Archive for the ‘insects’ Category

the round hill tribe   14 comments

Although the weather of the past few weeks has often been wet and dreary, I’ve tried to make the best of it by working on the yard and gardens. The entire front yard is now fenced – some parts rather wimpily, but plenty strong enough to contain my collies. Fortunately, they are not much for testing boundaries by leaping over, crawling under, or pushing through any kind of barrier. They are quite content to patrol the garden, wagging their tails as they bark at anything that seems out of place, but soon returning to sit or lie next to me while I work. They are such great companions and friends often remark on how the three of us seem like some kind of tribe. Perhaps our nomadic life is responsible for our tribal behaviour, looking out for one another, and never wandering out of sight or earshot. Whatever, it is a comfortable relationship.

As described in my last post, there is now a strawberry bed where once was a heap of rotting planks. Fifty new plants are doing well. Never one to let unoccupied garden space go to waste, I stuck a couple of dozen red onion seedlings in between the plants, reasoning that they can spend the summer growing and provide me with green tops and the odd onion for a salad as needed.

The perennial flower garden has been greatly expanded to accommodate about forty new plants. Half came from a friend’s flower garden at Bear River. A few more came from the plant sale held during the Annapolis Royal Magnolia Festival. The most recent batch came from the Champlain Garden Society sale held at the farmers’ market last weekend. My bill came to an even fifty dollars, and everyone was of the opinion that I was probably their best customer of the day. I returned home with the van jammed full of foxgove, hostas, daylilies, lady’s mantle, and other wonderful plants. All of this goes some way toward lessening the sting of abandoning a good many plants when I sold our farm two years ago. Of course, it’s difficult to replace plants given to you over thirty-plus years by friends and family, but I’m feeling more philosophical about things these days and beginning to regard plants dug from new friends’ gardens as being part of something larger – a great web of old favourites that everyone has been sharing with fellow gardeners. Different faces, but the same roots.

Anyhow, added to all of the above are two new rhododendrons which join the three planted last year – the one in the above photo is Nova Zembla (click on all images for larger views).

To round things out, I purchased quite a few herbs and some tomato plants – medium-sized yellow “Taxi” and “Green Zebra” – as those are low acid varieties. Everything is doing well, thanks to all the rain. The garden actually looks pretty good – as befits a much nicer house. Although it may not look too bad from the outside, it’s still at the “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” stage.

This year, I’ve made it my goal to try to visit the Annapolis Royal Farmers’ Market as often as possible. As most of you know, I am a notorious recluse when not traveling across the continent. It is not unusual for me to avoid going anywhere I can’t walk to on my own two feet, for at least two or three weeks at a time – which is actually not such a bad thing from an environmental standpoint. However, I’ve been thinking that perhaps a little contact with the human race could be beneficial, so I’ll make the weekly effort to drive the five or so kilometers to town on Saturday mornings. I’ve been twice now and have purchased excellent bread from a local bakery, the above-mentioned herb and tomato plants, some handmade soap from one of my Round Hill neighbours who got started into that business last summer, and two gorgeous glass insulators which I shall have to flaunt on m blog once I get round to taking some photos. In any case, I’m doing my best to help support the local economy.

To add to all of this excitement and activity, I’ve begun this season’s effort at photographing nocturnal moths and already turned up a couple of new (for me) species. More about that sometime soon. Also, I decided to sign up with the Maritimes Butterfly Atlas project to do the atlas square in which Round Hill is located. As many may remember, Don and I used to participate in several nature-related citizen science monitoring programs before our lives went to hell in a handbasket in 2007.
Little by little, I’m trying to carry on alone, picking up our lost trail. My hope is that, by getting involved in this and other similar programs, I will gradually feel more a part of this place.

Lastly, over the weekend, I began what will probably be one of those epic projects that takes a whole season of spare hours when a break is needed from working on the house. I plan to build a walking trail from the house down to the river – a steep and slippery slope – and from there, carry on along the shore until looping back through the trees. This would give me better access to this rambling bit of property which, although not all that large, seems bigger than its footprint due to the irregular shoreline and terraced woodland. The photo below is the view looking down the steep hillside from the house. I’ve progressed about a third of the way to the shoreline. It’s a start.

Written by bev wigney on May 30th, 2011

springtime in the desert   12 comments

Pipevine Swallowtail ~ Battus philenor ~ on apricot blossoms ~ 23 March 2011

As mentioned in my last post, I left Bisbee, Arizona, on April 1st and crossed into Canada on April 9th. For now, I’m in Ontario, getting tools and materials together, and fabricating a couple of things to take to the old house in Nova Scotia. Although I’m planning another ambitious summer of work, I’ve also decided to knock back the pace a bit and spend more time going out hiking and maybe even do some paddling on the nearby lakes. I still have a couple of more posts to write about Utah and my visit to Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico. Also, a bit to write about the trip eastward, although I spent most of my time driving and shot comparatively few photos. However, today, I wanted to share a few photos taken shortly before leaving Bisbee.

The top photo (click on all photos to see larger views) is of a Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor). It was taken on March 23rd, when the apricot trees in the garden were in blossom. When at their peak, several butterflies could always be seen nectaring during the day. Around sunset, several dozen White-lined Sphinx Moths (Hyles lineata) moved in to take their place. One evening, I captured one in a plastic bag, put it in the fridge for a minute or two, shot some photos (see below), and then let it go on its way. The concentration of moths on the blossoms was really quite a sight.

White-lined Sphinx Moth ~ Hyles lineata ~ on 22 March 2011

The final week of my stay was hectic. I had volunteered to work on the welcome desk at the MAKE children’s art festival at the Central School (community arts center) in Bisbee. The event was very successful, featuring a lot of talented artists, musicians and other performers, and attracted a huge number of children from the town and neighboring communities.

In addition to getting the van packed and the house cleaned up, I decided to create an art chair to leave with friends in town. They will take it to the annual art chair auction this autumn. I had wanted to donate a chair last year, but the timing of my arrival is too close to the date of the auction. Creating a chair ahead of time seemed like a great solution. However, I’d underestimated how much time and energy I would have during my final days in Bisbee. As it turned out, I spent most of my final 24 hours in town, working on the chair. Of course, nothing ever goes quite according to plan. The day before leaving, with the chair only about 1/3 finished, I was stung on my right forearm, by an Arizona Bark Scorpion like the one that stung me back in December 2009. Fortunately, the sting didn’t hurt quite as much this time, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have had time to finish the chair. I did manage to get it done, and to pack the van and be on the road by around noon the next day. The art chair was painted indoors the evening before leaving. When mixing the blue for the chair back, I hoped to capture the incredible blue of a springtime Arizona sky. I was thinking that I had made it a little too bright and blue, but when I photographed the chair out in the garden the next morning — well, it was actually pretty close!

Written by bev wigney on April 26th, 2011