Friday, September 18, 2015

The Monarchs and the Mexican Sunflower

I think that I've griped before about the fact that we have only one flower in our garden this year (and two tomato plants, two peppers, two basil, and two milkweeds).

But... what a flower! If you only have one flower in your garden, THIS is the flower for you!

It's called a Mexican sunflower. Friends gave the start to Syd for her birthday this year, and I have since asked for detailed instructions, suitable for the noob that I am, on collecting and saving the seeds from this plant, because I never again want to have a garden without a dozen or so Mexican sunflowers. It's that good.

We've seen cabbage whites drawn to this Mexican sunflower. We've seen swallowtails. We've seen hummingbirds. We've seen several species of butterfly that we haven't yet identified. And we've seen monarchs. So many monarchs!

I love how well you can see the pollen in these pictures. I'm glad we have so many butterflies, because we have not seen a single bee in our gardens this year.

The milkweed plants live in the same tiny garden as this Mexican sunflower, and although I've never seen the monarchs look interested in them at all, Syd claims that she saw a caterpillar on the milkweed as she was weeding around the plants one evening. I haven't seen any caterpillars for myself, although there's definitely caterpillar poop resting on a couple of cupped milkweed leaves, and some other leaves have definitely been munched on.

Do caterpillars leave their milkweed and do any wandering? I don't know, but I'm attempting to tread lightly in the garden, just in case.

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