Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

While deadheading a stand of Super Cosmos yesterday, I noticed something small and blue as I reached inside the leaves: a Cassius Blue Butterfly!! wow!!  If not for the angle of sunlight passing through the wings, I might’ve missed my first sighting EVER of this beautiful, resting creature. I ran inside for my camera, hoping it wouldn’t fly off!

Leptotes cassius July 25,2012 Vero Beach, FL

Leptotes cassius theonus,  July 25, 2012  Vero Beach, FL

The wingspan of Leptotes Cassius measures less than an inch; such a tiny butterfly :!:

Leptotes cassius pic 2 July 25,2012 Vero Beach, FL

Both sexes share striped undersides with two eyespots on each hindwing. Females have wings that are bluish-white to white, with broad dark borders on the front and a dark spot on the rear margin of the hindwings. Based on these descriptions, I think I saw a female…you go, girl! (and right after these pics, she did :shock: )

In April, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Cassius Blue as a “threatened pollinator,” an action that allows state and federal governments to develop and implement species recovery plans. One of the best ways to improve butterfly survival rates (short of rounding up iguanas ;) ) is by growing larval host plants, but I seem to have that covered:

Plumbago hedge

Plumbago is a favorite host plant for Leptotes Cassius who deposit their larva inside

As you can see, I have Plumbago in spades ;)

Until next time….

ps. I hope you enjoyed this example of when outside is inside! Click the Zemanta links below to see other interpretations of the weekly challenge!

:) :)

An Update! (Finally!)

Immediately after writing my last blog post, I came down with a vicious headache, bodyaches and fever that lasted a good 2.5 days. Yesterday, I was back to my old self again and tried to blog, but WordPress would NOT cooperate!  Every uploaded picture refused to appear…paragraphs weren’t aligning…nothing was working!  Whether the issue was WP related or due to my decrepit PC, another day ended sans update! So frustrating when technology thwarts us!!!…..I threw in the towel and watched some DVR’d eps of Ice Pilots NWT instead! ;)

Anyhow, I’m back to try again: here’s the news and it’s BIG!!

Maggie got engaged on her trip to Ireland!! Her fiancé has dual citizenship and while they were visiting his family there, he proposed marriage (ring from Boodles!)  Exciting, yeah?!?  On Sunday, we celebrated at one of our fave spots for Champagne Brunch, the Disney Vero Beach Resort.  I almost begged off because I still wasn’t feeling great, but in retrospect am glad I didn’t :arrow: it was the first real food I’d had since early Friday and I felt MUCH better afterwards!  Apparently the old adage of “starving a fever” isn’t the wisest choice and the Farmer’s Almanac agrees. ;)

Speaking of “farmers”, let me share my latest blooms, starting with Plains Coreopsis grown from seeds purchased at Dollar Tree (3 pks for a buck!  yipYIP!!)

Plains Coreopsis July 23, 2012

I had no expectations for these flowers because the packaging offered ONLY an artist’s rendering of the flowerhead; no mention of type of foliage or expected germination/growing times, either! :roll: You get what you pay for?  Nevertheless, I’m pleasantly surprised by how fast they appeared and how strong they seem. I scattered the seeds (with the wildest abandon!) throughout the yard and they’re doing well in both sun and shade beds with very little care required!

In the Ranchero, an unknown, lone gladiolus appeared late in the season, and began opening on July 20.  I’d love to identify this beautiful, purple-tinged hybrid!

bicolor Gladiolus, unknown cultivar

If anyone knows the name of this cultivar, do share! :)

The next shot is a twofer: Beach Sunflower behind a pot of Dendrobium orchids:

Beach sunflower with DendrobiumThe Beach Sunflower is a new addition to my vine wall. In March, I received 2 tiny pots with cuttings from a gardening classmate and what you see is growth from a single tiny container! (The other pot, planted in front of the house, has also spread liberally.)  The Dendrobium is a different story entirely: I’ve had it more than 18mos. but have yet to see it flower.  I’m extremely new to orchid growing and just discovered I’ve kept it waaayyyy too shaded. I’m currently acclimating it to small amounts of sun each day to avoid burning the leaves. By next week it should be ready for day-long filtered sun under the Hong Kong Orchid Tree alongside brassias that are spiking nicely.  Maybe “Denny” will pick up the hint! ;)

Mexican Petunias are workhorses in Southern gardens; they grow and bloom prolifically.  I’m not wild about these wildflowers but they DO lend color on days when fancier, catalog-ordered cousins give up the ghost.  Although on the list of Florida Invasive Species, I’ve recently seen this perennial for sale at big-box and other nursery outlets..Go figure!

Mexican Petunia aka Ruellia Tweediana

This category 1 invasive should NOT be encouraged!

I’ve raved about this next vine even before it bloomed! Now that it’s flowering, I’m positively smitten:

Mile a Minute Vine starting to bloom

Ipomoea Cairica (aka Mile a Minute Vine) just started twining around the trellis!

So that’s the news from this end: if it uploads when I click “Publish,” you might even get to read it!  Keeping my fingers crossed!

Until next time…..

:) :)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

This week’s challenge asks that we share a photo that makes you dream, so when I noticed this picture of two 9 year olds on my Facebook Timeline, I knew I’d found my shot.  Taken in 1998, you might recognize one of the little girls as a younger Maggie (yes, she was lanky even then! ;))  At the time, she and her chum were one year into a friendship I suspect will be lifelong.

2 friends 1998

What dreams may come?

The unstructured, round faces of not-yet-tweens, looking at bugs on a sunny, spring day!  I LOVE this terribly blurry shot taken by a teacher during a school trip to Duffy Field.

The neighborhood in which their friendship formed was  exactly what you’d expect of a residential enclave in urban New England: 100+ yr old streets, and homes with big, leafy trees. The park in the photo was equidistant from both houses, a pretty, winding street away, and they’d stroll to meet each other there.  Together they hatched plans, discussed boys, and created a haven away from family turmoils, which were eerily similar in both young lives.

friends 2009

They grew close and grew up! :)

In the way of true friends, they lend support when dreams are shattered, and celebrate when they come true!

friends in florida

Their only impossible dream? Being more beautiful….inside or out!  ;)

Eternal Flame by the Bangles was a popular song when Maggie was born. Although written with romantic love in mind, the chorus applies beautifully to any solid friendship:

Say my name sun shines through the rain
A whole life so lonely
And then you come and ease the pain
I don’t want to lose this feeling

I hope you enjoy the song, set to Disney animation in honor of the 9yr olds who watched these movies and inspired this post:

Until next time…..

:)

Green Thumbs and 55 Gallon Drums: Mid-July Update

This past weekend, our Master Gardener group participated in the Green Thumb Clinic at the Indian River Mall.  Coordinated by Brenda Davis, we dispensed  brochures, fact sheets and knowledge re: native plants, xeriscaping and integrated pest management.

Indian River Master Gardeners at Green Thumb Clinic, July 14, 2012

I’m the empty chair next to Brenda! ;)

Sponsored by KIRB, (acronym = Keep Indian River Beautiful) the event highlighted the importance of water conservation.  One of the biggest draws of the afternoon was the agency’s demonstration (and sale) of rain barrels:

Rain barrels at the KIRB booth

Painted Rain Barrel

An artist was available to help with the painting!

I really enjoyed this day of community outreach geared specifically to year round residents!  Vero Beach is such a seasonal/resort locale, with most events scheduled from Fall to early Spring when the population increases. Kudos to KIRB for bucking this trend. :)

When I got back from the mall, I spent a significant amount of time in “gardening housekeeping”: weeding, repotting, moving a few plants from “wrong” spots to (hopefully) right ones! ;)  Oddly, I enjoy busy work in any setting because it allows my mind to wander, and wandering is what makes my mind happiest!

While puttering, I realized how different mid-July feels here compared to New England, and not just in terms of temperature/humidity!  Come mid summer there, a horrible trepidation would grab me…the days grew perceptibly shorter, the nights cooled quicker, fall back-to school clothes appeared when we still wanted shorts! Even Dick Albert‘s forecast for Dog Days of August was mockery :arrow: “You like this hot weather? HA!  40degrees comin’ at you fast!!”  Then, a few months later, the ULTIMATE taunt: 3-4 days of Indian Summer with temps so nice and  trees so beautiful it could move you to weep…but really the tears were for an impending heating season colliding with the Christmas spending season and THIS most horrible of realizations :arrow:  It doesn’t get better til… next…. MAY????

Ugh!

So glad that cycle’s behind me! :)

Mid-July feels SO different here–there’s much to anticipate that’s pleasant, like orchids going into spike:

Brassia Maculata spike July 16, 2012

A spike in July means this Brassia Maculata will flower by early autumn.

And see the yellow Wedelia Trilobata behind the orchid? Known as Creeping Oxeye, this low perennial ground cover also makes pretty hanging basket arrangements:

Creeping Oxeye

By Halloween, these Wedelia Trilobata will be densely trailing from baskets on my porch!

My perimeter garden has evolved into a vine wall, half by design, half by nature, but everything there has one trait in common:

Vine Garden along the Perimeter

Everything blooms from fall through winter, and some go year round. :)

I love this next fact! Even when you start seeds behind schedule, they STILL have time here to germinate and bloom:

Snapdragon, seeded late, but blooming!

This snapdragon, started late, blooms despite the heat. When temps cool, it will rejuvenate and flower again!

In closing, there are only 3 things I miss about New England—my boys and tulips!  (oh, all right, :roll: one more: occasionally I’m nostalgic for lilacs, too!)

Until next time….

:) :)

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Share Your World: Week 30

I really like this week’s Share Your World questions; they’re interesting but also fun!  I’ll dig right in. :)

You are invited to a party that will be attended by many fascinating people you never met.  Would you attend this party if you were to go by yourself

Absolutely! I never mind doing things by myself–in fact, most of the time I enjoy everything more when I do it alone. Before you go thinking “this one needs a good therapist,” let me explain: I’m soooooo far from antisocial!  Antisocial would = NOT going to “a party of fascinating people” whether by oneself OR with others, yeah?

As the years have progressed, I’ve come to understand my preference for “aloneness.” It has nothing to do with being afraid to trust people and everything to do with how I process events and situations. Were I at this fictional party, I’d be off to the side, watching others interact, and zeroing in on who I’d like to talk to and when. I’d spend time working the room (in my head,) and then I’d be off working my plan.  Summing up, I go it alone (alot!) for reasons of personal freedom..one of the things I like most about being an adult!

If you were the original designer of one existing corporate logo, which one would you select?

I really like this one, used the past few years for an Austin TX Christmas Bazaar.

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar Logo

Isn’t this ingenious?

If you could be a student of any university in the world right now, where would you enroll? 

Oxford!  but not because it’s a prestigious, world-class institution of higher learning! Nay, nay!!!  My reasons are completely shallow: Inspector Lewis (one of my FAVE Brit T.V. dramas) is filmed in and around Oxford :arrow: I’d love to see the cast and crew on location and row over to Kew Pier as they did in the most recent episode!  In case you’re wondering, “hmmm…would she do THIS alone too?!”  LOL!! Yes, right up ’til I rented the rowboat, at which time I’d change my tune, turn on the charm, and try to talk (bribe?) an able-bodied man into handling the oars. Upon arrival at the Botanical Gardens,  I’d bid him farewell…unless he bore a resemblance to this guy:

…in which case, I’d allow him to hang around. ;)

Ok, last question and good thing, too! I’m getting downright juvenile!

If you had to spend one weekend alone in a single public building or institution, which building would you choose?

Hold on to your hats…or sit down…or do whatever it is you do in preparation of crazy news:

Without question, I’d hop a Janet flight to Area 51!   You all know I’m a huge UFO nut, and I really want proof that Extra Terrestrials exist!  Area 51 is so off-limits and secretive, I feel like something MAJOR must be hidden there.  I keep listening to Coast to Coast (and hoping for some sort of government disclosure) but 48hrs in a secret military base :?: That would be VERY interesting indeed!

Area 51

Area 51 (Photo credit: OakleyOriginals)

Well, that’s it from me,  but there are many other Week 30 responses and interesting Zemanta links below to keep you reading!

Until next time :) :)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement

I love how these weekly challenges are falling into my lap lately!

Just after sunset on June 28, I heard a few rolls of thunder and noticed the wind picking up.  Because I’m famous for dropping watering cans all over the place, I went outside to secure my stray missiles!  What happened next is something I HATE: I heard a buzzing sound and got bopped on the head!!!!!

EWWWW! BUG!

Fortunately, the movement I’d felt was merely the beating wings of a moth…..one I’d never seen before, so I ran for the camera:

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth on Zinnia Elegans, Ranchero

Clearwing Hummingbird Moths (aka Hemaris Thysbe) are 1.5 to 2″ long, greenish and burgundy in color, with pale-colored legs. This is very defintely a moth of North America, with a range that extends from Alaska/Southern Canada across to the Maritimes, downward to Florida and everywhere in between!  It can easily be mistaken for a hummingbird, especially in sideview:

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth


Drinking nectar via proboscis

Note the movement of it’s wings!  The moth hovered briefly, sipping for only a few seconds before flitting off!

I was so thrilled to photograph this unexpected visitor….and since I hate posts with loose ends almost as much as bops to the head ;) I’ll leave you with an FYI :arrow: it never did rain that night! :)

Until next time….

:) :)

Red White and Blue: Patriotic in the Garden!

To honor our 4th of July national holiday, I thought I’d show you my red, white and blue blooming plants! But first, a tropical salute from a Bromeliad that incorporates all three colors:

Neoregelia Spectabilis with tiny flower blooms

Neoregelia Spectabilis  proudly wears the red, white and blue!

Next is Salvia Nemorosa, a volunteer in my rear cutting garden. If you see the birdie who “dropped” it off, please thank her for me! :)

Salvia Nemorosa

These pretty blue flowers have such a lovely scent!

On the garage side of the house, a plumbago hedge is fully decked out:

Plumbago hedge

Trusses of pale blue flowers wave like flags on a breezy day! Pretty!

Right behind the fence, a recently pruned Aloysia Virgata, still sports a few white blooms:

Almond Bush with spiky white flower clusters

Doesn’t it look like a firecracker?!

I know you’ll never guess this next plant :!: Well, maybe someone will…….

Who am I?

One more chance?  Perhaps a zoom-out to the whole plant will help?

Dog Fennel

Did anyone guess Dog Fennel?

Call me crazy :roll: but this particular dog fennel grew so big (and was so covered with tiny flowers!) I HAD to keep it around…at least until the tiny buds morph into fluff!  When that happens?  Sayonara city!

–Tip for removing plants with dandelion-type “fluff” :arrow: Cover the “offender” with an appropriately sized trash bag; clench the bag tightly around the base, then yank until the roots break free.  Using a bag helps eliminate reseeding…..and sneezing! :)

That’s it for  blue and white, so now we’re at the Ranchero for a little red:

Canna with bent stem

If you’re thinking that Canna is too close to the ground, you’re right!  By this time of summer,  the more mature cannas have sent up several blooming stalks. Each stalk adds a foot or more to the stem, making it prone to “wind bend.”  As soon as the flowers fall off, I’ll cut this one back to its uppermost foliage–no sneeze bag required! ;)

And now, I’m off to an evening holiday barbecue and backyard fireworks!

Until next time…..

Happy Independence Day from Small House!

Happy Independence Day 2012 from Small House!