It's butterfly weather

While we feel uncomfortable with very warm or hot weather the butterflies are out in great numbers. In the above photo, a Gray Hairstreak is on the blossom of a Scheffelin's Choice California fuchsia Epilobium zauschneria. A lovely Cabbage White pieris rapae is sipping the nectar of a red valerian blossom. A Fiery Skipper Hylephila phyleus female is perched on a dried California Delta sunflower. This tall perch seems to be a favorite among many birds and butterflies. Because of this, I decided not to pull out the dried plant, although it thrived then dried up three years ago. Common Checkered Skippers Pyrgus communis such as this one, are so cute. This one is resting on the branch of the Ber

Sleeping Summer Long-Horned Bee

Yesterday as I made the morning rounds of the garden, I came upon this sleeping bee on a dried flower head of a Pozo Blue salvia plant. Another example of the reason to leave the garden a little untidy. Leaving dried flower heads on plants provide places for bees to sleep, as well as seeds for birds to eat.

A Chestnut-backed Chickadee and Brown-eyed Bushtit visit

The Chestnut-backed Chickadees often can be heard around the garden, chattering and chirping in the trees and shrubs. They can be very elusive. When they visit around the garden they are so quick that I rarely can capture photos of them. This was such a wonderful surprise, a chickadee in the birdbath. These photos were taken through the sliding screen door, therefore not so sharp, with a soft effect. In the above image the chickadee is wet from its bath. And then a Brown-eyed Bushtit landed on the birdbath platform. It seemed to be waiting its turn in the bath. The bushtit patiently waited for the chickadee to leave. You would expect that the bushtit would quickly test the bath water. Instea

Butterflies feeding on the ever popular Red Valerian

Although the smoky air has been often quite toxic, full of particulates, somehow the pollinators and other wildlife manage. A few painted ladies such as the one above, frequently visit the garden, spending a lot of time sipping nectar from red valerian flower heads. Red valerian is a very invasive, non-native plant here, but it is such an important source for the pollinators. We let it grow in a few designated areas, near fences. This isn't the greatest image of an anise swallowtail, but I was very lucky to even get this photo. These swallowtails rarely ever are completely still, even when they feed. But what a beautiful swallowtail it is!

Beautiful Webs

Oh what an absolutely beautiful morning we had today! The fog was so thick, blanketing the garden. If I closed my eyes I could imagine standing in a rain forest. The dripping of water from tall trees onto the leaves of plants below was such a soothing sound. After the terrible toxic fumes that filled our atmosphere for so many days, it was a sense of healing and replenishment. It was a wonderland of spider webs, suddenly visible everywhere. The webs seemed to be decorated with tiny pearls. There were so many kinds of lacy patterns.

Respite for the birds in the garden

The birds are surviving the toxic air that has been surrounding us for more than a week. Fortunately we aren't too close to the terrifying and destructive California wildfires. But the particulate levels in the air have been dangerously high, preventing us from venturing outdoors without N-95 masks. We worry about the local wildlife, and I try to monitor them by observing them through the windows. Fortunately many plants are still blooming. One morning I spent some time spraying the ash off leaves and blossoms, using the fine shower mode on our hose. The Anna's hummingbirds find their nectar in the blossoms, such as the California figwort Scrophularia californica, as shown above. This hummin

Apocalyptic skies over California

Well, you've seen it all over the internet - the unnatural orange skies over California. With all of the wildfires here, the smoke is high over the marine layer currently protecting us. Fortunately today there is no smell of smoke. That will come in a few days. But everything is covered with ash. And an eerie darkness prevails. This was part of our native garden today when there was a little bit of light. The view from our front porch at 4.30 pm. Normally it has been light these days until after 7 pm. A view of the sky from our front porch. I really worry about our pollinators and other animals. Trying to keep fresh filtered water sources in the bird bath and large saucers in the back yard.

Tattered Anise Swallowtail sipping on Red Valerian

Anise Swallowtails Papilio zelicaon have been flying through the garden for several months now, but they fly so quickly that I haven't been successful whenever I try to photograph them. Until now. During these hot August days, all the pollinators are busy in the garden, and butterflies abound. Since some of the flowering plants are going dormant, while the autumn asters are preparing to bloom, the ever blossoming red valerian plants provide a vital nectar source for the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. This Anise Swallowtail spent a lot of time on the blossoms. It was a puzzle to me at first, if this really was a swallowtail. The dark brown and yellow markings seemed right, but the distin

Wowee! A Blue Eyed Darner Damselfly

I stepped out to the patio late this afternoon, and immediately a damselfly buzzed past my head. Several of these have been flying around the garden for the past week, but until today none of them rested anywhere for me to get a closer look at them. I assumed that they were Flame Skimmers Libellula saturata, because those are the only large damselflies that visited the patio in the past. Oh, but this one, a Blue Eyed Darner damselfly Rhionaeschna multicolor, is absolutely beautiful and measures 3 inches long. It rested for a quarter of an hour, in the sun on the drying blackberry blossom, before it zipped around the patio again. This Western United States native lives near slow moving stream

Whew, that was close

A close call in the garden, that I wasn't aware of until I got very near to the action. The leaf cutting bee is on a blossom of the Coreopsis Big Bang Cosmic Evolution plant, foraging for pollen. Apparently an orb weaver spider was under one of the Coreopsis petals, lying in wait. At first I thought it was a smaller bee, such as a sweat bee. The leaf cutting bee now has its back to the spider, which is getting closer. I was about to interfere, to chase the spider away. Happily, the bee flew away. Interesting that the spider looked much smaller than the leaf cutting bee, when it was under the petal. Now that it is all alone on the blossom, it actually is at least half the size of the bee. I l

bees in the bay breeze

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

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