Monday, June 18, 2012

late spring flowers

So much has happened in the garden and I haven't been posting here on the blog for such a long time...and I just don't know where to start.  So maybe I'll just stop and smell the flowers.

This little white clematis has been blooming for a while now and it smells amaaaazing.
I love how it's getting old enough and big enough to ramble up onto and over the shed roof.

It's growing with a rambling rose vine.

I like how it helps connect the cob wall that we built a few years ago with the shed that was here when we got here....(sort of ugly but very practical and useful shed)....and I also like how it connects the wilder forest that surrounds us here with the cleared and cultivated garden area.  Everything's starting to blend together and look like it's meant to be there.

The orange honeysuckle at the front gate is beautiful right now, especially when the sun shines on it in the early evening.

so fragrant!

I like using the little white clematis as an accent flower in bouquets.  It doesn't last  very long as a cut flower...about 2 days before it starts looking a bit sad but that's fine for wedding flowers.

Especially bridal bouquets that I make the morning of....this one's in progress.  All things that bloom now: purple smoke bush foliage, pink peonies, viburnum, lady's mantle, new fern frond growth, and the little white clematis flowers and vine.  It smells divine.

And speaking of peonies, they're beautiful and fragrant right now too.



Can you smell the fragrance yet?
...taking a deep breath...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

a western tent caterpillar spring

Caterpillar with Lady's Mantle.

Caterpillar on Peony Bud.

Holy kamoley!  Two months since I've last been here and posted. yikes.
And since then, the caterpillars have eaten up all the alder tree leaves.  They have a voracious appetite and there are zillions of them. (literally) (no kidding)  They've taken over Mayne Island.

After they finished eating the tree, they came down to the ground and spread across the garden congregating on all of their favourite plants.

munch, munch, munch, munch, no kidding again, the air was full of the sound of them munching away, really!  You could hear it, seriously.  Nature is fascinating.

There was a story about these tiresome caterpillars on the 6 o'clock news last night. Check it out!

Earlier this year, I posted some photos of the egg masses.....well, this is what happens when the eggs hatch.  I don't even want to think about how many of these guys would have been hatching had I not removed hundreds of those egg masses!

Newly hatched, in April, on a black currant bush.

In May, we cut piles of the new tents off the fruit trees and put them in the fire pit.

If we left them to sit there overnight, they'd start creating new big tent colonies on the pile.  crazy.

We set them on fire.  poor things.

See that white spot on the end of this guy.  It's the egg of a parasitic wasp or a fly (not quite sure which one) but anyway, it lays it's egg on the caterpillar and then when it hatches it feeds on the caterpillar's insides and eventually kills it.  gross! But I'm cheering them on (the parasites, I mean!) Nature has it all worked out.

A couple of tents on this plum tree got away on us so almost all the leaves have been eaten up.  Look at all those baby plums!  I wonder if they'll all ripen up nicely for a harvest in August. 

I noticed today that all those little white cotton candy-like things in the plum tree are cocoons! 

 The caterpillars are working on becoming moths soon and that's a good thing I suppose, for now.....since it means they'll stop eating everything.


Lady's Mantle is one of my favourite accent and filler flowers at this time of year.  
I love it's chartreusy green colour and it's airy feel and it goes so well with so many things but the caterpillars like it too, it seems.....every year presents me with new and unexpected challenges and looks like one of this year's challenges is how to make beautiful wedding arrangements with flowers covered in caterpillars?...who woulda' thought?!

I managed to get some nice flowers happening for a wedding I worked on recently, but it took a lot of extra effort, let me tell ya!  
Looks like soon I'll be pulling cocoons of my flowers and foliage too because after I saw them on the plum tree, I started seeing them on all sorts of plants, all over the garden. 
 So does this mean they'll become moths and lay eggs again and come back next year too?? (!!!) 
I was hoping this was the end of the cycle for another few years but with all these cocoons all over everything, I'm having some doubts.  We shall see!