Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sulphur Butterflies

Last year I almost cut down my Cassia bush, hoping to make way for some native plants. It is also such a fast grower that pruning is such a chore. Then I thought about all the bees that like to visit this plant and the nice winter color this plant provides my garden.

This summer was very mild and the Fall has been very warm. About three weeks ago we had a heat wave and Sulphur butterflies have been swarming around my Cassia bush. I noticed that they were actually laying eggs on the developing buds.

Well, having just raised some Monarch butterflies, I decided to try raising Sulphurs.  Here are a few pics of the caterpillars that I have been raising.  The color of the caterpillar is determined by the part of the plant they are eating.  If they eat the flowers, they are more yellow.  If they eat the leaves, they are a more greenish color. 

As I was cutting flowers for the caterpillars I am raising, I noticed that one branch had a chrysalis on it.  It looks so much like a leaf, it is amazing.  Hopefully there will be a butterfly in about a week.

I am glad that I did not cut down my Cassia.  Eventhough it is not a native, it is helping out our butterflies and other insects so it is worth keeping!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Strange things growing in my side yard

Well, it is that time of year again and that familiar stench fills the air. Every year without fail, I take a whiff and think to myself, "is there a dead rat under my house"? And then I remember that is late Spring and my voodoo lily must be in bloom.

This repulsive smelling (and looking) flower is the Voodoo Lily (Dracunculus vulgaris), a native of the Mediterranean region. They look like something that came out of the Little Shop of Horrors. Not surprisingly it does very well in Southern California. One of the former owners must have planted the tubers in the side yard and it has taken off ever since. This year, I counted 5 individual plants and have at least 5-6 blooms.

Being a neglectful gardener, I don't have the inclination to try to dig up the tubers. So, for a brief 2 week period, I tolerate the stench and marvel at these strange beings growing in my side yard.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Landscaping with Used Concrete

Well I have been getting my garden ready for the garden tour. I scored some broken concrete from local demolition jobs via Craigs List. Craigs List is the best place to find used bricks, flagstones and my personal favorite, broken concrete. Used concrete is very versatile. I have been building low retaining walls and edging for pathways. Best of all, it is free. People who are redoing their yards are dying to get rid of the stuff because it is so expensive to haul it away.

Here are a few examples of the versatility of broken concete:

Edging for Paths

Garden Edging

Dry Stack "Stone" Walls

What was great about Craigs List was that most of my sources for concrete were within 2 miles of where I live. I found three different homes that were giving away broken concrete. Some of the concrete I found was already "aged" with moss and algae.

So if you are looking for creative ways to decorate your garden, try Craigs List.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Theodore Payne Native Garden Tour

The annual Theodore Payne Garden Tour is April 10, 2010. This annual tour highlights native gardens around Los Angeles County.

Even a certain, ahem, neglectful gardener's garden is going to be one of the highlighted gardens this year.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Flowers of 2010

My ceanothus and Manzanitas are making an early appearance to herald a hopefully bountiful Spring. The early rains have been good for my California poppies which are sure to make a grand entrance in a few months.