Glamorosi's Garden - June 2011: Swallowtail Caterpillars, Mystery Lilies and Missing Maples


Last year I decided to attract more pollinators to our vegetable and herb garden by adding flowering perennials including roses, which I have a passion for, as well as milkweed aka butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). I immediately saw an increase in winged creatures buzzing and flitting around the blooms. The new additions made it through the winter and they are thriving.

Then last week I got a nice surprise; my butterfly weed, dill and parsley plants were loaded with Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars (at first I thought they were Monarchs). A few days later, I saw one going into the chrysalis stage. I was lucky to catch him in the act or I might not have recognized it – it looks just like an unfurled leaf. I know some people create butterfly environments and bring the chrysalis indoors so they can monitor the process, but I'm leaning toward leaving it alone and letting Mother Nature do her thing. I'm open to advice if any of you have experienced this.

UPDATE: A butterfly emerged from the chrysalis 19 days later on July 8, 2011; you can view the photos here.

Meanwhile, my Mother has a friend whose flower beds are overrun with lilies. He dug up some bulbs and sent them to me, but he didn't remember what type or color they were. I planted them immediately and they grew tall and leafy, then finally flower buds formed. They are going to open any day now, and I cannot wait to see what they look like.

And then there is the sad tale of the maple tree. We’ve lived in this house for eleven years, and over time we've watched as our neighbor’s tree grew up and over our three-story house, ripping out our electrical wires and smashing against our house during storms, its leaves clogging everyone’s drains, its roots tearing up the sidewalk… Despite it all, we loved that tree. It was old and beautiful and shielded our brick house from extreme heat and cold.

Years ago we asked the city to *prune* the tree, but nothing happened. Then, two days ago, while sleeping au natural with the windows open (the tree completely blocked the view in and out), we were awakened by the sound of buzz saws. I opened my eyes to see sunlight streaming into the room and a man on a cherry picker about ten feet away from me.

Apparently the city determined it was a dangerous tree and sent contractors cut it down. Without notice or warning, fifty years of growth was felled in less than hour. A second truck with a giant claw came by and took the trunk away, and it was like the tree never existed. I cried buckets.

One of the contractors told me the city will be replacing the sidewalk, and then they’ll plant a sapling. For this I am thankful – the pavement is a mess – and I am extremely happy a new tree will be planted. I'm crossing my fingers for a Hawthorne or a cherry tree; they are abundant in this area and they are lovely. I just really wish something could have been done to save the maple. We miss her.

Photos by Glamorosi except tree removal truck by A.D. Amorosi

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