August 25, 2009


My boss had a hitchhiker on his back when he returned to the office from lunch yesterday. I decided to bring the little guy home and release him in my garden (the mantis, not my boss).
He sat right on top of my passenger seat all the way home, tilting his head and looking around, cleaning his antennae. When we arrived home I scooped him into my hand and let him go in my flowers. He posed for several pics before he flew off somewhere to the other side of the yard.

He may not stick around in our yard, but at least he's in a much more rural area than where I work. Plus, I'm sure there are more pesky bugs here to eat. I mean, I sure as heck wouldn't mind living in my garden if I were a bug!

August 24, 2009

An Updated View of My Garden

The mornings have been cold lately, and one can feel fall just around the corner. It's been a busy summer and I haven't had as much time in the garden as I'd planned, but it has certainly been a season of learning! I love watching the changes in the garden as the season progresses.

I have encountered minor problems here and there that have each been opportunities to do some research and experiment with trial and error. Here is what is nearly the final result of my summer, though one of the greatest lessons I've learned is that a garden is never complete. :)I think the beautiful birdbath I got for my birthday is a perfect finishing touch. I look forward to seeing all the changes between this year and next!

August 10, 2009

Volunteer Days - Invasive Shrubs

I spent some time Saturday and Sunday doing more volunteer time with the DNR. ON Saturday we gathered burn piles of invasive shrubs that had already been cut by the DNR. They do this to maintain the prairie and the native plant life in that environment. It poured on us the whole time, but we kept at it for a couple of hours until the lightning began to strike. There were about 30 volunteers and we accomplished quite a bit in a short time, despite the weather.

On Sunday the rain was gone - just 90 degree weather, sunny skies, and heavy steamy air. We hiked through the woods cutting down invasive Common Buckthorn, Glossy Buckthorn, and Autumn Olive. Each shrub we could find was cut and herbacide was applied to the stump to prevent it from growing again. We also found and removed a few small patches of an invasive species of Parsley.

(Photo by Bill Brandon)

The day was also a great opportunity to learn MANY of the native plants!

Maindenhair Fern
(Adiantum pedatum)
I think this is
(Bidens coronatus),
but it is possibly
Western Sunflower
(Helianthus occidentalis)

White Baneberry
(Actaea pachypoda),
also called Doll's Eyes

Red Baneberry
(Actaea rubra)

I'm going to be tagging along on some individual projects for the DNR as well. I'm going to be learning Photo Monitoring, Insect Monitoring, and hopefully Seed Collecting. I get together with one of the current Photo Monitoring volunteers at the end of the month to see how it's done. I'm very much looking forward to it!

August 07, 2009

"Picture This" Photo Contest: Down on Your Knees

The subject for this month's Picture This Photo Contest at Gardening Gone Wild is "Down on Your Knees". The purpose is to encourage everyone to view the world from a new vantage point. Get down on your knees, or even your belly, and see the world from a whole new angle!!

Here's my submission:

Best of luck to everyone participating!

August 06, 2009

A Special Treat: Hummingbird Moths

It was such a delight last night to see a special visitor hovering around the Butterfly Bush. I have only ever seen one before, years ago, and had been amazed by this fascinating creature. On your first encounter it can be a bit confusing! Many people have the same response I had: Is that a hummingbird? But it has antennae! Is it a bug!? What IS that thing!?

Hummingbird Moths are actually a type of Sphinx Moth of the genus Hemaris. The one pictured here in my garden is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe). They have a wingspan of roughly 1.5 to 4 inches and display the rapid wingbeats of a hummingbird as they zip to and fro, usually in the evening, sipping nectar from the flowers. I do hope you have an opportunity to encounter one of these enchanting creatures!