The dog days of summer are here. It’s so hot and muggy outside, I’ve given up on the garden until cooler weather arrives. Now is the time for indoor projects, and other pursuits conducted in the heavenly bliss of air conditioned comfort. The yard has turned into an overgrown jungle now that the rains have returned, after our long year of drought. That’s the story in Florida. It’s either drought or monsoon, with nothing much in between. Thankfully, I took plenty of pictures this year, before the black-eyed Susan, scarlett morning glory, and sweet potato vines ran amuck over everything in their paths. If you stand still longer than 30 seconds, they will start climbing over you, too! Here are a few photos. Enjoy!
An overview of a new rose bed, with my goldfish pond in the background.
Hubby did all the beautiful brick pathways and patios over the last couple of years.
“Peter Pan” dwarf agaphanthus in the same bed, keeping “All American Miracle” hybrid tea rose company.
The world’s happiest cigar plant (cuphea). Hummers love it!
Another view of the pond, and more of Mark’s brickwork.
So there you have just a few pictures from this year’s garden. I’d love to know what you’ve been doing in your own gardens. Is anyone else into ponds? Roses? Laying brick? Hope you’ll share your ideas, and please feel free to ask any questions you like. Gardening in Florida presents a lot of challenges at times, but much of what works here will work in other parts of the country, too.
Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed
One of the great joys of gardening is the wealth of birds, butterflies, and other critters who make their homes in a typical suburban yard. I’ve long adopted a “live and let live” approach to my gardens, and seldom have serious problems with pests. (Lubber grasshoppers, gray squirrels, and exotic tree frogs, not withstanding. Stories for another day.) For the most part, I’m happy to share my flowers and herbs with most of nature’s creatures, but I have noticed that some years, predation by hungry wasps takes a toll on the numbers of caterpillars that survive to adulthood in my garden. For that reason, I keep an eye out for eggs and caterpillars that I can bring inside to raise and release. (I don’t mind the wasps getting their fair share, you understand…wasps gotta eat, too. I just don’t like it when they seem to get them all!)
This photo is one I took of a monarch butterfly shortly after I released it into the garden. I try to place the newly eclosed butterflies in a sunny, safe spot to dry their wings, before they take off on their first flight. This beauty came full circle when I put him back on the same milkweed plant I found his eyelash-sized caterpillar on a couple of weeks earlier.
Raising the caterpillars isn’t difficult, as long as you have a clean, ventilated container, and an abundance of fresh leaves from their host plants. (With monarchs, that would be plants in the milkweed family). The caterpillars eat a LOT, and you need to be prepared to check your container often to replace old foliage with fresh. The result of watching the caterpillar go through the miracle of metamorphosis is so worth it! Especially if you have little ones. I’ve never met a child yet who wasn’t thrilled with the entire process.
Have you tried raising butterflies yourself? Do you grow host plants in your garden? Share your experiences with us.
Maks & Potter
My two sweet dachshunds, who think they run this entire household. Maks (Dancing With Weiners Star Maksim Hotdogski) and Potter (The Phantom’s Sir Hairy Potter of Sanford) are best friends, even though Potter is several years older. Maks is a chocolate and tan dachsie, and Potter is a red & white piebald (as in “pinto”). They are a big, fat nuisance, but so funny, you tend to forgive them for their mischief.
Do you share your garden with dogs? What kind? How do they behave? Do you have dachshunds? Are they as crazy as mine?