Pollinators in the heat

As long as there are food sources, the pollinators will visit. Here a Summer Long-Horned Bee, possibly a Long-Horned Sunflower Bee female, is collecting pollen from a California Delta Sunflower. The peak flight season for these bees tends to be early June to early August. They are still visiting the garden, even though it is late August. A Gulf Fritillary female is resting on a nasturtium leaf on the patio. The host plant for these butterflies is the passionflower Passiflora, and we have a Passiflora parritae x tarminiana‘Oaklandia’ plant growing in a pot on the patio. The fritillary females keep laying eggs on the vine, and as you may recollect from an earlier post, there were three caterpi

Still thriving

We have experienced a heat wave followed by terrible wildfires in the area, as well as very poor air quality. Here in the area where we live far from the fires, we are only experiencing poor air quality due to the smoke and ashes from the fires. And wildlife continues to go about their business . It is so uplifting to witness California natives doing quite well in the garden. For example, the California poppies in the photo above are growing in the middle of the front yard. The plant popped up through the dry soil, apparently from seeds blown in the wind from the the dried pods from other poppy plants. Just when I thought the Ella Nelson's Yellow naked buckwheat plants were going dormant, se

Red Squirrel and the Juniper Berries

Our next door neighbor has a huge juniper tree that is growing along their fence and provides shade on our walkway.The tree is quite lush, and currently full of berries. A red squirrel visits the tree several times a day and feasts on the berries. The berries must be very tasty because the squirrel eats many of them each time it visits.

Last Monarch Caterpillars of the Season

Look who's in their last instar, eating up before moving on to pupate. This plump caterpillar hatched from an egg that was laid on a native showy milkweed plant that decided to grow in the same pot as a tomato plant. The milkweed rhizome must have been dormant in the soil of the pot until last month. In June there was nothing growing in the soil of the pot, and I needed another large pot for one of the tomato seedlings a neighbor gave me. I assumed we would just have a tomato plant in the pot. Well, up popped the showy milkweed, and mama monarch sniffed out the leaves. She laid several eggs there, but this one is the survivor. And what a fine specimen it is. Here it is from another angle.

Digger Bees Thriving

Those busy little digger bees always find something good in the garden, even now as plants start to go dormant. The Verbena De La Mina shrub isn't looking so great now, but there are still some blossoms to provide nectar for the bees. The female digger bee Anthophora urbana above is approaching one of the few flower heads that is still blooming on the shrub. Another female Anthophora urbana is approaching flower heads on a red valerian plant. These plants are not California natives and are actually quite invasive, once they get established. Somehow they popped up in our garden and are trying to spread. Although I pull out a lot of red valerian seedlings, I'm okay with the plants to grow in s

Yup, monarch caterpillars are still here

Mama monarch keeps visiting and laying eggs, and another generation of monarch caterpillars is thriving on the potted milkweed. Our biggest worry is that our milkweed plants are diminishing as the hungry caterpillars devour every leaf. And since it is already mid-August, some of the plants are drying up, going dormant. Hopefully there will be enough food for the remaining caterpillars. Currently I counted ten monarch caterpillars that actually survived through second instar. The caterpillar above is resting on the side of a stone in a pot of milkweed. This little one is probably in its second instar stage. Now this healthy caterpillar was moving like an acrobat in another pot of narrow-leafe

Anna's hummingbird sipping

Here in the Bay Area, this month has the nickname "Fogust". It's foggy until midday, then the sun breaks through. While the temperatures remain in the sixties in San Francisco, here in the East Bay, especially inland, it can get quite warm, even up into the nineties. Plants that aren't native to the area really suffer with the cool dampness of the morning and evening fog, combined with the sometimes brutal heat of the day. But our native pollinators always find nourishment. We do have some non-native plants in our garden, and they too provide nectar for the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Here an Anna's hummingbird is sipping nectar from a potted, non-native Agastache morello shrub. The

Lovely native butterflies

Oh, it's the best thing to observe little native butterflies visiting the native patch. It seems that there are more of them in the latter part of the summer, when a lot of vegetation is drying up. The butterflies shown here are very small, so you might not notice them very easily, unless you are patiently standing or sitting very still. That's when you'll see the flutter of little wings as the butterflies land on a place in the sun. The butterfly above is the Acmon Blue Plebejus acmon, perched on a Coastal Sagewort Artemisia pycnocephala plant. The Acmon Blue's typical habitat is an area of scattered weeds and some bare soil. Some of its host plants are wild buckwheat, especially the nude b

Wool Carder Bees at Work

Wool Carder bees Anthidium manicatum are always at work in the garden. They continue to try to be menacing, chasing other bees away from nectar sources. I keep trying to take great photographs of the females at work when they are scraping hairs off the underside of Lamb's Ears Stachys. But often they crawl into areas with many leaves overlapping so I have yet to take a "great" photo of them in action. Here is a female grasping a fiber ball she created from the fiber, which is very soft. Look carefully just behind the yellow marking on her face, and you'll see the pale ball of fiber she created. Just after I took the photo, she flew off with the cottony mass to a nesting cavity. Another Wool

Beautiful Buckwheat

It's that glorious time of year when buckwheat is nearly the main event in the native garden. This is a true California garden. From left to right, naked buckwheat, red buckwheat, Ella Nelson's yellow buckwheat (now rust colored), and Seacliff buckwheat. In the foreground is a native grass. In the back, from left to right, Ceanothus Ray Hartman, Salvia Berzerkeley, and Salvia leucantha, Mexican Bush Sage. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are very busy in this patch all day long. Birds are also frequent visitors, foraging in the ground. Here a sweat bee and digger bee have plenty to share on a flower head of the Seacliff Buckwheat. After remaining just about the same size in height and circ

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For years I have been sharing ideas, gardening tips and recipes  with family, friends and colleagues.

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