Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Waiting for the Circus to Arrive

The calendar may say February 1, but if I didn't know better I would think it was April.  Today's high temperature is supposed to be in the low 50's, and yesterday it got up to 61 degrees, warm enough that I quickly shed my coat while running errands around town.  It looks, feel, and smells like spring! 

Days like these make me eager to see blooms, of course, but also to see some of my usual spring and summer visitors.  The bumblebees, like this one enjoying the white salvia in the Arbor Bed last year, will probably be among the first to arrive.

Going through old photo files the last few weeks, I realized I had intended to do a reprise of 2010's Cirque du Prairie, but never got around to it.

While 2011 did have some acrobatic performers like this balancing bee  . . .

. . . or the mantis trapeze artist, 

. . . most were content with less death-defying activities. 

A variety of performers, however, kept the show interesting.  Some were so small they often went unnoticed until downloading photos onto the computer.

Others sent the audience searching through books and websites to find their names.

While there were plenty of bees in last summer's show, the circus appeared to have been downsized in other areas, perhaps another victim of the poor economy.  Butterflies, especially, were fewer in number in 2011.

Still, some of the usual performers showed up, like this Buckeye and the swallowtail in the previous photo.

And the Tiger Swallowtail, which found my new delphinium as captivating as I did.

The stars of the show, the Monarchs, finally showed up in late summer and early autumn.  You might notice a theme here, besides the obvious one.  Favorite perches for photo shoots were the coneflowers and the cosmos.  Agastaches and zinnias were also popular.  As I plan this season's garden, I am making sure to allow space for all these bee and butterfly magnets.

Moths also found the cosmos appealing.

Red admirals made a brief appearance, but somehow escaped the photographer.  However, I did manage to capture this unusual visitor--though not very well--after following him around the garden for awhile.  It was the first time I had seen this particular butterfly in my garden, and I still haven't identified him.

A brief visit by a fritillary was also welcome--it's not often that they visit my garden.

Some visitors avoided the spotlight, but left evidence of their amazing talents.

Although there weren't as many butterflies seen this year, the hummingbirds were numerous. This lovely lady (?) even was kind enough to pose for a long while, as long as I didn't get any closer.

Much to my delight, she was soon joined by a friend.

 A hot and dry summer in Illinois also means a multitude of grasshoppers, though not quite this size:)  This giant grasshopper was part of an exhibit of insects crafted from natural materials at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, which I visited in November.  I'm not particularly fond of grasshoppers, but I'm glad the ones in my garden weren't this Kafkaesque:)

Digressing for a moment,  I wanted to add a note to my last post.  One of the elements you won't see much of in my new Arbor Bed, or any of my garden areas, for that matter, is garden art.  Although I admire artfully placed objects and whimsical additions to others' gardens, I am too cheap frugal to spend much on decorative touches and not creative enough to come up with my own.  Even when I do have something, it takes me a long time to know how and where to place it.  Dear friend Beckie gave me these garden gnomes early in the summer.  I'm not much of a gnome person, as she knows, and stuck them under the arbor bench temporarily...which is where they stayed all year:)

However, some garden visitors enjoyed this placement. 
I rather like the more natural look of this garden "art," don't you?

Even better, the art exhibit changes periodically:)

Ah yes, Tarzan, Toby, and the rest of the furry clan are eagerly looking forward 
to the 2012 edition of Cirque du Prairie.  Maybe we won't have to wait long--I just saw the first bee flying around here today!


  1. Hello Rose,
    How beautiful to see all these flowers. Overhere the weather have changed into winter. I hope my plants will survive because the temperatures have been higher for month's and now this freezing cold! Your cat's are also adorable.
    Have a nice evening

  2. I like your furry clan! My little furries like the garden, too. It has been a very strange winter. I don't really know if we are headed for spring or if winter will someday come...

  3. Wow, that spider web is awesome. And kind of scary.

    My husband is the person who keeps bringing home garden art. Who knew? He has decent taste, but I often have trouble picking the right place as well. Lately I've just been letting my daughter pick a spot, figuring it's only temporary, after all.

    We're not quite as warm here, but we've lost almost all of our snow now. I just hope it doesn't dip down too far without an additional layer of snow insulation.

  4. Such talent in your garden, especially the weaver of the web! But all your acrobats and stars are great performers. It got to 65 here in southern New England today, Feb. 1. Just crazy.

  5. You make me laugh with your "natural look garden art" LOL.
    Oh, I am positively drooling for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees to arrive. Your flowers look so gorgeous - can't wait for spring!!!

    February and we've had a pretty warm winter too. Not nearly as warm as you and yes, we've also had way below freezing days, but not many and there is not a lot of snow this year.

    Thanks for this lovely post. You've really warmed up my day (well, it's evening now and dark outside, but I can imagine the sun shining and flowers blooming - not to mention cats.) LOL!

  6. After that beautiful display of color, I'm ready for spring, Rose! This entire week is supposed to continue to be 50, so as we rake we find all sorts of little heads peaking through the soil, and I see buds are forming on the Magnolia stellata.

    PS: the cats made me laugh. Have a great rest of the week.
    PSS: I hope this doesn't post 3 times; blogger kept aborting.

  7. It might be warmer outside but I still have to go to the archives to find beautiful bees and butterflies! I can't wait for them to show up! I hope I have enough nectar and pollen to keep them happy! Like you I will plant even more zinnias, echinacea and salvia! xogail

  8. Cirque du Prairie--how cute! And your kitties are adorable hanging out with the gnomes. I think my cats would probably do that too if I let them outside. I love your captures of insects on plants--nicely done!

  9. It looks like that spot under your bench is a perfect place to get out of the hot sun! I kind of like the gnomes under there too, a bit of a surprise if someone happens to look down.

  10. Ha! A circus garden - I love it! I could do with some warm weather too. Everything is coated with ice in Maine.

  11. Hi Rose,

    Ha! The gnomes look great with their furry companions. Made me smile :)

    Lovely to see the bees butterflies and blooms Rose. I am sure Sherry would be able to help you id the mystery butterfly.

    Enjoy the weather while you can.
    We are expecting snow tonight in Kent and temperatures are well below freezing. It is taking its toll on the plants that thought Spring had arrived and bloomed way too early :-(

  12. Its lovely to reflect on the summer. I can remember some of those photos.
    That is a wild spider's web!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  13. Cute exhibit and the changes are wonderful. Your mystery butterfly might be a Giant Swallowtail. They are so hard to catch in action. Great acrobats. Love the new header photo. I am most partial to bees.

  14. Your cats are the stars of the show to my eyes. They make any spot look comfortable and beautiful.I just can hardly wait for all this and more. I had a bee in our garden yesterday. FUN. It's going to happen any time now. It just feels weiard to be happening so soon.

  15. Oh how I loved this post! Thank you, what sweet analogy. Love the furry scenery. Gorgeous flowers, are those double click rose bon bon cosmos (or something like that)? I want to order seed for those this year. Can't wait for this years garden.

  16. Michele, Yes those are 'Rose Bon Bon' cosmos seeds, which I got from Renee's Garden. One of my favorites!

  17. Rose, You are not alone in posting flowers and "critters" these days. I just visited Catherine - however, hers are in real time (!).

    I know what you mean about being excited for the upcoming show! Thanks for your recent visit.

    I see you're headed for Asheville. I'd love to go . . . but I always never make it.

  18. Hi Rose, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the circus. My favourite performers were the Monarch, the Frittilary and the Hummingbirds. Now if only you could persuade them to do a tour of the UK in the Summer, they would be more than welcome and I would gladly give them free board and lodging in return for a colourful performance :-)

    It was lovely to be reminded of Summer on this exceptionally cold day in England, we have heavy snow forecast for later today!

    I hope it is still mild there and that you have a good weekend :-)

  19. All I need is some cotton candy and I am content!
    Such a fun post. I always love when you post photos of your cats. :)

  20. It's fun to watch the antics of the beautiful visitors to the garden isn't it? Your kitties look very serene. Is the longhair a Bluepoint Himalayan?

  21. You've got some good lookin' cats! :) I love the acrobatic bee in the cleome, too. Our weather was as warm as your a few days ago, too.

  22. Isn't it fun to find a little winged friend when you download the pictures! As for you hummers, I could watch them alllll day!

  23. I am glad you mentioned the variety and source for the Cosmos. They are incredible! I am off to Renee's Garden website to snag some of my own!

  24. OMG ! ROSE girl !
    I love seeing all these gorgeous insects and the butterflies have my heart !
    The cobweb picture was totally amazing ! I have a huge silly grin on my face : )

  25. I am in awe and admiration of your ability to get shots of all those flighty creatures - they come out as blurs for me every time! It's been a warm winter for a lot of us, but I'm not complaining - congrats on your first bee :)

  26. Lots of wonderful bloom, bug, bird, and feline photos Rose!

  27. Hi Rose, I hope you get more butterflies this year. I am like you with the garden art, no budget to buy and no skill to make. Maybe it just makes us more artistic with our plants?! Enjoy your early Spring - we have snow again today.

  28. Wow! Your photos are absolutely sensational.

    We've hardly had a winter here either (I live in north Northumberland, near the Scottish Borders) but it has been getting gradually colder this week.

    CJ x

  29. They are all fairies, including the kitties, gracing our gardens with their delicate fairy wings and protective spirits. Beautiful photos.

  30. Thanks, all, for the comments. I've been a little under the weather for the past week, so I've gotten behind in blog reading. But things have certainly changed since I wrote this post--no bees or blooms now; it's back to winter here!

  31. Dear Rose,
    I agree with Tina, your mystery butterfly looks to be a Giant Swallowtail. It was lovely seeing your bees and butterflies. I do miss them in the winter. At long last we have some snow! I do not mind waiting for Spring....

  32. Hummingbirds and such beautiful butterflies! You are such a good gardener and photographer! I'm not a gnome person either but those two do look cute with their furry companion.

    Still away waiting for baby. 12 days late now ...

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