Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Decorating Updates

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Do you take pictures and not post them? I made a few changes the end of May and forgot about them. I swapped the upholstered coffee table here for my glass top coffee table and accessorized with shells for a summer touch. Now, that school has started the rush to decorate for fall is here and I am just posting my summer pics. lol! 
Also, purchased the green pillows from Wisteria! I just loved the color and liked them with the leopard. Added a throw with blue tones to repeat the color and  connect the other blues in the room. I also added shells in a glass container and in the bowl for summer. 
 









That's my small decorating update even though it is late.

I don't know about you but the summer flew by. 
Did your summer fly by?

 
Have a wonderful week.
Joining: Gardens GaloreMetamorphosis Monday   Botanic Bleu  Show and Share  The Scoop  Celebrate and Decorate  Inspire Me Tuesday  Wow Us Wednesday  Tablescape Thursday  Share Your Style Party ,Share Your CupThoughts of Home  Foodie Friday  Feathered Nest Friday  Dishing It & Digging It   Calypso in the CountrySunday's At Home
 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Finally, I'm a beautiful butterfly!

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Je suis enfin un beau papillon! Finally, I am a beautiful butterfly!
 I hope you read my last post about the first three stages of a butterfly metamorphosis. Today, you will see the final stage when the butterfly emerges. I was determined to arrange my life to view this miracle first hand. To see the butterfly emerge from the pupa was a thrill! I knew the pupa stage was about ten days so I planned to get up early since I had read they usually emerge early in the morning. For three days, I watched this process and each time I understood more and was  continually moved at the wonder and amazement of this miracle of new life unveiling before my eyes.
This is the darkened pupa ready to emerge. I made this picture at 6:49 and by 7:17 it had emerged. All these pics were made with my iPhone so the time and date was recorded which made it helpful to remember how long it took.
 
You can see a little of the orange coloring on his hind wings through the pupa. Note how much the leaves on the parsley have grown since the caterpillar went into the pupa stage. There were no leaves on the parsley so in 9-10 days it has grown back. The caterpillars had stripped all the leaves. More on that later, because as you are watching the unfolding of the pupa stage on the same container of parsley all the other stages of the butterfly are happening all over again, too.
Newly emerged from the pupa the butterfly is wet and crinkled. It attaches to the stem and waits to dry.
As they dry, they slowly open their wings to pump blood into their wings so they will be able to fly. 

Here you can tell this one is less wet and crinkled because he has been drying longer. He is still hanging on becoming stronger opening his wings every now and then. It  took two hours for this butterfly to be ready to fly away. 


Viola! My beautiful swallowtail butterfly makes his or her debut!  What a blessing to watch this process from beginning to the last phase. Following the metamorphosis from the egg, to the caterpillar, to the pupa or chrysalis and finally to the adult butterfly was fascinating.
 So as Paul Harvey said,"And now you know the rest of the story." 
However, I have more to show you that I think you'll be interested in.
 This is a small birdbath I observed at a local nursery. It was in their butterfly house. Butterflies assemble around puddles and soak up minerals they need. Butterflies drink by "puddling". They sip at shallow puddles of water in mud or sand instead of landing in large open water areas. I was able to purchase it. You can purchase butterfly pudding stones to invite butterflies to your garden on line at Gardeners.com, UncommonGoods and Etsy. I also read butterflies like stale beer! I should try that. So far, I haven't seen any land in my butterfly puddler!
Much to my surprise and delight look at what was attached underneath! Yes, it is a monarch chrysalis or pupa! You can tell their pupas are different from the swallowtail butterflies. I told the lady that checked out my purchases if it hatched and I had a monarch butterfly she would hear me screaming 40 miles away!

I made this picture of a beautiful monarch in the same butterfly house back in May. The monarchs mated, laid eggs and several generations of monarchs began. Somewhere along the way, a pupa attached under the birdbath. Sadly, I found out my pupa is dead. Next year, I am going to order some monarch eggs or pupas. It is too late this year because the companies that supply them do not ship if the temperature is over 80 degrees. 

And just to show you how obsessive I became with viewing the metamorphosis the day the last pupa emerged all wet it had just started to rain. I was sitting in the chair holding a small umbrella while making pictures and called my husband to bring another umbrella and he rigged this set up. I was afraid the poor little butterfly wouldn't make it through a downpour. Nature doesn't need my help but I really wanted to watch the process. It took five hours for this one to fly away. 
I know this is getting lengthy but I was also able to observe the extruding of ostermeria! Ostermeria happens when a caterpillar feels threatened. When danger is detected, they quickly puff up, rear back, and eject bright orange ostermeria from their heads. Do you see the ostermeria on the top caterpillar?
I was able to provoke this one( I couldn't resist poking him slightly with a stick to see this first hand.)These organs spray a foul smell also. It was a slight odor but having read about it I was intrigued when I observed this.
This is a picture  of a black swallowtail extruding osmeteria from the book, Butterflies of Alabama, from Gosse Nature Guides, photography by Sara Blight and text by Paulette Ogard. I would love to meet these two ladies. This book was published in 2010 by the University of Alabama Press. 
Is ostermeria a new phenomenon for you? It was for me.
So, to sum up. How exciting it is to witness the life cycle of butterflies as God's creation first hand. I hope you have learned something from this post about the last stage of metamorphosis as well as the other three stages in my former post. Maybe you have been intrigued to witness this wonderful beauty first hand yourself. There are ways to experience and witness these stages for yourself. Many people raise butterflies inside their home( butterfly cases available at Hobby Lobby) or school classrooms. Kits are available on line. You can plant host plants in your own backyard and watch this amazing process for yourself. You can encourage butterflies  in your garden by planting nectar plants, host plants, and puddling stones. I promise it is rewarding. 
As I mentioned many swallowtail butterfly generations have been visible in one urn in my backyard. I'm still blown away with the complexity of it all!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Eight types of colored sunflowers

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Sunflowers make me happy!  Do you remember this tablescape using sunflowers I did last year?

 I had no idea there were so many kinds of sunflowers. FTD has the most wonderful blog and talented people that work for them. 

I am happy to share a great article and resource about sunflowers from FTD. Be sure to pin for future reference when you open their guide.


Nothing represents summer quite like the sunflower! They are known for the golden hue of their petals that match the suns beautiful rays. However, despite popular belief, not all sunflowers possess this bright yellow color they are so well known for! To help you better understand the different kinds of colored sunflowers, FTD has created a guide that goes over the eight most popular colored types and their names. From creamy mustard to deep red wine, here is a visual guide to the fifteen of the most beautiful sunflowers and eight of the most popular types of colored sunflowers. 

 After viewing the guide,  tell me if you have planted any of these types of sunflowers in your garden? 

You might also enjoy reviewing a guide from FTD on hydrangeas I shared last year here.
Weren't these great resources?

 
Have a wonderful week.
 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Butterflies in the Garden

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"Colorful, butterflies are nature's flying flowers."
Debbie Hadley ~ 10 fascinating facts about butterflies.

Join me today, as I share some butterflies from my garden. This week I learned some fascinating things about butterflies. In the last week or so, I observed the beginning of a butterfly cycle in my garden. It has been so exciting that they are like my children, I am constantly checking on them!
I've noticed caterpillars on my parsley for the past three years. Until this year, I didn't think much about them. Just knew I should be happy there would be butterflies coming and sacrificed my parsley. It doesn't kill the parsley for caterpillars to feed on it. But this year, I started noticing more things. Scroll up and you can see some smaller black caterpillars at the top of the pic.The one on the upper top right corner is easy to see. It hatched out later than the others and hasn't been feeding as long.The fatter ones have eaten quite a bit of my parsley.


Years ago, I didn't know each kind of butterfly has a distinct caterpillar that is identifiable. Also, each kind of butterfly will only lay eggs on certain plants.  This is a swallowtail caterpillar and they lay their eggs on parsley, dill, fennel, carrot or Queen Anne's lace which are called host plants.

Here is a pic of a swallowtail caterpillar on a fennel plant I took in my garden some years ago. 

Next, in my amazing adventure in my own backyard, it was so exciting to find eggs on my parsley plant and then realize I had witnessed the female laying them. The eggs are the size of a pinhead. Usually, yellow or green, however, these look white. They hatch in a few days so I will be busy watching for them to hatch and the cycle start all over again. What mystery and wonder God has created for us to delight in and be reminded of Him and His glorious plan for all His creatures!

Look closely and in this pic you can see two things: First, above the butterfly you can see a swallowtail caterpillar on my parsley plant or he may be exploring my milkweed  which is right above the parsley. The butterfly was all aflutter like a mother bird protecting her young. I was in her way looking at the caterpillar and taking it's picture. She flew in circles always coming back to the same stem of parsley. After watching several u-tube videos of  females laying eggs, I realized that that was what she was doing. Later in the day, I turned over the parsley leaves and there were eggs there.  Then, I really got interested!                        
You definitely remember things you experience more than just reading about them. The female holds on the plant with her front legs and curves her thorax under the plant depositing her eggs. This was amazing to realize this happened right before my eyes. Then to my amazement a few hours later I saw this!!!

The caterpillar that had stopped eating and was just sitting on the tip of the parsley stem had turned into a pupa! How I wish I had seen this firsthand. It happened between the time I photographed the butterfly laying her eggs and this pic, only a few hours.  Can you see it? Have you ever seen a pupa in your garden? 

It is fascinating. You can begin to see a hint of what the future butterfly will look like.

I could hardly contain my excitement. Of course, phone calls were made inviting friends that I thought would be interested to come see the pupa. The next day two more pupas appeared. Now, to think this may have occurred in my own yard previously and that I was oblivious, shows me that I need to be more observant because I am missing miracles in my own garden!
And the fourth stage should come in less than two weeks.

You can find pins on Butterflies on my Pinterest page   (Click on Pinterest logo at the top of my homepage) that identify various kinds of butterflies, their body parts and their function, what their caterpillars look like and their host plants they lay their eggs on. 

Now, that I have learned some of the host plants for butterflies I am going to examine them for eggs. Passion vine tendrils are hosts for Zebra Long Wing butterflies. Sassafras is host for Gulf Fritillary. Milkweed(over a 100 varieties) are hosts for Monarchs and many more. Here is a detailed list of host plants found on the web. It is amazing! Check your host plants for eggs and watch the cycle for yourself.

I am trying hard to attract monarch butterflies by planting milkweed. It is invasive so I have it in pots with saucers at the bottom to prevent it from spreading. Although the seed pods open in the fall and the wind blows the seeds.
Monarch made at Dallas Arboretum with my cell phone.


I have enjoyed making pictures of the butterfliesin my garden over the years and I posted about butterflies photographed in my garden here.  I have made more pics since then in my garden. But guess what? I'm nervous that I possibly didn't identify them correctly because the male and female are slightly different with each kind of swallowtail!!!! There are Spicebush Swallowtails, Appalachian Tiger Swallowtails, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Pipevine Swallowtail (poisonous), Zebra Swallowtails, Black Swallowtails, Giant Swallowtails....Are you confused yet? Just when I think I know what kind they are, I still have that little bit of doubt! Feel free to let me know if I identified any of the species incorrectly or if any of the info I included is not correct. I am still learning.
I hope I have piqued your interest in butterflies.Here are a few facts about butterflies: Because of the use of pesticides their numbers have diminished in the U.S. the last few years. Butterflies and bees are very important as pollinators.  Butterflies are not as efficient as bees in pollinating plants and crops but they do their fair share about seed and fruit production and are definitely pleasing to watch (aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu)

Butterflies life spans are short ( except for monarchs that overwinter) and they only live two weeks. Their main tasks evolve around eating and mating. The four stages of life are: the egg ( a few days), the caterpillar or larva about two weeks), the pupa ( about 2 weeks), the adult. The metamorphosis of butterfliesis truly a miracle and the entire process takes about a month. You can observe butterflies spring, summer and fall in your garden. They are amazing and beautiful creatures full of mystery and wonder.  There are over 700 species in the U.S. and 17,000 worldwide. They live on every continent except Antarctica.
 Oh, what a delight they bring me! I can hardly contain my excitement about seeing this first hand.
Happy Gardening 😃🐛 

 Have a wonderful week.