Monarchs in your yard
Musta been about twenty years ago I realized that I had not seen honey bees in the perennial section for a VERY LONG TIME. I knew that it was because I did due diligence to our customers by spraying orthene systemic insecticide on everything preventatively so our customers got "CLEAN" plants.
It occurred to me that I wanted to see honey bees more than I cared about having 100% insect-free plants, so I stopped spraying, and haven't since. Now I look back at those days and realize how stupid and thoughtless I was spraying like that.
The very first year of insecticide-free lifestyle for us resulted in DOZENS of honey bees happily pollinating willy-nilly. There were butterflies all over the place, and life abounded in our perennial section. The BIGGEST reward, however, was the monarch butterfly larvae. I had never seen them ever before in my life.
The ones I found on the Asclepias tuberosa flowers were huge, almost the size of my pinky. Multi-colored, zebra-striped, and very strong-willed as a caterpillar.
This is how it all starts folks! Lucky butterflies! First, though, you gotta attract them to your property. This is done with two very different types of plants:
1. The flowering plants that the adult butterfly sucks on to get loads of energy.
2. The milkweed family of plants in nature that are like neon signs flashing the message:
"LAY YOUR BUTTERFLY EGGS ON ME, ON ME, ON ME!!!"
The eggs are laid on the weedy milkyweedy plants- I know of five plants they lay their eggs upon. Eggs hatch and the almost invisible babies start to feed immediately, molting five times before pupating. Mommy only apparently lays only one egg per plant so there's enough food for it's voracious appetite.
They are very interesting insects with extremely complex life cycles that we humans know actually very little about.
Hydrangea tree delivery!
Wanna attract monarch butterflies? Try planting tree hydrangeas. They feed on the high energy nectar in preparation for their long flight back to Mexico. Seeing monarchs on tree hydrangea flowers is stunning due to the color contrasts.
I unloaded a much sought after delivery this am of weeping redbuds and three different types of tree hydrangeas
Limelight hydrangea trees about to flower. Low growing trees with spectacularly incredible white-chartreuse flowers in summer. Everyone’s grandma had these trees way back when.
Full sun to part sun
Then there’s the shorter pinky winky tree hydrangea. Bottoms of the blossoms turn bright pink as they age. Cool!!!
The brightest flowers seem to belong to the quick fire tree hydrangea. The entire blossom turns pinky/reddish/maroon as it ages
Heart-shaped glossy foliage of the awesome redbud trees stun passers-by in the early morning sun.
Great replacement for the crummy purple leaf plum tree which seems to die or get sick pretty early in life. Redbuds live forever and ever.
It’s true, and liability laws need to be changed.
This tree lives on my neighbor’s property. I correct myself- it’s DYING on my neighbors property.
I warned the young couple a few times over the last few years that the leaning portion is EXTREMELY dangerous and is going to crush their house when it breaks free. The house recently underwent a complete makeover and after the tree crushes the house, it will need to be done again.
Sad part of this story, though, is their newborn infant lives under that tree also. The tree will crush the house- hopefully not his bedroom.
The psycology of homeowners like this is perplexing. Do they leave loaded guns on the floor for their children to play with? Do they allow the brakes on their cars to become worn out and then not fix them? You get my point.
So why on earth leave a tree about to fall over on your property?
Just goes to to show how oblivious humans are about their surroundings and about nature itself.
In college, trees like this were called “man killers” because they fall with no warning on nice windless days- no high winds needed to topple them. They just rot and rot and rot till there’s nothing left to hold them up.
Now is the time (before winter storms) to walk around your property to check for bad trees. Got Qs? Call a tree guy.
“GRAB YOUR WOOD NOW!”
We are splitting wood today- it’s our last day after three weeks.
I came across some particularly awesome white and red oak- straight logs perfectly huge with no knots. I took eight or nine cords home and stacked it. Glad that’s over because each row took 90 minutes over the course of a week. Even just taking up the debris took an hour... BUT ITS DONE. For the entire heating season.
Its going to take two months for this stack to season enough to burn, perfect timing for heating season.
Notice the nicely stacked ends that hold the rest of the row in place? Takes careful work to do this so it does not cave in, fall over... hurt someone.
When you have a wood pile outside, DO NOT COVER IT! Insects, mold, rot decay the wood.
Buy firewood NOW. In the summertime. That way you know that by the time you need it, the wood is thoroughly dry and ready to burn.