Chickity Check It! Kim Smith Updates With The Great Spangled Fritillary
Dear Gardening Friends,
Events and projects have kept me from writing these past few weeks. Design work and the start of the new school year have played a part, however, what has really kept me away is that I am working like mad to complete the Monarch book illustrations. The glorious weather and warmth, light and air have exhilarated and inspired (along with the caterpillars and butterflies that have taken over our kitchen!). With writing and photographing, I can work around design projects and my family’s schedule, but with painting I need long stretches of time. As soon as the illustrations are completed i will turn my full attention to the tv show. I take breaks from painting at around the peak time of day when the pollinators are on the wing and have been gathering tons and tons of footage.
Renovating our little apartment has kept me away as well. Our wonderful tenant of ten years purchased her own home and moved out this past month. Ten years is a long time and we miss her terribly. My husband and i have been scouring and scrubbing and painting, and with several fresh coats, the place is sparkling. The apartment is charming and sunny, with hardwood floors, private entrance through the garden, and would make a great artist’s or writer’s studio, office space, pied-à-terre, or modest home. It is within walking distance of Good Harbor Beach, Niles Beach, Rocky Neck, Gloucester Stage Company, and several fabulous restaurants (Duckworth’s Bistro!). Please pass along this information if you know of an interested person.
Great Spangleds are on the wing at this time of year. They adore fresh blossoms of butterfly bushes. With this year’s drought I realize it has been particularly difficult, but try to keep your butterfly bushes well-hydrated so that they will continue to produce new blossoms during the remaining weeks of late summer, while there are still myriad species of pollinators needing fortification. Additional photos of Great Spangled Fritillaries and Monarchs are on the blog at www.kimsmithdesigns.wordpress.com.
Welcome Oh Great Spangled Fritillary!
Singularly beautiful—large and rounded with tawny orange wings checkered with black dots and dashes—when observed from above. When wings are folded, this fritillary shows a striking underwing pattern of spangled spots, bordered by a wide yellow band and outlined in iridescent crescents. Perhaps the Great Spangled Fritillary has graced your garden. I had never encountered this creature of extraordinary beauty until the summer after we planted violets dug from a wildly unkempt cemetery. They were common violets (Viola sororia). I don’t recommend the common violet for a small garden, unless you desire a garden composed entirely of common violets. Please don’t misunderstand; I do not regret planting V. sororia because otherwise I may never have encountered the Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele). No, I am glad to have welcomed this beauty to our garden. There are, however, far better behaved violets that are of equal importance to the fritillary caterpillars and they would be a far better choice for the garden. Both native wildflowers Labrador violet (Viola labradorica) and Canada violet (Viola canadensis) naturalize readily, making rulier groundcovers than common violets, and are lovely when in bloom and when not in flower.