Day 18 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Grow

20160718 Blog Photo New Fonts

I took this photo yesterday of my tiger lilies using my iPhone.

The funny thing is, I never planted tiger lilies in my yard.

The flowers grew all by themselves in 2013. At that time, the single plant was about as tall as my shoulder.

In 2014, I had three tiger lily plants that grew, and last year, about 5 came up.

I’m now up to 8 plants scattered by nature in my flower beds.

Today’s photo depicts the original 2013 plant. It has grown to be 6 feet tall! It’s as tall as my husband and has more buds on it than ever.

I never had more than 2 flowers open at once. Today there are 6 open on the original plant, and the first bloom that opened dropped it’s first petal onto the ground.

I am grateful that these beauties decided to call my yard home.

 

Day 02 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Bloom

File_000Bloom. There are so many ways I interpret this word, but they all have the same action in common: coming out of a shell in order to live while displaying beauty. I’ve been awed by how many orange day lily blooms I’ve had bloom this summer…so many more than usual! Sadly, this beautiful orange display is ending its short exhibit, as I only have two buds left, and both should open today. But that’s nature, all in its own time. I tried to mirror the photography technique of my friend C when I took this picture the other night; this bloom was lit by the evening sun and stood out from the rest.

My sweet-smelling milkweed is also in full bloom today. In the past, I’ve had full milkweed blooms in the middle of May, but this year’s blooms didn’t open until this week…the latest ever. Additionally, A few years ago, I had a rogue tiger lily appear in my garden, and since, it has multiplied into several plants. This year, most of them are already taller than I am, and I’m 5′ 5″! They should be the next perennials to bloom.

I’m finding that I, myself, am undertaking the progress of blooming. I am coming out of my self-imposed shell of solitude in order to live, and my hope is that my words will be what displays the most beauty.  We’ll see.

Something to SEA: A Butterfly Book Giveaway!

CoverHello, friends! Now that it is finally warmer, I would bet that you are busy getting your yard and plants ready for the upcoming season. Every year, I look forward to the arrival of birds and butterflies to my yard, where I have many feeders, host plants, and nectar flowers available for them.

It is critical that birds, bees, and butterflies (especially monarchs) have enough sustainable food and host plants to survive. Each year, the number of bees and monarchs diminish greatly, and humans need to do what they can to help by planting wildflowers or providing feeders.

What better way to bond with nature than by raising your own butterflies? It’s very easy to do. I authored a book titled “Delicate Tapestries: A Step by Step Guide to Raising Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterflies” in 2011.  My photographs document the process of raising the butterflies starting at the egg, through the caterpillar stage and metamorphosis, and then to emergence as a butterfly.  All you need are some parsley plants, a storage tub or aquarium with a screen lid (with very small screen holes), and some empty plastic containers with lids. That’s it! The entire process takes about a month from when the egg is first laid to butterfly, unless the chrysalis is formed after mid-September, in which case the butterfly will overwinter and emerge in the spring.

I also raise monarchs. I transplanted some milkweed along the back of my house a few years ago, and the first thing I love about milkweed is the beautiful smell of the flowers when it blooms. All different kinds of bees are attracted to them, which is good for pollentation. One year the flowers bloomed as early as mid May. This year, however, the plants are just starting to sprout. When the tiny caterpillars appear after the butterflies lay eggs, I’ll transfer them into my aquarium and watch them grow. Unlike the swallowtail caterpillars, which for some reason I don’t like to touch, I love letting the monarch caterpillars crawl around in my hand. If you would like information about how you can raise your own monarchs, check out the Monarch Watch website.

I’ve witnessed the number of monarchs that visit my home drastically diminish over the past few years. In the summer of 2012, I had over 50 caterpillars that became monarchs. Then, we were hit by Superstorm Sandy, which I personally attribute to a lot of the ecological changes around here, especially in regards to the sharp decline in Monarch numbers. The following summer, I only saw one monarch on my butterfly bush, and I only had two caterpillars. In 2014, I had roughly 8, and last summer, I had 17. Hopefully this summer will be a banner Monarch year.  I encourage you to plant butterfly friendly plants and flowers so that you can share in the joys of nature and in helping out our beautiful critters.

In celebration of nature’s wonderful creatures, I am giving away an autographed copy of “Delicate Tapestries” for free.  All you have to do to enter is comment below with your favorite spring or summer tradition. Comments must be posted by 7 PM EST on Monday, May 23. Good luck!

If you are interested in ordering a copy of my book, please visit Amazon or email me at soulseakernj@gmail.com.

Until next time,

Jill