Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Manfredas and Moths

As much as I enjoy watching the changes in my garden this time of year, this week brought a couple of real standouts.  The larkspur thicket is hosting a NectarFest for several White-lined Sphinx Moths, also referred to as hummingbird moths, and the Manfreda 'Chocolate Chips' is competing for attention nearby. 

The White-lined Sphinx Moth is one of three "hummingbird moths" species found in the Austin area. The shot above shows the wing colors, although in flight its wings seem to disappear.   These moths zip and hover just like their namesake bird, and in my garden are often spotted just before dusk rather than at night.  Although I'm not much of a photographer, I somehow managed to capture a close-up showing the long proboscis of this interesting creature.  

My other current garden standout is one of the most interesting pass along plants I've ever received.   A couple of years ago it migrated my way from Eleanor, another Austin garden blogger.  It's a Manfreda undulata 'Chocolate Chips' with strappy foliage so striking, it wouldn't matter if it ever bloomed; but bloom it does.  This year it produced four bloom spikes and enough scent to clear a large room.  If you've never had a close encounter with this alien bloom, be warned the scent is similar to burning plastic with just the lightest hint of frightened skunk.  But don't let that scare you off.  Its scent is more than compensated for by its beauty.  Having already established myself as a non-photographer, I refer you to the wonderful post on Pam Penick's blog "Digging" for more polished images of this amazing plant.

Having wasted much of my day (week, really) peeking in on the New York Times hawk cam, just wanted to share a few thoughts before turning in.  Please leave a comment - I'd love to hear about the strange and wonderful things showing up in your garden right now.  


Steph@RamblingWren said...

Great pictures. I just saw one a White-lined Sphinx Moth last night on my Black and Blue Sage. I love the pink and brown color on this hummingbird moth.

Rilly said...

Your Sphinx moth almost looks like a paper cutout, I've never seen or heard of a hummingbird moth, but it's beautiful. The only thing strange and wonderful in my yard at the moment is the sun. It's been a real stranger this winter. What I love most is time of year is the appearance of the Goldfinch, which are also running late. My yard is at the height of dull and boring today. I thrive on blogs like yours, which are enjoying color already.

vbdb said...

Rilly - This year, we're having to learn how to garden all over again in our area. Things that normally freeze to the ground were still blooming and growing over the winter. Thanks for sharing about your garden.

Pam/Digging said...

Thanks for the link, Vicki. I never thought to smell those blossoms -- thanks for the warning!

Carla said...

Great pics!! Love these moths!!

Marie H. said...

Hi, I just happened upon your blog. So glad to see it, as I too captured a photo of the "Hummingbird Moth" at Lost Maples State Park two weeks ago. We could not figure out what it was, but soon discovered it's underside confirming it was a moth. We had no idea they could hoover just like hummingbirds. So pretty.

Thank you for your wonderful blog. I will be checking in.
San Antonio

Rebecca Svendsen said...

I just had one feeding on my blue bells in my garden in Roselle Illinois