Saturday, May 28, 2011

Very Hungry Caterpillars

Peekaboo Too!
This caterpillar is busily eating a milkweed leaf. It's growing big and plump. Talk about a very hungry caterpillar -- in the past week, it's eaten every single leaf off of some of the milkweed plants:
Archie Was Here
We'll see if this milkweed recovers. There are a few reasons to think it might.

First, the milkweed wasn't eaten all the way to the ground.

Secondly, there's a lot less of it to attract other caterpillars, so they probably won't try to eat the little sticks that remain.

And thirdly, the green of the stems shows that they contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a green-colored pigment that plays an important role in the way that plants convert sunlight into the energy to grow. Plants usually keep most of their chlorophyll in their leaves, but as you can see, it can be in stems too.

We don't know yet whether or not these milkweed sticks will have enough energy to grow back. Come back in a week to see an update!

Here's a picture of a milkweed plant turning into a leafless stick:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

More pictures

Here are some pictures of recent happenings in Archie's Garden.

Ladybugs patrolling the milkweed

We like ladybugs in Archie's Garden, since they're very effective at eating pests like aphids. Unfortunately, as this picture shows, they're also a threat to just-hatched monarch caterpillars. This particular ladybug is a Harmonia axyridis, a species that was introduced to California as a natural way of controlling pests.

This recently hatched caterpillar is making headway in munching through a milkweed leaf.

This guy is happily eating the tasty milkweed buds. He's eating a lot and growing quickly.  While he's much too bug to be attacked by ladybugs, he does still have to worry about wasps.


In the back yard, there's a stick that looks quite out of place. It's got no leaves, and it's not being used to stake up a plant. What's it for? It's a landing pad for this beautiful character!

He's a dragonfly, and despite his fierce name, he's very friendly, and good to have around the garden. He is an exceptionally talented flier, and can zip around to catch flying bugs very quickly -- his favorite foods are gnats and mosquitos, so you can see why we like to have him visit.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Flower Fotos, May 2011--Poppies! Purslane! Pods!

A lot of work went into getting ready for the Green Garden Showcase, and all the flora looked its very best!  Now that the weather is heating up, some of the flowers are getting ready to seed--that means we'll have seeds to share soon.
Shirley poppies and their seed pods  
Shirley poppy seedpod, still green

These Shirley poppies look great along the driveway, and this green seed pod (right) will soon be ready for harvesting.   Shirley poppy seedheads are really neat--they'll turn brown and form tiny holes under the little plate on the top (you can sort of see them forming in this photo.)  When the pods are dry and ready, you can shake the seeds out of the holes just like a tiny pepper shaker.  We collect lots of these seeds to share, but there are always plenty that reseed themselves.

Rock purslane
This is rock purslane, the first bloom from a cutting also generously given to me by Butterfly Lady Loree Bryer.  Isn't that hot pink scrummy??!!!  It's a succulent, so great for adding bright color to a low-water garden.  Grows pretty quickly, too.

Garden Show Archie, eating the leftovers
Where's Archie? In the Butterfly Box, reading a plant marker (sounds like "Clue"...)
We had some milkweed left over from the garden show, and it's been waiting and being watered on the porch until I have time to transplant it all.  Today I found a new monarch caterpillar on one of the plant markers--a pretty big one, so he's been eating a lot of those seedlings this past week!--and he and his marker have been transferred to our new Butterfly Box, a planter full of milkweed with a trellis for climbing/pupating.  We put it by the back window so we can easily watch all our Archies do their thing. 

Rose, "Fourth of July"

There are lots more photos of the latest flowers on our Archie's Garden Facebook page, so drop by and "Like" if you'd like to see updates in your Facebook thread.  Feel free to post your own garden photos and helpful info too, and looking forward to seeing you in the garden!

The Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase was a huge success!

Our Green Garden Showcase Flag/Sign

The Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase was a big hit this year, with an estimated 2000 visitors perusing the 80+ gardens opened for public view.  We not only teamed up with our butterfly friend Loree Bryer to give away milkweed seeds and hundreds of milkweed seedlings she grew for the showcase (many with eggs and caterpillars on them already!) but did a little bit of educating about solar panels, rainbarrels, organic gardening, and worm composting.  Whew!

Handing out milkweed seeds, plants, and butterfly advice

Thanks to all who stopped by, and let us know if you have questions.  We have TONS of milkweed seed packets left, so if you want some drop a line at archiesgarden at gmail dot com.  We've found a few new caterpillars on the leftover seedlings so we hope to have some new chrysalides* photos soon!

*that's the official plural of "chrysalis," just so's you know.  

There are lots more photos of the latest flowers on our Archie's Garden Facebook page, so drop by and "Like" if you'd like to see updates in your Facebook thread.  Feel free to post your own garden photos and helpful info too, and looking forward to seeing you in the garden! 

Garden Show Archie in the new "Butterfly Box" by the back door.  See him?