Recent Entries to this Blog Annuals to Grow Again
Posted: 07 Aug 2007
Meet Copper, the Beagle Pup
Posted: 07 Aug 2007
Bursting with Butterflies!
Posted: 16 Jul 2007
Hypertufa Garden Art--Mouth of Truth
Posted: 10 Jul 2007
Frit's Emergence, Monarch Pupas, and a Crazy Garden Man
Posted: 09 Jul 2007

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hummingbird3172's Blog

My Crazy Creative Chaotic Garden, a work in progress!

Bursting with Butterflies!

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:14 pm

Over the weekend I had my queen and a monarch emerge!

This is a queen on my Empire Blue butterfly bush....

I always seem to catch them immediately after they emerge..they must be doing it at the crack of dawn!

Here is what the queen looked like...BEFORE:

If you notice, you can actually see the butterfly inside the chrysalis. The chrysalis turns from apple green to black...when you look closely you can see the markings on the butterfly inside. The chrysalis looks milky here because of the camera flash. This is the actual color but it appears black in normal lighting.

Today I had THREE monarchs emerge. I always gently remove them from the "cage" and place them on a nectar plant outside so they can get some refreshment after their wings dry. Here is a picture of two of the three:

This morning I had three more monarchs pupate and I have 5 more getting ready to, they are starting to hang upside down. I've got so many monarch cats outside that I have started bringing them in only when they get close (they are huge and spend less time eating).

I've also got three gulf frit cats growing, they don't seem to grow quite as fast as the monarchs, but one is about a week away I think.

So as you can see, these little guys are keeping me busy.

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Queen Caterpillar is a Chrysalis!

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 8:53 pm

I had a feeling the change would come soon and last night at bedtime the caterpillar was on the "bar" hanging upside down. This morning it was still "in position" and right before my eyes it began to swing and gyrate.

Forgive these pictures, but the silhouette is visible:

In the picture below you can see the shed caterpillar skin up near the top of the chrysalis which is a gorgeous apple green.

Last night one of the monarch caterpillars went after another and killed it. They are voracious and I think all four remaining are about ready for the big change.

I moved the fritillary chrysalis to a nice big jar so hopefully I can get some photos when our pretty butterfly emerges. I've christened it Frit and Frit should be emerging sometime tomorrow. I'll be watching closely!
Frittillary Chrysalis

I've got some flowers blooming too so Frit will have lots of nectar when it emerges.

White Swan Echinacea

Here are two pics of those Decor Zinnias...I really do love them, the coral and the charteuse:

And my peach passion sunflowers:

Last edited: Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:12 pm

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Birds,Blooms, Bugs, and a Toadgloo

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:08 pm

The other day I had some interesting bird feeder guests arrive. They have been to dinner before and always like to come up and see what I am doing:

These are sandhill cranes. They are very curious and although they are quite big, they are very gentle. They are fascinated in my 2 year old daughter. Maybe because they are such great parents themselves. They came to greet us the day we moved in, and from time to time they stop by. They'll eat bird seed off the ground, peanuts, and they like a bit of bread. I try to give them a hearty whole wheat to give them a more nutritious snack. They don't gorge themselves on the bread, but seem to enjoy it as more of a treat, and to be social.

I've got some new blooms that are very pleasing to me!

This is a Peach Passion Sunflower. I will be growing these again! They are so sturdy and have branching flowers! Some to cut and some to leave on the plant!

This is a bloom from my Blue Fortune agastache. It doesn't look like much I guess, but it's the first from the plant. I read the flowers taste like rootbeer, and what do you know? They do!

This is my 6 year old's Zinnia. It's a Burpeana Giant that he planted from a seed.

This pretty rain lily opened this morning. I am glad I got to get a picture, because our hot Florida sun will fade it very quickly to a pale pink.

If you remember my "Weary Traveler" story then you might like to see one of her offspring!

I've brought this little guy inside to make sure he gets all the TLC. There are still a few others out there but I think something has eaten a few of them because there are less now.

Also, my gulf frittilary pupated on Saturday...I actually got to see it happen this time, I wish the pictures were better, but here's one with it happening:

I've been getting more and more butterfly visitors! This is a peacock butterfly and it might be a male because this is what I've read: The male of the species displays a unique territorial behaviour, in which they stake out a territory typically 15 metres in diameter that contains larval host plants. They perch in this area and aggressively protect it from other insects and other male white peacocks. He's spent the night on our covered front porch and has been right next to my butterfly area for about 20 hours! I haven't seen him chasing other butterflies, but it might be interesting if he does!

I found these weird little "caterpillars" on my milkweed plant when I was looking for monarch caterpillars:

Somehow they don't quite look like caterpillars, and I found a pupa:

Now this pupa doesn't look like a butterfly or moth pupa. It looked like a fly pupa to me. I found out there is a kind of fly called a Syrphid fly that eats aphids. I had been having some aphid issues on this plant, but lately I'd noticed much less. So these little "caterpillars" are maggots! Yuck, right? Well, they are prettier than maggots and they are helping my aphid problem so they are welcome to stay! I brought the pupa in so I can see it hatch, but the monarch caterpillar ate it...I guess he was hungry!

I got a little rubber ball at the dollar store and I was going to try and make a hypertufa sphere shaped planter, but somehow I started forming something else......a Toadgloo. I've filled it with a thick layer of soft dirt for a nice bed for the toad. I think it looks very quaint, like a little hobbit hole. I actually prefer this look to my other toad house....very natural!

Today I want to try and mount my bird bath on the stump. The stump is uneven and what we need is a chainsaw to even it, but we aren't ready to buy it yet. So I think I am going to use hypertufa to build it up to even it out. This should be interesting!

Last edited: Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:10 pm

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Creatures with Wings

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:46 pm

The butterflies have started to come and bring a little of their magic to my garden. Some are too fast to catch in a photo, the Orange Sulphur was one of these speedy butterflies with a crazy flight pattern. I don't think I'd seen one of those up close before, very pretty.

Now I REALLY love this one:

I have never noticed these before, but I was pretty sure it was a Painted Lady, that was a guess, but I looked it up and "YAY!", I was right. I actually prefer the outer wings with the soft lacy browns, a hint of violet dots and a coral blush on the upper wing. The inner wings are pretty too and remind me of calico fabric. It was really enjoying the zinnias that my 6 year old planted.

The Gulf Fritillaries really enjoy this passionvine. I don't see many large caterpillars so I think the lizards are eating them when they are small. I usually will bring them in to help them get big in safety....sometimes lizards are TOO helpful.

Still waiting on the hummers, but my hanging hummingbird garden a.k.a. hanging basket of cardinal climber, is getting closer to blooming...I really hope that brings them in.

I got inspired when a saw Bethie's gorgeous mosaic birdbath. I've always wanted to really get into mosaic, but the stained glass is hard to come by around here...I work with glass rods so that doesn't help me either. So I made a hypertufa birdbath....I used an oil pan...I pushed a plate into the center to create a nice solid nonporous bottom...the plate was $1 at the Dollar Tree. It is a very earth plate and I made a very earthy birdbath to go with it. I pushed pebbles into the edges to give the birds something to grip on when the climb out.

As it dries and cures it will look is going to go on top of the palm stump out front....the morning glories are starting to engulf it...this will look pretty peeking out through the leaves.

I saw a picture online of a birdhouse made with a flower pot so I was determined to make my own...

The hardest part was enlarging the hole...I used my Dremel tool, but I think there must be a better way, it looks like I chewed it. I decided to paint it to kind of hide the ugly hole...the painting looks cute in kind of a whimsical retro look. I glued the pot (with gorilla glue) to a board and then hung it up....I don't know if birds will really go for it, but it does look pretty in the corner.

Still inspired by the mosaic, and then I found a book about PAPER mosaic...I think this might be a good starting point for me! I decided to paint some paper to make it look like stained glass, the paper came out nice, and then I glued it to posterboard. Now I am starting to place the "tiles" on my birdhouse that I first painted black. I am very excited about this. Once it is completed I will give it many coatings of spar urethane so that it looks like tile or glass...I can't wait to finish!

Last edited: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:47 pm

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Disturbing Evidence

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:08 pm

When I went out my front door today I found something quite disturbing: a pile of feathers. The incident occurred right in front of one of my feeders. I can tell from the feathers that the victim was a mockingbird, and from the sheer number of feathers I do feel that foul play was involved. I didn't see any blood or any other signs of the bird so I have a small hope that he escaped.

This mockingbird is the most belligerent fellow. He is extremely possessive of the feeder, even though HE doesn't eat bird seed. This feeder has two baskets for suet on either side and that is what he loves. I make a special mixture that they really seem to enjoy. He always likes to sit in the tree out front watching the feeder, I haven't seen him this morning. He's hated by the blue jays, grackles, titmice, and almost makes me wonder if they set him up?

A main suspect in this crime would be the neighbor's cat, whom I call "Smokey", he's the nicest cat, but is allowed to roam free and he spends a lot of time here. I've never seen him stalking the birds, but HE'S a CAT!

The next suspect would be a hawk, I've seen them around and have on occassion seen them making a meal of a songbird (usually doves).

We've also got bald eagles that roost across the they could be suspects, but I know they prefer fish.

I don't think I'll ever know, but I'm hoping I see my friend around, maybe a little less feathered, but alive and well. I'll miss his scolding and chasing the other birds.

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A Visit from a Weary Traveler

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 2:59 am

She floated into the garden, gracefully gliding, and restlessly searching, her body heavy with eggs. Her wings, faded and battered, had seen better days. She had traveled many miles, looking for the perfect place to lay her precious eggs.
She circled around me twice, her silken wings brushing lightly against my hair like a whisper soft kiss. I felt a thrill of joy because I had been planning for her arrival for months. I walked over to one of my Asclepias bushes and she followed behind, gracefully circling and surveying the flowers around us.
Then she saw it, the object of her search, the stately Asclepias bush with flowers like little chalices of sweet nectar. Although she was most certainly weary with hunger, she paused to lay several tiny eggs beneath the leaves before she finally took a moment to refresh herself.

She hungrily fed, her slender proboscis delicately dipping into each flower, and rested her tired wings. As soon as she regained a bit of her energy she continued to lay her eggs underneath the leaves. She would lay a few eggs and then circle the garden bed, admiring the coneflowers, then the marigolds, everything seeming to make her very pleased. I've never so much felt the happiness of a butterfly, but in this case I could say she was joyful, her very flight changing and becoming more excited. She would feed, lay eggs, and then come back and circle me, which I took as a "Thank you, for being here".

I wanted her to see my other Asclepias bushes so I walked over to them, and again she followed me and quickly found them. She spent at least an hour inspecting the garden, always returning to the Asclepias. She seemed to take such enjoyment out her visit to my garden, even pausing to take a sip from my hummingbird feeder.

It was a moment of magic, a connection with nature, and the driving force behind my choices in my plants. This poor tired butterfly who needed me as much as I needed her. I love gardening because of the bond it creates between nature and me.

I plant a lot of plants because their appearance pleases ME, but many of my plants are chosen because of the wildlife it might attract. I realize in about two weeks, these Asclepias will be quite a ragged sight, but it will be all worth it to have more beautiful monarch butterflies visiting my garden this summer.

Last edited: Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:20 am

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Reasons Why Hummingbirds Should visit ME

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 1:56 am

We have been at this house for almost a year, but I have yet to attract a hummingbird here. I religiously clean and refill my feeders each week, but I've yet to spot one of the little devils visiting.

Here are reasons that a hummingbird should consider visiting MY yard.

1. I've got a hummingbird tattoo on my right ankle...I got it in a moment of madness, but immediately the next day I had a hummingbird visitor at my last house. (I don't think I want another tattoo though....)

2. I've planted trumpet vines for them, and plan to train the vines over a large arbor.....

3. I've planted 8 hummingbird mint (agastache) plants, and have more coming from seeds.

4. I have many vines with tubular or cup shaped flowers, mandevilla,jasmine, cathedral bells and morning glories.

5. I have two lovely hummingbird feeders, one in the front yard and one in the back.

6. I just bought and planted 7 Cestrum plants called "Bacchus" they have tubular wine red flowers. I moved all my gardenias and hydrangeas so that I will have a hedge of these...just for the hummingbirds.

7. I have planted a hanging basket with cardinal create a hanging hummingbird garden.

8. I have all kinds of subtle hummingbird themed garden art...windchimes, garden stakes, thermometer...just to give them the hint.

9. If they would visit me, I'd consider buying them this: , a hummingbird feeder chandelier, to hang beneath the arbor.

10. Just because!

If they don't show when the cestrum blooms I don't know what else I can do.

I blew it, really. They usually show up here in early to late March...they are here all year round, but more show up in early spring....I was having some health issues and was unable to be as vigilant with filling the feeders....hopefully I don't have to wait until NEXT March!

On a more positive note, I did get a visit from my favorite type of butterfly, a zebra longwing. I hadn't seen any since we moved here and I've planted their larval host plants with hope of a visit...if you plant it, they will come...I hope that is true in the case of the hummers too.

Last edited: Fri Jun 22, 2007 1:59 am

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Garden Friends

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:40 pm

I found this very large female Cuban Tree Frog the other day after a rain. She is quite enormous! Look, here she is in my hand for perspective:

It is incredible how many beetles and moths these frogs eat each night. This gal has obviously been eating well!

I've been having some aphid issues lately so I have been really wanting to have a some ladybugs visit. I found one sleeping on a palm frond and decided to take it to my problem areas. She did not want to wake up, but finally she noticed the aphids and got busy. While I was looking at the plant I noticed there were FIVE other ladybugs feeding!

Here is an Asian Ladybird Beetle feeding on pesky aphids:

This is an interesting ladybug that I found nearby, it is called the Twice-stabbed Ladybird Beetle (what a name!):

I noticed a very fat ladybug with no spots walking around. I am not 100% sure but she may be the Spotless Ladybird Beetle:

I was absolutely THRILLED to see that a ladybug has been laying eggs so soon we will have reinforcements! I have read that the larva eat even more aphids!

There are several clumps of eggs so I am really pleased! I can't wait to watch the cycle!

Another garden friend, a spiny soldier insect....he'll eat aphids too, but I'd rather NOT smell him....he stinks!

One of the most magical things about having a garden is being able to witness all the life it abundantly holds.

This blog entry has been viewed 930 times

It Hatched!

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 5:14 pm

Last night when I checked on the chrysalis, I noticed that it was turning black(usually a sign of impending emergence). This morning when I came downstairs I noticed that my cats were WAY to interested in my butterfly "box" . Flapping around inside was a brand new Gulf Fritillary butterfly! I wasn't sure how long it had been hatched, but it was totally dry so it needed to be released very soon. I grabbed my camera, in which of course the batteries were DEAD. I took batteries from the remote control and managed to get this one, very poor photo. I had hoped the butterfly would stick around so I could take a better picture, but he was off and flying before I could get a chance. Here is a picture of the empty chrysalis:

I've collected a new tiny little caterpillar so we can start all over again.

This little guy is about 5mm long! It seems this type of butterfly has a faster metamorphisis than the monarch (It was about 8 days). At least next time I will know when to expect it to hatch.

I found this little fella on the inside screen door handle:

They don't bother me, but my DH is very much afraid of them. Hehehe, I'm leaving the frog here to surprise him. I know, I'm awful, but there is no sound funnier than a grown man screaming like a little girl.

Actually, he is quite mad at them. Now that we are getting wetter weather they've been more as in interested in the opposite sex. We have a pool and they seem to think it is their "Oasis of Love". In the morning we find lots of frog eggs in the pool...which is kind of gross when you want to swim. The eggs are too small to get caught in the net so you have to wait for them to go to the filter. The frogs also get noisy. Their cries of love can sound like a velociraptor from Jurassic Park or like an evil gremlin. Try taking an evening swim and hearing that coming from the bushes! These frogs are an introduced species: Cuban Tree Frogs and they can get quite massive in size. They are voracious eaters, but unfortunately sometimes they eat our smaller native species of tree frogs. We kept one for a pet for awhile and it actually ate itself to death...quite gross. I've been told I should kill them, but I am not good with killing little creatures. I usually try to put them outside the yard. The other problem is that they have toxic secretions in their skin. It makes them undesirable for predators and you do NOT want to get that stuff in your eyes (yes, I know from experience), because it feels like jalepeno pepper oil). If you wash your hands immediately after handling them (which I have always done except that ONE time), there is no problem.

Going off topic just a bit, but I am so pleased that my Grandpa Ott morning glory is blooming!

I think this is the most electric shade of purple that I've ever seen! Can't wait until I have more blooms!!!

Have a great day!

Yah! He screamed better than I could have DREAMED! He screamed once when he saw it, and then again when he gingerly tried to open the door and it leapt at him...EXCELLENT!

Last edited: Fri Jun 08, 2007 6:50 pm

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After the Rain......

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:39 pm

We have been under drought conditions for some time but yesterday our rainy season started with a BANG! We got almost 6 inches of rain in just a few hours. Now, you'd think I would be pleased...I don't have to water this morning, but actually it kind of made a mess. My plants ended up kind of dirty because of the water coming down so fast....and my seedlings got very water-logged. I don't think they will be much worse for wear, I've got them in the sun drying. They expect more T-storms and rain today so I will be sheltering them this afternoon.

The wildlife seemed especially perky this a.m. . I think their evening feeding was messed up because the storms. This little baby lizard was sunning himself on a rock...

It looks like a hatchling, about 1 inch long. You can imagine how close I must have had the camera...explaining his worried expression!

This beetle is such a pretty metallic navy blue...he's probably going to eat my plants, but I thought he was quite pretty!

My mourning doves are kind of funny. They always seem to be following me, or sneaking up...and then they look shocked and horrified when I see them. A few of the males seem a little less flighty. I call this guy "Bert". Bert is always around, I don't know if it is the same Bert each time, but since he is getting tamer, maybe he is.

He has such a pretty iridescence on his neck! I needed to fix something right where he was and unfortunately startled him. He flew up into the air, circled, and landed almost right behind me. I could feel the air from his wings on my legs. I didn't look at him, but he seemed to rethink his landing zone and took off again. Crazy bird!

My calladium is blooming. I forget that they have pretty interesting flowers in addition to their beautiful leaves. They kind of remind me of Jack-in-the-pulpits.

I hope the rains aren't QUITE as bad as last night, a nice quick shower would be about perfect!

My moonflower vines seemed to grow 5 inches is exciting to watch them grow. I can't wait until they bloom!!!

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