What’s your butterfly count?

Yes, I really want to know how many butterflies you’ve seen this summer.

My count so far:

13 Monarchs

5 Yellow Swallowtails

3 Black Swallowtails

4 Viceroys

Uncountable number of teeny tiny white butterflies swarming lavender flowers.

This count is not impressive. When I was a kid I saw so many Monarch butterflies that I took them for granted. Even on the South Side of Chicago they frequented gardens, vacant lots filled with wild Queen’s Anne Lace, Milkweed, and Black-eyed Susans. Where I live now sighting a Monarch, a Swallowtail or any other is a day maker for me.

What’s flying, or not, in your outside spaces? Are you seeing bees, butterflies and hummingbirds?

The ‘rain-drop’ effect. Yes, you too can grow Milkweed. And so can your neighbors and friends.

(Click the watch on YouTube option for more information about video providers.)


This afternoon I sighted Yellow Swallowtail number 5 catching a meal on the dwarf orange Zinnas which are still blooming madly in this ‘autumn’ heat. As I watched #5 move from flower to flower I wondered if this summer might be the last summer I see any Swallowtails and Monarchs–or any butterflies for that matter. A friend has only seen three Monarchs in her garden this years.

Calvin takes butterfly plant choices beyond the planting of Milkweed. Depending on the growing conditions where you live, consider your plant choices for gardens. Or if you’ve never planted anything how to start by planning a garden in order to provide what butterflies need to survive.

Take note: I’ve seen NO large bumble-bees like those that visited my  flowers last summer. Nope, not a single one. Have you seen them?

A glimpse of the bigger picture involving butterflies, bees and homo sapiens.



Learning Opportunity: Nature’s “What Plants Talk About”

Okay, I’m not the most sociable human at the present time so I’ve not been playing much in blogland.  While I’m not about to commence running rampant from blogcasa to blogcasa, I really want to share this recent Nature program with anyone interested in the interconnectedness of all things.  What Plants Talk About offers some incredible insights into the living Earth we call home. I think it also serves as a huge positive statement regarding why we MUST preserve the ‘natural’ environment widely and learn to re-integrate our human species with our plant and animal relations quickly in order to ensure our own survival. If we don’t, I suspect we may find Earth less than welcoming of our continued presence.  Mother Nature will find a way to deal with us as hostile creatures and create a new healthy balance.  No, I’m not kidding.

The full episode of What Plants Talk About is currently available for viewing http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/what-plants-talk-about/video-full-episode/8243/

It is very well worth an hour of your time to watch and learn what’s going on with all the leafy green things above and below ground. This is a very accessible program about some serious science. It’s also features beautiful photographic film work.


Who Wants Clean “Urban Air”? US! All of US! Glassman’s bamboo billboard can pave the high ways.

Imagine it, an artist leading the way to a sustainable, healthy habitat for urban dwellers everywhere. Where are all the yappers about “change we can breathe in”? Hmm? Where? Never mind them.  This sort of creating is not part of the political playbook for gaining and keeping power.  Gee, what if it was? What if we all demanded clean air around the globe? No exceptions–everywhere. And what if we refused to let politicians play their games as usual? Imagine a better world for ALL living things–not just us humans.  Now. Today. It’s possible.  Just ask Stephen Glassman and his team. Clearly they think it’s possible and doable. If we really want it.

This is not a joke, folks. Stephen Glassman really has the plans for cleaning the air of Los Angeles using BAMBOO! Living, breathing bamboo plant billboards.  Ah the interconnectedness of all things–houseplants for cleaning indoor air and dealing with sick building syndrome, the urban farming revolution gaining ground, greening of urban rooftops and balconies–and now I find that an artist, sculptor Stephen Glassman, wants to  build bamboo air cleaners along LA highways. There’s something in the air. I’m telling you, folks. If Glassman had just a tiny portion of the money spent on the latest round of political bs poured into the last election everyone’s urban air would be CLEAN. Or at least on its way to being much safer for all living things.

Learn more at Urban Air  http://www.urbanair.is/

We can all do our part to share this dream–because we all have the tools right at our fingertips. Yes, I’m talking about that keyboard under your fingertips.  If nothing else please “share” globally. Our future depends on us. Let’s give the artist a shot at improving our reality. Hmm. Why not?

Find Urban Air – Los Angeles on Kickstarter  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1045021696/urban-air-los-angeles

Whose got bamboo plants already?



Want Cleaner Air Now?

Click cover for more Wolverton

Okay this may be a too quickly pressed blog post but it might be of use to those of you dreading being stuck indoors with your windows shut tight to conserve that very expensive heat keeping your fingers and toes from experiencing some form of frostbite (or not if climate change is being ‘kinder’ to you with the onset of a mild winter season).  In my part of the biosphere it’s a roller-coaster ride of high temperatures dropping to the lows and then rising again.  Some plant bulbs are clearly confused as they’ve sent up green shoots again when they ought to be hibernating.  When the heat first turned itself “on” and the doors shut against the cold that trapped with stale air sensation sent me in search of relief.  I figured there had to be a way to get some green nature indoors even in my very shady indoor habitat. One of the most useful resources, so far, has been Dr. B.C. Wolverton’s book How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office (aka Eco Friendly Houseplants).  Part of my delight in this book is its usefulness for those of us who haven’t played much with indoor plants with success.  At this point in time I doubt anyone will dispute the sick building concept that Wolverton relates. Nor is there the much point in arguing about the results of the NASA plant study.  What’s of interest to humans with no plant experience is the book’s presentation of the 50 plants. They’re rated for ability to clean inside air of toxins that have no business in your lungs yet are everywhere indoors.  There are great photographs of each plant.  Common and botanical names are offered. The entries include light, temperature, pest, care and growing media information. Yes, it’s handy to take along when you venture into unfamiliar territory such as a nursery, grocery store, florist, to find what will suit your air cleaning needs–and to show precisely what you want and why to whoever is staffing the unfamiliar grounds.  Also, armed with this textual resource it’s easier to fend off being sold something that will not suit your air cleaning desires. We’re not talking air fresheners that mask odor here. We’re talking real air cleansing via real living plants.  You don’t have to start large either. Little plants that have the potential for growth will grow in the right conditions and with some mindfulness at time of selection. This does not have to be an expensive investment in good healthcare.  Look at your indoor environment, take an inventory of the lighting, do a little online research regarding further information about plants you think will fit your air purification needs according to Wolverton. It’s good to know that some plants are not pet friendly if your felines like to chew things. Unless, of course, you’re looking to send a troublesome pet on its way via natural resources.

There must be other such user-friendly, compact and direct plant information resources. If you know of something really useful–and un-intimidating for beginners– in hard copy, online, or electronically PLEASE share them!!!! Yes, there are many many websites online regarding indoor plants. Some are really useful and others just repeat the same information again and again while pitching expensive items for sale.

FYI–Wolverton also published a book about another vital resource for living well, water:  Growing Clean Water, Nature’s Solution to Water Pollutionhttp://www.wolvertonenvironmental.com/book1.htm

So, if anyone has newer and more useful information resources about using plants to clean our filthy indoor air, please share. This is just what came my way on the fly. I also got lucky with the little florist department at my local grocery as it stocks little four-inch starter plants in addition to larger more mature specimens.  It helps that the staff is very friendly and patient. Good luck to any other indoor plant newbies seeking some air relief.

PS.  As Eco Friendly Houseplants this book is available in German, Spanish, Finnish, Korean and other languages. Surf the link for more international publishing information.


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