Flowers that fly

A tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) visits wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). It’s too early for mantises, so I suspect a bird or lizard took the chunk out of its wing.

It has been chilly for the last couple of nights, but I think we have dodged the possibility of a late frost.  There should be lots of flowers for the nectar sippers this year.  The first ruby throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) have arrived in the garden, just in time for the peak of wild columbine blooming, and tiger swallowtail butterflies are chasing each other through the trees.  Pipevine swallowtails (Battus philenor) have been checking out the newly emerging leaves of the white-veined pipevines (Aristolochia fimbriata), but if they are wise they’ll wait a few weeks before laying eggs.  Being patient will guarantee that there’s plenty of delicious, poisonous foliage for their caterpillars.

It feels as though we have passed a dividing line in the last few days, transitioning from tentative early spring to SPRING!  In the woods and along the roads, the native dogwoods are wrapping up their annual show.

A dogwood tree (Cornus florida) in our woods earlier this week. Trees that grow naturally in the forest have a much more open appearance than those cultivated in full sun.

The predominant colors of spring are becoming much more saturated and vibrant as the azaleas take over.  For a couple of weeks, piedmont gardens will be almost garish, and then we’ll have a green interlude until the summer perennials begin their show.

Florida flame azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) is native to the Florida panhandle and southern Alabama and Georgia, but it is perfectly hardy in the North Carolina piedmont.


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