Garden flowers and Pearl Crescent butterfly

A few of the flowers hidden among the weeds in my garden, a Pearl Crescent butterfly and a bird-table spat.

After my recent post on my totally overgrown weed patch, I thought I should say that, hidden among the 75cm (30″) weed jungle, I do have a few flowers.
This one was a miniature rose which was a gift as a potted plant a few years ago and has done much better than the bigger roses which are easily found by pests. Hiding in the weeds has advantages as this one now has ten flowers.

Miniature rose
Miniature rose

This Gaillardia is almost as bright and easily raised from seed and it self-seeds so one package lasts for years, even though the individual plants only last a few years.

Gaillardia
Gaillardia

Someone gave me a small piece of stonecrop, a succulent, many years ago. It has now spread all over, wherever it is too dry and sandy for much else as it is easily overshadowed in which case it dies.  But it is very prolific in flowers in late June/early July:

Stonecrop
Stonecrop

This verbascum is a relative of the wild mullein and flowers a little earlier.  I think the individual flowers could be inspiration for a crazy-looking hat.

Verbascum
Verbascum

The milkweed is wild but I let it grow in most of the places it comes up, so the Monarch butterflies have somewhere to lay their eggs.  I think I saw some this week but they didn’t land for long enough for me to tell them from the Viceroys.  But the flowers are an interesting shape and texture if you look closely.  I’ll look out for some domesticated milkweeds that come in more vibrant colours.

Milkweed flower
Milkweed flower

Speaking of butterflies, here is a smaller one with the same colour scheme, different pattern, the Pearl Crescent.  Its caterpillars like daisies but I’m sure they’ll stick to the wild ones and not munch on my Gaillardia and Painted Daisies.

Pearl Crescent Butterfly
Pearl Crescent Butterfly

Finally, here are some birds displaying poor table manners.

Table manners
Table manners

The red-winged blackbird always gets its way, even though other birds are bigger.  The middle bird is the female – they are nesting in the bulrushes next door.  The mourning dove usually raises one wing to tell other birds to leave while it is feeding – it is second in the pecking order at our feeder, but the tactic doesn’t impress the blackbirds so it had to leave until they were done.

 

 

 

 

Drought creates bonsai Tomato

Bonsai tomatoes and butterflies

Some people go to great lengths to grow bonsai trees.  A combination of my sand/gravel soil on the Oak Ridges Moraine, and a lack of water all summer led to this bonsai tomato plant.  The fruit on this variety are supposed to be regular 7cm (3″) tomatoes, not cherries.

Bonsai Tomato
Bonsai Tomato

Since we get our drinking water from a well, I don’t water the garden from it; I use a jet pump in the nearby creek.  That means not much watering as it takes time using a hose by hand; sprinklers restrict the volume too much on my small pump, so I only water in case of near-death.  Last year, my tomatoes were 1.5m high (5′).  Luckily, I started a few really early indoors – January – so they fruited early and I have had enough for the table, though none for hot sauce and in any case my habañero peppers didn’t grow at all.

My veggie garden definitely needs more manure.  My flower garden has a bit more compost and manure in it so it holds a bit more moisture.  Here are a couple of butterflies, which add bonus colour to the flowers.

Aphrodite Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary on Zinnia

For those who don’t know, but do care, note the club on the end of the antennae – this is the mark of a true butterfly, as well as the tendency to fold the wings flat and vertically.  Moths fold their wings flat and have a variety of antennae, often feathery.

The Frittilaries and other related types also appear to have only four legs – the front legs are smaller and used as sense organs, to “taste” whatever they land on.  Monarchs are also in this family.

I think this one is an Aphrodite frittillary, but not 100% sure as many fritillaries are quite similar and there is quite a bit of variation between species.  And as it’s still over $1,000 to sequence a genome, we’re not yet at the stage of a kitchen species-identifier.

The next one is a bit easier to identify.

Black Swallowtail
Black Swallowtail

Finally for today, I couldn’t resist a picture of one of my white phlox plants.  I wish I could share the scent with you too.  I do notice that every time I upgrade my camera, they immediately come out with a new feature, so since I bought a new one this year to get HD video, perhaps the a new model to do that will be out soon.

White Phlox
White Phlox

This usually has lots of butterflies and hummingbirds around it and is particularly attractive as the light fades, when it stands out among the brighter coloured flowers which aren’t so easy to see.

Birth and Death in the Spring

I took these pictures on the weekend. Spring is a time for marvelling in new life, like these flowers.

Spring Beauty flowers
Spring Beauty flowers

but it’s not just the flowers that burst into life, it is also the agents of decay.  About 3 years ago, this was a beautiful, 15m tall (50 feet) black cherry.  Now it is feeding grubs which in turn feed woodpeckers.

Rotting Black Cherry tree
Rotting Black Cherry tree

It’s hard to see in this picture, without 3D, but the bubbly-looking mass to the left of the woodpecker hole looks like a river of bubbles pouring from the fork in the tree but is actually a fungus colony.

This is the guy who made the hole:

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

Another sign of spring this weekend that is just surviving the recent return of winter with -5ºC lows is this butterfly which found a blown away section of the newspaper a good place to bask in the sun.  After its long journey to get here, it did well to pick the Travel section.

Red Admiral Butterfly
Red Admiral Butterfly

While we’re on the subject of flying creatures, back to birds.  The thrasher has returned

Thrasher
Thrasher

and the hawk has never left.

Cooper's (?) Hawk
Cooper's (?) Hawk

I think it’s a Cooper’s hawk – please comment if I’m wrong.

Finally, a more abstract picture – the sun was streaming in at an angle that cast a neat shadow on our newly-painted wall from the tropical plants in the window:

Plant shadows
Plant shadows