September 20, 2016 · 6:13 am
A male monarch butterfly sips from a tropical milkweed flower in my neighborhood butterfly garden. Just a few weeks ago, almost two dozen Monarch butterfly caterpillars were feasting on these milkweeds. Is this an adult returning to his nursery before heading off to begin the journey to a winter in Mexico?
As summer draws to a close, our neighborhood butterfly garden is now a flowering paradise finally crowded with bugs and animals. During June, July and August, the garden reminded me of a dinner party where few of the guests showed up, despite the mass of plants that bloomed all summer. We did get a lot of rabbits, who found the young plants very tasty and ate them almost to the dirt. Joan, one of the hardest working neighborhood gardeners, built cages around the tender coneflowers and tropical milkweed plants so that they’d have a chance to provide food for other animals, and of course to be beautiful for our enjoyment.
A Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from a tropical milkweed flower in the neighborhood butterfly garden.
I’ve seen many types of butterflies in the garden this week. The two species I plant specifically for are the Monarch Butterfly and the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. We plant food plants for the caterpillars and lots of flowering plants that butterflies and other pollinating insects prefer for nectar. For Black Swallowtail caterpillars, we plant bronze fennel and parsley. Monarch Butterfly caterpillars will only eat milkweed, and they sometimes are picky about which kind of milkweed. Tropical milkweed is the most popular milkweed in our Kansas City area garden, and it has lovely scarlet and yellow flowers, too. Unfortunately, it’s an annual in our climate so it has to be re-planted every spring. I buy my plants from Monarch Watch on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas, at their plant sale in May. Monarch Watch sells a lot of plants for butterflies and other pollinators. Their butterfly garden is worth visiting. They also have an open house in September every year.
Protecting and fostering pollinators is good for the environment and for our food supply. A large percentage of our food plants must be pollinated to produce a crop. On a recent visit to the garden, a ruby-throated hummingbird whizzed by me. Ruby-throated hummingbirds, which are also pollinators, also visit the feeder at my house.
The Monarch butterfly population is in serious decline, so I would encourage everyone with a yard to plan a butterfly garden. To find out more click on this link: Monarch Watch.
In the upper left is a Red-spotted Purple butterfly. The lower left is a Painted Lady butterfly. Can anyone tell me in the comments what the other two butterflies are? Can you see the insect lurking or resting under the petals of the coneflower?
In the top left photo, a Black Swallowtail caterpillar eating fennel. In the lower left photo, a crowd of Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat parsley. In the upper right photo, two Monarch butterfly caterpillars thrash around as their antennae meet. In the center right photo, a Monarch butterfly caterpillar eats Tropical Milkweed. In the bottom right photo, Black Swallowtail butterfly eggs glisten on the narrow leaves of a bronze fennel.
Here is a collage of photos from the founding days of the neighborhood butterfly garden. The top photo is from 2012, a hot summer in which I had to bring gallons of water from my house to water the new plants, because the sprinkler system didn’t provide enough water. The bottom three photos are from 2013.
An empty Monarch butterfly chrysalis hangs from a butterfly bush.
Filed under Butterflies, Entomology, Environment, Gardening, Kansas City, Life, Natural History, Nature, Photography
Tagged as Butterflies, Butterfly Garden, Caterpillars, Flowers, Garden, Gardening, Kansas, Kansas City, Monarch Butterflies, Monarch Butterfly, Monarch Watch, Neighborhood Garden, Painted Lady Butterfly, Photography, pollination, Pollinators, Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly, Tropical Milkweed
September 4, 2016 · 8:36 am
Visitors to the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park make their way slowly through the Glass Labyrinth. The labyrinth is one of the many sculptures and art pieces on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.
Glass Labyrinth Instructions, History and Details.
It was a beautiful day, the first day of September (humid, but you can’t escape that in Kansas City), perfect to explore the 22-acre Donald Hall J. Sculpture Park at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. One of the art installations on the museum’s vast lawn is the Glass Labyrinth, designed by Kansas City native Robert Morris. Installed in 2013, the labyrinth is a 7-foot-tall triangular sculpture consisting of one-inch thick glass plate walls topped with bronze.
Neither of us had ever explored it before. We watched another person seemingly lost inside trying to make her way out. We stood at the entrance a while, deciding whether we wanted to be trapped inside, too.
Pat enters the Glass Labyrinth.
Pat entered first. I documented her trek with my camera. Would she ever return? Then I followed in her footsteps. She was hurrying ahead to help the trapped woman. I could see them both, but couldn’t reach them.
I love to read everything but instructions, so I entered the glass labyrinth without knowing that you are to make your way to the center of the labyrinth and then retrace your steps to the entrance, which is also the exit. I did read that you need to move slowly, because it’s very easy to bump into a wall when you think it’s an opening. The glass is amazingly clean and clear. It helps to hold out your hand ahead of you. It was very warm inside the labyrinth, and it doesn’t take much to give you a feeling of panic at being trapped. After I reached what seemed to be the middle, I continued on (since I hadn’t fully read the instructions), finding dead ends. I turned around and walked back the way I came, thinking I had cheated by giving up, when I had actually taken the only path to get out. There was the entrance/exit! I was out! Soon afterward, Pat led out the trapped woman. Freedom! I confess I felt a little dizzy.
Kansas City native Robert Morris designed this Glass Labyrinth, which is in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.
I’m in the center of the Glass Labyrinth at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. You can see a bit of my reflection.
Robert Morris Visits His Glass Labyrinth for the First Time: A Slideshow and Article.
Click here to read about the Sculpture Park.