Sunday, June 3, 2018

New Faces

Out to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens this weekend. It's a couple of hours south of us and in what will be a very very busy tourist area come high summer. So off we went while the weather is getting warm and sunny without the hordes. We were there for our first time back in April and the snow had only just finally cleared. And there wasn't a whole lot to be seen. But now the gardens were looking wonderful . Particularly nice was the shade and woodland planting. And the ferns especially looked stunning.
Look at that gorgeous contrast.
Also in the woodland were both Lady Slipper orchids


And pink

Also found were two new to me dragonflies around the pond in the children's garden.
Above, with the white face and the dot on the tail is... A Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta)

And here is the Chalk-fronted Corporal (Ladona Julia). Both new to me and both northern species.
Our Botanical Garden visit was Saturday but on Friday it was the Maine State Aquarium. It's a VERY SMALL aquarium for the state with such a major fishery. But there was a small fishing pier that gave great spots for photographing King Eider ducks.

At least before the fog rolled in for an hour or so.

On our return home I finally managed to catch up with one of the many many Tiger Swallowtail butterflies that are flying  everywhere here. The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was the state butterfly back in Virginia but we never had near the numbers we have up here. There are often 4 or 5 in the yard at once.
It turns out that these aren't the Eastern Tiger but the Canadian Tiger (Papilio canadensis). It's a little bit smaller and has a very small pattern difference in hind wing. It also loves Aspens and Birches as a caterpillar food plant which makes it perfect for our woodlands.

Friday, May 25, 2018

(A Different) Kinda Blue

We have planted 3 raised beds in our new yard in Maine. The soil here is free draining and sandy, thanks mostly to Maine's glacial geology. But it's also full of rocks both large and small. This makes the digging of even bulb planting holes a major chore. So raised beds and new soil seemed to be the easiest way to make a quick start. I've beds 7x4, 14x4 and for our latest, the 8x8  butterfly garden. The soil arrived 3 weeks ago and we have been planting madly ever since. We got an initial 6 cubic yards that filled all three of those beds and left a little over for potting and planters. $28 per cubic yard and $40 delivery. I have another 2 cubic yards coming Saturday to fill my veggie bed. 
That'll be it for a while until we do the shade bed at the edge of the woods, but I need to figure how to edge that one as it'll be irregular.
So here are the 3 largely finished beds, planted 90% with perennials. Or hopefully perennials. My UK readers know that buddliea is tough as old boots, pretty much a weed. It's found on every piece of waste ground in Britain even growing out of walls if it can get a foothold. Here in Maine it usually won't survive more than a couple of winters. Still, two are 
 planted now and it was one of these that produced the first butterfly picture from the butterfly garden today. 

And it's a new one to me too.
This is the Silvery Blue. Found right across the northern USA. I didn't see it in Virginia because there is only an isolated Appalachian population there and I wasn't usually in the mountains in spring.

I know it doesn't look very blue here but in flight, when you can see the upper surfaces, it's very striking. Not that the underwings aren't very attractive too. And like all blues it's very small; about the size of my thumb nail.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

An Old Box and It's Contents (and Discontents)

I found this old handmade box today while tidying. The bottom is decorated with hand cut rubber stamps and the lid with a geometric design featuring William S. Burroughs looking uncannily like Edith Sitwell.
Inside were -

A couple of badges that I think likely came through Counter Productions small press distributors.

An enamel pin promoting Los Bros Hernandez Mr.X comic bought at a Comic Con some time in the 1980s.

A very small enamel pin of a classic anarchist bomb from a book shop near Manchester bus station 

And, incongruously, a pair of (Sir) Paul Smith cufflinks .

Saturday, May 19, 2018

“Hairy Iopas, says the citizen”

That strange oath from the Cyclops episode of Ulysses has always puzzled the hell out of me. But it's very striking.
Unconnected by anything but name is Picoides villosus, the Hairy Woodpecker on the suet feeder today

I've been planting sedums in my stumpery this afternoon. The Webbed Hens and Chicks in the big stump hollowed out with a hand axe and the others in beds made using split logs. More planting to come.

Friday, May 18, 2018

More Fluttering

Snapped this yesterday while walking into the village. My first blue in Maine. It looks like a Spring Azure.

Then today , while making the same trip with my camera I saw nothing worth chasing but a sulphur of some sort on the opposite side of a stream. After 2 days without the camera and 2 straight days seeing the big green big green beetle.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


After yesterday's metallic foreigner comes another new one to me. This is the Bumble Flower Beetle (Euphoria inda) one of the flower scarab beetles.
Sitting on a tarp.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Catching Up

Well it started snowing back December 10th 2017. It stopped in March. Well on and off. And by the middle of April it had entirely departed.
And now the spring sun is with us and time is taken up with planting a garden. There is a big yard ( 2 1/2 acres) but there was nothing but some grass and a hell of a lot of trees. A small forest would be a good description. So now there are three raised beds (4x7, 4x14, 8x8 feet) full of nice new loam and well rotted farmyard manure. These are being planted with perrenials and a stumpery constructed. Now it does occur to me that with some acre and a half of woodland we don't have any shortage of stumps but stumperies are very fashionable on Gardeners World these days. Yes we now get Gardener's World on Friday night just like the Brits. I think Mrs. B. may be in love with Monty Don.
Besides gardening there is still wildlife to photograph.
Carabus auratus 
Actually a European import brought here in the 1940s to control Gypsy Moth. Not a success but still resident in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont . Big and green and lightening fast I only managed to capture it on my phone.

We have the regular grey squirrels of course but we also have red squirrels and vast numbers of these , the chipmunk.

We also have a bunch of new birds. A couple of the same woodpeckers as Virginia although with far more Piliated in the yard. Many Black Capped Chickadees, our state bird. And this one the Eastern Phoebe.