This is now.                                                   That was then.

All that remains  of the tropical milkweed I provided for the Monarch caterpillar to munch on are two leaves. I've read several places that if you water the plant and put it back into the sunlight that it will recover.  We shall see.  The photo on the right shows what the plant looked like before I put it in the mesh laundry basket habitat.



 That was then.                                                 This is now.

 I am a poor record keeper/scientist.  I do know the caterpillar was rescued five days ago .  I do know that it was a caterpillar on Monday, but as to the exact time the caterpillar made his pupa (chrysalis) I am not certain so I'll have to guess at the date this Monarch will eclose as between October 13 and October 15.  The pupa stage of the Monarch's lifecycle last from 9 to 14 days.


Joyful children in the Loofah Tunnel at the Garland Community Garden - Dusk September 29, 2015

There is nothing quite as special as introducing inquisitive young minds to the garden--especially the Garland Community Garden as our garden is not the typical community garden.  To begin with, there is no fence.  It is open to the public from sunrise to sunset 24/7.  

Its design continues to follow the rather serendipitous path of inspiration, experimentation and "making do" with what we have, find and are given.  To say that it is "eclectic" would be an understatement.  We do not have neatly lined up rows raised beds with wooden frames.  In fact, it is fairly safe to say that there are no two beds in this garden that are exactly the same and we like it that way because our garden shows visitors a few of the many possibilities for designing a garden.  There is no one "right" way--just as there is no one right way to paint a picture.

We are fortunate that our Parks and Recreation Department are sharing this space with us. it is a beautiful location with several large old pecan trees.  If you haven't been down there I recommend you visit--even in the heat of the day.  Perhaps its the proximity to the creek, I don't know, but in the shade of a pecan tree there is almost always a cool breeze.  I keep saying I'm bringing a quilt down there and taking a nap one of these days.  It is always so pleasant--even in triple digit temperatures.

But here I've digressed from this evenings story:

A visit from Greg Line and His Children

This afternoon was one of those days when I went down to the garden at 2PM--only to pick up some pine cones for a project (I'll tell you about that another time). Before I knew it, I had picked okra, deadheaded several basil plants, pulled grass out of a bed, taken some cuttings, and it was 6PM.  I began gathering up my garden tools when I spotted a man and three children walking into the garden.  It was Greg Line, his two daughters and son. 

Even though I looked like a dirty old mutt, the children didn't seem to mind at all.  As usual, like all children before them, they were excited about being in the garden and questions poured from them almost faster than I could answer them.  It was not a complete tour, but close to it.  I showed them the hops experiment and each girl got two hops flowers.  They saw the spinach and each took a leaf for tasting.  We walked over to the loofah tunnel and once again I was touched by the extreme sweet politeness of Garland children. They asked if they could walk through the tunnel.  "Why of course you can," was my reply.  That was one of the reasons Charlie Bevilacqua, one of our board members, built the tunnel--so children could have the fun of walking through it.  

As you can see from the photo below, the loofah vines cover one side and the top entirely.  The other side is covered about halfway down as you can see in the photo above with the girls.  From the loofah tunnel, it was on to the children's garden where the girls tasted two kinds of mint--one of which was chocolate mint. Also there was the excitement of a little garden snake that slithered away while they were picking the mint.  Later when we were looking at some Malabar spinach, they spied a tiny little frog.  And of course there were the butterflies.  The visit concluded with a jar of soap bubbles for each of the girls.  [I forgot to show them the magic carpet--the one that, fueled by imagination, will fly to any destination.

There really is quite a lot of entertainment going on at all times in the garden.  

Greg's visit with his children renewed my resolve to work together with other people and groups to begin the establishment of pocket neighborhood gardens.  Greg and I and others who live nearby to the Garland Community Garden are fortunate in that we can walk to a community garden in our neighborhood.  Its proximity makes it easy for us to participate in taking care of it and working together to make it even more special.  I hope to be able to provide many others with this same opportunity in 2016.



Short-Lived Milkweed Bugs in My Yard

The Garden is the Ultimate Backdrop for the Pursuit of Knowledge

The best teachers are those that raise questions that inspire students to scurry off in pursuit of the answer.  In that aspect, the garden is the ultimate professor.  Its backdrop of nature has so many varied activities occurring at once, that is it quite impossible to be aware of them all—much less fully understand.  That is indeed a humbling realization for even the most ardent of scholars to digest.

I once read that a tablespoon of soil contains more organisms than the total population of our planet—7.3 billion.  To attempt to contemplate the size of all the invisible worlds in the garden is an exercise that could take several lifetimes—indeed, if ever it could be accomplished by one human mind.

Just yesterday I found several bugs like the one shown in the photo above on a tropical milkweed in my yard.  My first reaction was to text Jane Stroud, one of the officers of our Loving Garland Green board.  As usual, she didn’t disappoint me.  In a few seconds I got her reply:

“Those are Milkweed Bugs! They suck the sap and sap from the seed pods. I squish.
Here's a link.

The site at the link shown above verified these are Milkweed bugs on my milkweed plants.  They feed exclusively on Milkweed seedpods.  They are nature’s answer to Roundup when it comes to ending the lifecycle of a milkweed plant.  The feeding activity of these bugs ends the life cycle of a milkweed plant. They suck the sap out of a milkweed seedpod.

However, I do not want to use pesticide to get rid of them because the same stuff (organic insecticidal soap or chemical) that kills these bugs will also kill a butterfly.  Going forward, I will do as Jane does and squash them. 


The One Step Further in Analyzing a Garden Problem—or any problem:

For the Lessons-Learned Folder, one should ask:  Why did I have this problem in the first place?  What is the root cause?  Why did these bugs show up on my milkweed plants in the first place?

Everything in nature’s complex but efficient design has a purpose.  So it is with the milkweed bugs.  As I mentioned before, the milkweed bug is nature’s answer for Roundup.  Milkweed can be invasive.  The milkweed bug’s duty is to keep this tendency in balance by destroying the seedpods of this plant so it is not able to reproduce.

My yard has an overabundance of milkweed.  Thus, here come the milkweed bugs to bring the ecosystem of my yard into its proper balance. The milkweed bugs can't help themselves. They are just following the guidance of what is natural. They cannot comprehend the larger world that has thrown nature out of balance with its over-use of herbicides and pesticides.

In the larger scheme of things, Roundup and other herbicides have done jobs far more efficiently than the milkweed bug.  According to many sources, these chemical products have just about decimated the population of naturally occurring milkweed in our country.  Thus milkweed butterflies (of which there are about 300 different species) have their existence threatened.  These species, which include the Monarch, deposit their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants.

As someone who practices the permaculture principles, it is with some reticence that I interrupt a natural process of nature to keep things in balance. Like my friend Jane, I squash the milkweed bugs.  I do this because in the larger scheme of things, there are still not enough milkweeds to provide this valuable habitat for butterflies to complete their life cycles by reproducing. When that day comes, I will stop the murderous rampages in my garden.


Sorry Milkweed Bugs, but in my yard, you lose.  Milkweed Butterfly host plants are too important to the food sources for human beings to not protect.

I am not by nature a bug squasher, but I do make exceptions.  There you have it.  The garden sometimes even poses moral dilemmas for the gardener.

Although some plant species rely on wind or water to transfer pollen from one flower to the next, the vast majority (almost 90%) of all plant species need the help of animals for this task. There are approximately 200,000 different species of animals around the world that act as pollinators. Of these, about 1,000 are vertebrates, such as birds, bats, and small mammals, and  the rest are invertebrates, including flies, beetles, butterflies, moths, and bees. [SOURCE:  Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wildlife Habitat Management Institute – Native Pollinators - - accessed 9/29/2015]


At peace in the garden.  .  .  At the end of the Saturday workday two Loving Garland Green members take time to enjoy the beauty and peace of the Garland Community Garden.

Yesterday was our end-of-the-month Saturday workday down at the Garland Community Garden.  I was a little concerned because our millennial segment with their great youthful energy as represented by the North Garland High School Key Club was not going to be able to attend due to a walk to raise funds for Alzheimer’s combined with Homecoming Saturday evening.  [Loving Garland Green is not the only community nonprofit this active group supports.]

However, as it turned out, those of us from the more mature set did just fine.  We managed to turn seven large piles of compost; clean up our compost area; put in 13 fence posts to support a reed screening around the compost area; replace the bricks that had fallen down around the spiral garden; transplant romaine lettuce, two pepper plants, arugula, and Swiss chard into the children’s garden; sow turnip and cabbage seed in two other beds; and harvest about 30 pounds of sweet potatoes.


This is what Nancy Lovett's sweet potato patch looked like before she and Jane dug out the sweet potatoes.  Now all these green leaves are in the compost.  Nothing is wasted in the garden.


Nancy Lovett and Jane Stroud demonstrate what 30 pounds of sweet potatoes look like.  After harvesting, sweet potatoes must be placed in a dry dark place to cure for about two weeks.  During this time their skins harden and they develop their flavor.

Workdays at the Garland Community Garden are not all work.

First of all we had homemade blueberry muffins with coffee—of course made by Charlie.  What a great way to begin.

It is so much fun to be working with friends in the garden.  Although we didn’t take time to smell the roses, we did take time to discover the resident pawpaw tree has a companion shrub that is not often seen any more:  an elderberry bush.  The dark purple berries contain vitamins A and B, and more vitamin C than oranges. They are also high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. In fact, elderberry fruits have historically been used to treat many ailments, such as respiratory problems, colds, and flus. Plus, they are tasty when used in juices, jellies, jams, teas, pies, and wine. You can use the umbrella-shaped, elderberry blossoms for making a delicious fritters or even champagne.  These bushes make a great addition to an edible landscape.  I plan to add a couple to my woodland garden this year.


We also took time to appreciate a hornworm we discovered in the soil when harvesting the sweet potatoes.  That’s another great thing about a garden—it often spurs the gardener on to learn more.  As later that evening I learned more about what hookworms eventually turn into: Sphinx moths (Sphingidae) sometimes called “hawk moths”  or “hummingbird moths”. These are the largest moths in the world. These moths have the world’s longest tongues (proboscis) of any moth of butterfly.  Some tongues are up to 14 inches long.  

In most cases the larvae move underground to finish pupation, although some spin very weak silk cocoons while development continues. Depending on the species and conditions, pupation can last for several months. During the pupa stage, the moths are a hard, brown cylindrical shape. During summer, pupation can last only two weeks, although larvae that start the pupa stage in autumn will overwinter and emerge as adults in spring.  [I think the one we found will overwinter and emerge in the spring.  We put it back into the soil.]

The garden is a wonderful schoolyard as well as a place for happy social interaction with friends.  This morning as I reflected on yesterday—all the exercise I got along with the subsequent knowledge I gained, I thought about how this phenomenon of interest in urban farming, nature and living more sustainably is spreading wide and far throughout the DFW area. 


If George spoke English:  "I don't know how those brown deposits got on the poster."

On Friday, Charlie and I stopped in at Gecko Hardware in East Dallas—no doubt our favorite hardware store.  Andrea Ridout, Garland resident, founder and manager of Gecko Hardware, had promised us some free seeds a week prior and we went in to pick them out.  There in the back of the store we saw Andrea busy in conference with another woman—no doubt about some upcoming community course or event on the topic of urban farming.  The wall behind them was plastered with lovely gecko drawings from a recent contest that Gecko hardware sponsored for children.

On a table next to Andrea there were several “living wreaths” in progress.  They were planted with various types of small succulents.  If this had been our first visit, we would have been shocked to see a rooster at the end of the table crowing. However, since this was not our first visit, we knew it was George, the mascot for Gecko Hardware.  He rules the roost there at Gecko—up to a point.  On Friday the point came when George made several deposits on a poster he was standing on.  Then it was back to the cage for George.



We invite you to come to the Garland Community Garden at 4022 Naaman School Road and harvest okra to your heart's content.

Two requests of those who wish to do this:

1.  Only harvest the okra plants which are scattered throughout the garden.  Please to not harvest from other crops.

2.  Be careful when harvesting to not damage the plant.


Monarch caterpillar (or larva as some like to call it) September 25 8:30 AM Garland Texas

I almost titled this post “How to Rescue a Monarch”, but since this is a DIM (do it myself); I decided against that as someone might mistakenly believe I’m trying to pass myself off as a lepidopterist when in fact I only recently learned how to even pronounce the word, much less be one. [I’m serious—you try to say it aloud.]

When watering my front yard woodland garden to be, I spied a monarch caterpillar on one of the many tropical milkweeds in my front yard.  This is a special caterpillar.  It has the potential to be a fourth generation Monarch and thus is closely tied to the survival of this species.  Each year the Monarchs have four generations.  The first three generations only live a month to 8 weeks.  However, the fourth generation live from September/October when they eclose (hatch into butterflies) until March/April of the following spring when they mate and die.  It is this fourth generation that migrate to the highlands of central Mexico and live in the forest there until spring.  Then they begin the journey north, mating along the way.  Most of them only will make it to northern Mexico and southern Texas—but not before the females deposit their eggs on milkweed to begin the first generation of the new year.



It is estimated that less than 5% of the Monarch eggs will ever make it to become a butterfly as they have many natural predators—from ants to lizards.  The good news is that caterpillars and eggs rescued and allowed to mature in a protected environment have a 95% survival rate.  




1.  I grow lots of tropical milkweed in my front yard also with some other flowers too.  You only have to plant a few plants.  Tropical milkweed will reseed itself and you’ll have tropical milkweeds all over your yard.  [I realize there is a big hoopla about not using tropical milkweed.  There is some truth to that--if you live in south Texas and places where it never freezes. If you do have tropical milkweed in those southern zones of 9 and 10  you should cut it back to the ground in November.  However tropical milkweed is like a perennial that freezes out here in North Texas in November.  No Monarch is going to be staying around for that.  In fact, just about all of them are gone from North Texas by the end of October.  When the temperature is at 60 degrees F or below, most of them are not able to fly.  They know when it's time to leave the party in North Texas by the temperature.] 

Monarchs will only lay their eggs on a milkweed plant.  The same is true for 300 other species of butterflies called the Milkweed Butterflies.  That's why it's important for folks to plant a milkweed or two amongst their vegetables or other flowers each year.


2.  I transplant some of the tropical milkweed to pots to make it easy to move the plant into their hatching cages (mesh laundry baskets).  Thus, my yard has milkweed growing in pots and in the ground.

3.  When I spy a caterpillar on a leaf in my garden, I cut the stem about a foot down from the caterpillar, stick it in the soil of a potted milkweed, and put the plant and caterpillar into the laundry basket.



4.  As the last step I cover the opening in the basket with a towel.  This is to prevent the Monarch from flying about my house if it emerges when I’m not home.  Also the caterpillar will often attach its pupa to the underside of the towel. 

The Monarch will take an hour or two after coming out of the pupa (chrysalis) to fully dry its wings.  After that it will be ready for some nectar.  If you plan to be away from home for more than 24 hours and it is close to Butterfly time, be sure to leave a fresh pot of flowers in the laundry basket.



1. egg – 4 days to hatch  2. Larva (caterpillar) 9 to 14 days  3. Pupa 9-14 days (chrysalis) 4. Adult

This happens over 28 to 38 days.

I’ll watch the caterpillar.  This one looks like it’s about ready to pupate.    I ‘m guessing the Monarch will arrive between the 10th and 16th of October—just in time to start the journey south to Mexico.


First of all, we have a lovely new sign.  It was just installed this week by employees from our Garland Parks and Recreation Department.  We are very proud of it. Now we will be easy to locate.  Our address is 4022 Naaman School Road –at the light for access to South Brand.


Hops are here!

Hops at least have a proof of concept regarding the ability to grow them as an urban crop in the DFW area.  In April of this year I talked to several hops growers on the west coast, in Michigan and in Massachusetts.  All the growers told me they thought hops could grow here. They suggested a south/southeast placement in the garden and Cascade as the species of hops.  We planted several Cascade rhizomes in two 55-gallon drums.  One of the two barrels got a few hours less sun each day than the other one and it so far has no flowers. 

The flowers are still very small.  I don’t know if it’s because they are not mature yet, or if this is it.  We’ll see.  Next year we will find a willing member and plant several rhizomes on the south side of their home to further explore the economic viability of hops as an urban crop.



Monarchs mating in the grass at the Garland Community Garden—another reason to not use herbicides on your lawn

Monarchs are here!

The garden is filled with monarchs.  Most of these monarchs are the third generation this year.  They are mating now and females will be laying eggs on milkweed. Those that make it to adulthood (less than 5% in the wild) will be the fourth generation who fly to the highlands of central Mexico for the winter. 




Buffalo Grass is here.

The buffalo grass is a huge success.  Buffalo grass is the only native turf grass in North America.  It is reported to not need mowing and to need less than 1/3 the amount of water required for St. Augustine and Bermuda.  We ordered the seeds and planted this plot back in April.  I had my serious doubts about it towards the end of May as I had to keep beating back the Bermuda grass.  Finally, however, the Buffalo grass took hold.  I really like it, but I realize it’s not for everyone and for all purposes.  For example, I can’t imagine putting on it, but I can imagine sleeping on it.  It is so soft.  If you visit the garden, take off your shoes and walk on it.  You’ll see what I mean.  It feels so good!



The Blackland Prairie Sampler and Hugelkultur are here!

Our Blackland Prairie Sampler is progressing nicely.  We have several native grasses in it along with some prairie flowers.  Most of the smaller plants in this bed we grew from seeds ordered from Native Americans.  The more mature grasses in the plot (Little Bluestem and Maidenhead) we purchased from a local nursery.  In the photo above you can see the Blackland Prairie Sampler in the background.  In the foreground is our first hugelkultur.  The little green plants you see growing on it are peanuts which one of our members, Kevin Keeling, along with members of the North Garland High School Key Club, planted August 29, 2015.  The hugelkultur is yet another of our urban gardening experiments.  According to some, the hugelkultur is supposed to need no water (except in extreme drought) and no amendments to the soil for twenty years.  We’ll see. To create this bed, large rotting logs are placed on top of the soil, smaller twigs next, then followed by various layers of organic matter including manure.  The bed is topped off with a layer of compost or fine mulch.  The best time to build them is in the fall.


And there is so much more to see down at the garden!

Amaranth--an ancient grain you can see in many places down at the Garland Community Garden

  • A pawpaw tree – We recently discovered a pawpaw tree growing near the edge of the riparian area between the garden and the creek.  It’s a rather large tree and it has one pawpaw growing at its tiptop.  Pawpaws are a bit like papayas, but we don’t see them in our grocery stores because they don’t keep well and have difficulty surviving that average 1,500 miles that our food usually travels to make it to the shelves of our grocery stores.  No doubt this pawpaw tree was in the yard of someone’s home that was once located in this area.  We plant to put a sign identifying the tree.
  • Medicine Wheel – Our medicine wheel has been spruced up and enclosed with a brick pathway that was installed last month by members of the North Garland High School Key Club.
  • The Loofah Tunnel—Like the sweet potatoes we have growing all over the garden, the loofah tunnel is in a prolific mode as well.  We have some huge loofahs.  During the October Marketplace we will have a demonstration showing folks how to peel a loofah and save the seeds.  In late October we plan a Saturday Sweet Potato Harvest Fest.
  • Amaranth - an ancient grain, grown by the Aztecs is found throughout the garden.  We will be selling its seeds in October.



This Saturday (September 26, 2015) Loving Garland Green members will be down in the Garden from 7:30 to 9:30 AM.    We invite you to join us.  You can watch us work.


Joel Blakley, teacher representative for the Key Club (back row left) and Charlie Bevilacqua, board member Loving Garland Green (back row second left) pose with some of the members of North Garland High School Key Club in front of a pile the cookie and fudge packages destined for Garland firemen on 9/11.  Other packages were already boxed and on their way to some of the Garland Fire Stations when this photo was taken.



Ten Pounds of Fudge and 350 Cookies went to our to Garland Firemen on 9/11—thanks to Members of the North Garland High School Key Club.

Charlie and I had the honor on behalf of Loving Garland Green to assist members of North Garland High School Key Club in baking 350 cookies after school on 9/11.  Actually, the honor belongs to Charlie who is an excellent dessert chef.  Since Loving Garland Green works together with the North Garland High School Key Club on our various projects, and since many of the Key Club members attend our meetings, they know first-hand how delicious the cookies are that Charlie sometimes makes for a treat at our Loving Garland Green meetings.

Sophia Tran, President of the North Garland Key Club, asked Charlie if he would come and show the students how to make cookies using one of his recipes.

Of course Charlie said yes.  He gave Sophia a list of ingredients for making the cookies.  But Charlie, who always goes the extra mile, made 10 pounds of fudge at his home the night before:  plain chocolate, with pecans, and mint chocolate—all delicious.  He said he enjoyed doing it because it was for a good cause.  We all appreciate our firemen and other first responders.

We met at the school and went to what we called the “Home Economics” room when I went to high school.  With five ovens and many busy members of the Key Club guided by Charlie, cookies were baked and the fudge was cut.  A delivery team with three vehicles made sure the cookies made it to the fire stations.

While some students were baking cookies, others were creating individual cookie/fudge baskets out of paper places.  One Key Club member, with beautiful handwriting, was carefully penning a thank you note to each fire station.

Other members were creating posters expressing their gratitude for all that our firemen do for our community.


These students are great!  They are smart and they care about their community and the people in it.  Loving Garland Green is honored to have the support of these students and in turn to support them in their projects.

The cookie baking event and gifting to our firemen on 9/11 was the students’ project.  They planned the event—from making arrangements for the kitchen, to purchasing the supplies, to managing the delivery logistics.




We scored big time!  Loving Garland Green purchased over $1,500 Worth of Plants (115 large plants) to install in Butterfly Gardens at three of our local Garland Schools and also down at the Garland Community Garden.  AND we only paid $50 for them!


Charles Bevilacqua and Liz Berry, members of the board of Loving Garland Green pose with the Ford truck loaded down.  [We let Charlie have the Palm tree in return for the services of his truck and gas—otherwise we would not have chosen that plant for the community garden as it is not cold hardy.]


There are plant sales and then there are Covington Garden Plant sales!  This morning Nancy Seaberg, a member of Loving Garland Green called me to tell me that Covington Gardens was offering all the plants on their parking lot that you could load into your car or truck for $50.  Naturally we took Charlie’s ¾ ton truck. We purchased 115 plants—most of them in gallon or two-gallon pots.

I’m happy to say that we now have:  22 Salvia greggi in one-gallon pots; 4 Salvia Wendy’s Wish (Salvia hybrida); 4 Bicolor Sage Salvia (Salvia sinaloensis); 20 lantana (various varieties such as lemon, gold, confetti, and Texas Lantana horrida);  3 large blue salvia bushes in 2 gallon pots;  4 two-gallon Black and Bloom Salvia in two-gallon pots (these are normally $20 a pot or $80 just for these four plants); 1 coreopsis auriculata Nana; 3 Butterfly Bushes; 2 copper plants;  nine Pentas;  four Plumbago Escapade; two Beard-Tongues (penstemon digitalis); two golden globe evergreens; and  many other kinds of plants.



Nancy Seaberg, active member Loving Garland Green, poses by “Keep on Trucking” the Blue Ford Truck.  Thank you Nancy for calling us this morning!  We could not have afforded to pay full price for any more than about 5 of these plants—much less 115!  You have helped to make the planting of several butterfly gardens possible this fall!


The majority of the plants we chose this morning were chosen with the needs of butterflies in mind, and the overwhelming majority of these plants are perennials and natives, some of them are small shrubs—thus they will not need to be replanted year after year and most of them are highly drought tolerant.

Combined with the milkweed that many of us have in our yards and down at the Garland Community Garden, we will have enough plants to donate to create at least three butterfly gardens this fall at three of our Garland Schools:  Beaver Technology Center; Watson Technology Center; and North Garland High School.



Other Related Exciting Community Connections this week:  Sustainable Living, Students and Tiny Home Builds

On Thursday when Nancy Seaberg, Kevin Keeling and I were at North Garland High School to meet with members of the North Garland Key Club to assess possible locations for the butterfly garden(s) at their school, we were given contact information for Kurt Oakley, a registered architect and teacher at North Garland High School.  Kurt teaches a class there on sustainable living.  [View his curriculum vitae and you’ll see why Loving Garland Green is thrilled with this connection: ]

Kurt promptly responded to my email inviting him to work with Loving Garland Green and the North Garland High School Key Club on this project writing that he would be thrilled to work with us.

Kurt also wrote: 

In my architecture classes we will be designing a tiny house.  If I can get a 20'-0" trailer we would like to physically build the student design.  We have not yet found a donor for the trailer.

Any donors out there for a trailer to be used to further students knowledge of sustainable living?  I’m sure money would be accepted as well.  If you know of anyone who has money burning a hole in their pocket, please put them in touch with Kurt.

Here is Kurt’s contact information:

Kurt Ortley,

Registered Architect




Here is yet another connection to all this.  Elizabeth Dattomo, assistant to Mayor Athas, wrote to me just yesterday:  "We have a Garland Youth Council to which I am responsible for and if there are any projects we can do out at the garden, we would love to be involved.  This group is a 20-member board comprised of high school aged students appointed to serve the community by our Mayor and Council.  They are a great group of young leaders!”

We will be thinking up projects for this group of young people in our community as well.  Perhaps also they can work on the tiny home build with Kurt and his students.


Even dogs love plants.  Bubbles, the Loving Garland Green mascot, basks in the glory of Lantana.  She better not get too used to it, however, as this lantana is destined for public butterfly garden in our community--our schools and the Garland Community Garden!


Jane Stroud, Loving Garland Green Board Officer, with students from North Garland High School Key Club releasing butterflies - August 31, 2015.  Jane is removing the cloth cover from the mesh laundry basket, habitat for the pupas.  Mesh laundry baskets

Some Gulf Fritillaries are eager to become.  Such was the case for the two that we rescued on August 19 from the backyard passion flower vine of one of our members, Jane Stroud.  The time span from the Gulf Fritillary pupa to the eclose of a mature butterfly varies from 11 to 21 days. I was hoping these two pupas would yield mature butterflies on the 1st or 2nd of September.  In fact, I had already prepared a habitat for the pupas that included a small nectar plant.

Note:  If you are preparing a terrarium as a habitat for a pupa for school children, it's a good idea to include a nectar plant in case the butterfly ecloses over the weekend.  Most butterflies can go 24 hours after emerging but it's best to have a nectar plant handy for their first meal.  I obtain large clear vases from thrift stores, put moistened perlite in bottom and then a little soil from a nectar potted plant (4-inch pot size).  Pentas are good choices for this purpose.  Screen netting is good for the top.  If you like you can attach the pupas using thread to the screen and let them hang down, or you can attach them to a stick and place in the terrarium.

Members of Loving Garland Green had planned to give the pupas in their habitat to members of the North Garland High School Key Club tonight at our meeting as a token of our appreciation for all the work they did in the Garland Community Garden on Saturday and also to encourage them to move forward with their plans to create a butterfly habitat at their school.  However, when I went into the bedroom tonight where I had the pupas stored in a laundry basket, they were pupas no more.  In their place, two lovely Gulf Fritillary butterflies.  We let them dry their wings while we had our meeting.  Then, after the meeting we took them out to my front yard where we released them.  One flew away, possibly to Timbuktu.  However, the smarter of the two hung around for about 15 minutes to take full advantage of the nectar flowers in my yard.  This gave the students the opportunity to see the butterfly use its proboscis to slurp up the nectar.

Providing a protective habitat for butterfly caterpillars and pupas helps to ensure a needed population of pollinators.  It is estimated that less than 5% of caterpillars and pupas in the wild make it to become a mature butterfly.  Ants and wasps are their most avid predators.  Thus capturing eggs, caterpillars and pupas and then releasing them as mature butterflies helps us all.

Members of the North Garland High School Key Club watch as the first butterfly takes off.  Fortunately one of the two butterflies lingered in the garden for about 10 or 15 minutes and we were able to watch it use its proboscis to suck nectar from the nearby flowers.

[The Gulf Fritillary does not overwinter in North Texas.  These butterflies prefer southern Texas and Florida.]


One of two habitats for Gulf Fritillary butterflies--to be delivered tomorrow to Beaver Technology Center and Watson Technology Center (two pupas in each habitat).



This Thursday a Loving Garland Green committee will be meeting with members of the North Garland Key Club and school officials to assess the proposed location for the school's butterfly garden.  Then, next Friday, Charlie Bevilacqua will be teaching students at the North Garland High School how to make some special treats to be given to our community's firemen on 9/11.