Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Garden Musings

Some garden projects take time and patience. Our pergola is an example. John built it several years ago. We planted vines, changing some over time, and waited for them to grow. We're finally seeing results this year. Sweet autumn clematis at the ends and jasmine on the sides have grown and created a nicely shaded spot. The jasmine started blooming in mid-June and smells wonderful. And I finally got to put out the metal table and chairs I've been hanging onto to create a shaded retreat.

Someone came last week, looked down through the pergola and said, "I'll take one of those." Patience has paid off.

I was getting very concerned about the small number of honeybees I've seen this year. Bee populations are being greatly reduced by the mysterious colony collapse disorder. Finally, this week, I've seen bees. We worked on cleaning up the thyme walk and bees were busy working the thyme blossoms. I've also seen them on lavender, hyssop and catmint. Perhaps the sunny, warm weather brought out more bees. Bumblebees are around too, and more plentiful than honeybees. They're pollinators too, but not as important as honeybees.

Since the bees have shown up, now I can worry about the lack of butterflies. I know they are more plentiful on warm, sunny days, but even in this sunny, dry stretch I haven't seen many. Most I've seen are small (like cabbage loopers) or medium (like red admirals). I've only seen one caterpillar which will become a swallowtail butterfly. It was munching on the rue, but. none on parsley, dill or fennel which are also host plants for the caterpillars. And I see no signs of any caterpillars on either the swamp milkweed or the wild milkweed which serve as hosts for monarch caterpillars. I think butterflies are like lots of animals-reduced habitat and more chemicals seem to be reducing their numbers. if you find big black, white and green striped caterpillars on your dill, parsley, fennel, rue, etc. don't smush them. In a bit, you'll be rewarded with a black or yellow and black swallowtail.

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