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Backyard Watching

Ok, so apparently I can only go for so long before I have to write about growing things again.

Speaking of, Do Not Ever buy a butterfly raising kit. If you want to witness the miracle of butterfly metamorphosis, plant milkweed or mallow, and they will naturally come to you. Eschew artificial means.

Lets talk about Evil Beetles. Here in Florida we have literally thousands of different kinds of beetles. So many that the garden experts won’t even try to ID them for you if they’re not obviously a Japanese beetle. So when you have some little black buggers doing this to your crepe myrtle…

You have to resort to chemical warfare.

Yes, I said it, we use chemicals in the garden. WE LIVE IN FLORIDA. If we did not use chemicals, we’d soon be aswarm in these little devils, along with uncounted other pests (*coff* pickleworms). And dast not ye suggest I pick these things off and deal with them by hand. ICKY. Plus, they burrow into whatever they’re currently noshing on (like my dang roses), which means you’d more likely squish them in place than actually get a grip capable of pulling them out. And like I said….ICKY.

So liquid Sevin it is. Yes, we’re careful. No, we never spray it where the pets can get to it.

Over the weekend we purchased two Bleeding Heart vines, one purple (Clerodendron speciosa), one white (Clerodendron thomsoniae). The plan is to allow them to climb up the back of the pool enclosure, behind the butterfly bushes, ergo attracting even MORE butterflies.

We had lantana back there last year, which grew so large it spilled down into the yard, and its lower stems were pushing dangerously hard on the enclosure screen. But MAN did it attract the butterflies. We had butterflies of every description visiting all summer. Nevertheless, it had to go, and maybe I’m just early in my expectations, but it seems the flutterbys have been somewhat disdainful of the purple/magenta butterfly bush instead of the yellow/red/orange lantana. So, I’m going to be even sneakier and plant some orange butterfly weed in the front of that long bed, just so we’re covering the entire color spectrum. I’ll get you, my pretties.

See? The dragonflies already love the Bleeding Heart vine:

Found this critter hanging out above the backyard rain “barrel” (it’s a huge clay pot with the bottom drain hole sealed, both cheaper and prettier than the stuff being retailed):

This is a click beetle, specifically an Eyed Elater. While its larvae eat wood-boring insects (making it a beneficial sort of bug), the thing was Two Inches Long…and no bug should be that big. Ever.

My brave purple strawflower is blooming along:

The temperature this past week has been climbing into the 90s already, and the climbing roses are absolutely loving it. The Don Juan:

And the “I forget what variety this is” rose:

The Slowest Tomato Evar is still growing oh so very slowly:

I think next year maybe a bit more peat moss in the planting boxes soil mixture.

The milkweed is ready to pop:

And have you seriously seen healthier tomato plants in your life?

These are San Marzano tomato plants (one Redorta), alleged to make the finest tomato sauce on the planet. All I can think when looking at them is, “I gotta learn how to can.”

And finally, the birdy-view of our westerly fence:

Birdbrains do have their priorities: