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Liatris with bees

Liatris with bees 2018-08-19

Liatris are easy-to-grow nectar-rich pollen-rich perennials that are native to Canada. Adult butterflies feed on nectar and are attracted to areas where there is a wide variety of nectar-rich flowering perennials, particularly native plants, that bloom at different times over the growing season.




Vanessa cardui

Painted Lady

The Vanessa cardui Painted Lady shown here was in our garden on July 18, 2017 in Parkdale, Calgary on the creeping thyme and on the Sedum floriferum ‘Weihenstephaner Gold’ (Russian stonecrop), a hardy and prolific ground cover that attracts pollinators. The migratory Painted Lady spends winters in Mexico and the southern United States and comes to Alberta every 10 to 15 years. In 2018 they arrived in May and began to lay their eggs on thistle plants (including on the invasive thistles), the food preferred by their larvae. In 2018 Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild reported an influx in July of Painted Lady butterflies born in Alberta (Cook 2018). Adults prefer the pollen/nectar of thistles, borage, mallows and pea (Bercha. (2003-)

On April 27, 2018, a large Nymphalis antiopa  Mourning Cloak butterfly danced around me, landing for awhile on the wheelbarrow.  The wingspan of these impressive butterflies can extend as much as 10 cm (4″). Their dark maroon wings are edged with pale yellow and between the two is a line of  “bright, iridescent blue spots”. The butterfly seemed to be writing a long, complicated but quite beautiful calligraphic message to me in the breeze. Apparently they are the first butterfly to emerge in spring because they overwinter. They are among the butterflies that have the longest life span. It’s Latin name Nymphalis means “of or pertaining to a fountain (Latin). In Greek mythology, Antiopa was an Amazon.

Butterflies need ample pollen and nectar and their larvae food plants are often different from the flowering plants adults need. For example, Mourning Cloak  caterpillars like willow (Salix spp.), cottonwood (Populus spp.), and other trees. According to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), the Greater Fritillary caterpillars prefer the leaves of violets. While native violets are preferable they also like the leaves of pansies. Hardy pansies like the Viola tricolor var. hortensis Pansies grow so well in Parkdale that they even flower through the snow. They start early and continue to blossom late in the season. Violas provide a dependable ground cover for caterpillars and are and the only food of the caterpillar stage of butterflies like the Great Spangled Fritillary, Calgary’s largest fritillary butterflies (Bird 1995, Bercha 2003-).

Butterflies cannot hover like bees to feed (this makes bees very efficient at pollinating) so they need a landing platform. 

Some species of butterfly, like the very common Boloria bellona Meadow Fritillary, forage on daisy-like flowers, like the hardy Aster novae-angliae New England aster, the Aster alpinus Alpine aster, Echinacea Coneflower.  and Tanacetum coccineum painted daisies. Annuals include the easy-to-grow Cosmos. Meadow Fritillary, like the Mourning Cloak are double brooded. (Bird 1995, Bercha 2003-)

Butterflies gather on the tall Eupatorium maculatum Joe Pyeweed with its massive clusters of pink blossoms and Monarda fistulosa Bee Balm and on the Achillea millefolium Yarrow. To attract butterflies, the more brightly coloured yarrows such as the yellow or magenta yarrow might be preferable to the plain white yarrow. 

The columbine, with four species that are native to Alberta — Aquilegia brevistyla (Blue Columbine), A. flavescens (Yellow Columbine), A. formosa (Red or Sitka Columbine), and A. jonesii (also called Blue Columbine) and a fifth that that is native to eastern Canada but also grows well here, Aquilegia canadensis (Canadian Columbine) or Eastern Red Columbine, also attract butterflies (Fedkenheuer 2014).

The Anicia Checkerspot forage on Penstemon which is one of the top plants recommended for Calgary for both beginner and expert gardeners by both the Calgary Horticultural Society and the Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs. 

Canadian_Tiger_Swallowtail by dfaulder

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail by dfaulder

Both the larvae and the adult of the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail like lilacs.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

  1. David Misfeldt, who works for the City of Calgary as boulevard maintenance technician, is the originator and lead on the creation of a “pollinator-friendly corridor” that runs along Canyon Meadows Drive from Macleod Trail to Bow Bottom Trail.  Misfeldt has partnered with about 300 student volunteers. In 2017, they began to create the “bee boulevard” with native grasses, shrubs and flowering plants, including the Asclepias spp Tuberosa Butterfly Plant upon which Monarch butterflies depend. Sarah Johnson from Simon Fraser University and Lincoln Best from the University of Calgary conduct field studies in the bee and butterfly-friendly corridor.  See (CBC 2019)⠀Misfeldt also helped design a bee park, near Acadia Drive S.E. and Canyon Meadows Drive S.E.

References

Charles Durham Bird. 1995. Alberta Butterflies. Provincial Museum of Alberta, 1995. 0773216723. 349 pages.

Robert Bercha. (2003-) Insects of Alberta

An excellent and well-used resource on the plants preferred by the various butterfly species in Calgary is the information-rich website documented with photographs of individual butterfly species, Insects of Alberta http://www.Insectsofalberta.com/butterflies first created  in 2003 by  Calgary-based Robert Bercha (rbercha@shaw.ca) Bercha, who is a professional geologist, amateur entomologist and passionate photographer. Robert Bercha was awarded the Frederick S. Carr Award by the Entomological Society of Alberta in 2014 “for his contributions to the furtherance of entomology in Alberta. His research interests include Zygoptera, Bombini and Vespinae in Alberta.”

Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility (CBIF). “Butterflies of Canada”.

This site provides a list of butterfly larval (caterpillar) food plants. This is archived from the original

CBC News. City staff buzzing about endangered bee discovery as boulevard preps for another season.” 

Cook, Dustin. May 4, 2018. “Painted lady butterflies return to Alberta, influx expected in July.Edmonton Journal.

Al and Pat Fedkenheuer. June 19, 2014. “Columbines can add burst of colour — and butterflies — to your garden”. Calgary Herald.

The Fedkenheuers are owners of the Calgary-based ALCLA Native Plant Restoration Inc., and “have been growing and out-planting Alberta native plants for more than 30 years” . The Fedkenheuers list four species of columbine that are native to Alberta — Aquilegia brevistyla (Blue Columbine), A. flavescens (Yellow Columbine), A. formosa (Red or Sitka Columbine), and A. jonesii (also called Blue Columbine) and a fifth that that is native to eastern Canada but also grows well here, Aquilegia canadensis (Canadian Columbine) or Eastern Red Columbine. fedkenhp@telus.net

 North American Butterfly Association (NABA). Caterpillar Food Plant: Violets

More photos:

 

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A partial list of native plants in the Parkdale Community Garden and/or in Another Calgary Garden

under construction 

Butterflies

May 6, 2019

Vanessa cardui

Painted Lady

The Vanessa cardui Painted Lady shown here was in our garden on July 18, 2017 in Parkdale, Calgary on the Sedum floriferum ‘Weihenstephaner Gold’ (Russian stonecrop), a hardy and prolific ground cover that attracts pollinators. 

On April 27, 2018, a large Nymphalis antiopa  Mourning Cloak butterfly danced around me, landing for awhile on the wheelbarrow.  The wingspan of these impressive butterflies can extend as much as 10 cm (4″). Their dark maroon wings are edged with pale yellow and between the two is a line of  “bright, iridescent blue spots”. The butterfly seemed to be writing a long, complicated but quite beautiful calligraphic message to me in the breeze. Apparently they are the first butterfly to emerge in spring because they overwinter. They are among the butterflies that have the longest life span. It’s Latin name Nymphalis means “of or pertaining to a fountain (Latin). In Greek mythology, Antiopa was an Amazon.

Butterflies need ample pollen and nectar and their larvae food plants are often different from the flowering plants adults need. For example, Mourning Cloak  caterpillars like willow (Salix spp.), cottonwood (Populus spp.), and other trees. According to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), the Greater Fritillary caterpillars prefer the leaves of violets. While native violets are preferable they also like the leaves of pansies. Hardy pansies like the Viola tricolor var. hortensis Pansies grow so well in Parkdale that they even flower through the snow. They start early and continue to blossom late in the season. Violas provide a dependable ground cover for caterpillars and are and the only food of the caterpillar stage of butterflies like the Great Spangled Fritillary, Calgary’s largest fritillary butterflies (Bird 1995, Bercha 2003-).

Butterflies cannot hover like bees to feed (this makes bees very efficient at pollinating) so they need a landing platform. 

Some species of butterfly, like the very common Boloria bellona Meadow Fritillary, forage on daisy-like flowers, like the hardy Aster novae-angliae New England aster, the Aster alpinus Alpine aster, Echinacea Coneflower.  and Tanacetum coccineum painted daisies. Annuals include the easy-to-grow Cosmos. Meadow Fritillary, like the Mourning Cloak are double brooded. (Bird 1995, Bercha 2003-)

Butterflies gather on the tall Eupatorium maculatum Joe Pyeweed with its massive clusters of pink blossoms and Monarda fistulosa Bee Balm and on the Achillea millefolium Yarrow. To attract butterflies, the more brightly coloured yarrows such as the yellow or magenta yarrow might be preferable to the plain white yarrow. 

The columbine, with four species that are native to Alberta — Aquilegia brevistyla (Blue Columbine), A. flavescens (Yellow Columbine), A. formosa (Red or Sitka Columbine), and A. jonesii (also called Blue Columbine) and a fifth that that is native to eastern Canada but also grows well here, Aquilegia canadensis (Canadian Columbine) or Eastern Red Columbine, also attract butterflies (Fedkenheuer 2014).

Notes

  1. David Misfeldt, who works for the City of Calgary as boulevard maintenance technician, is the originator and lead on the creation of a “pollinator-friendly corridor” that runs along Canyon Meadows Drive from Macleod Trail to Bow Bottom Trail.  Misfeldt has partnered with about 300 student volunteers. In 2017, they began to create the “bee boulevard” with native grasses, shrubs and flowering plants, including the Asclepias spp Tuberosa Butterfly Plant upon which Monarch butterflies depend. Sarah Johnson from Simon Fraser University and Lincoln Best from the University of Calgary conduct field studies in the bee and butterfly-friendly corridor.  See (CBC 2019)⠀Misfeldt also helped design a bee park, near Acadia Drive S.E. and Canyon Meadows Drive S.E.

References

Charles Durham Bird. 1995. Alberta Butterflies. Provincial Museum of Alberta, 1995. 0773216723. 349 pages.

Robert Bercha. (2003-) Insects of Alberta

An excellent and well-used resource on the plants preferred by the various butterfly species in Calgary is the information-rich website documented with photographs of individual butterfly species, Insects of Alberta http://www.Insectsofalberta.com/butterflies first created  in 2003 by  Calgary-based Robert Bercha (rbercha@shaw.ca) Bercha, who is a professional geologist, amateur entomologist and passionate photographer. Robert Bercha was awarded the Frederick S. Carr Award by the Entomological Society of Alberta in 2014 “for his contributions to the furtherance of entomology in Alberta. His research interests include Zygoptera, Bombini and Vespinae in Alberta.”

Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility (CBIF). “Butterflies of Canada”.

This site provides a list of butterfly larval (caterpillar) food plants. This is archived from the original

CBC News. City staff buzzing about endangered bee discovery as boulevard preps for another season.” 

Al and Pat Fedkenheuer. June 19, 2014. “Columbines can add burst of colour — and butterflies — to your garden”. Calgary Herald.

The Fedkenheuers are owners of the Calgary-based ALCLA Native Plant Restoration Inc., and “have been growing and out-planting Alberta native plants for more than 30 years” . The Fedkenheuers list four species of columbine that are native to Alberta — Aquilegia brevistyla (Blue Columbine), A. flavescens (Yellow Columbine), A. formosa (Red or Sitka Columbine), and A. jonesii (also called Blue Columbine) and a fifth that that is native to eastern Canada but also grows well here, Aquilegia canadensis (Canadian Columbine) or Eastern Red Columbine. fedkenhp@telus.net

 North American Butterfly Association (NABA). Caterpillar Food Plant: Violets

More photos:

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By early June, the perennial herbs, such as tarragon, chives, mugwort (prairie sage) are ready to be harvested in Parkdale.

French_Tarragon

French Tarragon

Tarragon is “one of the four fines herbes of French cooking, and is particularly suitable for chicken, fish, and egg dishes.” It can be cut up and frozen in small freezer bags filled with water. It still tastes fresh when thawed.

The walking onions are ready to be harvested. They are best in the spring and are like leeks. We want to leave ⅔ of the plants but ⅓ can be harvested. Please send a photo of the dish you made with it and maybe a recipe.

The new bedding plants won’t be ready for harvest for awhile.

Chives can be dried in a food dryer but the easiest way to process them is to cut them up into small pieces, wash them and freeze them in freezer bags. Flatten them. It would be great to have lots of the chives processed for either personal use or as a contribution to the annual Community Garden Harvest potluck.

Lovage (tastes like celery and parsley). We are trying to remove all the enthusiastic lovage from the herb circle. If you uproot a plant you can take it but beware. It is a very vigourous grower with really thick and deep roots and zillions of seeds. If left to seed it will invade all your beds. We are keeping the healthy plant that is in the southeast food forest guild. Please clip generously. Leave ⅔ of the plant.

Sweet marjoram

Mugwort, prairie sage

Rewilding

May 31, 2018


A micro project by a bricoleur: A diverse private sharing garden with many native plants that was subsumed into an emerging Community Garden in my neighbourhood. Native plants, like wild violet, strawberries, goldenrod, bergamot, and native berries like saskatoons, are naturalizers, so the gardens are sharing gardens – never-ending canvases which means lots of volunteer hours, with children and adults learning about native plants.

The public Community Garden had received a large grant to build a food forest in a day thanks to the work of a local visionary and the Community Association. When developers next door to my home, needed the lane way for their condos, their managerial team personally brought their wives and children with shovels, white hard hats and amendments to help move hundreds of plants from one section of my garden, my illegal outside-the-fence-lane-way garden, to the emerging neighbourhood Community Garden.

One catalyst for my interest in native plants was a visit to a permanent exhibition of local native plants, such as sweet grass, wolf willow, mugwort sage, and kinnikinnick/bearberry, and their traditional usage that was curated and displayed by a local museum in consultation with First Nations elders.

Another motivation was Calgary’s erratic weather: flash flooding, very hot summers, the possibility of drought in every season, early deep frosts, and snow in almost every month, including early, heavy snow that harms trees still laden with leaves.

Gardening against the local ecosystem is possible, but costly and frustrating. When I began gardening here, I tried to learn as much as could from the YYC municipality, wild flower suppliers, etc on native plants, soil science, Water Wise, and StreetSmart gardens. I began to use native plants in my home garden in the 2000s. It was a tiny experiment in low-cost sustainable gardening and unlike good garden design with clusters of one species, I wanted maximum diversity and a long season. The initial efforts were miniscule and growth was organic. Through time, I met and learned from the highly-engaged and experienced local urban farmers and growers, who helped bring our local Community Garden to new levels. They work with municipalities to get large grants for food forests, for example. They are the real social change agents.

I work on a very small scale with individual native plants (and hardy perennial-plants-of-the-year), transplanting, sharing, pruning, and maintaining, literally at the roots level. Because this is so work intensive, the Garden gets help from various communities – religious, ethnic, and neighbourhood as well as from casual visitors from the nearby hospital who come for lunch and end up weeding.

I have seen entire chunks of grass replaced with healthy naturalizers that begin blooming in early spring and continue through the late fall. I have seen dozens of bees buzzing around the plants as well as butterflies. But the best is the presence of the children, the garden conversations and the way that the love of plants bring people together.

In the larger picture of things, this is a humble, micro-project, similar to thousands in local communities. My hope for the future is that the families, especially the children, actively engaged in this, will continue to be passionate and curious and will re-imagine our relationship with the environment, including healthy soil and native plants and their crucial role in working with, not against nature.

List of native plants in the Parkdale Community Garden and/or in Another Calgary Garden

 

Some references about native plants in Calgary gardens

May Garden Wake Up

May 11, 2018

Parkdale Community Garden and home garden:

Pruning

Weeding

Gladiolus

Sweet peas

Dividing Iris. Planting iris in north guild. Date?

Plant share May 26

City compost May

Herb circle: preparation for June planting. Remove excess lovage.

 

Best plants for Calgary

April 24, 2018

Avenue Calgary “asked members of the Calgary Horticultural Society and Botanical Gardens of Silver Springs for a list of the best plants to grow in Calgary whether you’re a beginner or gardening expert.” They suggested these perennials.

They included Veronica Whitleyi (Creeping Speedwell)Penstemon digitalis (Beardtongue),