Archive for June, 2015


Milbert’s Tortoiseshell on Knautia macedonica

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Some of the nicest moments in the garden occur in the first hours of the day, when the morning light throws long shadows and dapples the garden in slanting rays. Well, not very early, but around 8 o’clock. It was an especially pleasant morning today, so I am sharing a dozen photographs from my stroll around the yard.














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Any walk through the garden is sure to include the sight and sound of bumblebees making their rounds as they busily buzz from flower to flower, pollinating as they go. The bumblebee above (Bombus sp.) is visiting a bloom of a false indigo hybrid, Baptisia ‘Decadence Dutch Chocolate’.

Recently, I noticed a bumblebee settled on a hosta leaf, apparently munching on a rose chafer (Macrodactylus subspinosus). Hmmm. Something wrong there. Not a flower in sight! What gives?

This bumblebee isn’t a bumblebee at all. It’s a robber fly, a swift predator and member of the genus Laphria, which includes amazing bumblebee mimics. There are at least 63 Laphria species in North America. The bee disguise at once protects them from predators while aiding in their own predatory tactics by disguising them as flower visitors. Laphria prey on other flying insects, often ones as big or bigger than themselves. Victims are injected with a paralyzing neurotoxin and digestive enzymes that allow the robber fly to suck out the prey’s liquified insides. Ooooooo. Here’s my not-a-bumblebee robber fly, below.


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Here is Splash, our favorite adopted ex-stray cat, wearing his hoodie a few weeks ago. While he was living rough, Splash suffered from chronic eye infections that had left his eyelids swollen. As a result, his lashes curled under and scratched his eyes, causing a constant weeping discharge. The vet said that the only cure was an operation to lift the lashes away from his eyes. Splash underwent the surgery at the end of May and had to wear a collar to protect his eyes from his scratching until the stitches had a chance to heal. He was not happy about this.


Here he is after the stitches were removed, 11 days after the surgery. It took another little while for the incisions to totally disappear, but it was obvious that the surgery had been a success. His eyes looked clear and bright. Once the collar was removed, Splash set to work diligently cleaning himself, now that he could once again reach his tongue.


Now he looks like a new cat. No more weeping eyes! And he is as much of a sweetheart as ever.


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This year’s major garden project has been expanding and formalizing the vegetable garden. Here’s the site as it appeared on May 16th, with the sod removed. The plot is 42 x 50 feet.


By June 3rd, the garden beds had been laid out. The plan features a 3 foot wide walkway around the outside perimeter, which I hope will give us a fighting chance of keeping weeds and grass out of the vegetable beds.


A screened room will allow us to relax in the garden in a bug-free space. The beds are laid out to form a symmetrical pattern with walkways that will allow easy access for upkeep and strolling.


I was able to purchase a couple of espaliered apple trees at our local Home Depot. How winter-hardy they are remains to be tested, but they make a charming accent in the garden. I hope they survive and thrive. Each of the six grafted branches bears a different variety of apple: Lodi, Fuji, Gala, Yellow Delicious, Summerred, and Honeycrisp.


For the first time in a number of years, I didn’t start my own tomato seedlings, but just purchased an assortment from local nurseries. This year’s crop features lots of boys and girls: Ultra Girl, Better Boy and Early Girl, along with Sweet Gold, Heinz 1350, Super Sweet 100, Pink Oxheart, Beefmaster, Biltmore Hybrid and Yellow Pear.


Blue Lake pole beans are just beginning their climb up the support ladder. A selection of squash vines are settling in, along with some cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, corn, potatoes, celery and peppers. A host of sunflowers that had seeded themselves from winter bird feed have been transplanted to make a sunny display, and nasturtiums and marigolds add colour to the plots.

Here’s a photo of the garden taken this morning. It is beginning to look settled.


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Since Finnegan joined our animal menagerie last autumn, he has been gently training in basic dressage. Our smart boy has been doing well, and a week ago he made his debut in the show ring with Ponygirl in the saddle.


In dressage competitions, each horse and rider team enters the ring alone and they must follow a prescribed pattern according to their level of training. Each movement is assigned a mark by the judge to compile a total score for their performance.


We were so pleased with Finnegan, who delighted us with his calm demeanor and honest performance as he tried his very best to meet his rider’s requests.


Our little prince has lots to learn, but he has already won our hearts.


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Crystal Blue Day by Deb Dinsmore

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The Red Door

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Allium flower

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