This Spring’s Feast of Colors and Welcomed Arrival of Butterflies

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly resting on a leaf photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

The perennials, bushes and trees in our 1-year young 800 Macon Garden are budding out now. Many are looking spectacular, including irises, Joe Pye, Sassafras’s, Clematis, Asters (many, many different asters), Buttonbush, Hibiscus, Liatris . . . . Senna are on order and will soon be delivered. Mountain Mint is doing its quick spreading thing (and we are pleased with that). Lindens and Hackberry trees look robust, Hercules Club new leaves have superb color . . . Butterflies have begun appearing, especially male Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies.

This enjoyable ‘wave’ of pleasing green, the flowers that have opened so far (Chokecherry, Chokeberry, Alabama Croton) have primed us for the 50,000 Azalea blossoms that will open this coming week. Soon the irises will open, and the Turtlehead too, and the many, many coneflowers, tradescantia, Brickellia, Florida Dogwood . . . .

The excitement for us is way up, the feast of colors that is being prepared and the welcomed arrival of flights of butterflies all remind of the infinite beauty of G-d’s Creations.

With Passover and Easter approaching, all of this so buttresses us, after the last, remarkable year. Look again at this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly. How Beautiful is this meticulously crafted butterfly, she, G-d’s gift to us all?

Raccoon Creek State Park, southwestern Pennsylvania, some 8 hours from Grand Central Station in New York, New York

Jeff

Why Eatonton Georgia?

"Billy' Butterfly Mobile photographed by Jeff Zablow at Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, Eatonton, GA

I’m now a Georgian, though each time I’m asked why I moved to Georgia, and especially why I relocated to the Georgia Piedmont (central Georgia, east of Atlanta), I again and again realize that native Georgians don’t fully appreciate the riches that Georgia provides, time and time again.

Steadfast followers of winged beauty.com recall that those several years of driving down to Virginia’s Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton charmed me, much. When I had to decide where to go, after Pittsburgh, the answer was clear, to this sweet little city, Eatonton, with the best wild butterfly habitat east of the Mississippi River.

Eatonton made Virginia and her loyal supporters move the habitat to a bigger, different locale in town. This now begins year two there, having been forced to dig up and replant several hundred native shrubs, perennials, grasses and trees. This they did with nary a complaint, helped by folks from here and there.

I came here for their butterflies. For the genuine friendliness of folks here in Georgia, for the Big savings in almost everything (Krogers is some 20%-25% cheaper than Pittsburgh’s Giant Eagle, real estate taxes are much cheaper, car care is much cheaper (and high quality service), gasoline is 15% cheaper, . . . )

Why Eatonton? This butterfly mobile sings out the answer to this query. Folks care here, they support our country and they Honor those who did so with their sweat, passion and lives. Lieutenant Colonel Billy Maltbie Jr. is the son of a Big Supporter of the Briar Patch Habitat, and this American Hero died, much too young, while serving in South Korea. A friend of the Habitat fabricated these butterfly silhouettes, and Virginia hung this one for this not forgotten Patriot, whose ancestor fought in our own Revolutionary War, to oust the Brits and create the United States of America.

Jeff, Happy as a Duck, in beautiful Eatonton, where service to country is respected and supported.

Jeff

Butterfly Peril #1 ?

Argiope with sulphur prey photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

At night in bushes, perennials and trees? I’m not sure I can count all of the perils that butterflies face: ants, beetles, lizards, spiders, birds, snakes, assassin bugs . . . . During the day this same list balloons, with legions of additional predators that prey on butterflies.

When you run wingedbeauty.com, and are at the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat here in Eatonton, Georgia so many of these predators are met in real-time. Now, you know that images of a predator preying on a beautiful butterfly immobilized, make many cringe, darken their mood instantly.

I have long thought about the urgency of helping interested people learn about butterflies. Habitat disappears by the minute, pesticides and their ilk kill, and long ago I thought about how the USA”s millions of pristine, grass covered gardens deter butterfly survival. We discussed this back in John Adams High School in South Ozone Park, New York, in the 1970’s, on a much simpler level. With Doug Tallaway’s book, I personally understood. wingedbeauty.com is a platform to share, see and understand.

So, when I stood there, and saw this Cloudless Sulphur butterfly in the web of this Black and Yellow Argiope spider, maybe 4 seconds after the Cloudless took a sad turn in flight . . . I first wondered if y’all had the stomach for this very natural scene and I knew I’d have own debate some time later, post it or not post it?

Me? I’m glad I’m not a butterfly. The dangers are many. I fought each and every one I had to in Brooklyn, back then. This Cloudless not only has no defense against attack, but choose turning left instead of right, and you’re ‘chopped liver.’

Jeff

Why Do It? Virginia

Virginia Cinch in the Briar Patch, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

2014 may have been the first year that Virginia C Linch put shovel into this former industrial site. I’m not sure. I know that when she enthusiastically invited me to visit in 2015, I jumped at the chance. See southern butterflies, drawn to a single  habitat in Georgia! Yippee!

I could not believe what Virginia and Bartow and not much more than a handful of volunteers had accomplished! They’d planted hundreds of perennials, bushes and trees. Host plants galore, nectaring plants, shade plants. The non native, but heroic Mexican sunflowers completed the nectar menu.

Those 4 visits in ’15 were fantastic. Virginia was friendly, helpful, informative and selfless, spotting butterflies and stepping aside, allowing me the opps that guys like me dream of.

2016 delivered me back to this Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat. My posts here caught the attention of other Georgians, and a couple drove over to see what’s all the excitement about. When Virginia finds out that you’re on your way to visit, magic occurs, for 99.37% of the time, she slips away for 3.6 minutes, to make sure that you get that Warm Hello!

I sure met Georgia/Southern butterflies there: Giant swallowtails, Cloudless sulphurs, Gulf fritillaries, Sleepy oranges, Checkered skippers, Long tailed skippers and more. The excitement is always in the air: Will a Zebra Heliconian or a Great Purple Hairstreak make an appearance?

All I know who have met Virginia share this, and I’ve heard it again and again. When you’ve met Virginia, you’ll not ever forget her. It’s that special thing, that charisma thing. It’s ’cause folks are way too superficial, and here you’ve met one who is blatantly Genuine. She cherishes meeting you, and she Wants you to return, come again. I did, and want to, more times.

Here, Virginia began shooting me . . . so I shot her right back!

Jeff