Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Seasonal Notes

Unusual early warmth last year, an unusual cold spell in 2013, has caused us to spend at least a month marveling at Nature’s variability.  Last year everything began to bloom late in March already; this year the same process began late in April. Spring 2013, however, also brings multiple new phenomena to our late-blooming backyard garden. One of them, already touched upon in the last posting, is that two Black Swallowtail butterflies spent a full seven months and two weeks as chrysalides and then, early this month, both emerged. We were, of course, unsure what gender they were, individually or severally. Brigitte had named them Castor and Pollux. When Castor emerged we took her to be a lady, but learning (certainly at our age), is sometimes missy. It turns out that Black Swallowtails with yellow markings are male; those with white markings female. We had to look up this distinction again. Castor and Pollux, it turned out had been rightly named. Both were males; Pollux arrived on May 5. I show him resting on the same forsythia bush as his earlier and much more energetic brother. Pollux spent hours on that bush before himself taking off—and flying in a contrary direction, the first of many ever to do so; he flew South.

Our quince bush produced voluminous red flowers this spring. They appear at the bottom of the bush rather than at the tip of the branches. We are still investigating what manner of adaptation that represents. And our lilac bush, which is now observing its third spring, finally shows very energetic signs of actually producing flowers—and in volume. Those I will show some other time.

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