Archive | July, 2014

Two New Plantings: Coreopsis + Mountain Mint

28 Jul

I stopped by Gowanus Nursery on Saturday and picked up two new plants: Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) a pretty flowering plant known as tickseed, and mountain mint (Pycanthemum).  I need to confirm the specifics on each, but generally, they are pollinator-friendly and should make nice additions to our butterfly garden. I’ve been meaning to get mountain mint since Benji’s school was given some by the ButterflyProjectNYC; the coreopsis was purely an impulse buy–love those cheerful little yellow buds!  Hope you do too, and that they do well here.  -Denise



Solved! Mystery of the Yellow “Eggs”

27 Jul


It’s a good news/bad news type explanation.  I’ll start with the good:  The plant I marked as Joe-Pye weed is actually milkweed. (Swamp milkweed or Asclepias incarnata) Ansley had insinuated as much, but two years ago when I bought plant starts for milkweed and butterfly weed, one of them didn’t make it.  I assumed it was the milkweed but in retrospect it must have been the butterfly weed that failed to thrive.

Bad news: these are not ladybug eggs but aphids, common milkweed pests. Shari: The lady bug we spotted near the “eggs” must have been eating the aphids! I will treat the plant with soap today so we can get the plant healthy now that the Monarchs are here.  I saw one in the garden yesterday, along with a bunch of red admirals and a couple white cabbage.  -Denise

Update 7.29.14: After two days of soapy water spraying, the aphids appear to have perished. I’ll keep checking up, but I think treatment worked.

The Garden in July

25 Jul

Just a snapshot (or several) of what’s growing now in the garden. The snap pea vines finally went down — it’s amazing that they were still producing even some flowers/peas this late in what is usually hot July. Soon the cucumbers we planted back at the very beginning of this month should take over the trellises. Fingers crossed for cucumbers in late August and September!

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Breaking: Monarch Sighted in Brooklyn

23 Jul

The Monarchs are here…

Backyard and Beyond

Danaus plexippusI saw my second Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) of the year today. This was my first in Brooklyn; in Brooklyn Bridge Park, feeding on Joe-Pye Weed (Spotted JPW, I believe, Eupatorium maculatum).

As you probably know, we have done quite a number on this spectacular species, through deforestation in Mexico, reducing its food crops further north in the U.S., and poisoning its habitat everywhere; such blows make them even more susceptible to external pressures, like severe weather, in particular the drought in Texas (“external” if you don’t count our carbon-dirty hands in disrupting traditional weather patterns through global warming).

Here are some graphs of the shocking declines and here’s an interview with a biologist whose entire professional career has been about them disappearing. There’s nothing personal, of course, in this drive to extinguish one more species; we’ve done it to the whole planet, and even ourselves.

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Hollow Joe-Pye Weed or Trumpetweed (Eutrochium fistulosum)

23 Jul

Hollow Joe-Pye Weed Image: Wasowski, Sally and Andy, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


Flowering in late summer to early fall, Joe-pye weed (Eutrochium fistulosum) shows pale purple or pinkish florets. The stems are purple or greenish, and the plant can grow 5 to 12 feet high. This member of the Aster family is known to attract “scores of butterflies,” according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center‘s database, as well as honey bees and swamp sparrow birds, which eat the seeds.

Related: What’s In Our Butterfly Garden 




An Important Message For CV Community Garden Supporters

22 Jul


The garden would not be possible without your generosity.

With much gratitude,


Ansley, Deb, Denise, Donna & Shari


CVEarthlab Core Members


Highlights from the Potluck Party + Spring Fundraiser

22 Jul


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Many thanks to all the residents who contributed to, attended, or otherwise supported this year’s Garden Potluck Party + Spring Fundraiser! Culinary highlights included caprese salad, spring rolls, pasta + veggie dishes, strawberry summer cake, strawberry ice cream and sangria. The raffle prizes, childrens’ gardening aprons and plush animal finger puppets, were a big hit! We appreciate all of the work, as well as the financial donations and community support for this special green space. The next potluck party is scheduled for Saturday September 20th. Save the date!


Green Monster! Orange Eggs!

19 Jul

Ken Haim and Ella rescued this big boy from Borough Hall.  It wasn’t on a plant, but on the concrete, so we don’t have too many clues…. Eastern Tiger swallowtail?   Zebra swallowtail?  He was last seen heading from the caterpillar dill/parsley (near the persimmon tree, where we placed him) toward the felt orange bed that previously held garlic..




Next question: Are these ladybug eggs?  They’re on the dittany or stone mint plant, which is just starting to bloom.

Special thanks to Mike, who took these photographs with his new camera!  –Denise




Skipper? Buckeye?

19 Jul

mothORbutterflyRegina spotted this specimen on the tomato plants today. Thoughts?

Update: Its a Red Admiral! Thanks to Sarah for the assist!

Monarda fistulosa L. (Wild Bergamot, Bee Balm)

3 Jul


Monarda fistulas. This is a plate from The Botanical Magazine, Volume 5. 1792 Author: William Curtis

Monarda fistulosa L. This is a plate from The Botanical Magazine, Volume 5. 1792 Author: William Curtis


Known as wild bergamot or bee balm (Monarda fistulosa L.), this perennial is a member of the mint family. Its nectar attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. According to Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, wild bergamot is very easy to start from seed. Maybe we should try to collect and dry the seeds for next year?  Its beautiful — and considered especially beneficial to bees and butterflies! –Denise     




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