I went to pick up some fallen and very ripe fruit in our little orchard and found quite a surprise.
I’m glad I found them before they found me.
Our garden not only provides a welcome place for rescued dogs – it supports them through donations for commemorative bricks in our Memorial Garden Path and plaques on our Garden Wall.
This is Sally.
This young, puppy-faced dog has already had a lifetime of breeding. Those days are over. Pampering and TLC are our orders for her moving forward.
But pups are not the only creatures helped by our garden.
Monarch butterflies have a symbiotic relationship with Milkweed – their host plant.
A female monarch lays its eggs on a sprouted milkweed plant. The eggs hatch in four to five days producing tiny yellow, black and white banded caterpillars which feed solely on Milkweed. After three weeks of voracious munching, the caterpillar enters the pupa stage and gradually changes into an emerald-green case ringed with golden dots. After five weeks old, the transformation is complete and it emerges as a butterfly.
Two or more summer generations might be produced in the North before the migration begins for over-wintering in the South. Their principal winter vacation spot is Mexico, with some finding warm refuge in Florida, Cuba or Southern California.
Today, Monarchs are disappearing in huge numbers. Their habitat is being lost due to development, overuse of herbicides, climate change and roadside clearing programs. Once common, this beautiful butterfly is on the verge of collapse. We can all help by creating Milkweed “way stations” – which is exactly what we have done in the Memorial Garden.
While it is a perennial, hardy for zones 3-9 – the Milkweed we planted last year did not reappear. So we reinvested and have installed a couple dozen more plants in small patches throughout the garden.
The brilliant Gulf Fritillary, which flourished in our area until the 1960’s actually became extinct in our region.
For reasons unexplained, it made a reappearance around the year 2000. Its host plant is the Passionflower vine – which graces one of the entries to our garden.
The Gulf Frit has a particular taste for the nectar of Lantana, Mexican Sunflower and apparently, Verbena.
It’s no surprise that it has found a welcome home here.
And then there are the bees. Colony collapse is threatening honey bees everywhere. Honey bee pollination is critical for tree nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables. The loss of Honey bees threatens crop production and other species who depend on it as well.
There are many theories surrounding the cause of the disappearing bees, but little certainty. We can support them now by improving their health and habitat – and reducing the things known to be hazardous to both. Give up or severely limit the use of pesticides. If you must use them – avoid applying during mid-day hours, when honey bees are most likely to be out foraging for nectar and pollen on flowering plants.
Plant bee-friendly plants – those that are good sources of nectar and pollen such as bee balm, coneflower, goldenrod, aster, borage and sunflower.
Finally, there are those that we unintentionally support in the garden. Bunnies, lizards, snakes and birds are welcome guests – as long as they keep a respectable distance or don’t eat more than their share. The birds – which have been knocking off the grapes and gobbling them up – may be pushing their luck this year.
They better watch out. I bet we can find some bird-dogs around here somewhere!
The weather turned very warm again this weekend…brushing 100-degrees and testing our commitment!
Maria and Ina were both out…my garden partners returned after their treks far and wide. Defying the temperatures and the bunny literally staring her in the face, Maria has planted rows and rows of tiny sunflower plants. I suspect that they are just tonight’s dinner – but you have to admire her persistence. It is a battle of wills now. Some will remember that we disposed of the bunnies’ favorite den – the monster blackberry bramble – a season ago. Now they have taken up residence right in the middle of Maria’s sunflowers. Bunny revenge!
The heat brings the dogs to the garden – seeking shade and some cool grass to roll in. This is Jenna who arrived last night – literally pulled from a shelter by one of our awesome volunteers in her final hour. Her joy (and ours) is obvious.
Gypsy is another new arrival and a certified fence jumper. We’ll have to work on that wanderlust and find her a home that she’ll never want to leave.
Canelo is a young boy – only about one year of age – who lost his leg and has really struggled with recovery. Most tripods bounce back quickly, but not this boy. So our volunteers crawled through the 120-degree attic to find and rehab this cart for him. It immediately changed his perspective; we have hope that it changes his future as well.
Hunter is the last of the Reservoir Dogs still with us. Such a sweet boy. He and his tennis ball are inseparable –
but he did discover that he would trade a ball for a birdie…if only he could catch one!
The garden was warm and buzzing with hundreds of honey bees, gratefully soaking up all that was offered.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” ~