Sunday, February 27, 2022

Countdown to Butterfly Weed


This is orange milkweed also known as butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa. It is a pretty native plant that is important to monarch butterflies. Adult butterflies feed on its nectar. Click to enlargre.

It is also a host plant for monarch caterpillars. Here's one now, eating foliage.

It's really pretty in the garden, producing pods at the end of the growing season. Here is a patch I grew from seeds. At the end of the season I collected seeds from these pods.

They've been in a paper bag since then.

Look how delicate and pretty they are. They are incredibly well engineered, lighter than feathers and ready to fly on the slightest puff of air. As soon as I opened the bag they commenced flying all over my house. 

These two were making their way across the floor. Looking for the garden?

My bounty of milkweed seeds. 

Eventually I removed all the fluff. After a little vacuuming all is OK again. I'm going to cold treat them by keeping them moist in the refrigerator for 30 days. It will simulate winter and increase the percentage that germinate when I plant them later. I mentioned above that I grew my plants from seeds. I bought those seeds from a nursery at 40 seeds for $6. Behold my seed wealth now!

I  wet a paper towel, squeezed out excess water, sprinkled about 40 seeds on one side.

Folded once.

Folded again. I made four of these.

I put them all in a big sealable plastic bag. Then into the refrigerator until the end of March when I will plant them in little pots indoors. At the end of April, after fear of frost, they'll be ready to plant outside. And then...

Sunday, February 20, 2022

February Continues...


What can I say? The last full week of February opens cold.

Remember this? It's Pakim Pond in Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in south Jersey last autumn. Click to enlarge.

It looks like this now. I am looking forward to adding a spring shot of the location to the series. Meanwhile, here is the February stanza from A Year's Windfalls, a poem by Christina Georgina Rossetti 

"On the wind in February

Snowflakes float still, 

Half inclined to turn to rain, 

Nipping, dripping, chill. 

Then the thaws swell the streams, 

And swollen rivers swell the sea. -- 

If the winter ever ends

How pleasant it will be."

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Snow Crocus


Purple crocuses popped up in my yard this week. A promise of spring, right?

Fast forward to today's little snowstorm. This is the same group as above Click to enlarge. One more little blossom stuck its head up but all of them are tightly closed. Crocus flowers close for night, for rain, and for dark snowy days.

Gotta love a flower that sleeps in when the weather is bad. Spring's still coming.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

My Spider

This spider showed up at my place a few weeks ago. Click to enlarge. It's a female tan jumping spider, Platycryptus undatus. She watched me while I took her picture.

I've read that tan jumping spiders are famous for being curious about humans, that they approach us and seem to be checking us out. Seems to be happening here, right? She's darned cute for a spider.

Here's her top side. She's about half an inch from tip to tip. Jumping spiders do not spin webs. They stalk insect prey, spitting a strand of silk called a drag line at the victim before pouncing. They can jump approximately five times their body length. I'm really glad she didn't do that during our photo shoot!