June 3: front bed do-over. Thanks deer. Also, ornamental grasses 😍.

Deer munched all my New England asters and the blue wheat I was growing in the bed in front of our house. It’s the most important bed, being the one that leads up to our front door.

This weekend I bought a bunch of stuff to re-do it. I moved the asters into the middle of the bed, behind a barrier of lavender and nepeta (catmint), which I hear deer don’t like the smell of. I’m sure they’ll just step all over everything and eat the asters anyway, so I took some photos in case this is the one day it looks okay. Although, if it survives our neighborhood herd of deer, it will look much better when everything fills in.

sunflowers and cone flowers_0017
New plants in front, including Switchgrass, sunflower,white coneflower, Russian sage, lavender, catmint

I’ve also gone crazy for ornamental grasses this year. Look how pretty!

mexican grass
Mexican feather grass in late afternoon sun
blue grama grass
Flowers of blue grama grass

On Saturday, while our daughter was at swim practice, I went to Lowe’s to find the Eragrostis elliotti ‘Wind Dancer Lovegrass’ that I had seen last weekend, before my June garden budget was funded. At the time it was still May, and I saw these gorgeous, graceful grasses shoved on the bottom shelf of a rolling rack. They looked like they were waiting to be put out on the ornamental grasses display. I had never seen them or heard of them before, and a quick search told me not only are they not invasive, they’re native. I took pictures of the tags so I could come back for them on June 1.

When I went to Lowe’s on Saturday, the rack was gone, and the grasses were not on display. My heart fell because these grasses were exactly what I wanted. They’d go in a windy spot, and they’d dance in the breeze that is constantly blowing. I walked every aisle three times before I gave up.

Since I had nothing to purchase, I checked the discount rack — all the plants they forgot to water or that look too imperfect to get full price for. And on the $5 rack, there were my grasses! At full price I would have only been able to buy two.

I bought four.

lollipop vervain and grass
Wind Dancer grass behind lollipop vervain

I sit on the back deck now and watch them wave in the wind. Hopefully I can save them from the near death they were experiencing at Lowes in their too-small pots.

I’m really happy with how the back hill is coming along.

August 6: Butterflies in the garden

Before we sailed yesterday, I spent several hours in the garden, sitting under the dogwood tree, reading butterfly books, and photographing all the butterflies that came to visit the zinnia patch six feet from my chair. There were moments when the zinnias hosted monarchs, swallowtails, painted ladies, skippers and a hummingbird all at the same time.

The day was dry, the sky cerulean, a breeze blew the butterflies and flower heads, and the temperature was a comfortable 77° F. The zinnias were most hopping at about 2pm.

I went out at the same time today. The sky is cloudier, it’s warmer, and I mowed the grass. The large butterflies are just not here today. I wonder why.

Catalog of butterflies from August 5 & 6:

  • Monarchs
  • Black swallowtail
  • Palamedes swallowtail
  • Grey hairstreak
  • Silver-spotted skipper
  • Clouded sulphur
  • Cabbage white
  • Painted lady

Hahn Horticulture Garden: a Microadventure

My coworker Jeremey DuVall wrote recently about adventuring. Specifically, he wrote about taking more microadventures: little adventures taken at little cost, that take you out of your normal routine, and can be done in your own back yard or your own small town.

I took his advice today. For my birthday, my son gave me a book on butterfly gardening with native plants, and now I’ve been bitten hard by the gardening bug. With a naked lawn — a blank slate — I decided I wanted to go find some ideas. So in the early morning, before the tailgaters were out for the big game tomorrow, I packed a water bottle, my real camera, and a Luna bar; slathered on sunscreen and donned a baseball cap; strapped on my day-pack; and I walked across town, across the Virginia Tech campus, to the University’s horticulture garden.

And boy did I find ideas. Now I want a butterfly garden, an herb garden, a woodland garden, a meadow garden, a waterfall, a pond with lily pads, and much, much more.

I would also like to identify the plant in the images below. Its fragrance drew me across the entire garden, and I want one. If you know what this is, please let me know!

I think my next microadventure might be a trip to the nursery.

Yellow flowers, foggy morning

Mailbox and yellow flowers in fog by Andrea Badgley on Butterfly Mind
Warm flowers on a cool morning
We spent the past week moving: we are homeowners again. We’ve gotten the unpacking to a point where we can lounge in the living room, find clothes in our closets, cook in the kitchen, and eat at the table.

We’ve also gotten to the point where I feel like I can take a breather from unpacking boxes, washing walls, lining cabinets with shelf paper, and organizing all our stuff: I can stop and enjoy our new home.

I opened the blinds as soon as I woke this morning and saw fog nestled between houses and trees. I am a sucker for fog. And when there are warm yellow flowers popping around our new mailbox against a cool foggy backdrop? It’s time to get the camera out and start shooting again. In our new home.

We moved locally, about five minutes from our previous home. After 12 moves in 20 years, this time we hope to stick around a while.