Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Summer Gullywasher

I'm cleaning up my phone's stickpile of photos, and I came across this snapshot of one of our few good rainfalls this year. It was a dry year, and I love rain. I do not understand people who boo-hoo wet or overcast weather. The sun makes me wilt.

The underside of the mystery moth

Mystery Moth

I snapped some photos of this moth outside of a grocery store two months ago. I have no idea what it is. Anyone?

The Grasshoppers were Epic this Year

Friday, September 21, 2012

Two Left

The pair of Papilo polyxenes caterpillars on my smaller dill plant proved to be too much. I found the plant reduced to a stump, devoid of cuddly butterfly babies. I imagine they have since starved in the flowerbed somewhere, because there is no other food source for them nearby.

These remaining two, above, for now at least, are plump eating machines. If their host plant can keep up with them, they will soon overwinter in my garden in their chrysalis form.


I once watched a praying mantis devour a live honeybee. Here is a yellow jacket dining on a mantis. The mantis isn't quite dead yet.

Gotta love the brutality of nature. Shudder.

Autumn in my meadow

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Eastern Black Swallowtail

My friend Amy sells plants and produce at my local farmer's market. I think she underestimated exactly how excited I would be when she pointed out a giant black butterfly laying eggs on her dill.

It was probably a good thing that I knocked a few of the eggs off when watering in my two dill plants, because each of my small dill plants can only support two of these rapidly growing eating machines.

Here is one of my four little Papilo polyxenes, posing by a dill flower.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Clethra alnifolia

At long last, another mystery shrub in my swamp is identified! Sweet pepperbush!  There is a large area full of beautiful twisting stems in my wet woods in the winter. In the summer, I kept missing the blossoms somehow. The foliage just blends in otherwise. But here, I finally caught it in bloom - and how had I ever missed such a spectacular show before? I bet because I melt like a popsicle in this heat. The flowers are abuzz with bees, and smell so sweet as to almost be sickening.

Someday I will have time to get out there with a real camera again.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Finally, Monarchs!

I had been getting so worried about the monarch butterflies. Only one or two had dribbled by so far this year. But this week, they have arrived en masse. I'm afraid I have been systematically removing much of the milkweed volunteering around the yard. But the seeds I had scatterd in the front meadow are taking hold. In a year or two it will be epic monarch habitat out there, right where I want it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

19 Pounds of Lettuce

Chris sent me a panicked message this morning: he had forgotten to harvest the lettuce. The heat was going to make it bolt today. Could I rescue it for him?

So, that tiny lettuce patch filled two large shopping bags. And I don't mean grocery bags! Totally dry, they came in at 19 pounds. Up until now I had never seriously considered that lettuce has weight. It's mass-less and ethereal!

Two thirds of this haul went to the Franklin Food Pantry, washed and bagged. 17 bags! And it is beautiful lettuce, too. Not a blemish on it. Hopefully all of the spiders jumped off in my kitchen.

Catalpa Leaves

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fractals of Pollen

Today's rain has finally washed the pollen away. I photographed this, yesterday, when watering the strawberries.

In Bloom Now: Spiderwort

A plant about as unpleasantly and inappropriately named as "tickseed".

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Big Slide

This is the central feature at the WW1 Memorial Park in Attleboro. Alas, it is currently closed for repairs!

Julia's Garden

At the WW1 Memorial Park in Attleboro is an amazing garden for children. Among other things, there is a life-sized unicorn statue, a butterfly-themed garden room, and a wishing well. The centerpiece is a two-story slide. Within easy walking distance are a petting zoo, a giant sandbox that looks like a beach, And a conventional but very large playground.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Carex grayi

Gray's sedge or burr sedge!  Thanks to my readers who helped identify this for me!

Given the information about this sedge, I am surprised to find it growing in my shady forest.  It likes wet, but typically it needs more sun than my woods get.  But this little patch has been growing back every year, so it must like it here.

Blue-Eyed Grass

It's a good thing I let the lawn get so ragged, because it gave the blue-eyed grass time to bloom. This little iris-family wildflower looks so much like a clump of grass that it is impossible to see in the lawn when not in flower. To complicate matters, the plant itself is small, but the flower stems are long and oddly jointed. They flop over into the surrounding grass and bloom a foot from the parent plant. No doubt it is their seed dispersion strategy.

The others I have found usually sport two or three blossoms at once, but This one must have twenty flowers on it!

Some Beautiful Lawn

A lawn abloom with hawkweed, down the street from us.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Red Spotted Purple

This one was tough to identify, because it doesn't appear on the Audubon website. It isn't a swallowtail! I had to search elsewhere to figure out that this is one of two forms of Limenitis arthemis. The southern form looks like this. The northern form has a big white band across the wings, and is called a "white admiral". In between the two ranges, they produce offspring with mixed markings. This was photographed on our stinky compost heap. Chris got some nice macro photos that he will post later.


This winter, Chris tied back the raspberries with wire so that they wouldn't slouch so. The strawberries at their feet are thrilled with the extra sun! They are loaded with berries.

Kaylee Goes Foraging

When left to her own devices, she eats the white strawberries, tops and all.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wildlife Successfully Attracted

When our front lawn was just a bunch of sad, overheated grass, very little lived there. Since I have added Gabe's Garden, young garter snakes showed up in increasing frequency. This one is now all grown up, and a permanant resident.  He (or she) was spotted several days in a row in one particular flower bed, but also surprises me occasionally in the meadow or a nearby bush.  A few days ago he left me a skin.

Boys in the Swamp

As I had predicted, the rock out in the swamp is a fabulous destination for young explorers.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Black Swallowtail

Papilio polyxenes, spotted at Tangerini's. This one had me stumped, because it was smaller than a monarch. Black swallowtails should be a bit bigger.

Audubon has a fantastic page for identifying butterflies of Massachusetts: http://www.massaudubon.org/butterflyatlas/allbutterflies.php

Eastern Comma, if I'm not mistaken.

Polygonia comma. This butterfly was circling the plants at Tangerini's Spring St.Farm, and just wouldn't hold still!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Finally, Lawn!

Chris had put down compost and seed. It made the weeds really happy. It became a toss-up as to whether the new grass would be killed my mowing, or by the shade of the very happy weeds.

American Lady

Composting Toilet at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary

I was impressed at the water-free toilet at Broadmoor. It had no odor! The only drawback to it was that the inside of the toilet was a dark and scary hole. I had reservations about my son sitting on it. But he wasn't the least bit intimidated.

Delicious While it Lasted

We had to eat the asparagus in self-defense for a while.

Painted Lady

Butterfly with Funny Name

It's called a "Question Mark".  For real!

Red Admiral

It's blurry, but considering I took it with my phone while holding my daughter in the other arm, I'm okay with that.  

Wildlife at Broadmoor