Friday, August 22, 2008

Flowers with wings

Every garden needs butterflies. Flowers with wings.

My father gave me a beautiful book on butterflies. Now I can identify most of the common varieties I see in my garden.
(Below a Monarch on red clover in my pasture. This butterfly migrates to Mexico during the winter months. Imagine the distance it fies.)Thou didst not know,
who tottered, wandering on high,
That fate had made thee for the pleasure of the wind,
With those great careless wings.
~ Robert Frost

(Below an Atlantis Fritillary on rudbeckia in my garden. The caterpillars feed on violets)On my walk today,
I saw a butterfly.
Delicate and free,
I watched it flutter by!
Flitting here and there,
to sample Nature’s best.
Constantly in motion-
determined in it’s quest
to find the sweetest nectar;
though it didn’t linger long.
Elusive, this must be,
for it paused for just a moment,
then was gone.
~ June Kellum

(Cabbage White Butterfly introduced to North America in 1860 it had spread throughout most of the US by 1886. This is one of the most common in my area. My salvia and agastache are alive with fluttering white wings.)
Butterfly Laughter
In the middle of our porridge plates

There was a blue butterfly painted

And each morning we tried who should reach the butterfly first.
Then the Grandmother said: "Do not eat the poor
That made us laugh.
Always she said it and always it started us laughing.
It seemed such a sweet little joke. I was certain that one fine morning
The butterfly would fly out of our plates,

Laughing the teeniest laugh in the world,
And perch on the Grandmother's lap.

~ Katherine Mansfield

(Tiger Swallowtail, exquisitely beautiful. The caterpillar feeds on the leaves of willow, cottonwood, wild cherry and poplar)

"You will be most successful if you remember

these simple rules: go slow, go low,

approach from behind, and don't cross

the butterfly with your shadow."

Butterflies do not believe in eclipses.

They believe in twilight and dusk and motion

as slow as the accumulation of dew and nectar.

They become very cross with uninvited gloom.

"Also avoid being silhouetted against the sky

in the butterfly's line of sight. If you keep low

against a background of trees or shrubs, you will be

less obvious to the insect." Elmer Fudd on tiptoe

to the tune of pizzicato ...

~ Tina Kelley

(A pair of Tiger Swallowtails nectaring on my Volcano Phlox--a very good reason to try one of these plants. )

(Another very common butterfly in my area is the Silver Spotted Skipper. It feeds on locust which are very prevalent. It seems to do best among houses and gardens where people live. It often flies close inspecting anything that comes into its range. This one enjoys the red clover in the pasture.

rocking gently on the waves...
of fairy wings and butterflies
to sleep, to dream of worlds
beyond the lights we see___
~Melanie Bishop

(Apologies for this poor photo. I don't see these Mourning Cloaks often and this one was very shy. Folklore legend says the larva of these butterflies is venomous--untrue of course. Mourning Cloaks are large butterflies with wingspans of over 3-inches. The adults feed on oak sap and occasionally rotting fruit. Most overwinter in this area.)
For information on butterfly gardens:
University of Illinois

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun.
And find your shoulder to light on.
To bring you luck, happiness and riches.
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
~ Traditional Irish


Frances, said...

Hi Marnie, many thanks for bringing me to this fantastic look at butterflies and the poems are a delight. We are still waiting for the monarchs, sigh. One year there were so many, then fewer each subsequent year. I love the mourning cloak and am glad you got any kind of shot of it. I am also a big fan of the operatic Elmer Fudd!!!

Gail said...

"Wonderful, Beautiful"...I am channeling Kate from French Kiss as she walks with Luc through beautiful countryside. But seriously, I love your butterfly photos and the poetry is equally lovely. Katherine Mansfield's piece evokes such a friendly homey image of children and want to be at the table with them!

We have many Cabbage Whites, they are a happy sight flitting about....I know they are a problem if you grow cabbages, but!

Those rules for approaching a caterpillar sure do make sense;) and the image of Elmar Fudd tiptoeing through the garden is a delight.

I like how your mind works!


Anonymous said...

Great title, very appropriate name for these flying flowers! Your pictures are beautiful and the poems were so perfect. :)

Dog_geek said...

Beautiful pictures and poetry! We have swallowtails all over our mimosa trees, but I can never get them to cooperate for pictures!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Frances. I really enjoyed your blog. You offered beautiful photos plus practical help on attracting and keeping butterflies in the garden. Everyone check out
Francs' site for wonderful photos plus info on the plants you need to bring butterflies into your garden.

I see a fraction of the butterflies I saw a few years ago. Guess we can thank better insecticides, fewer fields with resources for adults and caterpillars. I hate to think about the world we are leaving our children.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Gail. I enjoyed the rules too. Have to remember them. Butterflies don't like eclipses:)

Mansfield's poem does evoke happy feelings of Grandmothers, cozy kitchens, warm breakfast, and laughing children.

RURAL said...

Superb photos! Wow, again here am I wishing that we got more of [ insert what ever blog is talking about]. Living in the city means it's harder to see dragonflys, birds, butterflies ect. You forget that other people get to see them all the time. I did get lots of white cabbage whites, which laid eggs, that hatched into tiny caterpillars that ate all my new Kale transplants. So see, living in the city has it's good points. LOL.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Thanks Perennial Garden Lover. I'm glad you liked them. Summer is fading and soon the butterflies will be gone along with the flowers and the long, warm days.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Dog Geek, I know. They are very elusive. Sometimes it just comes down to luck. You are in the right place at the right time with a camera:)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Jen. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by to visit. I'm glad you have lots of butterflies, birds and dragonflys. I don't plant kale or cabbage so they haven't been a problem here.

tina said...

This was beautiful and the poetry lovely. No eclipses?:) I think the picture of the morning cloak is great-as they all are!

EcoRover said...

Love the butterfly pics connected with great quotations.

Made me think of the WBYeats:
This great purple butterfly,
In the prison of my hands,
Has a learning in his eye
Not a poor fool understands.

Do you collect butterfly lit? I did some history of entomology once upon a time, came across classic work by Alexander & Elsie Klots, as well as old & very beautiful "lantern slides" that Klots and his prof James Needham made. Good stuff.

Meems said...

Hi Marnie,
Very nice photos of butterflies. Love all the variety. We never tire of watching butterflies and photographing them around here. I enjoyed all the poems in between too. We get the Gulf Fritillary but not the Atlantis and Monarchs stay around here year round.
have a great weekend.
Meems @Hoe&Shovel

beckie said...

Marnie, what wonderful photos. You read my tutorial didn't you!? :) I would like to know they name of the butterfly book as Rose and I have been wanting to get one. The poetry accompanyiny your photos was delightful and I love your title. I had not heard that term before but will think of it now everytime I see a butterfly.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this was such a joy to read. I love these winged flowers, and I'm grateful for their fluttering presence.~~Dee

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Ab-sotively gorgeous! We haven't gotten any shots that good yet this year, though the butterflies are starting to become more numerous now. Of course we always have the White Cabbage, Swallotails, Monarchs and Painted Ladies ... but they're so impatient about posing most times!

Next time I see one I can't get up close, I'll just extend the zoom a bit and use the video.

Wonderful post, so artfully done, in all respects. :-)

troutbirder said...

My goodness what beautiful pictures and words. Stunning! Inspiring!

flydragon said...

Great job with the camera, as usual. I love butterflies but don't have very many in my yard. I did try planting butterfly weed one year hoping to attract the monarchs but the plant didn't do very well. I was surprised seeing that it grows wild everyplace else. Oh well, I'll just enjoy looking at yours.

Anonymous said...

Hello L&R...
I found my way to your blog thru Three Cats.
Still new to blogging and browsing the sites but intrigued by your comments about the Marriage vs Single. I think being single (with all the responsibility and challenge)is happier choice for me.

Enjoyed you photos- especially of the farm dogs & cats!

marmee said...

love all your winged creatures. they are absolutely a garden delight. i had never seen the last one so glad you decided to poat him.

André Lemay said...

These are great; especially with the name. Maybe you can identify the few I have on my site...Thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

Fabulous photos & post Marnie. I planted some phlox this year just to attract butterflies. I hope I get the same results as you. I haven't had the butterfly activity in my garden this year as I have in years past either. It's worrisome....

garden girl said...

Gorgeous winged flowers Marnie. You got some great shots. We've had an abundance of swallowtails here this year. We love watching them warm their wings in the morning sun in our patio containers.

beckie said...

Marnie, I KNOW I left a comment a couple of days ago-but it must be lost in cyber space. I love the description and had never heard it before. Now when I see a butterfly it will always be a flower with wings! I wanted to know what book you have-Rose and I have been wanting to get one so we can be a little more knowledgeable about butterflies. What a great present from your Dad. Your poems fit the pictures so well and were a delight to read. Great post!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Good morning Tina, yes, I enjoyed that too. ' Butterflies don't believe in eclipses:)'

Eco Rover, no I appreciate them but haven't studied them. My father has given lectures all over the area on things the average homeowner can do to protect, attract and provide resources and habitat for butterflies...and for birds. Thanks for that bit of Yeats. I don't remember ever reading it.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Meems, it seems there are many Fritillarys, very similar with only slight differences. Small but very beautiful...and quick:)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hey Beckie, my book is one of the Audubon Society's Pocket Guides "Familiar Butterflies North America"
It's quite small 4X6 inches. Fits into my jeans pocket so I can take it out with me when I walk. It doesn't have a lot of info, it is mostly a field guide to identify.

Yes, I read your tutorial, how else could I have gotten the photos;)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Dee, I agree, another one of nature,s wonders we can bring right to our own back doors.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Thank you IVG. Wonderful things zoom lenses. Without them 90% of my photos would be unidentified specks on a field of green. I've seen a couple 20X zoom cameras. On my wish list.

This weekend I saw lots of butterflies. They certainly more plentiful as summer wanes.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi troutbirder, thank you for your kind comment.

Hi Flydragon, butterfly weed doesn't do especially well in my garden either. Butterfly bushes don't seem to survive the winters. There are a lot of others you can try.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Yogapaws, welcome. Don't you love the Ginger's site? I go there everyday. I've been considering a cat blog, I'm not sure my cats have much worth while to say;) Of course they think they do.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Marmee, I haven't seen many either. This one had kind of beat up wings. So fragile and easily damaged.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Andre, I'm anxious to stop by your site and see your butterfly photos.

Kathleen, the decreasing number of butterflies is very worrisome. We all do what we can but their fate is uncertain.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Garden Girl, the swallowtails are so beautiful...maybe my favorites:)

Hi Beckie, my fault your comment didn't appear right away. I don't usually check online over the weekends. I have my options set to hold comments until I moderate them. I actually get spam among my comments I guess because I don't use the 'copy the squiggly letters option'. I hate the squiggly letters thingy;)

Rose said...

Beautiful photos, Marnie! I love all the poems,too, including your very poetic title:) I have a lot of the cabbage whites fluttering about my garden and have had a few swallowtail, too. The monarchs seem fewer in number this year, though, unless they are still coming.
What is there not to love about a butterfly?!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rose, I don't see as many monarchs or swallowtails as I used to. It's getting late in the season, I believe most of the monarchs will soon be making the trip to Mexico.

Rhonda said...

Just beautiful..I followed your link from the comment you left on my blog..great blog and I'm always glad to find a new one that I enjoy. I'd be interested in knowing what butterfly book you use..I have tons but haven't a clue what they are. Ah..i see you've listed it in a post..I'll have to pick that up. Wonderful photos by the way. As for the water from the a/c..I'm still working on the details on how to catch it..I figure I've got the winter..I'll do a post on the process and what I decide to use.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I Love the Gingers. Went on a hunt for books with JM's illustrations yesterday but couldn't find. Surprised because I live near a "art colony". Oh well, will order online.

I bet your cats have lots of stories to share...

Thanks again for sharing the beautiful pics.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rhonda, thank your for coming to visit. I bought a pump at amazon this spring. 1/6 HP, I think. Very good for moving water from place to place and reclaiming water for shrubs and trees. It was under $40 and works perfectly.

I love They have a similar Audubon butterfly field guide for about $10 but much cheaper used in very good condition.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Yogapaws, her illustrations are very unique. I wish she would do an illustrated book on the gingers. I'm more into orange tabbies than dragons;) Mr. Griffith's old whitewashed house is so very charming. Wouldn't you love to visit. I bet it hasn't changed much in the last 100 years. And that wonderful walk over the cliffs to the sea. I would love to see those places illustrated.

Arija said...

Dear Marlie,
I checked out your posts since my last visit.
My dad used to call me his Chickadee before he ended up in a Russian gulag when I was 4. Thank
you for looking after them.
Out of 20 Paeonies planted last year I have one sickly darling left. Drought, water salinity and heat did in the rest.
Have you tried striking your threatened clematis? I have had a good success rate in a clear glass jar in water in good light on a window sill. Pick a bunch about 8"-10" soft and hard cuttings. You may loose most of them, but some will throw out roots after a few months. What's a few months if you can preserve a favoured nose delight?

Good luck!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hello Arija, thank you for visiting and leaving me a message. I enjoyed reading your comment. I will try to root the clematis in water as you suggest. It will be easy and nothing lost if it does not root. Thank you.

I'm sorry to hear the tragic story of your father. It is good that you still have some memories of him and the association with the tiny chickadees.

Mary said...

Those are wonderful! I never get shots that good of the butterflies. I love the idea of flowers with wings :-) They truly are that.

Rambling Woods said...

Thank you so much for your comments and adding Rambling Woods to your blog list, I will do the same as I see we enjoy the same things and you rescue cats!!!

I am able now to ID a poor photo of a butterfly I see frequently as the cabbage white thanks to you. I am trying to id and photograph what I see here. Thank you so much. Michelle near Buffalo NY