Who Knows Shrimp Plants?

Shrimp Plant photographed by Jeff Zablow in Eatonton Georgia

I waited, and my time arrived. For years, living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I’d heard of the great magnet for butterflies, the southern Shrimp Plant. It a native wild flowering shrub that pumps nectar, I was told, and well, Jeff, you won’t be able to cultivate it in your Pittsburgh yard, for it’s a southeastern wildflower.

With the annual icing of Pittsburgh, that year (was it 2014 ?) when the thermometer did not rise above 0 degrees F for an entire week, and those 2 or 3 bad falls when I was walking Petra on icy sidewalks, and Oh No! a dog or a squirrel appeared, and she abandoned the heel position, and her 96 pound heft left me sprawled on the sidewalk of Squirrel Hill. Yes, the very same Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh where Bowers slaughtered 11 innocent Jews just 2 days ago.

Friends had become ‘snow-birds’ and split their year between “Boca [Raton]” and Pittsburgh. Me? I’d been traveling to Georgia to photograph butterflies, and the Georgia Piedmont beckoned me. The thought of gardening in February/March/September/October & 1/2 of November was an elixir, it was.

I had long dreamed of southern natives gardening, those Shrimp plants, Mistflower plants, Passionflower vines, Hibiscus, Pawpaw, Hercules Club, Mountainmint, Hoptree, Pipevine and more, all growing robust and strong in the affirmative Georgia soil.

One year in, I have that garden and more on a fenced in lot, and Petra is ecstatic.

Remains the question . . . this, my Shrimp plant. It’s strong, luxuriant and always bears flowers. Virginia gifted it to me (Thank you! Virginia). After 3 months of fine production, I have not yet to see a butterfly on this, my Shrimp plant. Friends in Shellman Bluff told me of its butterfly prowess. Mine? Zero.

Who knows Shrimp plants? Phil, Kelly, Ellen, Melanie, Heather, Virginia, Cathy, Mike, Jill, Lisa, Marcie and Debbi?

Jeff

 

The Wait for Butterflyweed

Large Clump of Butterflyweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

My grandson and I reveled in one of the world’s finest stands of Butterflyweed this past June. I revisited Doak field in Raccoon Creek State Park with him, and I told him how much I loved those 2 weeks or so each year when the Asclepias (milkweed) was in bloom. More than that, I told him how this was the first time that one of my grandchildren ever, ever joined me in the field, of how Happy!!! I was to be with him there, then.

Eureka! We found the most luxurious clumps of Butterflyweed that I’ve ever seen, anywhere, let along Doak field in southwestern Pennsylvania. We were there early, very early, and now the wait. We waited for that time, usually around 9 A.M. when the butterflies sense these spectacular blooms, sense that those flowers are set to pump nectar, sugary nectar to support their athletic flight.

We we wait, and wait, and now it was 10 A.M. and few butterflies appeared. 10:45 A.M. arrived, and this is usually the time when no butterflies return to these deep orange flowers. The numbers for those hours? Disappointing.

We discussed how such things cannot be predicted, as this was surely a good example of lush bloom with good history, yielding scant swallowtails, monarchs, fritillaries or skippers. I must share that the usual suspects, Silver -spotted skippers, could be counted on one hand.

My take away? What I know is I must wait to next year, 2019, and hope to again see Coral hairstreaks here, on Butterflyweed.

My grandson, all of 7 years old, understood that day, that flora and fauna cannot be comfortably predicted, that a lesson in and of itself.

Jeff

Comely Swamp Wildflowers

Wildflowers (Unidentified) photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeley Swamp, NY

Akeley Swamp was a feast for the eyes and the other senses. It was late June 2018. This very western New York State Swamp sported several hundred thousand Common Milkweed blooms that sunny, windless day. Here and there we were treated to fresh Canada Lilies. At the tiny bridge over the trail, we could see the same Cardinal flower plants we’d seen before, they some 2 days or so away from spilling their lipstick-red blooms.

It was a flawless day, expect . . . for a dearth of butterflies. Happily, I did see my first ever Hickory Hairstreak butterfly. The air lanes were free of butterflies though. We discussed this odd lack of butterflies, but we had no explanation for it.

With fewer butterflies, I had more time to see it all. I saw these wildflowers, they growing on the edge of the Swamp. Real-time, this is exactly their color. I liked their look, guessing . . . Mallow?

Please be so kind as to help me ID them? They did charm me, but their name?

Jeff

Canada Lily and Dividend

Canada Lily and Tiny Darner photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeley Swamp, NY

Late June 2018 and we’re at Akeley Swamp in southwestern New York State. You know what I was looking for. Butterflies. Along with that, there is always, always the possibility of comely wildflowers. The eyes don’t stop scanning, from minute one to back to the car (rental) time.

Was Asclepias syriaca, Common Milkweed in bloom? Yes. There were hundreds of flowerheads along the swamp trail, bearing hundreds of thousands of flowers. Few butterflies flew, that a disappointment.

One of the big Yippees! that morning was the discovery of Canada Lilies in fresh bloom. I tell you, you stood and stared at their stark rich red, and did so for several moments. What a sweet pleasure, that table set amidst the sea of green around it.

I liked this bloom especially, and as we, my Canon with its IS Macro- lens closed in on this one, look what I found!

Immature? An adult? Species? All I thought of was get this shot Jeff, for it’d be one fine post on wingedbeauty.com.

Do I have a crew of darner photographers to ID? I don’t think so, do I?

Jeff