Monday, October 26, 2020

The Extraordinary in an Ordinary Day

Any day can be viewed as
extraordinary or ordinary.
The choice is up to you.

Since I was a child, there has been much talk among gardeners about good bugs and bad bugs; which to keep as friends of humankind, and which to annihilate through insecticidal hell.  Mom and dad had their favorites to keep and perpetuate, the ones they were indifferent to that stayed under the radar, and then the unfortunate ones that were targeted for genocide.

Dad grew a row of asparagus plants the length of the side yard, and as children we would catch large grasshoppers among the greenery and toss them into the trash burning can when it was on fire to watch them explode. know how kids are, so don't judge us too harshly.  We turned out just fine as adults.

Mom and dad had labeled grasshopper as bad, so we had a field day destroying each one we caught.  It was that way for everything grown in their gardens; each plant had enemies, so as I began to take care of my own gardens, I already had my list of plant enemies engraved into my brain.

Signing up for the Audubon International back yard program sometime in my forties, I had to alter my perspective on good verses bad in nature.  The whole idea of the program was to be a steward of my land and create a balanced ecosystem in my small, medium or large acreage of land...pesticides not allowed!

A balanced ecosystem includes the idea that all insects are valuable no matter our individual preferences to them.  Good and bad are labels humans attach to things in accordance to how they perceive those things affecting their personal existence.  Nature has no labels.  What

I think the first three years I wildlife gardened was like living in Little Hell, USA.  Aphids...what seemed like an infinite amount of those little guys, were wall to wall on the stems of many of my plants.  Tiny green caterpillars quite often lowered themselves on thin threads from the ash tree branches above to the ground below creating a dodge the green worm game.

I had to suck it up and just let it all be.  I did buy lacewing larvae and turned them lose in the lower branches of the ash tree, as it was green worm hell on that poor thing.  It was in the fourth year that everything stabilized and was kept under control by what eats one thing is eaten by something else.

Do I use pesticides today?  Of course, I do...I dance with the ticks!   Pyrethrum spray is my go to for my garden shoes, which are light weight hiking shoes, and for the socks that are pulled up over my denim pant legs.  Do I like poisoning my clothing?  Well, since I'm not a lover of tick transmitted diseases, the answer is a definite yes.

Interesting photo opportunities of my gardens this late in the season are a bit tricky.  I don't usually gear up in my hazmat suit during a photo shoot, but last week after I returned to the house to remove laundry from the dryer, I heard a little tink, looked down, and discovered a 1/4" tick trying to gain traction on the slick floor after dropping off my dress.  How dispiriting that made my next few hours!

Autumn crocus 'Goulimyi'
(not native)

Wild violets

Asarum Arifolium
Heartleaf Ginger

Chinavia huilaris
Green Stink Bug Nymph

Seeds on Woodland Goldenrod

Large-Flowered Bellwort

Threadleaf Bluestar

Lichen, moss, fungus on rotting tree limb that fell to ground.

It's in the 50's today and wet from a late night rain; but in my morning walk-a-bout with Dustin on his potty break, I take stalk of how the cooler weather is affecting my surroundings while a duel between two squirrels stampeding back and forth across the back fence boards is disrupting my thoughts.  Anyway, today feels like winter, but tomorrow warms back up to the 60's.  What's up with the perfect temp 70's only lasting one week!?!

Birds are pigging out on the backyard berries making a mess the rains will eventually wash away, bringing back memories maybe ten years ago when a large flock of Cedar Waxwings flew in one day, joined by a flock of robins the next day, and after they left at the end of day two, just a few berries were left on one little twig.  The feeder became the winter focal point for the residential birds after that visit.  

Light rains have chased me back into the house, so I gaze out my window to discover a downy woodpecker at the feeder and three squirrel youngsters frolicking through the branches of the rusty blackhaw viburnum.  It's an ordinary day, much like all the other ordinary days that make up my ordinary life, that is so extraordinary if I chose it to be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

A garden that mimics the nature of nature ~ almost ~ kind of ~ maybe.


Spicebushes turning yellow around the deck

Swamp Sunflower and Coral Berry


Fothergilla gardenii

Around and around, down the rabbit hole we go!

In partial sun, Euonymus americanus leaves turning white in autumn.

Wild Senna Seed Head

Brown Eyed Susan

Sparkleberry Winterberry

Virginia Creeper

No idea the species of this moth ~ 1/4 - 1/2 inch long

Swamp Sunflower with background of
 Fothergilla gardenii on left and Sparkleberry Winterberry on right

Blackhaw Viburnum
The ground is covered in blue bird pooh under this shrub tree.

The rain has stopped!

Next years buds on My Mary Azalea

Milkweed Vine

I think these tiny flowers are Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Mourning Dove Feather

Oat Grass ~ a rather aggressive native grass

Fothergilla gardenii

Winterhur Viburnum

Callicarpa americana ~ Beautyberry

Aromatic Asters

Broomsedge Bluestem ~ Andropogon virginicus

A rabbit has been seen in here (with difficulty) on more than one occasion.

While we would like to give that force which is the cosmos, the galaxies, the solar systems and the planets the term nature, and specifically to our planet as Mother Nature; that force is not nourishing as a mother protecting her children.  That force could care less whether we live or perish, whether we prosper or decline, whether we are good or evil, whether or, whether or, etc., etc., etc.

Inescapably, we live in a world whose weather at times gives us peace, and other times hell, at times abundance and other times poverty, at times a good place to belong, and other times a bad place to belong, and on and on and on.  It is the nature of nature to exist not for us, but to exist as a nonbiased system that has no ties except to exist.  As much as we would like to believe differently, we have no control over any planet let alone our own Earth, and as much as I would like to believe I control my garden; that assumption is but a wispy myth.

I feel my failure of control when I am enslaved to the watering hose, the pickax, the trowel and spade, the endless weeding, the planting and replanting and replanting, the worry, the disappointment, the aches and pains, and so forth, and so forth, and so forth.  So when I say I wildlife garden with nature in mind, I really mean I garden to mimic nature, but fight nature quite a bit while it goes about its business of existing.

Is this logical?  Not really, but it is the nature of cities, towns and neighborhoods to believe nature is wrong in its handling of existence, and to create rules and regulations of how nature should have done it to begin with.  It is the nature of many humans to garden, and it is the nature of nature to alter our gardens back to the basics of existence.  It's a fight we will never win unless we burn down the Earth or bring on the great herbicidal flood.

Now I don't know about you, but a poisoned scorched Earth is not my ideal garden, so I think I would rather live with the weeds that nature just calls plants, and call it a day.  On that note, last year I decided to let the wild violets that everyone calls weeds that should be annulated in the gardens the go ahead to have a field day taking it over.

This August saw fritillary butterflies hanging around the violets, and after some research, I discovered violets are a host plant for their caterpillars.  The eggs are laid in the late summer, and when the tiny larvae hatch, they spends the winter under the leaf litter until spring when they will begin munching on the violets.  How cool is that!  I probably murdered a few eggs when I was placing flat rocks for stepping stones into the area, but I'll deal with that remorse, as it is the nature of nature to live and die with no rules attached.

According to the insects, the Swamp Sunflower is the place to be this week.

I'm pretty sure this is a type of Ichneumon Wasp ~ Mesostenus thoracious

A type of Hoverfly eating pollen.

I tell you, there's something wrong with that picture below.

Lacewing Bug Larvae ~ Also called the Trash Bug
(I wonder why?)
Took forever to figure out what this little guy was,
then an eternity to get the photos right.
I think that's a piece of my hair on the flower :`)

Wears a disguise of carcasses of past victims
and other pieces of organic debris.

Not being the richest kid on the block, one bird feeder is my limit.

I think this is Crocus speciosus Oxonian, a fall blooming crocus.

Yard appears postage stamp size, but is really postcard size :) 

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