Alive! But wilted!

By June 28, 2011 Animals, My Garden No Comments

Five days away from home with weather skirting the hundreds, and I wasn’t surprised to return and find a great deal of wilting going on in the garden. The big established beds are completely fine, and would likely keep on keepin’ on for a couple more weeks without any supplemental watering, but the plants from this spring, which haven’t established yet, are suffering badly. Most of my natives will generally take a heckuva lot of abuse on the drought front, but they do need to get their roots well into the ground, so as soon as we pulled into the driveway and counted the animals, I was in the backyard trying to save the abused elderberry and plumleaf azalea.

Clearly the answer is more mulch. More mulch!

Other than the crisis with some of the more tender shrubs, things are going well. Bees and bee flies, hummingbirds and hummingbird hawkmoths, hordes of flower beetles—they’re all swirling over the bee balm and the wild quinine, which are surprisingly long lasting, and the narrow-leaf mountain mint finally bloomed, which is one of the best nectar plants, hands down, and is covered in a swarm of delighted pollinators.

The spicebush swallowtail eggs have hatched into a number of tiny “instar larvae” (the stage before they become actual caterpillars) and now I’m fretting that I won’t have enough spicebush for them. It’s one potted plant on the deck! It’s an okay size, but how many caterpillars can it support? Will I be frantically transporting swallowtail caterpillars to the stand of sassafras behind the general store? (It could happen. You know it could happen.)

I am also happy to report that my garden is apparently now under the ownership of a very grumpy little box turtle, who has commandeered my wheelbarrow as a sun-shade. Given the decline in box turtle populations, I am very glad to have him—apparently they have very small territories, so my garden ought to be hosting a half dozen turtles, in a perfect world, to provide sufficient population density for them to find each other and make more box turtles. But you have to start somewhere, and one grumpy turtle under the wheelbarrow is as good a place as any.

After five days on the road, and three days the weekend before that, “alive but wilted” applies to me as well. I am very tired. I was going to knuckle down and get to work today, but I’m so beat that I may just go to the coffee shop with a book for awhile and vegetate in a sandwich.