This past week while I am home enjoying a staycation (why would anyone ever want to leave Gloucester during the summer?), I have been working on HarborWalk butterfly garden improvements, alongside some outstandingly helpful volunteers. Imagine our delight when a beautiful Mama Monarch flew on the secene. After nectaring from the zinnias, I was hoping she would deposit her eggs on the Marsh Milkweed, strategically planted next to the nectar-rich zinnias, but no, not on her day’s agenda.
Many Hands Make Light Work ~ If you would like to join the Friends of the HarborWalk volunteers, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t need to be an expert gardener to join us; on the job-training is provided. We also need sweepers, trash-picker-uppers, and weedwhackers!
I understand from Matt Coogan, Gloucester’s Community Development Senior Planner, that there were over 800 people attending the free Summer Cinema on Wednesday night!! This coming Wednesday, a showing of Goonines is scheduled. I hope to see you there!
The Monarchs we see in our gardens at this time of year are not the Methuselah Monarchs that travel to Mexico, but the parents of the generation that will.
We L-O-V-E zinnias, not only because they flower non-stop from late June through the first frost, but because they also attract myriad species of bees and butterflies to their tiny yellow center florets (disk flowers). The singles are best for attracting pollinators as it is easier for the butterflies and bees to find their way to the sweet nectar.
Like all members of the Asteraceae (Aster Family), zinnias are comprised of two types of flowers; the center florets are called disk flowers and the outer petals are called ray flowers.
The wildflower zinnia that grows in the deserts of Mexico and southwestern United States, from which most hybrids developed, is a simple daisy-like flowerhead with pinkish purple ray flowers and yellow disk flowers.
An old fashioned common name for zinnias is Youth-on-Age because they continue to produce new flowers as the older blossoms are expiring.
For readers not yet aware, Vine is a free downloadable app for your cell phone. Vine allows you to make six-second continuously looping videos, which you can share instantly to Twitter, FB, and Vine. I like Vine because it is so immediate, uncomplicated, and fun to use. Some people I follow on Vine are John McElhenny; his Vines are always interesting scenes taken in and around Gloucester, and also Amanda Mohan and Macklemore because their Vines are often super funny.
To read the caption, wave your cursor over the lower left-hand corner of each video.
Newly Emerged Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Thanks to Kate and the team at Wolf Hill for giving me a second Black Swallowtail caterpillar of the season. And, as I was getting ready to discard the parsley plant from the first caterpillar they had found at the garden center earlier in May, I discovered yet a third caterpillar.
Chrysalis #2 eclosed yesterday in the early morning hours. The butterfly in the photo above is newly emerged, so much so that you can see its abdomen is still swollen with fluids as it is expelling a drop. After first drying his wings on the zinnias, he flew off in search of nectar and a mate. I just can’t thank you enough Kate, and everyone at Wolf Hill who is taking an interest in the caterpillars!
Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly and Zinnia
The Ciaramitaro Family stopped by Willowdale today for a tour of the butterfly gardens. We were lucky to see several Monarchs and dozens of Painted Ladies.
Click the photo to view larger and you will see the Monarch climbed onto Madeline’s finger–it takes great patience to hold still long enough to allow a butterfly to climb aboard!
Madeline was determined that a butterfly would climb onto her finger–first trying the Painted Ladies and then very, very patiently, and holding very, very still, encouraging the Monarchs. She was thrilled when one did–and did so several times–very sweet to see her joy. Madeline and Eloise were expertly identifying the male and female Monarchs and explaining to all in how to tell the difference.
Painted Lady–never a more aptly named butterfly! Although ubiquitous, the sheer number of Painted Ladies found in gardens this summer is simply astonishing.
Painted Lady (Dorsal)
This morning in our postage-stamp-of-a-lot, there were quite possibly over one hundred newly emerged Painted Ladies nectaring from the Joe-pye, Baby Joe, zinnias, butterfly bushes, phlox, and Rudbeckia.