Butterfly, Beans, and Basil

A monarch butterfly has been visiting my garden many days.  Of course, I don’t know if there are different monarchs or it is the same one.  I only see one at a time.

Garden 07 27 14 071

I was harvesting in my garden when a monarch landed on the clematis vine right by me and stayed there for a while.  Later the monarch landed on the joe pye weed, though I did not get a good picture.

Garden 07 27 14 007

Earlier this week I saw a black swallowtail caterpillar on the parsley plant – which is a host plant for them.  Once I saw the photo on the computer it looks like there is possibly a smaller caterpillar behind it – the little black thing near it.

Garden 07 27 14 061

This morning the clearwing moth – hummingbird moth – was sunning itself on the pole bean leaves.

Garden 07 27 14 076

I pick beans every afternoon.  Here are pole beans.  The one in front is obvious, but I have to push back the leaves and look around for all the beans hiding in the vine.

Garden 07 27 14 085

Between pole beans and yellow wax beans I pretty much filled an ice cream bucket.  I also found about a dozen strawberries today.  Besides that I am harvesting zucchini and cucumbers.

Garden 07 27 14 003

On Friday I harvested the basil and made some pesto, which we ate on crackers or bread.  I still have some left and might throw it in my salads this week.

Garden 07 27 14 086

Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Venus’ – false sunflower.  This came in the mail this spring.  I think I planted it a little early in the unmowed meadow, and I thought it had died.  But then it came back and is looking very pretty.

Garden 07 27 14 023

We had company this weekend, so it was fun to share the garden.  Black-eyed susans in the background.

Garden 07 27 14 065

A closer shot of the black-eyed susans and in the background Miscanthus ‘morning light.’  The Russian sage is also plentiful in the yard now.

Garden 07 27 14 009

The aphids have arrived on the butterfly weed.  That means I need to keep my eyes open for lady bugs, or something else that feed on these guys.

Garden 07 27 14 002

One morning this week I watched this mourning dove sit with its wings in the air for a while, presumably drying them out.  Sedum in the background.

Update on last weeks flies:  Remember the pictures of the clusters of flies on the asparagus plant last week?  It turns out that all those flies and many others died.  I found dead flies on leaves here and there around the garden.  I am not sure what caused it.  I know that my neighbor uses quite a bit of herbicides near the mulberry tree, so that may have been a problem.  I hate to think of that poison moving through the food chain in the soil.  There might be some other explanation, too.

On a cheerier note, we visited the Lurie gardens at Millennium Park.

Garden 07 27 14 052

Rattlesnake-master and coneflowers at the Lurie Gardens.

Standing on Holy Ground

Sometimes stepping into the garden on a summer morning is a little like stepping into something holy, or sacred, or mystical, or magical, or whatever word you would use.  I like being out around 9:00 am once the dew has mostly disappeared and the bees and butterflies are actively feeding on all the sunny flowers.  It’s full of life.

Garden 07 20 14 069

  Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Summer Sun’, Agastache blue fortune – anise hyssop, and Russian sage.  It might be a metallic green bee on the heliopsis.  The bees and flies are starting to discover the agastache – which will soon be a huge attraction in the garden.  This arrangement is in my “drought garden” right off the patio.

Garden 07 20 14 134

If you want to see butterflies, moths, and other interesting creatures head to the northeast corner of the garden where coneflower, joe pye weed, and liatris spicata are blooming.  These native flowers are always buzzing with life.

Garden 07 20 14 133

Joe Pye Weed ‘Gateway.’  Once the bees start working the flowers they look a little frazzled.

Garden 07 20 14 156

Quite a few times this week I have seen clearwing moths – hummingbird moths – on the liatris spicata.  It is hard to get a good close-up.  They move quickly!

Garden 07 20 14 169

A small brown moth was carefully working over this purple coneflower – Echinacea purpurea.  Can you see the tiny yellow flowers at the tips of the cone spikes?

Garden 07 20 14 173

It looks like some kind of skipper butterfly is resting or sunning itself on a bok choy leaf.

Garden 07 20 14 125

The black-eyed susans are starting to bloom now.  Here a fly is resting.

Garden 07 20 14 141

Speaking of flies..  In seven or eight spots on the asparagus plant the flies seems to be having some kind of orgy or group experience of some kind.  They have been in this position for the past 24 hours….

Garden 07 20 14 179

Juvenile robins being territorial or bossy.  I usually post pleasant pictures at the birdbath, but there is a lot of ‘king of the hill”  that happens here.  As I sit in my home office during the week I have a good view of the birdbath, and it is interesting to see who is waiting in line and who is being bossy.

Garden 07 20 14 128

These zinnias are also easy to see from my office window.  I have both shorter and taller zinnias planted here.  They bring in gold finches and butterflies, but right now they are not nearly as exciting to the wildlife as the native flowers.  Still their beauty across the yard really cheers me up while I am working and they bring beneficial insects near the vegetable garden.

Garden 07 20 14 114

The vegetables need to be picked and dealt with every day now.  This was probably the fifth huge cauliflower we picked and cooked.  It is purple from the nearby mulberries where the birds had been visiting.  Today I had a big bowl of cauliflower soup with new potatoes, kale, and green beans from the garden, mixed in with some cans of beans and a few other ingredients.

 Garden 07 20 14 144

We still have some everbearing strawberries blossoming, since we have had a lot of cool, wet weather.  The delicate colors caught my eye as I walked by.  Most of the berries are done now, though I have still been trying to forage for mulberries in the easement each morning for my cereal.

Garden 07 20 14 145

I picked up a cheap white table on sale yesterday to put under my umbrella.  Now I can sit and read in the shade at lunch without balancing things on my lap.  I also repotted some of my house plants yesterday.  It was a good day to play with water from the hose as I cleaned up.  No problem having a green lawn this year.

Garden 07 20 14 029

Ducks at Lake Katherine, where I take walks several times a week.

If you have made it this far you know that I put in a lot of pictures this week!  This was because I did not blog last week, so I was choosing from 179 photos that were on my camera.  It is a beautiful time of year and impossible to capture and share everything that is going on.

Rain, Reading, and a Clearwing Moth

It is a raining weekend.  There is a flood advisory out for the area.  Luckily our land is high and flooding has never been an issue.  Here are a few photos I took this week.

Garden 07 12 14 005

This hummingbird clearwing moth has been visiting off and on at the butterfly bush.  It mimics the hummingbird, but is a moth and when I see it in the yard I check the tomato plants for tomato hornworms.  I love seeing the big green caterpillars chewing away, but they usually don’t last long with all the parasitic wasps in the garden.

Garden 07 12 14 016

I usually ignore the hosta plants, but they are blooming right outside my office window now, so I had to go out and a picture in the dappled light.

Garden 07 12 14 021

I was trying to capture the big bees that were visiting these hosta flowers.  This was a two mosquito picture.  The mosquitoes chased me inside before I got the picture I wanted.  I put caladryl on one or two mosquito bites after each trip out to certain parts of the garden.  If I don’t scratch the itch goes away in a few hours.

Garden 07 12 14 037

We had three inches of rain in about 12 hours with another inch or more predicted for later today.  This morning the water was covering the patio.  It all went down quickly, though.  So much of our plant material has deep roots that open the ground up a little and draw the water down into the soil.

Garden 07 12 14 015

My summer reading included this very interesting book – 40 Chances.  The topic is finding solutions for hunger in the world and deals with agriculture and philanthropy among other things.  It was interesting because I am an organic gardener, but the author farms in Illinois with GMO seeds and is not organic.  Nevertheless he seemed aware of the need to replenish the soil and concerned with the needs of small farmers and subsistence farmers who may not have access to modern equipment and chemicals. I thought it was a well-rounded book with a lot of practical insights.

Garden 07 12 14 041

This is the book I am working on now – Farmacology.  The author, a doctor, talks about similarities in the biological needs of the body with the biological needs in soil.  I have not read it all but am enjoying it so far.  We are always trying to eat in a healthy way and I appreciate getting a variety of views on how to do that.

Garden 07 12 14 038

This is what we had for lunch.  We eat a lot of one-pot meals.  Included in the meal from the garden are the first red potatoes, a big turnip and the turnip greens, yellow wax beans, green peas, kale, cauliflower leaves, swiss chard, and a small eggplant.

Garden 07 12 14 026

Juvenile American robin and sedum.

Vegetables and Berries:  I picked the first small zucchini and a few cherry tomatoes.  The Jimmy Nardello peppers are green and eventually will be turning red and very sweet.  We still have a lot of turnips and cauliflower to eat!  We are still enjoying a handful of raspberries every day and the birds and I are still working on the mulberries, though the blueberries are all eaten.  Each year we should get a bigger supply of blueberries and that is fun to think about…

July Blooms

As the days heat up more flowers are starting to blooms.

Garden 07 06 14 024

Liatris spicata – blazing star – is a prairie plant.  I added a number of new bulbs to the garden this spring.  In the background are Shasta daisies.

Garden 07 06 14 019

Bumble bee on liatris spicata – blazing star.

Garden 07 06 14 007

I was so excited to see a monarch butterfly on my butterfly weed this week.  I took this picture from the kitchen window because I did not want to scare it away.

Garden 07 06 14 061

Today I saw a red admiral butterfly on the butterfly weed.

Garden 07 06 14 051

First flowering of Buddleia buzz midnight – a butterfly bush I planted this year.  I am waiting for it to get a little bigger and for the butterflies to find it.  In front is lacinato kale.

Garden 07 06 14 025

The zinnias I planted from seed are just starting to bloom.  I went out and bought a little wire fence to put around them so they won’t fall on the lawn.  Later I put down some mulch here and around the yard after I did some weeding.  These flowers are a real draw for the butterflies and the goldfinches love to pick off the flowers, too.

Garden 07 06 14 027

The dwarf mums have been blooming 6-8 weeks already!  This color is called ‘bronze.’

Garden 07 06 14 002

Coreopsis – Tickseed

Garden 07 06 14 037

Cantaloupe flower.  Other yellow flowers in the garden now are on the cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and kale.

Garden 07 06 14 059

These are the wax beans I picked over the past two days.  I boiled them with salt and pepper and added a little butter.  Delicious!

Cooking:  I also made a little pesto with basil, parsley, cashews, olive oil, nutritional yeast and lemon juice.  It was really nice on a little French bread!