TDIF…our favorite day of the week where we join those adorable Pacific Northwest ‘fur-pals,’ Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Be sure to check out what other bloggers have shared by clicking on the highlighted link.
Welcome to the month of July where summer ramps up with gorgeous flowers and hot temps. While the Mile High is not suffering like our friends in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, we have been keeping an eye on news reports and shaking our heads at all those staggering temperatures. Please keep all those suffering with high temps in your thoughts and pray that Nature takes a deep breath and calms down by returning to a kinder, gentler version of its bad self.
So let’s take a look at what’s happening around the 303. This is the time of year where our garden blooms are for the most part fairly spent. While the yarrow has started blooming and Red Hot Pokers are beginning to send their orange spikes upward, the garden is in a bit of a transition right now as it’s more late spring blooming. This week’s highlighted superstars from our neighborhood are a gorgeous butterfly and a blooming food source for it and other flying insects.
Milkweed (Asclepias) is actually a kind of wildflower named for their milky substance, which provides a nice nosh for butterflies and other pollinators. Four species of native milkweed are found in most states in the U.S. and southern Canada (Common Milkweed, Whorled Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, and Butterfly Weed) and thrive in a wide range of garden/meadow habitats from the U.S. eastern seaboard to the Rocky Mountains. Milkweed has had a long history of medicinal, every day, and military use in the U.S. (milkweed contains about 2% latex and attempts were made to use it as a natural substitute for rubber during WWII, though no large-scale success was documented).
Milkweed flowers are some of the most complex plants in the plant kingdom rivaling orchids with their complexity. Notice the five petals above as they reflex backwards exposing the staminal crown which is surrounded by a five-membrane corona in the center. That corona acts as a sheath for the inner horn with glands holding pollen sacs are located between the hoods. Milkweed provides an important source of food for Monarch butterflies which sadly aren’t seen often in my urban neighborhood with sightings of this week’s ‘critter,’ the Swallowtail flitting around it far more common.
Swallowtails are large, colorful butterflies who throw down the winged-gauntlet for Norman and Elsa to try to follow their flight patterns (unsuccessfully I might add). These “birdwing butterflies,” so named due to their exceptional size, angular wings, and birdlike flight, include over 550 species. Although the majority are tropical, members of the family inhabit every continent except Antarctica.
Did you know many states honor Swallowtails by naming them as their state insect? Oregon, Virginia, Georgia, Delaware, and South Carolina are among them and the Black Swallowtail is listed as Oklahoma’s state butterfly.
It’s a long holiday weekend in the Northern Hemisphere with the U.S. celebrating Independence Day on Monday and Canada Day on July 1. This year, Canada Day has been marred with the recent finding of hundreds of children’s remains at residential schools in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Celebrations have been muted as the country reckons with its treatment of indigenous peoples. We bow our heads to the memory of those victims and hope investigations will reveal how this ever happened.
Do you have big plans for the long weekend? Whatever you do, stay safe, hydrated and wear sunscreen but take time to admire the simple sights Nature provides us. As an outspoken critic of fireworks, we hope you’ll be considerate of our furry friends and those who suffer from PTSD who frequent struggle during this noisy time of year.
Live, love, bark! 🐾