Monarch 200903

Spent a while watching butterflies on Saturday. A big monarch seems to have claimed the yard for her own. At least I think it was a she. She would patrol from one end of the garden to the other and back again, looping around the butterfly milkweed plants to make sure there were no interlopers.

There was also a cabbage butterfly and a couple of what I think were hairstreaks, but I didn’t get close enough to see them clearly.

Hairstreak 201107-ad

The monarch left the smaller butterflies alone, but when a gulf fritillary wandered into the yard it promptly got chased back out again. I think it’s larger size and orange and black colors make it too monarch-like. It was an immediate target.


I was glad to see a good number of bees. When everyone stopped watering everything the bee population seemed to take a real dive. There were days in the beginning of the year where there’d be only one or two in the front yard and none at all inside the gates. Now there’s a good mix of pollinators, bees, butterflies and hoverflies. It was a good day for bugwatching.

Lack of Larvae

I have these:


There’s one that I’ve seen patrolling the yard, flitting from one end of the yard to the other, stopping occasionally to lay eggs on the butterfly plant. She chases off any interlopers. Butterfly fights are interesting to watch. They look like leaves caught in a whirlwind. It’s hard to believe they’re battles for territory.

I was hoping for more of these:


But this is only the second one I’ve seen this season.

Garden Status 20170613

Fiddled around quite a bit in the garden this weekend. It’s amazing how much work I can do out there and still no one else can see the difference. I ended up with a full trash barrel of pruning and even I can barely tell the difference.


I think these are going to be green zebra tomatoes. I’m looking forward to trying them, I’ve never had any. They might be tiger tomatoes, but they’re the wrong shape. More like to be the green zebras.


I got this echevaria imbricata because I love the way the rosettes grow in tightly packed mounds. I potted it so it could develop a bigger root system before I put it out in the yard. It’s also starting to produce offsets.


I got this euphorbia guiengola plant because the description said that it would develop a caudex over time. I’ve had it for a couple of years now and it shows no sign of developing a thickening trunk. I’m still pretty happy with it, even if it is basically just sticks with flowers on them. I haven’t seen this plant anywhere before, so at least it has the advantage of being unusual.


This poor little aloe is getting a little sun stressed. It looks better when the leaves a re a darker green, so I moved it to a spot where it doesn’t get quite so much sun.


This aloe is apparently happy with a crowded root system. The pot it’s in might hold two cups of soil at most. It’s one of the first things I got when I found the Orange County Cactus and Succulent Society. I couldn’t resist the colors. These guys are as close to cactus as I get. I just don’t like pokey things. Had a bad experience when I was a kid. Pliers were required to remove the spines.


My ledebouria socialis is doing pretty well. I’m anticipating moving this one, too, when the heat of summer moves in. I love how well it goes with the pot it’s in.

Oh, that’s why

Atrium 20170526

A couple of months ago the silver dichondra in my atrium started to looked really ragged, missing a lot of leaves. Because it’s been a rainy year and I had slug problems in other parts of the yard I thought slugs were the cause. Yesterday I was at my workbench and saw movement in the atrium out of the corner of my eye. This visitor was plucking the leaves off of the dichondra. It’s one of a pair that I’ve seen in the yard lately. They often make me anxious by hopping around on the ground when we’re out there with the cats. A bird on the ground never fails to rivet their attention.

Jacaranda Season


It’s jacaranda season in Southern California right now. I saw this street in morning sun a few days ago, thought “I should take a picture” and drove on by. Kicking myself now. I have always loved jacaranda trees, although I understand why some people don’t. I especially love it when the trees are covered in delirious purple blossoms. They were widely used in landscapes for a while, until people figured out that all those purple blossoms fall off. I still love seeing them, The big purple crowns of the trees dotted across the landscape. Let’s me know it’s spring.

Raven’s nest


I was running around the yard, hurrying to get a little yard work done in the five minutes we didn’t have rain when I noticed this nest in the finally bare trees around the house. I initially thought it was a crow’s nest, but when I thought about it, it’s probably a raven’s nest. Raven’s have had a nest in that for a while now. On several occasions I’ve heard a knocking sound that I’m pretty sure is part of a raven’s vocabulary, but not a crow’s. I’ll have to keep an eye on it, see what happens this year.