Friday, September 11, 2020

Perennial Sunflowers, all the Bees, and I am a Monarch Foster Mom

And to think that once upon a time, during the first full summer on our new-to-us property, we could not find a single bee.

Look at my yard today!

A few years ago, I failed in saving the seeds from our beloved Mexican sunflower, and instead, I impulse-purchased a perennial sunflower from an online seed company. It's even better than the Mexican sunflower, because not only is it big and beautiful and bright, but it also comes back to me every year without me having to have the very specific seed-saving skill-set!

Also, as I discovered just this spring, it transplants like a dream! When I was first planting things, I didn't understand at ALL how different my property's sun exposure would be in different seasons--that entire half of the yard that was sunny as hell all spring was... not sunny as hell after the elms leafed out, sigh. So even though I was terrified of killing it, I took a big leap of faith and tried to transplant some of that years-old perennial sunflower clump that was still beautiful and bright, but not getting so big anymore.

This whole sunflower garden lives on the other side of the house now, and it's flourished all summer, getting at least twice as tall as its sunflower sisters back over in the shadow of the elm trees:

Look at my BEES!!!

Way back in 2015, Will created a butterfly garden in this area of the yard, and although the rest of that garden is long-gone, the milkweed comes back every year, and every year we carefully weed around it and let it spread. It's a happy coincidence that right by this sunflower garden, then, is lots of lovely milkweed!

Every year, I also admire the monarchs that visit my flowers, and the monarch caterpillars that I see munching on my milkweed, but this year, I got the advice from my local native plants Facebook group that it's good to bring those little monarch caterpillars inside and feed them up in captivity, safe from predators. So when I went outside last weekend and saw monarch caterpillars all over my milkweed, never mind the fact that we were expecting a couple of friends of Syd's to come over for a socially-distanced backyard camp-out in just a couple of hours and I had not yet made our yard look like trash people do not live here, I nevertheless got a mask, got in the car, and went out solely to buy this exact kind of mesh hamper. It's perfect because it zips fully up and has openings in two sides, so it's easy to give my foster babies fresh noms twice a day. 

Look how much they love their noms!

I currently have one chrysalis at the top of my hamper, and four constantly-chewing caterpillars at the bottom of my hamper. I am so invested in their welfare, you guys!

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