Saturday, February 26, 2011

Welcome To Archie's Garden! (Who's Archie?)

Howdy to all those who are joining us via the L.A. County Master Gardeners and the Mar Vista Green Committee!

We're so glad you could stop by Archie's Garden, your online organic Mar Vista visiting place.  We're bursting with flower photos, seed exchanges, local green event updates, garden ideas, monarch butterfly information, and more!  You and the kids can also share your own photos, seeds, and questions at Archie's Facebook page, and be sure to "Like" the page to see all of Archie's current gardeny doings.

Some of you new folks might be wondering: Who's Archie?

Archie is a monarch butterfly who lives in our garden (well, we like to think so.)  A few generations of monarch butterflies have passed through here now, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to glorious butterfly, and all of them remind us of the original.

We called our first caterpillar "Archie" because he was a monarch, get it?  He came to our house on a milkweed plant gifted to us by local butterfly expert/enthusiast Loree Bryer, and we got excited about butterfly gardening from the first moment we met him.

Here's a picture of Archie when he was just a little guy:

And here's how he looked just a couple weeks later:

How did this magical transformation occur?  Well, that's just one of the stories you'll see unfold right before your eyes here at Archie's Garden!

Thanks for joining us!  Please feel free to email us if there's anything special you want to see posted here or you'd like to stop by and pay a visit IRL.  In fact, we'll be participating in the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase on Saturday April 30th, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and guess what?  Loree Bryer will be here with milkweed seeds and all the information you need to start your own butterfly garden!  Come and see--we think you'll have fun.  You might even see Archie fluttering by.

As we say here at the Garden: Keep Your Eye on the Butterfly, and looking forward to seeing you again soon!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Garden Update

It's been a blustery week, with cold and rainy days interspersed with windy days and sunny days -- which is to say, it's been Spring weather. There's only one instar still out on the milkweed. It seems to be a durable little character, who may still weather all of the challenges awaiting it.

Several of the milkweed seeds that were planted in Archie's Garden seem to have germinated. Inside the house, the gooseplant and milkweed seeds have also sprouted, and have been moved into larger pots. As they grow, they will be gradually moved outside.

The milkweed in Archie's Garden is budding and flowering. The milkweed flowers look like ornate gold and orange lanterns.

Adult monarchs continue to visit the garden. The gal pictured below was feasting on the nectar of the Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) flowers. She may be the same visitor from last week -- she has two odd dark bumps on her lower wings that initially led to the conclusion that she was a male, but this week these dark areas are visibly separate from the line on the wing. Additionally, these dark spots really are bumps, are not just coloration.

Monarchs are not the only visitors to Archie's Garden. The individual pictured below also came by to catch some sunshine.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Archie's Garden Update

The last two weeks have been turbulent in Archie's Garden. The weather has been Spring-like, with wildly varying conditions. In the course of a few days, the temperature has fluctuated by as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spider victim
Another casualty
Coupled with the challenging weather, at least one caterpillar was done in by a spider who took up residence in the milkweed.

The Perp
We haven't been able to conclusively identify this guy, but he was relocated to a rosemary bush a fair distance away.

Despite the situation, at least one instar is still munching on the larger milkweed plant. It's pretty small, though, so if it's actually from the hatch from two weeks ago, it may be struggling. Then again, it could be a newly hatched caterpillar.

Additionally, there have been a number of adult Monarchs coming to visit the garden. They have been spotted on the rose bushes, visiting various flowers, and sitting on the milkweed (although no new eggs are visible). Several Monarchs have been spotted engaging in what can only be described as flirtatious flutterings together.

It's warm today, but rain is predicted in the next couple of days. That might give a few new milkweed plants a chance to grow. We'll keep watching and reporting on the happenings in Archie's Garden!