Gardening -101

Milkweed. Before I came to live in Cambridge, I had no idea what it actually was. I think I had heard the name, but I had no reason to care. Then I learned that Monarch Butterflies depend on it.

Apparently, it’s the only thing they live on.

To most animals, milkweed is toxic and as a result, the Monarch is also toxic to would-be predators.

Somebody around here is apparently immune to the toxin in milkweed. I’m guessing it’s deer, given that it’s the heads of the plants that are getting gobbled!

I guess they haven’t heard of Monarch Conservation.

This year I have a lot of milkweed, so hopefully it will be enough for everyone. I’m a big fan of butterflies.

Last year I only had three or four beat-up milkweeds and although I saw caterpillars, they never seemed to reach the chrysalis stage. If anyone knows how I can protect them, I would love to try. I was only able to capture a photograph on the trail cam. They are gorgeous little creations.

The garden, which seems to have been quite well loved by its previous owner, is a little bit of a muddle under my care. Which is no doubt an understatement. I have plenty of excuses, previously mentioned. My mother, who was a devoted and skilled gardener, was never-the-less a little cold-hearted.

Mum would purchase trays of seedlings from the local nursery and spend an hour or so sticking them in the ground. Then she would dowse them with water, and brushing her hair from her eyes with a muddy arm she would look at them sternly and utter the words “Now Grow!”

My approach to gardening is much gentler. (Ha!)

Mum would lose patience with plants that didn’t perform to her harsh standards.

She would declare war, yanking plants out that didn’t please her.

If it happened to be a bush or tree, or something deeply rooted, she would summon my father: “Smithy!” she would cry, “that thing’s got to go!”

Once it fell to disfavour, it no longer merited its name, although Mum knew what they all were. When she started forgetting all else, she still remembered her plants.

Among her last words: “my Delphiniums!” she said, when my father brought some to her from the garden. I don’t think she even spoke to Dad.

I looked this up: Coral Bells

As recently as May 9th, the ground here was white, as we received a late snowfall.

Much of the World still looks snow-covered. Mother Nature’s sense of humour?

The May 9th snow prevented a couple of big bushes from blooming this year, but when I went to check things out I found these pretty wildflowers on the slope.

No idea what they are and although I could find out using my PlantNet App, I am a tick magnet, so it remains a mystery.

I only know it is not forsythia.

This little out-of-focus flower is known as “Bird’s foot trefoil”.

Aren’t you glad I told you.

Is has replaced the ranunculus that was there two weeks ago. See, I am paying attention.

Presumably, the seeds for these plants arrive in animal poo or maybe on bird’s feet.

The ranunculus was pretty so I dug one out of the lawn and put it in an actual flower bed. I wanted to see if it would like that better than being mowed every fortnight. It’s almost dead now:(

Wild things seem to grow best and prefer to be left alone:

Checking things out just now, I discovered that it’s not just the milkweed that “wildlife” is enjoying. We had noticed that baby groundhog was noshing on wild pansies . It turns out he’s got quite the apetite, or maybe the rest of the family comes for dinner! Lots of beheaded pansies out there.

This was not intended to be a “Garden Feature”, but I guess you have to go where intuition takes you.

Maybe tomorrow I will introduce you to Russell. Meanwhile you can guess what it looks like…

4 thoughts on “Gardening -101

  1. Do you occasionally read with a Kindle? If so, this title is free for now. (I was going thru a list of free kindle books and thought of you.
    Butterfly Gardening with Native Plants: How to Attract and Identify Butterflies by Christopher Kline

    Like

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