Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Garden of Earthly Delights

A long winter ended with an explosion of tulips and Spring. The rush of planting, mulching and revitalization began..then all at once it seemed, the weather steamed. Too hot to work, but not to enjoy.

A garden of many native plants, geared to the feeding and protection of wildlife, provides entertainment and delight, and a hope for continued biodiversity.

Clematis, Salvia cocinea (native), Stella D'oro Daylilly

It's summer..aren't you a Spring Azure?

Yes! A Spring Azure, summer form! Celastrina argiolus.
On Hydrangea buds.

Tiger Swallotails arrive Papilio glaucus.

Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata opens.
This native milkweed attracts many pollinators,
and is a Monarch larval host.

Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes.
They breed here, on Parsley and Bronze Fennel
Every butterfly garden needs larval hosts.
Not just nectar plants

Finally! The Ruby Throated females arrive!
The "Hummingbird Beacon" sports Scarlet Runner Bean,
Cardinal Climber and  Hyacinth Bean Vine in order of bloom.

Zinnias are native to Mexico.

Once native Cardinal Flower,  Lobelia cardinalis blooms
it is the Hummingbird's favorite!

Native plants tend to bloom later in the season.
I've yet to succeed in attracting spring hummers.

I never knew Borage attracted hummers.
Borage officinalis self-seeds every year.
It is a mediterranean native, which has naturalized.

Garden impression. Zinnia and Cardinal flower.

Beebalm, Monarda genus,
is also a favorite native plant of Hummingbirds

Tattered Silver Spotted Skipper

Isn't this more fun than a lawn??

Birds fledged in the garden. Blue Jay, Cyanocita cristata.

Grumpy Cardinal fledgling. Cardinalis cardinalis

Sunflowers feed the bees.

Then the Goldfinches.
Carduelis tristis

A life-moth dropped by.
The diurnal Orange Spotted Pyrausta orphilsalis.
On False Oregano

Late July now, Echinacea purpea bloom.
A tattered American Painted Lady, Vanessa virginiensis

Liatris ligustylis opens. Liatris genus is a favorite native of pollinators.
A West Virginia White, Pieris virginiensis, has landed.

August! The Monarchs finally arrive!
On Liatris aspera

I hold my breath every year until they arrive!

Daunus plexippus
There was a mating pair this year!
A Great Spangled Fritillary, Speria cybele on New York Iron Weed, Veronia noveboracensis.
A Fritillary is a rarity in this garden!

Summer winds down.
I am tattered and torn..

See you next year..
              To paraphrase Sara Stein.. Our gardens are now the Ark. 
Please plant for wildlife!

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Real Florida: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Salt Marsh
Another worthy escape from fantasy Florida, is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. "Refuge" says it all. Wildlife needs refuge from relentless development. As usual, there is never enough time, so this early spring tour is confined to the Black Point Wildlife drive, a seven mile loop through salt marsh.

If you stop for a photo. The cars behind you line up waiting..

I brake for butterflies..Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
on Tall Thistle(?)

One good Fritillary deserves another..

These last shots taken on foot.
There are parking areas and trails..
The flower is Alba bidens.

A blind along the trail, from which a Roseate Spoonbill was seen. It did not pose..

There were fields of White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba).
Clouds of Tropical Whites (Appias drusilla) enjoyed the bounty.

A beautiful Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The ubiquitous Zebra butterfly (Heliconius charitonius). 
Also on Alba bidens.

So many beautiful butterflies..What more could one ask for? Why beautiful birds of course!!

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula).
"Egret" comes from the French 'aigrette'.

Perhaps I can catch dinner?
'Aigrettes' are the breeding plume feathers'
so many birds were killed to obtain.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
All Egrets are herons, but not all Herons are Egrets.

Tricolor Heron (Egretta tricolor)

                                                  Herons come in so many colors!

Green Heron (butorides virescens)
Enjoying the evening.

It is getting late, all hail the lowering sun!

A pair of Boat Tailed Grackles have an evening snack.
(Quiscalus major)

Mom collects nesting materials. It is early Spring.

Time to head home...
                       If we kill off the wild, we are killing a part of our souls ~ Jane Goddall