Thursday, August 15, 2013

August GBBD and Where Are all the Monarchs?

Monarch Butterfly on Tall Verbina
 I am extremely excited because I saw a monarch butterfly on the tall verbina today! It is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day (celebrated on the 15th of each month by gardeners around the world  -- thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens) so I went outside with my camera to see what is blooming. Why would one little butterfly excite me so much? Because it is the first and ONLY monarch I have seen this year!

The little darling fluttered between the verbina in the entry garden and the buddleia in the cottage garden and I followed it around for nearly an hour and took dozens of pictures.

Monarch on butterfly bush, buddleia davidii

As you probably know, monarch butterflies are unique because they migrate from north to south like birds. Each fall, hundreds of millions make their way from the Eastern United States and Canada to the mountains of central Mexico, where they pass the winter. New generations of monarchs return north between April and June. It's now the middle of August and until today there was no sign of them in my garden. It's normal for the monarch population to vary from year to year -- click to read what MSN news says about the steep decline this year. The Boston Globe reported: 'Scientists say the exact cause for the monarch’s decline is hard to pin down, but it probably stems from unfriendly weather patterns caused by climate change, as well as overdevelopment of the butterfly’s natural habitat, including the destruction of milkweed, the only plant on which females lay their eggs.' I grow milkweed in my garden, specifically to attract monarchs, but this year they have not yet found my plants. Usually there are several monarch caterpillars on my milkweed at this time.

One of five milkweed plants in my kitchen garden
 There are no monarchs, but lots of other insects on my milkweed, including a hummingbird moth.

Hummingbird Moth on Milkweed
The bees are enjoying my August blooms, especially the sunflowers and the purple cone flowers. I planted a row of sunflowers near the rain barrel in the kitchen garden. I wished they had their faces turned towards me as I enter the garden from the west, but sunflowers always face the rising sun.

Sunflower, Del Sol Hybrid
Note the raindrops on the sunflower below -- we are experiencing a lot of rain this month.

The purple cone flowers are beginning to fade now, but they are still bee magnets.

While many of my perennials are fading, or have been beaten down by rain, the zinnias are putting on a fabulous show in the kitchen garden.

Zinnias outshine my vegetables.
The zinnias in these pictures are Cut and Come Again Mix. Every spring I start zinnias from seed indoors, and this year I also grew Pinwheel and Raspberry Lemonade.
See the hummingbird on the top-right flower.

Another female ruby-throated hummer
Going from the kitchen garden to the cottage garden, in the pond the tropical canna's blooms are very vibrant ...

Canna leaves making a bold statement.
A frog and two water lilies.
The perennial sunflowers are beginning to bloom in the pots flanking the new arbors that leads into the shade garden. The old arbor had a boxwood on each side. I lost both boxwoods this spring, probably because that area becomes very wet after a storm, so I decided against planting in the ground. The perennial sunflowers are quite aggressive, so I prefer to keep them in planters anyway. I over-winter them in an empty vegetable bed in the kitchen garden, then transfer them to pots when it is time to plant my vegetables. Their height works well with the tall trellis...

Helianthus (perennial Sunflower)
Nearby, one of my favorite blooms today is that of my pannicle hydrangea. The blossoms started out white with little pink specks, and progressed to deep pink.

Hydrangea pannicle
This hydrangea was new last year and is growing nicely behind the patio fence.

 I am happy to see several rose bushes are showing a few blossoms. My favorite is Peace ...

Rosa "Peace"
Before finishing my Bloom Day walk, I picked a few vegetables, including the last cabbage. Cabbages aren't usually growing this late, but we had very cool (below normal) temps. this month.

I have many more blooms today, but I am exhausted from chasing that wonderful monarch butterfly, so I'll keep those pictures for another posting. Are you seeing monarchs in your garden, this year? Or if your garden is not in the monarch butterfly's range, are other butterflies declining in your area?

Wishing you a happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Do check out May Dreams Gardens to see what's blooming around the world!

Pamela x

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  1. Beautiful flowers!
    Nice veggies, too.
    I have milkweed for the Monarchs, but have not seen any yet. Lots of Swallowtails are visiting.
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea's menagerie

  2. You have such a nice kitchen garden, love the hummer on the Zinnia. Thank you very much for the interesting information on the Monarch butterfly, we don't have that here.
    Wish you a nice weekend!

  3. Your garden is looking healthy and lush. I'm happy that you have had a visit from the Monarch and hope you have many happy returns!

  4. Lovely butterfly pictures! I also love your pond and water lilies, I so would like to have a pond but my garden is just too small. Over here in London it has been an amazing year for butterflies, thanks to the great summer we have had. Last year I didn't see one single butterfly in my garden and this year there has been lots. Good to see them return :-)

  5. How fabulous that you've finally spotted a Monarch in your garden this year. Perhaps there will be more visitors soon.

    I just loved the patch of Sunflowers. They always make me feel more cheerful. The Canna bloom is gorgeous, and your Water Lilies are lovely.

  6. I had a monarch in my garden about a month ago, so they must overwinter around here somewhere. I see them sometimes in the summer... probably I would see more if I got a milkweed plant!(They are called swan plants in New Zealand because of the shape of the seed pod.)
    The rest of your garden looks gorgeous!

  7. Your butterfly shots are beautiful! The zinnias are gorgeous and so is your pond. What a great garden you have, Pamela!

  8. Pam the garden is stunning....only one monarch here too and they found the caterpillars though. Our weather pattern has us parched this month with little rain but the veg garden keeps going. Loving the critters visiting your garden and love the zinnias!!

  9. Pam, what a spectacular picture of the Monarch Butterfly. I've seen a lot of posts recently about Monarchs, what a truly incredible creature they are. I do hope more turns up for you.
    Your garden is looking gorgeous, still very summery looking.

  10. Gorgeous blooms! Love your pond. Did'nt know you could plant a Canna in the water like that.

  11. Such a beautiful butterfly, what a shame there aren't many around this year. I've heard people here saying it's a really good year for butterflies but I'm only really seeing the Cabbage Whites. You're garden is such a haven for insects, it's no wonder they pay you back in kind by pollinating your crops. Your harvest looks delicious.

  12. You should be seeing more and more butterflies. We get impatient and forget they come in broods and the August brood is usually tardy. You show lots of nectar plants, they should be ecstatic in your garden.

  13. The canna is spectacular, I didn't know they grew in water and the butterfly is truly a darling.

  14. Your zinnias are gorgeous!! I planted and re-planted zinnias this year without much luck. I've got maybe a half dozen that came up. I saw my first monarch ever this year and boy was I excited. However, I usually have black swallowtails all over my dill and parsley and this year there's not a single one. Not sure what's going on?

  15. Great butterfly shots, great blooms and that is the first time I have seen a hummingbird moth! Nice post. Jeannine