Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Need To Tidy Those Drooping Daffodil Leaves?

Now that the narcissus and daffodils have finished blooming, their lazy leaves are drooping all over the place and causing a slip/trip hazard in the garden. What can you do? You can't just cut them off--the bulbs need those leaves to absorb energy for next year's bloom. Wurra wurra wurra.

We have an easy answer, one we saw along the garden paths at Newgrange in County Meath, Ireland. Unfortunately we don't have any photos from Ireland, but we'll show you how to tie your own Newgrange Knots in this one-minute video. Enjoy, and Happy Spring!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February in Archie's Garden

The weather has been swinging from hot to cold, and Archie's Garden is a little confused. Some plants have just finished dropping their leaves for Winter, and some Spring flowers are already blooming.

Damaged Pupa
As we wrote in January, the Monarchs don't seem to have let the weather interfere with their activities. We still have caterpillars at all stages.

We've had a number of pupae turn brown suddenly, and apparently die. It's not the normal darkening that happens just before the butterfly emerges - it's sometimes streaked brown, or sometimes solid brown. We're not sure if this is caused by disease or by some kind of parasite. Many of these darkened pupae have holes in them that might support the parasite theory. It could also be that a very cold night kills the pupa, and the discoloration happens later.

Despite the heat and the cold, we're still having Monarchs make it all the way from egg to butterfly. It has been nice and sunny today, and we had a butterfly emerge today. She had pupated in the back yard in the first week of January. The pictures below are of her and her journey to the front garden.

Relocating on Gooseplant

Wings Drying
Stare into my eyes...

We were expecting the Winter to be a much slower month for the butterflies. We have heard different things about Monarchs migrating in Southern California, but we expected them to migrate away or at least stop laying eggs until Springtime. We were wrong! Because we still have so many caterpillars, some of the milkweed has not recovered from the last generations.
Several of the milkweed plants appear to be weakened or ailing, and the orange milkweed aphids are infesting them in great number. Since we know there will be a lot more caterpillars coming once the weather really warms up, we're putting milkweed production into high gear!
Milkweed Aphids

Milkweed Farming