There have been some surprises around the Fairegarden that would like to be shared. Some are so shocking that the title phrase is uttered aloud. Yes, some people talk to themselves and there is nothing wrong with that. To illustrate the point, the above hardy waterlily, Nymphaea ‘Helvola’ was blooming its heart out and we nearly missed it. The pond had become quite shady as the nearby planted as little baby trees grew steadily larger. Funny how that happens. Hope of blooms had been discarded like an old sock with a hole in the heel, when the light buttery yellow grabbed our attention. This must be the result of some extensive pruning of the dogwoods surrounding the pond, and the half allee of river birches that line the lower west side of the property along the fence line. Wild grapevines had invaded those trees and The Financier had to be called in to the rescue with the pole saw. The slanting sunlight of fall is now better illuminating the pond, apparently enough for a late bloom.
A cold front has blown the recent rain clouds away giving the air a much needed cleansing. Low humidity, crisp mornings and, wait a minute! Stop rhapsodizing about the weather and look at what has happened to Leo! Leo being the seed grown Leonotis nepetifolia ‘Staircase’, supposedly the shorter L. leonurus until a case of false identy was discovered. Read here to see the heights to which this giant had grown. The winds are too strong for this top heavy player so there is only one solution.
The tallest stems, make that trunks were severed, the tripod of birch branches removed for reuse as trellis material and Leo was relocated to the garage deck stairwell. He will get rained upon in that spot and be protected from light, early frosts to continue producing these amazing blooms. We did manage to get a photo of the bloom without being on the ladder even though it was upside down. Sitting on the top step brings us eye to eye. Thanks for this idea, MMD.
Suddenly the nightime temps have dipped into the fifty degree fahrenheit range. Suddenly the orchids are threatened after being neglected all summer and have moved to the forefront of gardening chores to be accomplished. The dip of death, click here to see what this is, has not been prepared in the Big Lots tub, the greenhouse/sunroom needs a thorough clean up and what is going on over in the far corner behind the hot tub?
Pumpkin is blooming, that is what is going on. This Cattleya Slc. (Pumpkin Festival ‘Fong Yuen’ x Naomi Kerps ‘Fireball’) normally blooms from Hallowe’en until Christmas. It seems things are not going according to the calender this year.
In addition to dealing with the orchids and preparing the greenhouse, it is time to clear out the veggie beds. Green beans and peppers have been harvested and the plants pulled. Seed packets of greens and lettuces need to be perused and choices made for fall sowing, if it is not too late already. While working up in the veggie area, it was noted that the strawberry plants, which did not put food on the human table this year but fed some critter quite well, is getting a toehold in the landscape fabric that lines the paths to keep delicate dainty tootsies dry. Whoa.
This is not whoa worthy but is being shown to see if anyone recognizes the mythological creature represented by this statue? We were looking for another concrete Chinese Foo Dog to protect our two other tree peonies and spotted this fellow. Not quite the Foo Dog look, sort of looks like a winged scary monkey, but is this considered a … what? All ideas are welcome.
Spotted sipping on the wild ageratum, Conoclinium coelestinum, is our first image of a monarch butterfly this season. Not much of a shot, but the camera could get no closer without frightening the flutterby so we settled.
Bringing up the rear, the caboose of this post are these two fifth instars of the black swallowtail butterfly, or is it a fifth and a fourth, written about recently here. It was not known what was happening with one larger catt taking advantage of the slightly smaller one, but it was disconcerting to say the least. Was this some sort of dominance thing, or do they practice cannibalism? (Looking up the answer to this question, yes they do practice cannibalism**.) All sorts of violence happens in the garden everyday, it is nature’s way. But I decided to intervene and shook the fennel branch to stop this action. Look what popped out of the aggressor’s front end! The Black Swallowtail Caterpillar has an orange “forked gland”, called the osmeterium. When in danger the osmeterium, which looks like a snake’s tongue, everts and releases a foul smell to repel predators. Whoa Nellie!
*The phrase “Whoa Nellie” was spoken on the weekly television series, The Roy Rogers Show of the 1950s by Pat Brady, the sidekick of my childhood hero Roy Rogers. Nellie Belle was the name of his jeep and it would sometimes backfire or bounce around on the rough terrain of the wild wild west when taking off after the bad guys and Pat’s expression became a cultural icon used to express surprise. To see a clip from the show’s opening sequence click here. My very first lunchbox, in first grade, depicted Roy Rogers astride his valiant horse Trigger who was reared up on his hind legs. I once hit Danny W. on the head with this very same lunchbox for making a wisecrack about Roy and was sent to the principal for a good talking to.
**The victim caterpillar was relocated to the parsley patch where there is plenty of food for all. And no, I did not detect a foul odor from the caterpillar, but since I am not a predator would be unable to detect it anyhow.