Butterflies beyond the heat islands

20150806_181856-120150805_151615-1There is no better cure for a bad case of the Mondays than a brisk walk in the open air. If your feet take you beyond the water cooler and out of doors to a concrete sidewalk, perhaps this virtual walk in The Quarry Farm butterfly gardens will transport you beyond your August Ohio heat island.

Late summer in Northwest Ohio means sweat that never dries, elephant-eye-high corn, even this year after months of heavy June and July rain, and the golden greens of mature plant leaves, the rich amethysts of ironweed and Joe Pye and the hot reds, oranges and burgundies of lilies, cosmos, Susans, zinnia and echinacea. The Gardener would likely list many more flora, but since she’s otherwise occupied in the gardens themselves, you are stuck with those plants that I can identify around the Seitz Family Pavilion.

Skipper

Silver-spotted skipper butterfly

Monarch under cover

Monarch under cover

Lucky for all of us, she always carries her phone. And because she does, she took photographs of the better-late-than-never butterflies that are moving from flower to flower.

Better still, she took video. So, find a park bench or an open window and take a virtual butterfly walk in the warm August sunshine. There is breeze today to keep the virtual mosquitoes at bay.

 

Our first number is, “The Dance of the Tiger Swallowtails.”

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger swalltowtail

Tiger swalltowtail

And what better image to leave you with, for today, than a giant swallowtail doing its level Lepidopteran best to pollinate every plant in the north bed?

Now go back to work, full in the knowledge that there are still butterflies in the world.

Buddy’s Big Day

Tiger in the garden

The Junior Master Gardeners of Continental (Ohio) graced The Quarry Farm with their presence on July 11, the first group to visit since the big wind blew through. Although there are still a couple of downed trees here and there, the paths were clear and mowed in time for the travelers to arrive.

Led by Charlene Finch, the group of 20 adults and children of varying ages drove in around 10 a.m. to beat the afternoon heat. They divided into three groups to rotate through three different learning and activity stations.

Mints and other herbs and flowers are bundled

Group #1 met under the shady zelkova in front of Red Fox Cabin. From Board President Laura they discovered the history of the cabin and the grounds, the gardens and made herb bundles from cuttings gathered there.

Group #2 circled next to the ash stumps, recent victims of the invasive emerald ash borer. This was the perfect spot to hear Steve the Insect Guy talk about stream ecology, perfect because his roundtable included a meet-and-greet with riverine beneficial insects that grow up to combat harmful insects.

Meeting a dragonfly nymph

Group #3 walked to the farm animal sanctuary where they were heartily welcomed by Buddy the miniature donkey. Despite the white-hot rising sun, Buddy held his post at the southwest corner of the paddock and brayed greetings to each group, keeping up the conversation throughout their stay at the station. One volunteer in each group was assigned to pet Buddy so that he would keep quiet long enough for Beatrice the pygmy pot-bellied pig to come out and meet the kids. This event was the first educational outing for Beatrice. She took a special shine to a gentle boy named Brandon, allowing him to feed her a piece of apple. Geese and chickens checked out the group from a distance, as did the goats.

Buddy greets a gardener

After all groups had rotated through the stations, everyone met at the cabin for cookies, lemonade, ice water and a group photo on the front porch. Some strolled through the gardens to see the blooms of drought-tolerant flowers and to scout for butterflies and dragonflies. Many thanks to Board Secretary Rita for photographically recording the event and for sharing them for this post.