An occasional report on what’s growing at Maypop Hill Nursery
and the Miley homestead in Norwood, Louisiana;
to subscribe to the free newsletter, contact us by
email: email@example.com web: maypophill.com
There’s always someplace to sit
outdoors on Maypop Hill.
Our favorite sitting area is a covered
swing next to Holly Gully.
On the right side of the picture
is a Red Mulberry tree (Morus rubra),
which volunteered a few years ago
and which drops lots of tasty dark
fruit all over the bricks.
Small deciduous trees
behind the swing provide
safe shade in summer and
warm winter light:
Hop-tree (Ptelea trifoliata),
Silver-bell (Halesia diptera),
Fringetree (Chioanthus virginicus,
Behind the swing and on the back side
is a trellised vine with large leaves.
Can you guess why we planted that vine?
While the leaves do screen hot sunlight which filters
through the tree leaves, they actually serve a different
purpose. What purpose? hint hint →
If you guessed the vine on page 1 is a Woolly Dutchman's Pipe,
then you are probably a botanist. Or a lepidopterist.
Or an ecogardener, who grows plants that
benefit the environment.
In this case, the vine, whose botanical name is
Aristolochia tomentosa, is a host for the blue
and black Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor).
The lovely lady butterfly in the picture on page one kept flitting
around us on a pleasant day in late May.
She skipped from leaf to stem, looking for best places to lay
her tiny clutches of orange eggs.
In a few days, the three or four
separate egg clusters hatched
into a dozen or more caterpillars.
As they grew, the little “cats” transformed
pipevine leaves into caterpillar bellies and
feet and feelers.
In no time at all, the pipevine cats had
stripped all leaves from the vine.
We hurriedly cut leaves from other plants
and wove them into the remaining stems
to feed the tiny eating machines.
And then . . . they were gone.
No pipevine leaves. No instar stages of the boisterous baby butterfly brood.
They crawled off and up and away to metamorphose into cocoons and adults.
Will the Dutchman’s Pipe vine make its odd pipe-shaped flowers this year? Hardly.
Will it survive at all? Probably, maybe. If not, we’ll plant another one.
The caterpillars are gone, hopefully to multiply --
and not to feed the green lizards (anoles) which are
able to stomach the toxins produced to deter
predation by birds. But we must also recognize that
Nature has her own idea about biological life cycles.
The pipevine cats also left behind signs of their
presence. Do you see the little black dots in the small
birdbath under the vine? They’re all that remains of
the pipevine leaves after the caterpillars digested
them, a process, by the way, that was noisy enough
for us to hear their chomping.
Well, as they say in butterfly circles, frass happens.
Hummingbords favor Coral Honeysuckle, above.
Bees and butterflies relish the large landing pads of Purple Coneflower, top right. These plants
came from seeds from west Louisiana, courtesy of Almost Eden Nursery, which sells rare-ish plants
at the Louisiana Native Plant Society meetings in February.
This “straight species” coneflower is taller, blooms for a long, long time,
and is much hardier than the cultivars we have planted over the years.
Middle right, a giant coneflower, Rudbeckia maxima. Besides bees and
butterflies, this black-eyed Susan also feeds small birds with its seeds.
Below is a Scrub Titi, where Lucy the Tiny Terror sits and waits for a koi
to jump out of the pond and into her always hungry little jaws.
Scrub Titi (Cyrilla arida) is almost evergreen and does not send out
root suckers like other Cyrilla species do. Its striking white racemes
make boocoodles of nectar and pollen for many bees, butterflies, and
countless other insects which fly too fast for us to get a picture.
grows like a “weed” --
making flowers and
maypop fruit even
of Gulf Fritillary
butterflies eat up
their host plant,
Maypop Hill Nursery & Publications
Betty and LJ Miley / native plants & sustainable land use
web: maypophill.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our hugelkultur pot garden
is still less than half finished.
Wood chunks and branches fill
the bottoms, with natural soil and
finished compost on top of that.
We try to keep other big pots full of
(kitchen scraps, leaves, other
organic matter) and of course
well-rotted compost to keep
containers topped off. A large
comfrey plant on the far left is
planted in the ground, where it
accumulates nutrients deep in the
soil. It’s a permaculture thing!
Tomatoes and potatoes have volunteered in several pots and are doing great. Strawberries,
walking onions, and an unhappy rhubarb (a Yankee plant) fill three other pots.
A Prime-Ark Freedom blackberry is growing in a pot on the back side. The tall pots and fence
keep out rabbits and deer and the wire fence supports blackberry and tomato vines.
Speaking of Compost
A few years ago we were inspired to try making
compost tea. We filled buckets with horse manure and
aged it and steeped the stuff in water.
The tea supposedly increases beneficial microorganism
populations in the soil.
It was a lot of work. And, as you have probably
concluded by now, we Maypop Hill dwellers always look
for easier (easiest) ways to get projects done.
Our compost policy now is to take organic material, then
put it in a pot and let it rot.
You can even buy composed manure
in bags or by the truckload from a farmer.
But should you?????
You may want to read these articles about people who
bought and applied good old livestock manure on their
property. They were not aware, until it was too late,
that the manure came from cows and horses that had
eaten grass or hay from a pasture sprayed with
aminopyralids and/or clopyralid herbicides