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31 July 2010 @ 07:13 am
The Garden at the End of July  

The end of July has been an interesting time in my garden. More flowers are in bloom, more moths have shown up, and the most interesting bird to stop by is an almost entirely white pigeon which I've seen twice now. It's been a hot, dry summer so far, with enough periods of rain to encourage the grass and the flowers to bloom. Here are a few images from last ten days.

White-spotted Sable


This white pigeon stopped by with the regular crowd to check out the leavings beneath my feeder. Although I've seen him twice, I was only able to get this one photo.



Rock Pigeon


Only two of the Four O'Clocks I started from seed made it to the garden, one from each package that I had purchased in the winter. However, they are such prolific bloomers that two plants are enough! Four O'Clocks get their name from their habit of blooming in the evening. The flowers open as a result of the drop in temperature, and they will open earlier and close later in the morning on on cool, cloudy days. The trumpet-shaped flowers bloom from mid-summer until frost and will attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees (I haven't seen any on these flowers yet). Virtually pest-free, disease-free, and tolerant of sub-standard soil conditions, this small shrub is an excellent choice for any garden!





Four O'Clocks


I started some Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco) from seed as well and finally noticed one of the plants in bloom. These flowers attract moths at night and hummingbirds during the day, which is the main reason I planted them again this year. Tall and leggy, this plant is doing well against the fence.



Nicotiana


For the last couple of years I have seen hover flies around my flowers on an almost daily basis (on the days it wasn't raining, that is). I never bothered to photograph them, though, because I thought they were tiny wasps! Now that I know better, I've been eagerly watching for them, hoping to photograph them in my garden this summer. However, I haven't seen nearly as many around. I am not sure if it's because I'm not growing the flowers that they like this year, or if there is some other reason. This is one of the three hover flies that I've seen, and the only one I have a decent photo of.



Hover Fly on Bee Balm


I've finally witnessed my first bird at the bird bath...a male House Sparrow looking for a drink! He looks as though he's deep in conversation with the ornamental bird on the bath.



House Sparrow


This Mourning Dove spent about half an hour cooing on my fence on July 20th....I found it interesting how his throat puffs up with each call. I am not sure whether this was a territorial display or if he was trying to attract a mate,



Mourning Dove


If the butterflies haven't been abundant in my garden this year, the moths certainly have! The following moths were all seen in the last seven days and are probably only a fraction of the number that are actually around.

This Baltimore Bomolocha moth was sheltering in my back garden until I started watering the plants; then he flew out of the bee balm and landed on the fence. It prefers deciduous forests or edges; adults are nocturnal and come to light. Larvae feed on maples, especially red maple (Acer rubrum).



Baltimore Bomolocha Moth (Hypena baltimoralis)


This moth also flew out of the garden while I was watering it. If you look closely, you'll see that the two diagonal bars are actually a pale pink. This common species can be found in woodland edges, parks, meadows (and backyards!) and flies from May to September. Larvae feed on goldenrod and smartweed; this year I've found smartweed growing in my back garden, which may be why this moth was sheltering in my yard.



Pink-barred Pseudeustrotia (Pseudeustrotia carneola)


I found this little beauty while walking through the long grass of my yard. This species is found in fields and open areas; adults fly from May to July and often visit flowers during the day. After I startled it from the grass it flew to a clover blossom where it began feeding (see above). The larvae feed on goldenrod.



White-spotted Sable


Another moth I was startled to see in the grass was this Virginian Tiger Moth. This is a common moth in our area, and in the caterpillar stage it is known as the Yellow Wooly Bear. Caterpillars feed on low-growing plants, woody shrubs and trees.



Virginian Tiger Moth




Virginian Tiger Moth close-up


The last moth that I was able to photograph was this Spotted Grass Moth. Although considered uncommon, it occurs throughout the eastern states and Canada. It has a flight season from April to September, and the larvae feed on grasses.



Spotted Grass Moth (Rivula propinqualis)