It’s A Coming . . .

 Jeff Zablow's Perennial Beds Pittsburgh, PA, 7/10/07

With the weather forecasters ( and NOAA sites) predicting snow arriving within 11 hours, this image of my perennial garden of several years ago should be the medicine we need. I included that slide with my others, not quite sure how wingedbeauty would integrate it into a blog featuring butterflies and wildflowers…. It’s clear now that this image, showing a really good year in the flower beds, the broad push to fill our U.S. gardens with monarch-friendly flowers…and the critical cabin fever that is now gripping northeastern states, all signal that this is a good time to think . . . lush garden.

This was (we moved ⅓ mile down the street in ’12) our perennial garden, in our back yard. The garden flanking the north side of the house was a handsome hosta garden, and the front of the house offered a sizable garden with columbine, daylilies, pentestomen, iris, daffodils (early, mid,  late), tulips, dogwoods (2 cherokee red), lipstick-red impatients, and more.

So, what do we see in this photo of the perennial beds? Your eye probably went first to the solid bed of bee balm (monarda of several types) left of center (ruby throateds every hour on the hour). Next to that, in the center of the photo we see phlox (swallowtails and ruby throateds) and crocosima (lucifer-a huge attractor of ruby throateds). Next to them, and to their left, black and purple salvia (ruby throateds love them) and purple aster hybrids (several species of butterflies appreciate this late summer/fall nectarer). Lower right in the garden you see a good sized stand of shasta daisy (painted ladies, monarchs and red admirals). Almost hidden and to the right of the daisies peek out maraschino salvia (ruby throateds and swallowtails). In the rear right, just before the neighboring garage are buddleia (purple- monarchs, tiger swallowtails, orange sulphurs, skippers and more). There too, are anise hyssop, beloved by honeybees and swallowtails, and ladies and admirals and skippers. In the rear,  slightly left of center, are a pair of crape myrtle, they only moderately interesting to butterflies it seems, but we first saw them in  Washington, DC and that was that. Rear left are a trio of oak leaf hydrangeas…not much of a butterfly magnet, but handsome and pleasing to the eye, and a good anchor to the garden vista.

What did we miss? Oh yes, in the front right corner, against the flagstone path our prairie fire was just taking hold. OMG! how ruby throateds LOVE these southwestern perennials. Difficult to see are some of our other perennials, including liatris (swallowtails), irises (we love them) and the potted perennials. The rose garden, outlined by belgian block (cobblestones as they are known in NYC) was first on the list when the garden was planned.

It was a delicious garden. We moved, and just weeks away, our new garden will awake, and the deliveries will arrive of saliva, and asclepias syriaca….Brevity,  Jeff. I’ll  put the brakes on here. But that’s the point, so soon the winter will break, and millions of us will get back into our gardens…and when those butterflies fly again, we’ll be ready for them, with a menu that they will register from great distances, beckoning, monarchs and all other butterflies…come and get it.



Daylilies photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

We’ve watched these daylilies at Raccoon Creek State Park for more than a decade. They are planted strategically around the circa 1880’s (?) farmhouse in the Park. Those flower buds appear, enlarge and then anticipation. Day after day they signal soon, soon, soon. Then one day, boom! the first ones open, here and there.

Bombus pennsylvanicus (American bumblebees) love them, visiting regularly. Ruby throateds come too. Butterflies? Tiger swallowtails await these blooms, and nectar on them, as do Great spangled fritillaries and occasional others.

Yes, they were planted by people. But they’ve been there for more than a decade, perhaps much more than that. They stand witness to lots of stuff going on in the Park maybe the passing through of a rare Ursus americanus, or the silent prowl of a bobcat, the night howls of coyotes, and also, to the extraordinary animal that I saw one day in the Wildflower Reserve or the long-tailed cat (perhaps 40-50 pounds in weight) that I once saw on the Wetland Trail, not too far away.

We’ll be putting in our perrenial garden in October, and daylilies are on my List.