Monday, July 23, 2007

On Yards & Yardwork

I worked in the yard of Clog House Est. 1935 this weekend. Just the basics - mowed the lawn, trimmed a hedge, pulled a few weeds here and there. I also trimmed four crape myrtles that are in full bloom along the long sunny side of the property - shearing heavy clusters of developing fruits from straining branches with two thoughts in mind: Removing the clusters of capsules would let the trees devote energy back into flowering and thus prolong the blooming season; and, lightening the weight of the branches would make them less likely to split or break when laden with rain during the frequent summer storms. I had to work between intermittent lightning storms and rain showers to accomplish what little I did. Still, it is pleasing to look out upon that portion of the yard that is newly mown and trimmed. The whole "our human ancestors evolved in open grassland country so we yearn for open spaces where we can detect approaching dangers" explanation, and all that.

But I'm not of the "no blade of grass where it doesn't belong" set. There are portions of the yard that I leave wild. Some would say I've let little out of the way corners go to ruin and to the weeds. These spots are anything but. They are little preserves for butterflies and other insects. Many common "weeds" in this north central Florida landscape are host to the larvae of butterfly species. I let them grow and flower in my little preserves to invite butterflies to breed in my yard.

I've planted and transplanted species that attract butterflies in one of the larger "wild" areas that we call the "butterfly garden", and have begun to put out little concrete and stone pedestals and architectural elements. Here you will find native purple passion flower twining up a trellis and feeding a host of frittilary caterpillars; yellow sunflowers of various sizes rising from the tall grasses; purple and white Echinacea coneflowers, a cassia shrub that will be an explosion of yellow blossoms in a couple of months, parsley for the swallowtails; Sida rhombifolia for the checkerspots; black-eyed susans; two or three milkweed species; a red-flowered lantana; coral bean (also a hummingbird attractor); a dwarf pomegranate shrub; and various wild vetch species. The entire wild jumble of blooming plants and grasses is bordered by a tall bank of pink, white, and yellow four-o'clocks whose colorful blossoms fill the evening air with a lovely perfume, and which attract various hawk moths at night.

I think what I like best about the butterfly garden is that it attracts the eye and interest of the Clog-wife. Each morning she gets to survey the scene for new blooms and new surprises as she leaves on the morning dog-walk. My big black cat likes that garden too, and can be found lurking among the flowers early in the morning.

, ,

No comments: