I was surprised by a beautiful Green Darner (Anax junius) the other day while moving some pots on the roof. I must have been out there puttering around for two hours before I noticed it quietly resting on a white sage (Salvia apiana) plant. I hope it caught some mosquitoes.
This isn’t our first dragonfly visit of the year. It’s always surprising who and what will find our little oasis in the sky. More of these and less raccoons please.
On the white sage: It’s not hardy here in Toronto, but I’ve managed to overwinter this one successfully over several seasons now by simply cutting it back hard and forgetting about it. You know, I’m not really much of a fan at this size — they are much more beautiful when they are grown as bushes, but alas I can’t really achieve that here without a bigger pot and more space. I’ve kept it in a sunny window giving it water here and there through the winter and I’ve set it in the hallway where it is cold, the windows are north-facing, and it received almost no attention. We even went away for a month last winter and friends were not instructed to water it. This plant lives on no matter what.
When I start a new plant from seed for the first time, I don’t always know what will be a hit and what I’ll be bored with by this time in July. The Morelle de Balbis is a big hit. My last update was posted at the beginning of July and I think the plant has doubled in size since. It gets more interesting and beautiful by the day. Fruit is on the way!
Back when I bought the seeds I hesitated. I knew it was going to be large, unruly and difficult to place. I am so glad I went ahead anyways and even managed to get it planted, unlike some contenders that didn’t make it in this year.
It’s thorny and a bit scary, but I LOVE it! And so do the bees.
I haven’t noticed it to be quite the exaggerated horror film some are saying, but apparently Toronto is in the midst of a yellow jacket population explosion. The increase is thought to be the result of the combination of a cool, wet season, and the recently resolved garbage strike. All-in-all there’s just a lot more bugs in our gardens this summer, period.
Which is why, like Not Far From the Tree, I would also urge home owners to reconsider calling in an exterminator to destroy nests. Wasps may be a nuisance around the backyard barbecue, but they are also predatory insects that help to reduce the increased population in pesky plant eaters like aphids. Check out this fantastic series from Chair BriÃƒÂ¨re of a yellow jacket eating a cabbage worm.
Yesterday afternoon I happened upon this scene on the sidewalk. I’m not sure if the yellow jackets are doing us any favors by decreasing the cicada population (I love cicadas) but unfortunately like spiders, they aren’t very discriminating. Still, it was fascinating to watch them in action, if not a little bit gruesome.
Yesterday, while visiting a series of test gardens, I witnessed legions of these gold and black soldier beetles (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) aka Pennsylvania Leatherwing beetles squirming, frolicking and procreating up a storm all over a bed of ‘Tiger Eye Gold’ Rudbeckia.
As I moved around the beds I observed that they only inhabited the flowers that perfectly matched their body colours. Interesting tactic for safety since they are likely quite vulnerable during these frenzied acts reproducing the species. When not procreating, I’ve read that the adults eat pollen and specifically enjoy goldenrod. However, this was a HIGHLY cultivated property and there was nary a goldenrod in sight.
I found this daddy long legs (Phalangium opilio), a close spider relative but not an actual spider, sitting quietly on my cucumber plant the other day. I looked it up in my “Garden Bugs of Ontario” book (thanks again Chair!), and it turns out they go by another name, harvestmen. No idea of the origin but I am assuming that has something to do with the fact that they can shed a leg when under attack.