Friday, August 20, 2010

Too Many Distractions . . .

After complaining all summer about the heat, I'm happy to report that we had three beautiful days at the beginning of this week with temperatures in the low 80's and cool, sunny mornings.   Of course, the heat is back again and seems intent on staying, but for three glorious days I finally felt like working in the garden--well, one day was spent with the three older grandkids, enjoying one of their last free days before school starts.  So make that two glorious days to get all the weeds pulled, flowers deadheaded, etc., etc.

The first order of business was to start on the Butterfly Garden, which has turned into the Garden of Chaos this summer.  I was happy to see so many plants reseed themselves this spring, but it has meant my original careful plans for planting last year have been scrapped, and the volunteers have taken control of the garden.  To add to the chaos, I wasn't always able to identify seedlings.  Thus, flowers were inadvertently hoed out, and weeds were often allowed to stay.  The seedlings that grew taller and taller for the past few months found me scratching my head--were these weeds or could they be asters?  As it turns out, they were members of the aster family (what isn't??), but not desirable ones.  The tall plant at the left of the photo above towering over even the cosmos and Joe Pye weed is a horseweed, or as my Dad calls it, mare's tail.

Now the horseweed does have some rather pretty flowers, as you can see, but it is a weed after all, even if it is included in my Illinois Wildflowers book, so it must come down.  Armed with long-handled pruners--a machete would have been more useful--I tiptoed through the jungle of plants to cut each plant down.

Two down . . . oh, look at this little bee feasting on the cosmos blossom.  Let's just put the pruners down for a moment and grab the camera, conveniently tucked inside my pants pocket.

And what are these fluttering wings on the nearby Susans?  I think they might be Pearl Crescents, tiny little butterflies that I've never been able to photograph.  Be very still . . .

Ah, patience is rewarded.  Aren't these sweet?

I think he must like me after all, to stay so still.  And look, he even has a friend . . . or at least I hope that's a friend, not some predatory wasp.  Fly away, little Pearl!

Ok, back to the horseweed on the other side of the garden and some other unidentified weeds . . .

Still not sure if one weed-looking plant is an aster, but one mystery is solved.  Yes, this IS goldenrod, and it's blooming already!  I think this out-of-focus insect is a soldier beetle, often seen in my garden. Let's put the pruners down again for a moment and get some better pictures of the goldenrod.

Well, now that's a little better.  The bees obviously love this plant . . .

. . . as do the Sulphurs.  But then the Sulphurs seem to like every type of flower--there are literally clouds of them flying about every flowerbed I have.

Oh, but wait!  This little butterfly is not so common, and I've never gotten a photograph of it.  I'm not sure if it's the Eastern Blue, but it looks very much like it.  I wish I could get a better picture, but it just won't stay still and it is so tiny.

Wow, I didn't realize that goldenrod attracted so many creatures.  I'm not sure what either of these is, but the one on the left looks a lot like the cicada killer wasp pictured in my insect book.

Perhaps it is looking for this.  The cicadas are thick right now, their loud song providing a sort of buzzing lullaby each night.

I seem to have lost interest in weeding . . . maybe I'd better go water some of the containers before the sun dries them out again.

At least while I am watering, I can lock the hose into open position and put it down if I get distracted.  An orange butterfly has been eluding me for the past several minutes, flying away each time I put the hose down and get my camera.  I think it's a fritillary, but where did it go?  No, this isn't it--it's a butterfly I haven't seen before, and in fact, I have no idea what it is. Hmm, interesting. 

Put the camera away, Rose, and finish up the watering, for heaven's sake.  At least the porch planter won't be so distracting; the butterflies don't seem to like its shady environs as well.  Oh, but look at this cute little hoverfly burrowing into the petunia blossom. 

"Hey, aren't I pretty enough for one of your pictures?"

"Well, of course, you are, Mr. Mantis!  You know you're one of my favorite subjects, especially since you sit still so nicely for all photos."

Ok, the watering is done.  Time to get back to those weeds in the Butterfly Garden . . .

Oh, but I have to take just one little photo of this swallowtail on the orange cosmos!  I've been bragging about what great pollinator magnets these cosmos are, and what better example could there be than this.  Please, Ms. Swallowtail, could you move just a little to your right?

Better . . . but I still can't see your face . . .

Ah, perfect!  Thank you so much!

Ok, the perfect photo has been taken; now it's time to get back to weeding.  But wait, it's lunchtime already, and then I might just have to take a little afternoon nap after working so hard all morning.  

I just don't understand why I don't seem to get much done in the garden:)

Sending wishes for a Happy 85th Birthday to my Dad today!


  1. Good morning Rose, it looks like you were having a great time in the garden! it is so easy to get distracted:) Love especially that last photo...

  2. This is about how my weeding chores go. Ha... Love the photos of all the bugs in your garden.

  3. Hi Rose, how fun to traipse around with you in the garden, armed with pruners and camera! I believe your orange butterfly is a Variegated Fritillary. You have so many pollinators, good job attracting them! The goldenrod is listed as attracting more wildlife than any other plant, period. It is a good guy in the garden, even if finding good placement design-wisse is a little tricky. Tall in back is our mantra. HA :-)

  4. Hi, You sound like me a couple of days ago. My "weeds" got out of control in the woods. I needed a machete too on some of the tall ones. Maybe your little garden visitors prefer the more "wild garden." I have found that I have more hummingbirds and butterflies this year of neglect. It's been so hot and now more again. Balisha

  5. That is one gorgeous photo! I can see your problem with distractions:)

  6. Happy birthday Roses Dad.....and many more of them.

    Your butterfly garden is a credit to you Rose. It just goes to show we can all make a difference to these very fragile creatures. by planting the right things.

    I love the mantis, so fascinating.
    Perhaps I may get to see one someday......

    Have a lovely weekend....hope you enjoyed your nap.

  7. I could see why you were distracted this morning with all that wildlife in your garden. ;) Hope you finally got the weeding done. Great pics!

  8. Happy Friday Rose. Love the butterflies and your Sulphur is quite lovely. The mantis is my favorite.

    Distracted in the garden? LOL I go out for a specific task and 2 hours later...(evidently there were more pressing things to accomplish), well, you document the story well.
    Although our daytime temp is forecast to be 80, we currently have a delicious cool breeze going... my kind of moment.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  9. love all the critters! i saw a praying mantis the other day too, in my tomato plants, i love how they turn their heads to look at you hehe.

  10. hi, hope it's ok to contact you here. we would love to include your blog on our giveaway search engine: giveaway scout ( have a look and if interested, use our online form to add your blog ( ). thanks, josh

  11. Hi Rose, aren't those orange cosmos the best? Yes, that is definitely a soldier beetle on your goldenrod. Now it looks like I won't be able to make it to Chicago until next spring, which really bums me out!! :(

  12. Fantastic insect shots! I haven't been able to get a good one of a Sulphur yet this summer. And what's wrong with a Garden of Chaos (that's sort of my goal). It looks lively and & exuberant, and absolutely wonderful.

  13. The butterflies are great! You are lucky to have so many!

  14. Great butterflies & creepy things. Those photos look so professional.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  15. What a wonderful collection of photos. You must be very quiet to creep up on the butterflies like that! I seem to spend most of my time chasing them and having to give up!

    Happy 85th birthday to your dad today!

  16. I'ts wonderful to read about others getting so distracted! It happens to me too on a daily basis.
    I've managed to be late for things because of something 'important' happening in the yard :) Luckily my boss has been understandong about being late for team meetings for this reason :) Luckily I work night shift, so not to be distracted by the garden...since I can't see it as I leave! Of course, I often lack sleep during the day...because I look out the window and ...out i go, camera in hand.. But it's great, isn't it!?

  17. Hello Rose, awesome blog... looks so nice with the pics, here in Pittsburgh we have the same weather. Hot and humid, then a cool down, then back to hot again.


  18. Dear Rose,
    We had one day this week that was perfect for weeding. I ended up working outside for 6 hours! Your goldenrod is so very far ahead of mine. Wow...
    Normally the bugs get most of my outside time is so exciting to see your butterflies. I do love them so very much. Come winter I miss the bugs!
    Hope you get another cool down soon. We are having a beautiful rain storm this evening. Much needed rain too!

  19. I love all of your pics, Rose, but that last photo is spectacular! You should get a large print of it and frame it. As you know, I never have a problem with distractions while working outside:)

  20. Wow....85! I hope you have the same longevity as your Dad. I think naps are a great fountain of youth, keep taking them.

    I loved your butterfly shots! Spectacular!

  21. Sounds/looks like a perfect day in the garden, Rose. So much company ... luv it! Lucky for us you had your camera near. Thanks for sharing your delightful day.

  22. Happy 85th Birthday to your father! I hope you had a big celebration.

    Your gardening habits sounds a bit like me...only I am only in the garden early in the morning before the Death Star becomes too overpowering. I mainly look out at all the activity from afar, in the coolness of the house during the day. Come on October!

  23. Rose, had I been there with you we would have gotten all the garden chores done in a jiffy. Ha, ha! I would have only added to your distraction by pointing out even more butterflies. I started to work in the gardens one of the cool nights and spent most of the time photoing butterflies, bees and other insects!

  24. Cyndy, the last photo was definitely my favorite of about 50 I took:)

    Lisa, I always seem to find something more fun than weeding:) Either that or I'm chasing Sophie out of the garden.

    Frances, A confession--none of this goldenrod was planted--they're all volunteers and pop up wherever they want:)

    Balisha, When it's this hot, I have a hard time getting up the energy to spend much time working in the garden. Maybe I should just say I'm leaving it au naturelle for the wildlife:)

    Tina, I'm always thinking, "oh, this would make a good photo!"

    Cheryl, Yes, the nap was nice, thank you:) And I think you might just get to see some mantises soon!

    Racquel, Um, I seem to flit from one chore to another; the horseweeds all got pulled, but the rest are waiting for another cool day.

    Di, Daughter goes home this week and will be happy if it is cooler there. She doesn't like the Illinois heat and humidity anymore:)

    Rachel, I swear those mantids are trying to talk to me!

    Monica, Sorry about Chicago--that's a bummer; I was looking forward to it. The cosmos have done so well; what a great plant!

    MMD, Thanks for making my chaotic garden sound so nice:) The Sulphurs are hard to photograph because they never seem to stop moving.

  25. Rose, I'm not sure what it is, but this has been a great year for butterflies. I have literally clouds of them around the garden during the day.

    Maggie, Thanks for the compliment, but my camera is nothing special. I just keep taking photo after photo, and if I'm lucky I'll get one good one out of 50.

    Liz, I try to be very still, but if Sophie is around, well, no luck in getting a photo then. She thinks butterflies are fun to chase...literally:)

    Aunt Tina, It must be hard to have to sleep during the day! I couldn't access your blog, but will try again later.

    Tony, Thanks for dropping by; this heat seems to be everywhere in the country.

    Sherry, So glad you got some rain. We got a little, but could certainly use more. Parts of the ground are full of cracks, I've noticed.

    W2W, I've thought about framing a few of my better butterfly pix; sounds like a fun winter project. Gardening wouldn't be nearly as much fun if I didn't get distracted.

    Rosey, I'm hoping I inherited all the longevity genes--my maternal grandfather lived to be 101! Thanks for helping me justify my naps:)

    Joey, This is part of what makes gardening enjoyable for me.

    Jenny, We did take my Dad out to eat, including all 7 great-grandchildren, which he enjoys. If I don't get an early start in the morning in the garden, I might as well forget about it.

    Beckie, Where have the last 4 weeks gone?? Oh yes, I'm sure we would have gotten the work done in no time:) Now post some of those photos!! You don't need to write much--everyone would love to see what has been blooming in your garden this summer.

  26. Rose, A wonderful post for the August doldrums we're having out in bloggerland What a summer. ~Lot's of life in your garden....I'm finding many skippers and butterflies but none of them want to sit still for long! gail

  27. It is the August of yellow in your garden and nice the way the insects match and compliment your flowers. Enjoy these dwindling days of summer.

  28. Sounds familiar Rose - it's so easy to get distracted in the garden with so much life to appreciate and enjoy.

    Hopefully after Friday things got a little cooler in your area. The weather has been gorgeous here - what a relief! (We sure could use some rain though.)

  29. Rose, I know I'm a latecomer, but I'm catching up after a week long camping trip. I love the way you dialog your way through the garden! And the yellow theme really cheered me. A belated but sincere "happy birthday" to your father - 85 is quite the number!

  30. Rose, you are impressive like always......nice see your blog after a long time....keep it up......nice day :)

  31. Ha! Rose you could be me writing this post. Same sort of situations here, although with different supporting cast of the winged variety. The photos are simply fantastic.

    I know mantises are beneficial, but they creep me totally out, and have ever since I read a very old science fiction story about a race of mantis-like alien plants that invaded other planets...still gives me chills today!


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