Monday, February 15, 2010
Through the vine covered gate.
Cross the threshold.
Enter a new world.
Begin a journey.
Just as in life, there are many paths that you can take. If you follow the shell path in the sun it will lead you out onto the pine straw path in the shade and back again until you have formed a figure eight pattern. The figure eight crosses at the pond.
Just as in life, there are distractions or places to divert from the path. The boardwalk will take you out through the mangroves and out to the creek. The stepping stones will lead you to the planting bench. The butterfly house sits next to the straw path under the oak and pine tree. Each distraction could be a journey in itself.
Just as in life, there are many places to pause along the way. Take a camera, a drawing pad or notebook or simply sit in the shade or sun.
Each step each pause, an opportunity for action, reflection or both or neither. I find that when I am working in the garden I am following my nature and become part of the natural surroundings. I slow down and notice the details while being a part of the whole picture. I see more butterflies when I’m gardening than I do when I’m stalking them with my camera.
As I crossed the threshold this month after the freeze, I noticed the damage, the destruction, of what we remembered as our garden. Due to a malfunction even the pond became silent. The native plants were mostly untouched with the exception of the fire bush but our naturalized exotics dropped most of their leaves. The annuals disappeared completely. The garden was quieter, moving in slow motion compared to the month before but still very much alive!
Now after our attention to pruning and cleaning the debris from the garden, we are already seeing the first “signs of springs” that northern states will have to wait months for. The green buds are unfolding on the yellow elder trees and the verbena, the beautiful purple flowers that you see bordering the mangroves, are blooming more often now, thanks in part to the rains and warm sun. With the lack of shade cover the maypop with its promise of magnificent blue star flowers is growing rapidly. Right on cue, the Gulf Fritillaries have appeared, drinking nectar from the verbena and laying eggs on their host plant, the maypop vine. We initiated the potting bench by re-potting the blanket flower seedlings and new seedlings are pushing their way through the mulch where annuals were blooming before the freeze. On Feb. 4th a monarch butterfly emerged from its chrysalis in the butterfly house and we are carefully observing the second one.
We were so grateful for Nick Bodven’s presentation that left the lepidopterists in us feeling renewed as well. The garden walk and the slide show were well received and the cheese and wine was a wonderful idea! Thank you to all the volunteers that made this event so much fun!
Like most of the visitors to our garden, I enjoy learning, so use Tuesday afternoons to share your knowledge or ask questions. In response to visitor’s questions note cards have been created about our wildlife. One is on milkweed bugs, one of our beneficial insects and the other is on the rat snake, one of our beneficial reptiles that appears to be hibernating at this moment. These cards can be found in the box attached to the arbor, containing the information on butterflies.
Come and see for yourself and join us at Spring Creek Nature Park and Butterfly Garden on Tuesdays at 3:00. See you there!
Rosemary Allen, Florida Master Naturalist