Friday, August 23, 2013

A Sultry Summer August Day Full Moon and Clouded Sulphurs Play

August is a wild time of year in the gardens here at Flower Hill Farm. The daily lives of wild things blend and move about with ease. There is an understanding between the land and animals . . . we all take what we need . . . but never too much. I do wish to call a court in session to introduce charges against our resident rabbit's rabid rapacity, however.

We rarely see young bucks, such as this one, sporting unique antlers. He will shed the lopsided headpiece this winter or early spring of next year and begin to grow new ones. Careful attention must be paid to this teenager to be certain his curiosity does not get the better of my Liatris for a second time.

The deer have much to munch upon within the acres here, and many more surrounding, so they are kind to me and my gardens. I continue to cut oak, maple and birch saplings allowing new tender growth that deer find nutritious and delicious.

This is the main color show of the gardens now . . . last year Ironweed, Joe Pye weed and Rudbeckia were magnets to butterflies . . . this year there are mostly native bees . . . but few fluttering wings go by.

I did finally see one restless Monarch butterfly last week, but she did not approve of our older milkweed and moved on right away, in search of tender leaves to fasten her eggs upon. I miss the enchanting process of metamorphosis but do have one little Black Swallowtail ward who has now become a chrysalis. 

There were many Monarchs last year enjoying the nectar of Ironweed. The image above was taken a bit later in August than the one above it . . . so perhaps more butterflies will find their way here again.

Nearing the last week of August . . . but there is still time for frolicking. Clouded Sulphurs exhibit their tiny orange and black full moons, while sipping runaway marjoram and courting or cavorting in the field below the middle garden.

Wild Morning Glory is taking over the Bluebird nestbox . . . I am allowing it, as the larger Bluebird family has taken off, beyond the cotton clouds, for now. Nearby, Rudbeckia 'Herbstsonne' reaches for the light to a height of over seven feet. This great plant will never catch up to the stately tips of the Hydrangea paniculata it stands before.

Hydrangeas, though tired and somewhat spent, still offer sustenance to many pollinators. There has been not a plant/weed lifted from this area for all the days of summer. I am surprised by the diversity of small and simple flowers that seem to delight both butterfly and bee.

Our much beloved (NOT) rabbits devoured the planter plantings but now volunteers of pineapple basil, verbascum and salvia are content being squatters. The gardens are on their own this year . . . once the rabbits ate my first food plantings, sigh, I gave up and decided to just be on the land and see what happens when all is left to grow on its own. I do confess to cutting many winding, meandering tendrils of bittersweet, grape and bindweed.

 Apples are ripening and some falling . . . creating an edible carpet for wildlife. There are so many more than enough for us all. Last days for the daylilies too . . . as each day unfolds and closes another fresh and droopy bloom.

'Journey's End' final blooms . . . true Lilium reflecting summer's closure coming soon. Not far off
summer's end and beginning autumn, as syrupy sweet petals fade and fall.

The south field is overgrown with sumac, which will paint the landscape red in weeks to come and then all will be mowed revealing the form of land again by November. Here, the Tree Swallow nestbox is overrun by bittersweet. I recall less height to the field and wildflowers but weeks ago when a Tree Swallow pair tenderly care for their nestlings.

Migrations are in motion . . . today there were at least a hundred Tree Swallows swooping and scaling the sky just above these fields and spreading over towards the middle garden. I like to think that among the many are the two families of swallows from our north and south field nestboxes and they are all on their way to Cape Cod where I may chance to see them once again later in September.

Lavender giants boldly tearing through the sky in dusky twilight . . . our Rock Maples on the south side of the 1790 farmhouse are ever dramatic and inspirational . . . to the painter in me especially.

Upon the edge of the north field looking south . . . a simple place to be . . . to watch waves in canopies of trees and the great blue yonder . . . while chasing ephemeral light stretching over Mount Tom in the Pioneer Valley beyond.

August is nearly full as is its swollen, golden, 'Sturgeon' or 'Blueberry' moon . . . yet, many surprises are to be found in moments lived within the realm of our wondrous Mother Nature. Summer seems longer in moments.  Shall we seize the moment then . . . for as long as each new day gives forth fresh butterflies and our young resident hummingbirds are still dipping and humming into my dreams . . .  I cannot say summer is gone.

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