Zucchini, Tomatoes, Collards and Praying Mantis

With an inch of rain recently we have had a break in the drought.  It is a beautiful October day and here is what I saw when I looked around the garden today.


Male zucchini flower


Female zucchini flower.  We have had quite a few zucchini flowers over the past months, but without rain few of them developed into zucchini that I bothered to pick.  Now we might get a few if the weather stays warm.  I enjoy these magnificent but short-lived flowers.


I have been eating these yellow pear heirloom cherry tomatoes for a few months now.  The leaves of the plant are diseased, but I just keep getting enough cherry tomatoes to have a bunch in my salad each day.


These are tomato plants that my Arab lady friend left on the patio in my watering can, so I don’t know what kind they are, but they are finally producing the first red tomatoes.  On Thursday I made some delicious ratatouille…


We try to throw in 2 to 10 leaves of collards into recipes when we get a chance.  This plant near the lilac bush is looking healthy.


In the vegetable garden the inner portion of the collard plants have been eaten by cabbage moths.  We have more collards than we can eat, so I don’t worry too much about it.


Here come the brussel sprouts.  They have been pretty small, but I think the rain will help them get a bit bigger.


Backing up, here is what the brussel sprout plant looks like.


The pole beans are drying on the vines and will be shelled when I pull down the bean structure.


I looked for bugs on the bean leaves and found a grasshopper.


Parsley is one of the plants that look beautiful all the way into December.  I have not cooked much with it this year, but it makes a great ornamental plant.  It is an essential ingredient in my fabulous spaghetti sauce recipe.


I finally saw my first black swallowtail caterpillar for the year on one of the parsley plants.  For me, parsley is a much better host plant than dill for these caterpillars.


All the native and ornamental grasses have seed heads now.  This is miscanthus ‘morning light.’  I have been searching them the past months to see if I could see the first praying mantis.


This morning I found a female praying mantis in a clump of miscanthus.  Her abdomen is very  large and I wondered if she was getting ready to deposit her egg sack or if she just ate a very large grass hopper that she is digesting.  I was trying to get a better shot and she moved further into the grass, so I am no longer able to find her.  I find paying mantis egg sacks in the grasses every spring when I am doing clean up and try to put the egg sacs in a place where the ants will not get at them.


These little zinnias are finally blooming now.  They are called ‘summer solstice’ but seem to be best in the fall.  I plant them from seeds each year, and they are cute in the garden and attractive to pollinators.


Just to the right in the alyssum I found a little skipper resting.  I almost pulled up all the alyssum during the drought because it just looked like seed heads, but the flowers have returned after the rain and it is buzzing with small pollinators.


The coral mums are starting to bloom…


Some migrating warblers have been passing through.  I think this is a palm warbler, as they seem to visit every year, but not sure I can tell from this picture.


Then there is the usual bird bath ruckus to see how many starlings or sparrows can get in the bird bath at once!

Have a beautiful autumn day!

Butterfly, Caterpillar, and a Mystery Bird

If you get out in the garden on a sunny day you can find sun loving insects and flying creatures if you can stand still for a while.

Garden 06 15 14 057

Little wood satyr – Megisto cymela.  I saw a number of these little butterflies on Saturday morning.  This one was in the unmowed meadow.  While I was standing there I saw what I think was an eastern comma butterfly sunning on the raspberry leaves, but it got away before a was able to focus, so I can’t verify what it was.

Garden 06 15 14 081

Pollinators on aruncus – goatsbeard, which is just going past prime now.  There were a lot of flies, but also small bees, wasps, and the tiny red creature at the top of the picture is either some kind of spider or tick.

Garden 06 15 14 031

Black swallowtail caterpillar on curly parsley.  This guy was chewing away one evening.  I did not see it the next morning, so it is either hiding, eaten by a bird, or off to make its cocoon.  I saw a black swallowtail butterfly a while ago apparently dropping eggs on this parsley, so I have been keeping my eyes open for the caterpillars.

Garden 06 15 14 114

Spike speedwell – veronica spicata ‘royal candles.’  Just throwing in something that is flowering this week.  In the background the black-eyed susan foliage is getting taller, and behind that is miscanthus ‘morning light.’  Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ grass is on the right.

Garden 06 15 14 091

This little brown bird spent about 5 minutes on this spot this morning and I wondered if it was a juvenille version of a common bird from around here.  When I look at the pictures I took the one leg is holding all the weight in all the pictures and I wonder if there was an injury or if that is normal.  In the background sedum in blooming yellow.

Garden 06 15 14 097

Here is a side view.  If anyone recognizes this bird let me know.  On the right is what I think is a juvenile robin.  They were looking at each other for a while below the bird bath.

Garden 06 15 14 065

The first coreopsis (tickseed) bloomed.

Garden 06 15 14 023

The clover is blooming in the lawn, which makes a lot of bees happy.  It is also good for the lawn as it is a nitrogen fixer – that is it obtains nitrogen from the atmosphere and fixes it in nodules on its roots.  So it is a kind of fertilizer.  The Chicago lustre viburnum bushes are starting to bloom in the background.  And if you look closely you can see one of the clematis flowers on the back fence.

Garden 06 15 14 016

Clematis bloom on back fence.  We have two clematis vines and they are pretty wild right now.