Wow! A Revelation Revisited

We’re now solidly through 2017 . . . A re-read of this Important Post would be good, very good, for very many, we think. I’ll bet Leslie, Virginia, Angela, Barbara Ann and Cathy would vote with me on this!

Winged Beauty Butterflies

Hibiscus Flowers photographed by Jeff Zablow at Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA, 7/29/10
This flawless, magnificent Hibiscus bloom was growing at the entrance to the Phipps Conservatory’s Outdoor Gardens in my hometown, Pittsburgh. The earlier post we made, with this same flower, shared that despite alot of time spent posted right there, there were no insect visitors. None, and I was there in the middle morning, when flies, bees, butterflies, beetles and others are at their busiest. Nothing flew or walked or crawled to get the nectar of this stunning giant of a flower.

Recently, a visit to Kathy at Sylvania Natives, a Pittsburgh nursery that devotes itself to selling native plants, led to her recommendation that I read Douglas W. Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press, 2007). It was slow getting into it, then . . . . Wow! The Revelation? It was something that has puzzled me for much of my life. I remember the gardens, carefully coiffured, of the…

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He Stood, Awestruck!

Coneflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie, Ohio

Nurseries? I love visiting new nurseries. Always I enter a new one, hoping that it’s a good as nurseries visited in the past (one, in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, for instance, that I will never forget). I’m the kid in the candy shop in nurseries, as in good hardware stores, and in benched dog shows.

These last several years have changed me. I now look, search for native plants, those not heavily hybridized. In the nurseries of Pennsylvania (Sylvania Natives the exception), I always, always expect that just about every plant I see is from some far away place, as in tropical (a not much used word nowadays) Central or South America, or at least the Great Plains of the USA or the habitat of the very southwest, say New Mexico.

Walks with Petra in next door Frick Park were a combination of pleasure and sadness. The sadness was the realization that, by my reconnaissance, maybe 70% of the greenery there was alien.

When Angela and her friends led me to Lynx Prairie Reserve, a private wildlife reserve in Adams County, very, very southern Ohio, I entered, and shortly stood there, Awestruck! There, right there were several Coneflowers!! Native, resident and luxuriant!!! Purple coneflower, I  would guess. Not found only many many state lines to the west, but right there in this rare, closely watched Ohio prairie habitat.

Great Spangled Fritillaries came and went, constantly, as did other butterflies. Busy times at the nectar Bar.

Angela may remember how they had to patiently pause, while Boy Blue Eyes stood there, enraptured!

They were strong, deeply hued and magnificent. Doesn’t take much to ignite me, Huh?

Jeff

Briar Patch Statuary

Flower sculptures photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, GA

Folks love the Butterflies and Blooms Briar Patch Habitat, Eatonton, Georgia. This middle Georgia (east of Atlanta) butterfly oasis is now in its 5th year. Dreamed up by Virginia, brought to fruition by a handful of friends and neighbors, Bartow, Sylbie, Doug, Susan, Stacy, Roger . . . the town of Eatonton was gently tweaked all along the way. Five years of planting just about 12,568 annuals, perennials, bushes and trees, almost all of them hostplants for this butterfly or that, and those 5 years of watering, weeding, moving, trimming and thinning came to what result?

The very best butterfly habitat from Maine to at least Perry, Florida, and from Delaware to the Mississippi River. A showcase for the butterflies of the South. Any given morning, on my drives down from Pittsburgh, I have seen no less than 20 different species of butterflies! On that list I include Zebra heliconian, Monarch, Zebra swallowtail, both Ladies, squadrons of giants (giant swallowtails), shockingly iridescent Pipevines (Pipevine swallowtails), well the list goes on and on. Virginia has seen goatweed leafwing butterflies there, and I’m anxious to see one too.

These inviting steel sculptures stands at a spot just after you enter the Habitat. The work of a local artist, Truth Be Told, I stop each time I arrive there, to marvel at how well they epitomize the excitement, zeal and beauty of the Briar Patch Habitat. My mother A”H read me Briar Rabbit stories when I was maybe 4 years old. She read them over and over again, as I would appeal to her to do. Happy irony, no?

The town of Eatonton decided some months ago to sell this site, smack dab in town, to a buyer. An Agreement was reached to move the Habitat to a new site in town, a larger site, and water will be piped there by the town. Virginia and her team are daily planning and working to replant, add new plants and somehow coax, cajole and tease those 3,645 butterflies to make the move too, in 2018.

Let me know when you’re going, Won’t you?

Jeff

Stop, Stare & Admire . . . .

Spring Larkspur Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Spring Larkspur Wildflower photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

What stops you in your tracks? Increasingly, less and less sets our emergency brakes, in this ever more sophisticated world. That’s unless you are a ‘naturalist.’

A naturalist consciously sets out from home to destinations near and far, for the purpose of  feasting on  natural beauty. Genuine naturalists stop often, to stare, ponder and admire. They refuse the urge to pick, touch, upset, or nudge the botany and animals that good luck sets before their eyes. What do they want to happen? They want to come upon unique ferns, wildflowers,  mushrooms, herbaceous plants, woody plants, carnvirouous plants, wetland plants, plants of fens, bogs and swamps. Plants of arid  habitat, boreal habitat, subtropical habitat, mountainous habitat, and plants of valleys, crevices, and microhabitats.

We’re sharing this wildflower that always stops Jeff in his tracks. Spring larkspur. Uncommon, of fascinating flower form and blessed with color that nears indescribable. Who? How? Where? Why? Jeff stops, stares and admires.

Jeff