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.