Rain, Caterpillars and Puccini

| November 8, 2012 | 10 Replies

I had been alerted that rain was coming this weekend, and I knew I had to get a fresh layer of alfalfa down on my hard-baked clay, otherwise, every trip into the garden would result in mud-caked shoes. So, this morning, I spread it out. Rain was coming down gently on my back. I had my office window open (that’s Linden sitting in the window watching me) and Puccini wafting out to inspire me to work in the sprinkling rain.


Alfalfa Spread on Grassless Lawn

Next, I popped in a couple of red Cyclamen in the far back corner to cheer me up. There’s too much shade for edibles. In front of the window sits my new birdbath. Not one bird has visited it, yet. The “rain” stopped fairly quickly, but not before all the leaves got a few drops.


Raindrops on Roses

This is the second light sprinkle since the mid-April downpour. I wish it could have lasted longer. Now that I pulled out the tomato vines that enshrouded my little orange tree, it is coming to life with a hundred blooms!


Valencia Orange Blossoms

And I discovered a potato popping up under my birch trees! I had dumped the dirt from the big pot there after pulling out my potato vines. Because the soil back there is as hard as a rock and choked with birch roots, I am mounding it up as it grows. I will be very curious to see if I get potatoes.


Potato Plant

Next, I checked in with my Monarch caterpillars. These three fat ones were chomping away on perhaps their last meal before they head off to build a cocoon.

The longer antennae are on the head, and they bob back and forth as they eat. The caterpillars anchor at the top of the leaf near the stem, grasping onto the vein in the leaf and eat from the tip up the leaf, backing up as they go. They are always hanging upside down, so it’s hard to get a good look at the head. When I do get my camera close enough for them to see it, they sense danger and freeze, and hope their big, beautiful, yellow and black striped bodies won’t be noticeable. Ha! That’s Pavarotti singing “Nessun Dorma” (along with the sound of a jet plane) in the background. With big dumps of frass (insect poop) like these, I know these caterpillars are about ready to morph.

Frass (Insect Poop)

Monarch Caterpillar Frass

Thanks for stopping by! – Kaye

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Category: Cool Season, Maintenance, Monarch Butterfly

Comments (10)

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  1. What a beautiful garden and how inspiring just to sit there!

    • Thanks, Dallas, I enjoy it! Though, it’s too cold and damp to sit out there at the moment. I just took my tea across the street to C.L.s. He was sitting out there and I like to visit with him a few minutes most days, and I was cold. I’m sure the sun will pop back out. Remember what I said in the episode “Downpour,” the sun “always comes out!” – Kaye

  2. Rob says:

    Love the frass. Never heard of that before!

  3. MaryZ says:

    Envious of your monarchs and orange blossoms!

  4. flamidwyfe says:

    It must be nice to smell the rain every once in a while… here in Florida it rains plenty… I love the smell of the rain in the garden 🙂
    Are your orange blossoms fragrant?

  5. Namari says:

    That’s a posting full of insights!

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