Weeded and mowed. And first monarch caterpillar!

I cut back the bee balm this week. It’s stems sprawled, leafless and leggy, and a mildew rusted the few withered leaves that were left. A fresh crop greens the ground where the desiccated bee balm swayed before, and fresh stems leaf towards the sky. 

Cutting that back inspired me to demolish the catnip as well. It had bushed into a chest high tangle of brown stems and withered leaves at its base and almost to its tips, leggy and past its prime. Birds and bees still loved it for its flowers and seed heads, which caused significant internal conflict about cutting it back. We’ve got a ton of other flowers and seeds and branches for perching, so I whacked it.

 After two weeks out of the garden, and after a drenching rain, I needed to trim and neaten. Weeds trashed the garden. It looked like an abandoned parking lot. The grass was shin high and gone to seed as well. The yard was not tidy like I like it.

All week I watched the forecast, hoping for a pleasant Saturday to garden. All week, the forecast called for rain. I slept in, and when I awoke, the sun shone on sparkling wet grass. 

I spent the morning tearing out weeds, snipping dead flower stems, chopping aphid-infested seed pods off of milkweed. And in doing so, found our first monarch caterpillar of the season:

Everything is blooming, and the hummingbirds don’t mind that I cut back the bee balm. One just thrummed in front of me, zipping over to the firecracker plant. It’s drinking there now. I’ll finish up the mowing and go sit in my chair to enjoy the flowers without the distraction of weeds and tall grass.

First monarch, July 13

I was sitting by the window yesterday, drinking my afternoon coffee and working, when I saw a non-yellow, non-white flutter of wings down by the milkweed in the garden. We’ve had scores of white and pale yellow butterflies so far this year, but any others have been rare.

I kept watching until I saw it again, then there it was: the first monarch of the seasons. I’m in the garden now, drinking my morning smoothie, and then I’m going to inspect the undersides of milkweed leaves for monarch eggs. Maybe we’ll have caterpillars soon. 🐛