Saturday, August 2, 2014

Cool Rain, Butterflies and Purple Tobacco

Where am I? It's late afternoon, raining, and in the upper 60s. This can't be central NC on the 2nd of August. Fell into a wormhole? The garden is going to love this. I took a chance last week and advantage of the beautiful weather we've been having and planted out some heat-loving stuff that were outgrowing their 1 gallon pots (chiefly summer phlox and daylilies) so I am extra grateful for the rain.

I have been gardening a lot, but at night have not been interested in going through pictures. Now I have so many pictures! lol Some day I might get through them.

Someone wondered aloud once why I would plant butterfly bush next to my house (since it can be gawky and lanky). Because butterflies, that's why. I can walk right out onto my front porch and enjoy butterflies while remaining in the shade after a hot day in the garden. The two best butterfly attractants in my garden are butterfly bushes and Joe Pye Weed. The Joe Pye Weed is still in the bud stage but the buddleia are a-flutter with butterflies on a warm sunny day.

One morning the butterfly bush by the house was covered with Silver-spotted Skippers

and American Ladies.

Later in the afternoon Tiger Swallowtails
and Black Butterflies joined the party. There are always a lot of Tiger Swallowtails around due to all of the tulip poplars and red maples, but I don't see Black Swallowtails as often. The only native host plant we have here is water hemlock (and very little of it -- I pull it whenever I see it, since it's such a highly poisonous plant), so we've been planting a lot of parsley plants the last couple of years. A caterpillar chewed down one of them last week. Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea) is a native host plant I've seen at the NC Botanical Garden. Next year when the Garden sends out its seed list I'll have to see if it's available, or check to see if the plant is for sale at the Garden.

There used to be butterfly bushes all around the southern and western sides of the house but all have died out over the winters, mainly due to the fact that they were too close to the roof dripline. It's OK. I grew them from cuttings and they were put there to provide quick color. I had to take down three buddleia in the gardens below the house this year because they were not aging well and looked out of place anyway. I've started to root more cuttings from 'Potter's Purple' to plant elsewhere because the butterflies love them so much.

Speaking of purple, I have purple flowering tobacco! I saw some at the garden at the Fort Fisher Aquarium 2 or 3 years ago and have wanted some in the garden ever since. The first year I tried to grow it the seeds didn't germinate, but this year, success! The color is a deep rich purple. The cultivar name is 'Perfume Deep Purple' so supposedly it's fragrant too.

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