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26 August 2011 @ 07:44 am
Notes from the garden  
Summer is winding down, and there isn't as much diversity in my garden, either in flora or fauna. I've seen at least two chipmunks in my yard, squabbling over the food I set out for them. The squirrels have taken over my birdfeeder, so if any birds are using it, they are doing so when neither I nor the squirrels are around. Chipping Sparrows are still around but are being seen less frequently, Cedar Waxwings are still in the neighbourhood, and every now and then a pair of cardinals shows up in the tree outside my computer room window. Best of all, half a dozen Blue Jays have started visiting in the morning looking for peanuts, and I saw my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird in my yard this year on Tuesday. I first noticed her sipping nectar from the meager Bee Balm flowers still in bloom before coming up to my back deck and feeding on the Scarlet Sage growing in the planter attached to my deck railing. She didn't stay long, but it was a delight to see her.

I found this moth on my front step one morning. It fluttered off into my garden when I tried to take a closer look, but what struck me at the time was how orange it seemed. The shape and pattern is reminiscent of a White-Banded toothed Carpet Moth, a common species I've seen in my yard before, which gave me an easy starting point in identifying it. I usually use the Moth Photographers Group website for identification help, and was able to ID this as either the Labrador Carpet Moth or Xanthorhoe packardata.

Xanthorhoe sp.

In the backyard, my vines and Four O'Clocks are doing especially well. I planted two Four O'Clock plants in one container; the flowers are red and white.

Four O'Clocks

Although my Scarlet Runner Beans aren't doing very well (I think only one plant survived, and its flowers are sparse), my Morning Glories have been blooming profusely. They have been blooming continuously for the past month, with lots of violet and pink flowers opening every morning.

A few orbweaver spiders have taken up residence in my yard. Last year I had a Banded Argiope living among the asters in my back garden; this year I have at least three Cross Orbweavers in various places. Spiders are a gardener's friend, and eat lots of pests that might otherwise devour our plants!

Cross Orbweaver

I'm not sure if this is the same Goldenrod Crab Spider which was in my yard in July; I found her sitting on one of the neighbour's flowers which has poked through the fence onto our property.

Goldenrod Crab Spider

After the rain stopped one evening, I looked out my computer room window to see this rainbow. I went outside to take a few photos, but it was fading quickly.


I always find the end of summer a sad time in the garden. Although a few flowers are still in bloom, others are dying, and there are less insects around. Still, it gives me a chance to reflect on what worked this summer and what didn't, and to start planning for next year.