Saturday, April 19, 2014

"My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view."
-H. Fred Dale  

The container garden is really beginning to show its colors (pun).

This photo taken towards the front of the house, the containers are beginning to fill in nicely.

I'm not too pleased with the way the passion vine, Passiflora loefgrenii "Iporanga" is growing in the yard. As it climbs, the lower leaves wither and die, leaving a skeleton of vine branches and less food for expectant Gulf Fritillary caterpillars down the road.

It will most likely be replaced with either Passiflora edulis or possibly Passiflora caerulea, both very full and dependable Gulf Fritillary host plants. How unfortunate, as the "Iporanga" sports such unique and colorful blooms. If anyone wants it, it's theirs for the asking.

Hot pink flowers of Centrahthus ruber (Jupiter's Beard, Red Valerian).

Tried Centranthus when I took care of the Alta Laguna Park Butterfly Garden, but the deer nipped off the flower buds before I could assess its usefulness as a nectar plant. Supposedly a good butterfly plant, I'll be watching this one as the season progresses. Self sows readily without being invasive, easy to grow, and quite drought tolerant once established. Comes in various shades of pink, red, and white.

 In the process...

Some of the containers shown above are in place while others are waiting for their new spots in the container garden; others still waiting to be planted and spotted. The yellow flowering plant under the window is dill for attracting various swallowtail species as a host plant for their larvae; and added bonus is the large yellow flower umbels that make for good nectar sources. Great as a fresh culinary herb in the garden too!

 There doesn't seem to be any butterflies to be found in the immediate San Marcos area it seems, at least in my neighborhood. Others in the San Marcos/Escondido vicinity see butterflies and some even have Monarch cats on their milkweed plants already. The only thing that has fluttered by recently is a Cabbage White. I did find some Cabbage White caterpillars in the geraniums growing on the porch, but those are unwanted, so I dispatched them. Little buggers eat the flower buds of geraniums and make lace doilies out of cabbage and kale leaves. BLECH!

Friday, April 11, 2014

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Took a jaunt out to one of many small nursery growers tucked amongst the little valleys and hillsides in and around Fallbrook and Rainbow, California.

My goal was to find a decent, reliable, and inexpensive source of Asclepias (milkweed) for the container garden. My efforts were rewarded in the combination wholesale/retail grower, RZ Nursery. Owned and operated by an affable gentleman named Rogelio, the search was rewarded by finding several Asclepias species offerings at RZ.

I wanted to photograph Rogelio in his nursery, but he is a shy and retiring man when it comes to picture taking, but not in conversation. We started out discussing butterfly plants, which evolved into the ethics of good and gracious business practices, which in turn expanded into the proper ways to raise children, that ultimately turned to government and how corrupted both sides of the aisle are. What a fun and many branched discussion!

Rogelio grows an eclectic mix of common and not so common plant varieties in order to fill in those niches not covered by larger growers. I was so pleased to find a decent selection of milkweed plants that most nurseries don't grow, unless they specialize in milkweed production - and he's local to boot.

His stock is healthy and well grown, much of it actually overgrown for their containers, as he apparently doesn't have that big of a turnaround, except for his milkweed plants, as they are in demand by local nursery centers such as Green Thumb. Here is what I found there:

Asclepias curassavica

Asclepias curassavica "Wildfire"

Asclepias fascicularis

Asclepias tuberosa

If one is out roaming around in the San Diego North County/Riverside County areas and are looking for a good source of various milkweed species, Rogelio's RZ Nursery is the place. He only gives over-the-phone price quotes and availabilities to the trade, so one must go in and inquire. 1 gal. Ascleipias are $5, and 15 gal. Asclepias are $15. He only has A. fascicularis in 1 gal.

UPDATE: The container butterfly garden is going full bore! I'll be sharing some pics soon. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

 "Love is like a butterfly: It goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes."
-Author Unknown

Went on a little photo safari to the San Diego Botanic Garden (formerly known as Quail Gardens) in Encinitas, California on the 1st.

It's a beautiful little jewel of a well maintained garden that is chock full of plants collected from many lands around the globe. Being blessed with the fantastic weather we enjoy here in SoCal - especially along the coastal strip - the variety is enormous. In one little section of the grounds, personnel installed a small butterfly and bird garden next to the children's garden section.

As far as a butterfly garden is concerned, it is very nondescript; more of a garden suited for young children whose parents would like their progeny to wander around a bit and possibly learn some gardening, bird, and butterfly lore.

It contains a small vivarium that houses several potted milkweed plants for the benefit of showcasing Monarch butterfly larvae and adults. The vivarium was devoid of any insects while visiting, the poor milkweed plants in sore need of some TLC. I'm sure when the weather gets warmer, the garden will refresh the milkweed and place Monarch cats on them for viewing. As a dedicated butterfly garden destination: fuggetaboutit, but as a botanical oasis, Quail Gardens is a gem of a place to visit. Bring a picnic lunch!

As for butterfly sightings, I noticed only one butterfly the whole time I was there, but it was my first swallowtail sighting of this season. It flitted by very fast, but I believe it was an Anise Swallowtail.

Vivarium, and actually most of the butterfly and bird garden.

I was in Laguna Beach visiting friends Wednesday, and had a chance to stop by the Alta Laguna Park Butterfly Garden. It hasn't been tended to, and since the last time I was able to work on it before my shoulder injury, it has steadily and rapidly gone down hill.

BUT, I was rather surprised at how well it has withstood the test of time. My biggest anticipation was seeing how many - if any - milkweed plants survived. Lo and behold, there are vestiges of them sprouting up through that tough, nutrient poor, poor excuse of a soil. As the days get longer, sunnier, and the ground warms up, there is hope that more will pop through that crap of supposed dirt. With a little bit of attention they could be coaxed into surviving, and even thriving.


1. The Butterfly Festival in El Cajon is on Saturday the 5th.

2. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is hosting their annual Butterfly Jungle exhibit April 5 - 27.