Oh, it’s sad not being able to look out the back windows and see the wildflowers blowing in the breeze. I took a machete to them a few weeks ago and now have mowed down the bed. I’m going to get out there with a hoe and work it over again. I need to add a few bags of topsoil, a bag of compost, then wait until October before I’ll sow some more seeds. I liked the wildflower bed so much, I decided to expand it. The wildflower bed is about 30 feet long by 1 1/2 feet wide. I’m going to expand it to two feet wide. I ‘ve also decided to expand it down the other fence line where I’ve already stripped sod two feet wide by over fifty feet long. So, I’ll have 160 square feet of space to put in a lot more wildflowers.
But I also want to do other things … I want to expand the butterfly nursery and plant a dozen each of fennel, parsley, and dill plants as well as all of the milkweed I have started. I want the butterflies to see the 80 foot long buffet line from a mile away!
Wildflower bed, minus the wildflowers. 😦
The other end of the yard showing the length of the addition.
The milkweed in the native beds are doing pretty well. I started about six of them from cuttings a couple of months ago. Meanwhile, the butterfly weed is looking beautiful. I have half a dozen more butterfly weed seedlings started, as well as fifty common milkweed from the seeds I received free from LiveMonarch.org.
Another milkweed plant
Common milkweed and Butterfly Weed seedlings
The milkweed and Butterfly Weed grown from seed probably will not bloom this year (although I expect the cuttings to). Usually it takes growing a full year before they do. But, next summer will be a treat for the butterflies. Hopefully, I can start raising Monarch and Queens along with the Black Swallowtails!
Meredith over at Great Stems left a comment the other day about how she never tires of taking pictures of her black swallowtail cats, and I agree with her. They don’t fly away like adults do, so I have plenty of time to snap pics. My wife has now gotten in on the action, taking these great pictures below.
As you can see, they are getting fat and plump on the fennel, which, remarkably, has only grown more aggressively. I counted a total of thirteen cats on the four fennel plants on Sunday. Monday morning the largest of them had gone, I assume to get ready for its great transformation. Last night, with the insane wind we had, one of the big cats got blown off the fennel and a bird swooped down to have dinner. My wife saw it and ran outside to chase the bird, but it was too late. Even with its defense mechanism and foul odor, it couldn’t avoid being a snack. We did our best to shield the rest of them for awhile as the wind finally subsided. In the meantime, though, I was also busy tying sunflowers to the fence and propping up my bean bushes with bricks to keep them from blowing over! The wind has been really wild this spring!
Check out this short HD video I captured of the caterpillar munching down on the fennel. This is not sped up in anyway, they really eat that fast! 🙂
I also found these fuzzy cats chewing up my marjoram. Not quite sure what they are, but I moved them to over the neighbor’s fence. If they can make it back here without getting eaten by the birds, then I guess they passed Herbert Spencer’s test!