Wednesday, October 5, 2016

And it Begins Again

Brown-headed Nuthatch at the Front Yard Feeder

This is a short detour from my travel log. When we came home from Ecuador after being away for a month, my husband and I were thrilled to see that the butterfly garden we'd planted in June had filled in, grown up and burst into bloom. It's amazing what a month of heat and rain can do for a bunch of wildflowers! When we left in August a few of the plants were beginning to show buds and one or two kinds of flowers had just begun to bloom. A month later, watching the garden was like seeing a fireworks display with splashes of yellow, red, purple and green. Scores of butterflies and bees come to dance around the blossoms, hungry for nectar. The birds are enjoying the bounty, too, and just yesterday I spied a Common Yellowthroat perched on a Goldenrod stalk. I started counting last week and so far I have seen 20 species of butterfly, many species bees, flies and wasps and several species of moths. I've also found caterpillars from 2 kinds of moths and we came home to 6 huge monarch caterpillars on the milkweed. I'd say that this new wildlife garden is a huge success!

Silver Spotted Skipper on Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum) in August

Gulf Fritillaries on Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Cabbage White on Liatris

Eastern Tailed Blue on Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

Wasps and Bees on Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

Monarch Caterpillar and Aphids on Milkweed

When we moved to this house a year ago, I saw the manicured yard and declared in a blog that I would soon "fix that". It took a while to get it started and we hired a landscaper to make it happen faster, but here we are with a lovely front garden that attracts wildlife and fills my heart with joy. Once again our yard is an urban oasis for a hungry bird or squirrel or bee. And once again we see pedestrians and cars slow down to look at the garden, so full of beauty and life. With luck, we'll inspire other people and wildlife garden will be catch on all over our neighborhood!

New Garden in June

Garden in October
When I look out over our new wildlife garden, I remember the many people over the years who helped me learn about plants and animals and to appreciate the importance of conservation and environmental education. I'm posting this just after learning of the deaths this past week of two of those special people and am so thankful that I have been able to take the love and practices I learned from them while living in Florida and translate it to my life here in Athens.

This is dedicated to Akers and Pete.

Cucullia Moth Caterpillar on Fall Aster

Common Checkerspot on Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

Cloudless Sulphur on Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Fiery Skipper on Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

Variegated Fritillary on Coneflower ssp.

Ocola Skipper on Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Bumblebee on Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

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