Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wings in the Wildlife Garden

Harvest Time
Suddenly summer is on the wane, asters, goldenrods and cool season grasses are blooming. Time to look back on the summer that was. I garden for the birds and the bees. An all out effort for hummingbirds the last two years has made my yard a riot of Salvias and Lobelias.  

Salvia "Oxford Blue" A stunning plant!

Fennel, parsley and milkweeds are larval hosts for Swallowtails and Monarchs respectively, and as a volunteer for the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, I have spent the last four years adding many Long Island Ecotypic plants to the mix. To make room for these, I have extirpated aggressive and invasive plants that provided no wildlife value. If it doesn't attract buzz or flutter,  it wont grow here for long..

Salvia cocinea provides dramatic accents.
Was the yard a riot of butterflies? Not so much. Sadly there were many fewer than in previous years. I did see two species I had never seen in the garden before. There were however ,myriad bumble bees and other pollinators. A family of Yellow Jackets has also moved in..We'll see about that, I am trying to coexist, and so far so good.

Little Wood Satyr, Megisto cymela.  New to me and to the garden.

Great Spangled Fritillary, Speyeria cybele, a first for the garden.

Tiger Swallowtail, papilio glaucus, a little the worse for wear.

Black Swallowtails , Papilo polyxenes, breed in the garden every year.
Here, nectaring on Long Island ecotypic Asclepias tuberosa, aptly named "Butterfly Weed".

Silver Spotted Skipper, Epargyrus claruswere the only plentiful butterflies.

Even Cabbage Whites, Pieris rapae , were scarce this year.

Northern Pearl Crescent, Phyciodes selenis.

Only two Monarchs, Danus plexippus, were spotted, 
here nectaring here on native Liatris aspera.

Each one was precious. No Caterpillars this year.

The stars of this years garden were the two female Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, Archilocus colubrus, that visited almost daily during July and August. Mission Hummingbird was a success! Not only Lobeliaa and Salvias, but Cardinal Climber, Scarlet Runner Bean, Hyacinth Bean Vines, Monarda Jacob Cline and Zinnias were planted to attract them. I'd know they were coming by their staccato chirps and buzzing wings. Sometimes they would come right up to me.

Hummingbird attraction tower (top of an eight foot trellis).

By far the favorite was Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis.

Enjoying some Cardinal Climber nectar (Ipomea sloteri)

Red was the preferred color, but they were pretty in pink.

Enjoying a sip of Agastache species

There was one feeder, but natural foods were greatly preferred.

A favorite perch was the pea trellis.

This is not a Hummingbird..
Strawberry Clearwing Moth, Heymeris thysbe.

This is not a Hummingbird either, teeny, tiny Bufo americanus.

A young Bluejay, Cyanosita cristata.
Many fledged in the woods surrounding the garden, 

encouraged by plentiful feeders.

"All good things must end someday..

Autmn leaves must fall"...

Same time next year?
If people were superior to animals, they would take care of the world~ Winnie the Pooh


  1. It must be very rewarding to see the birds come into your yard and land on the plants and flowers that you have grown for them. Nice photos-I especially like the butterfly ones. I've planted some shrubs and flowers in my yard with the birds in mind but you've given me some ideas of plants to add next year.

    1. Thanks Larry, I'm so glad you are planting with an eye to wildlife. Native plants are the best. Wildlife gardens are an important part of ecosystem preservation!