There is one seed grown plant of Coreopsis tripteris, (that is what the seed packet said, anyway, I have doubts) planted near the edge of the yellow/white garden that has never bloomed. (Added: This plant is an Asclepias of some sort!) This is its third year and its days of living in so prominent a spot, the better to water you, my dear, without flowering, were numbered. But about a month ago a cluster of small orange eggs were spotted on the under side of a leaf, so we decided to take a wait and see approach.
Just across the gravel path on the passion vine that is wrapping itself around the deck ramp railing, many more munching holes were spotted. These we knew to be the work of the Gulf fritillary caterpillars. The passion vine is allowed to grow in several places for the sole purpose of feeding the orange with black spiked larvae.
The thrill is real regarding the business of these caterpillars. The larval food for monarchs is milkweed, and we have tried again and again to grow it just for them, to no avail. Asclepias tuberosa will tolerate the dry slope, but it is not on the menu. An occasional monarch will drop by the garden for some nectaring, for there are flowers aplenty here, but the specific larval food is absent. Until now.
It matters not if the Coreopsis tripteris never blooms, for it appears to be an acceptable substitute for the milkweed to the diners. Or perhaps this really is milkweed? (Added: It is a milkweed.) What matters are these magnificent creatures that emerge from those very hungry caterpillars. For several years, there were but a few Gulf fritillary butterflies. This year there are many.
Perhaps there will be many monarchs this year, as well.
From the cinematically beautiful , circa 1991: