Tag Archives: prayers

The caterpillars may starve to death.

When I was planting the new milkweed species that I’d bought, I saw Monarch caterpillars on the established Showy Milkweed plant!

They are still there, three days later. But there is much less of the plant left for them to eat. I notice that this morning two have moved over to the smaller stem. (I wish I could have seen them doing that.) This milkweed is a young start that I moved across the yard from under the fig tree, where the original plant had reproduced dozens more over the years.

I transplanted it last year, close to the Narrow-Leaf Milkweed, out in the open where the Monarchs might find it. The Showy leaves are large and meaty, and they are what I fed my caterpillars four years ago, even though the eggs had been laid on the Narrow-Leaf. Meanwhile, the fig tree has grown so large, in spite of being a dwarf variety, that it is shading the Showy Milkweed out of existence over there.

Monarch among the Narrow-Leaf Milkweed plants, 2018.
Monarch caterpillar on Showy Milkweed leaf, 2018.
2018

The Narrow-Leaf Milkweed is one of the two species native to my region, which is why I planted it originally. It has the most dramatic blooms, like ladies in crowns and pink dresses dancing in formation:

… but as I have said before, there is not enough leaf matter there to make the newborn caterpillars grow big and strong and become butterflies. It was my hope that if I put the Showy type out there, the Mama Monarch would choose it. And she did! But — it is hardly bigger than the new starts I set out. From the bottom of the picture at left:

1- Asclepias physocarpa – Family Jewels.
2- aphid-infested Narrow-Leaf Milkweed
3-  Asclepias linaria – Pineneedle Milkweed
4- Showy Milkweed (top L)
5- Asclepias glaucescens – Nodding Milkweed (top R)

I know from the past, when I raised and released three butterflies, that they eat a lot. Back then I picked numerous large leaves off the Showy plant — which was huge — to feed them.

These three have already eaten half of the plant, and they have a lot more growing to do:

When I return from my trip north, I’m afraid that they will have eaten every last leaf, and then starved to death. Should I take them with me, and feed them? But feed them what? I only have two spindly Showy plants growing under the fig tree currently. What if I were to lay them on the ground under the one being eaten right now, making a path to the new starts? Do I really want them to possibly defoliate those, too, when they have barely begun? After that truly thrilling Monarch Project I undertook I decided once was enough. Bearing responsibility for caterpillars was too much work. And physically exhausting for other reasons! So… I think I will have to let nature take its course.

It might be that the smallish Showy Milkweed just wants a tiny bit more water to help Nature along, and then that course might result in this kind of Show next summer:

2021

If so, there will be plenty of food for all caterpillar comers.

“For seasonable weather and the abundance of the fruits of the earth
and for peaceful times
let us pray to the Lord.”
-Litany of Peace

A gardener’s work and prayer.

I’ve been in the garden every day, at least a little, and often a lot. When I come downstairs in the morning and realize that it’s already warm enough that I can slide the glass door open, without thinking about it I slide open the screen door, too, and go out to have a look.

The bluebird parents can be seen flying back and forth to feed the peeping infants. Finches, sparrows, hummingbirds and even the flirty Bewick’s Wren fill the space with their songs. Oh, and crows. It is a new thing the last few years to have crows in my yard. I prefer the old way, and I politely ask them to leave. They leave but they come back.

Often in the morning I will put water in the fountain, and trim a little here or pull a weed there. Most days I seem to spend quite a while picking sweet peas.

The sweet peas have become very intimate with the perennial runner beans. The sweet peas were up on the trellis months earlier, and were covered with flowers when the bean stems emerged at three corners of the planter boxes and started climbing. They mostly twist their stems around the pea vines as they climb, and quickly they have outclimbed the peas.

The pea vines responded in kind, continuing their reach for the sky by holding on to the beans. This relationship has to end, though, because the peas are expiring while the beans are only now putting out a few flowers. So, the last couple of days when I pick the flowers, I’m also going to a lot of trouble to break up this love affair without breaking the bean stems. Let’s hope I can plan better and not let this situation develop next spring.

When the sun gets too high and I start to droop, I go indoors and do housework. Or read poems. I’ve been bingeing on them in the last week, and hope to share my favorites here eventually. Maybe in the fall when I have finished my Big Sort, the organizing of all my Stuff: rooms, closets, cabinets, drawers and belongings to throw, give or put away. I hope the Big Sort will be done long before that, but there is the garden…

Acanthus
Lemon
Lavender

I mixed up some fish emulsion and fed the lemon tree today. I wanted to give it more iron, too, but I read on the bottle that you should not apply that until late evening. It was time for a break, anyway, so here I am. And here is a poem I read last night, which I hope you like:

GARDENER’S PRAYER

O Lord, grant that in some way
it may rain every day,
Say from about midnight until three o’clock
in the morning,
But, You see, it must be gentle and warm
so that it can soak in;
Grant that at the same time it would not rain on
campion, alyssum, helianthus, lavendar, and others which
You in Your infinite wisdom know
are drought-loving plants-
I will write their names on a bit of paper
if you like-
And grant that the sun may shine
the whole day long,
But not everywhere (not, for instance, on the
gentian, plantain lily, and rhododendron)
and not too much;
That there may be plenty of dew and little wind,
enough worms, no lice and snails, or mildew,
and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano
may fall from heaven.
Amen.

-Karel Matej Capek Chod
(1860 -1927) Czech Republic

How beloved are Thy dwellings.

How beloved are Thy dwellings, O Lord of hosts; my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.

My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God.

For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtledove a nest for herself where she may lay her young.

Even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house; unto ages of ages shall they praise Thee.

-From Psalm 83

His constant star.

The Church of England remembers Lancelot Andrewes today, a good occasion for sharing Malcolm Guite’s love offering of a sonnet: “The Word and the Words.” Father Guite wrote his Doctoral thesis on this man, one of the church’s “greatest preachers and the man whose scholarship and gift for poetic phrasing was so central to the making of the King James Version of the Bible.” On the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, Guite gave a talk on Andrewes, which audio file is on his site.

Father Guite mentions how influential Andrewes was in his own life; I am no expert and could not talk for five minutes on the subject, but in a previous era of my life his book of prayers kept me going.

LANCELOT ANDREWES

Your mind is fixed upon the sacred page,
A candle lights your study through the night,
The choicest wit, the scholar of the age,
Seeking the light in which we see the light.
Grace concentrates in you, your hand is firm,
Tracing the line of truth in all its ways,
Through you the great translation finds its form,
‘And still there are not tongues enough to praise.’
Your day began with uttering his name
And when you close your eyes you rest in him,
His constant star still draws you to your home,
Our chosen stella praedicantium.
You set us with the Magi on the Way
And shine in Christ unto the rising day.