Category Archives: Arkansas Wildflowers

For the Love of Butterflys

     I BREAK FOR BUTTERFLYS should be on the bumper of my car.  I love these beautiful creatures. 
     This year, in the garden, I attribute them as the pollinators of my green beans.  They are little yellow butterflys, no bigger than a moth.  I don’t know their name and they are too fast to take a picture of. 
     I was recently reading an issue of Country Gardens magazine (summer 2012) and discovered an article called “Of Milkweed and Monarchs, Plant milkweed to help pollinators: Monarch larvae depend on it for their survival.” by Anne Raver.  I was astounded by the news I read which explained how important milkweed is to the Monarch butterfly and how the population has dwindled over the years.  The article is too long for me type and I couldn’t find it online, so here some excerpts from the article.

     “Common milkweed and it’s cousins, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed, to name a few in the milkweed family, are crucial to the Monarch butterfly.  The female lays her eggs on the underside of a milkweed leaf, and the larvae feast on the leaves.  Milkweed is the only food these caterpillars eat, though the adult butterflys will sip nectar from many flowers.  And so, if milkweed disappears from the face of the Earth – destroyed by herbicides, mainly – so, too, will the beautiful black, orange, and white Monarch butterfly.”
     “The main culprit, scientists say, is Roundup, or glyphosate, the popular herbicide farmers spray on million of acres of soybeans and corn that have been genetically modified to tolerate the weed killer.  According to Chip Taylor, Ph.D., a professor of insect ecology at The University of Kansas and director of Monarch Watch (monarchwatch,org), milkweed has disappeared from 100 million acres of corn and beans grown in the middle of the United States.  These fields, which used to be dotted with milkweed and other familiar weeds such as chicory and Queen’s Anne’s lace, are in the Monarch butterfly’s migration path.
     Monarchs, of course, are the heroic butterflies that can fly as far as 2,000 miles from their northernmost range in the eastern provinces of Canada, down through South Dakota and Texas, on their way to the Transvolcanic Range of centeral Mexico, where they cluster by the million in the  oyamel fir forests.”
     “Since the 1990’s, when over wintering Monarch populations covered an average of close to 23 acres in Mexico’s fir forests, numbers have plummeted to cover as few as 5 acres.”
Monarchs on Fir in Mexico

     About the migration: “The fall migrators are born in late summer, without the hormone necessary for reproduction.  If they ae lucky, the make it all the way to Mexico.  In mid-February, when temperatures raise above 55 degrees F., those same butterfly’s awaken, triggering the hormone that will prompt them to mate when they touch down on a milkweed somewhere in the southern United States on their flight back north in spring.  some females scatter eggs over 1,000 miles, and most die before they reach their spring home.  But those eggs hatch into larvae – that will eat your milkweed, if you plant it – and develop into butterflies that continue the journey.  They mate and lay eggs as they go, and these offspring grown up to fly north.  So, as Taylor puts it, the grandchildren or even the great-grandchildren of that monarch that made it to Mexico for the winter could be sipping nectar in your garden the next summer.”

The website Monarch Watch encourages people to plant milkweeds in gardens and create a Monarch way station.  “Which can be as simple as planting 10 or more milkweed plants, of two or more species, in our gardens.  A truly effective Monarch way station, he says, is at least 100 square feet and includes a number of milkweed species as well as others flowering plants.”  Their are over 100 different species of milkweed and you can find some of them here, with pictures, ( on the Monarch Watch website.
(end of excerpts)
Butterfly Milkweed, one of my favorite wildflowers.


Wildflower Morning

Something pretty to look at:WoodSage-Germander
Arkansas Wild Flower – Wood Sage

Tiller Down – Garden Growing

I had to take back my new mini tiller to Sears today; it would not start.  I was tilling the other day and the tines became filled with Bermuda grass; all wrapped around.  The tiller died and I cleaned the tines but it would not start.  Started yesterday for 1 min. and died again; to never start again.
Here’s something I learned about the gas you put in your gas-powered equipment.  The gas today has some Ethanol in it, usually 10%, but if it is over 30 days old in your gas container (can) or container on you equipment  DO NOT USE IT.  The gas becomes like varnish according to the man at Sears I spoke with.  He said, “that is the biggest killer of these small engine machines.”  The instruction book specified to not use gas older than 30 days but never said why. I do hope that is not what is wrong with my tiller.  The gas was about 45 days old.  We shall see. Sears is sending it off to have it looked at and will let me know before the end of the month.  We do still have the big (OLD) tiller I can use if I can get it started.

In the mean time the grass in growing in the garden as are the vegetables.  It is almost time to dig up the onions.  The tops are drying out.  I pulled up two today to have for supper and they were small.  I don’t expect to have much of an onion crop this year since it was so dry. 
My Dad is anxious for me to dig up the potatoes.  I pulled one up on Thursday and the potatoes were small.  I am hoping this rain we’ve been getting will help the along.  The plants are still green, but are starting to sag to the ground since the blooms died.
I went out in the light rain around 7 p.m. yesterday to sprinkle 10-20-10 fertilizer on the ends of the corn and green bean rows.  I don’t know why but the back ends of the rows are not doing as well as the front ends of the rows.  The garden does tilt slightly toward the front, perhaps it is getting more water there.  10-20-10 melts when it gets wet and soaks into the ground.  We got another good rain last night. YEAH!  Today was hot again though.  I love to garden but I love cool/cold winter weather just as much.

I recently posted a picture of last years Queen Annes Lace out by our mail box.  This years is bigger and prettier.  It is rounded instead of flat.  I did some research on the internet and couldn’t find any Queen Annes Lace that looked like this. I thought it might be something else but I ran out of surfing/hunting time this morning.  I am keeping an eye on it to see, as it ages, if it will go flat like the others growing 7 ft. away from it.   Here’s two views:
 Queen Annes Lace

Queen Annes Lace

Garden Update and Tip

  The garden is all planted and we’re in the “waiting while it grows” stage.  The green beans and corn are getting taller. I expect any day now to see blooms on the green beans. (Wishful thinking)
   I am still having problems with potato bugs even after the hand picking and all.  I dusted the plants with Sevin Dust this morning.  I can’t get over how tall the potato plants are this year; over 2 feet!   I noticed that the dirt was cracking around some of the plants so I mounded the dirt up against them this morning.
   I’ve seen a worm on one of the tomato plants; killed him/her and sprinkled a bit of Sevin Dust on all of them.  I will be getting some marigold plants and setting them around the tomatoes; they are great for keeping worms off your tomatoes.
   My orange bell pepper plants are looking really good.  I’ve never had good luck with bell peppers.  I plan on paying close attention to them this year.  Does any one have a tip or two that has worked for them?

     On another note I love to take pictures with my digital camera.  Since I live out in the country, a mile off the county road, I’ve been taking pictures of wild flowers.  I’ve amassed quite a collection of pictures and I am in the planning stage of putting them in a scrapbook.  I have a book titled Wildflowers of Arkansas by Carl G. Hunter that I use for identification.  I highly recommend this book if you’re into wildflowers.
Here is a picture of White-Flowered Milkweed that I took a few days ago.  I saw this plant up on a incline surrounded by poison ivy, but I just had to trudge up there and take a look; I’m glad I did.