A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Posts tagged ‘fennel’

Wildflower Season Ends and Wildflower Bed is Bare

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.

Common Milkweed

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!


Little Striped Cats

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!

“If you build it, they will come…”

A lovely female Black Swallowtail came by the garden several times today and a couple of times I was able to run and get my camera before she fluttered off.  I ran back to find that she was checking out the fennel plants.  She wasn’t busy feeding – no, she had other things on her mind.  If you look a little closer, you’ll see …

Her abdomen is cupped under her, rubbing on the bottom side of a few fennel leaves.   She’s laying more eggs!  She made a few passes through the yard, stopping only on these four fennel plants to do her business.  She seemed entirely disinterested in the parsley.

In case you don’t believe me, I found a handful of these little eggs on the fennel after she left:

Well, I don’t know how they find their favorite host plants.  From my perspective, it seems impossible to locate four little plants amongst an entire neighborhood of plants!