July 11 garden

Every day I check for the presence of my garden companion. Every day he gets a little bigger. We're going with anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon).


There were two of them at first, but now just one. Did a bird eat his brother? Or maybe the brother dropped into the oregano below the dill and I just can't spot him.

I'm loving dill in the garden. I will have it always from now on. I have two more seedlings to plant out in a week or two. It grows very vigorously; I had no idea...


Also vigorous, the Rudbeckia triloba I planted where my compost bin used to be. It's over 6' tall now. The seed packet said 3' tall. At some point it will hit the tree fern fronds, and then what? It hasn't even begun to develop the width I was expecting. I'm afraid of this plant.


For someone who doesn't like detests red + yellow, I sure have a lot of it.


I'm only growing this red + yellow Gaillardia because Charlotte Torgovitsky told me it would bloom in winter, and I thought it would be okay to have red and yellow in winter if it meant that butterflies would have some food to eat. Why is it blooming now? This isn't winter.



Love the red Keckiella. Anyone who can grow this plant, should.


And the yellow sunflower.


But that is NOT the sunflower seed I bought. I only bought 'Claret' and 'Italian White'. You just can't trust seed companies.

Here is a new garden companion. I just met him today.


Laura Schaub said, "Looks like it could be a type of budworm; they take on the color of what they eat, so can be tricky to ID http://bit.ly/pu81L". We shall see.

According to the Wikipedia entry, "[Heliothis virescens] larvae feed on various crops, most notably Nicotiana species. The tobacco budworm is one of the most destructive pests of the tobacco. Eggs are laid on the tobacco leaves. The emerging larvae are light to dark green and have several longitudinal pale stripes. They may chew small holes in the leaves before they reach the buds. Larvae then damage the bud or growing tip of the plant. The leaves that expand from the buds are often ragged and distorted."

I don't have any Nicotiana, and the bud above belongs to tarweed (Madia elegans), but I have a lot of damage right now of the bolded type.

I've been so tolerant. Should I be less tolerant? How much less tolerant should I be? These are questions I have not grappled with. I'm a live and let live kind of guy. Is the caterpillar playing by the same rules?

The garden is a live and let live kind of place.


If I start running around with my pruners snipping caterpillars in half, won't that change things?


I have dahlias. Random ones


'Prince Noir'


A named one whose name I've forgotten.


And there is 'Moonlight', the one rose Frances and her daughter would grow if they could grow only one rose.


It turns out to be the strongest, most vigorous rose in my garden with much repeat blooming. The fragrance is like fresh apples. If I love it this much now, imagine how much I will love it as it matures in the garden.

Here is a place of unhappiness. You can click the picture to get to the Flickr page to see why. Scroll over the picture and read the note associated with the large box.


Any suggestions? I'm thinking maybe a rock, or some art.


Ann Atkinson said...

Your garden looks happy, Chuck. It always cracks me up when I see the same plants there in your yard, and how they are doing in such a different environment than mine (hot, hot temps, rocky fast draining soil). You are so lucky ;-)
RE: Design Dilemma: I'm embracing rocks/boulders as the best low water option! I do like you garden art idea. You've got alot of stuff packed in there (I do the same..) OH! Something I've never done, but always like to see: A nice(read: expensive) large pot with (get this) NOTHING IN IT!!! omg! Then, if you didn't like it, you COULD plant something in it and/or move it. Brilliant. Or so-yesterday? hmmm...dunno. You're such an edgy guy.

anna maria said...

I have no idea what you could put in that space, unless perhaps a Lupinus albifrons, Silver Bush Lupine - it's silvery, it's bushy, it's drought tolerant - but what I wanted to say is that your dahlias are beautiful and that it looks to me like your garden is plentiful enough for you and Mr. Caterpillar.

chuck b. said...

Okay, so you can't see it, but down there in this picture right now is a *medium-sized empty pot*! Lol. I don't think I can justify the expense of a really nice, big empty pot right now, but I have definitely thought about it!

Ann Atkinson said...

ok - I can't stand it: I'd put Pennisetum rubrum there. I don't care about edgy - I love contrast.
And dark purple strappy things.
Hey - it's not a phormium.

Ann Atkinson said...

The P. rubrum needs more water where I live...

weeder1 said...

Or some tall, strappy metal thingie..as in sculpture..perhaps something kenetic? Might be talking more expense than the large pot though! Or something Keeyla Meadows-ish?

Frances said...

Hi Chuck, thanks for the link love and I am breathing a sigh of relief that you are happy with Moonlight. Pressure off! The last photo at first seemed to say it needed something with a yellow leaf, large with substance. Then on second thought a nice vertical of some kind, like a seven foot piece of driftwood set into the ground, like an obelisk. And just for fun, paint it cobalt blue. Or red and yellow stripes. :-) As for that insect, there are certain ones here that we drop into the soapy water milkjug, Japanese beetles for instance. I don't think I could cut them with scissors, death by drowning is my modus operandi. I think we have a dahlia named, nope, just checking it is Nuit d'Ete, no noirs.

Christopher C. NC said...

Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' Dark foliage, strappy and kinetic. I also think they are sterile so no invasive problems. In your climate it could be a dividable perennial. Then plant some yellow flowers close to it.

As for a sculpture it would need to be tall. A kinetic sculpture sounds fun too. I'm thinking some kind of a take off on a windmill like seen for pumping water in the west. Not a windmill though. It has to be tweaked away from that. This is an area where individual taste must rule.

Ann Atkinson said...

Perhaps Charlotte said it would EVEN bloom in winter? I have some, too, and they will throw out some blooms at the slightest idea of sunny warm days in winter. But, how can you NOT like all that enthusiasm in (an even) red & yellow (drought tolerant) flower. Check out Gaillardia 'Oranges and Lemons' or the new 'Burgundy'.

Brad B said...

Great pic of that caterpillar. Our dill also has a caterpillar or two, though not that kind. It also seems to attract white flies and aphids, but also ladybugs to prey on them.

I like the idea of Pennisetum rubrum. Other purples, Berberis thunbergerii (spiky) or Loropetalum. Too bad there is not a dwarf purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria.) What about a silver like Salvia apiana or Artemisia californica or Artemisia powys castle.

I'm not a big fan of phormiums either.

Anonymous said...

Of course this is winter, because you're in San Francisco. Like Mark Twain said . . .

Annie in Austin said...

Hi Chuck,

The swallowtail cats on my dill and fennel are lighter in color but similar markings. I grow the fennel in a couple of places just for the butterflies.

Why hasn't anyone else has suggested a 4-foot tall, painted in realistic colors statue of a cat stretching up to pat the butterflies? You've already got the red & yellow flowers so can add a few MickeyD playground touches. (ducking and running)


Unknown said...

If you don't like phormium, and you don't want to go the grass route because you want thicker strappiness... can you grow Eucomis? (I think I spelled that correctly--aka "Pineapple Lily.")

There's one that I have called 'Sparkling Burgundy' that you can see on the Plant Delights website (that's where I bought mine) and mine might actually be darker than the photo on their site, even. Maybe I need to take a photo tonight.

Tira said...

Lovely post-love your caterpillar and you have so many of my favourite flowers in bloom.
I actually just ordered the Gaillardia seeds after seeing the blooms on Hoe and Shovel.
I am headed up to San Francisco on Thursday! Already ordered some agaves that were delivered to my friend's house. Plan to get a few plants from Annie's Annuals.

Unknown said...

Chuck! Have I told you how much I LOVE your garden?! SOOO much fun stuff- a true secret garden, although I think it would take me days to see everything! I love seeing how it's transformed over the years :)