wings

Taking flight

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.

Variegated Fritillary on spearmint stem

Variegated Fritillary

Variegated Fritilarry nectaring on Prairie Moss Verbena

Butterflies and Blooms … and then some

Texas Lantana

Whirling Butterfly Gaura

Red Salvia Greggii and Indigo Spires Salvia

Pearl Crescent butterfly on Trailing Lantana

Pearl Crescent butterfly on Four Nerve Daisy

Pearl Crescent

Peppermint flower

Butterfly/Native Garden bed 2

Gulf Fritillary sunning itself after a Purple Moss Verbena nectar breakfast

... taking flight!

White Salvia Greggii and Indigo Spires Salvia

Mammoth Sunflower

sunflowers and sky

Butterfly Weed and Trailing Lantana

Boisduval Yellow butterfly on Trailing Lantana

Divebombing the Four Nerve Daisy

Dragonfly enjoying the warm rocks

Spearmint ... Mojitos anyone?

I thought these were Jalapenos ... but they look more like Anaheim

The herb garden after a trim (marjoram was too leggy, so I pulled it out).

What'cha doin', Katydid?