The wife and I had talked for years about landscaping the front yard. I was always concerned that our “tastes” in gardening, might not be shared by the general public (see posting Garden Evolution). What we did in our backyard was nobody’s business but ours. What we did in the front however, would be subject to public scrutiny.
I also wanted to see it come to fruition quickly. If I wanna take a month to stack stones in the backyard … so what? But I didn’t want to leave an eyesore for the neighbourhood to endure in the front. All this sounds very noble and civic minded doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. It’s all a matter of pride. The wife and I take great pride in our backyard garden “Sanctuary”, and I feared messing-up the design of the front yard.
Fortunately, the wife got a vision. Oddly, I didn’t share it. Usually, I’m the one who can “see” the finished job before a single trowel of soil is moved. But this time, I was drawing a serious blank. So, I just backed off, got out of her way, and let ‘er fly. She had the vision, and I had nuthin’. The only thing I asked for was to get professionals in, to do it quick. She agreed, and so we decided, if we’re getting professinals in … make it worthwhile. Rocks (big rocks) entered the equation. Oh yeah! Gronk … like … big …. rocks.
Firstly, she chose JM Smith Landscaping to do the job. We met Justin at the Peterborough Garden Show, and were impressed with his enthusiastic drive. He also called back when he said he would, he also showed-up when he said he would, he also … OK, so you getting the picture now? We were also impressed when Justin asked to see Sanctuary so he could get an idea of our taste and style in landscaping. And that’s how a professional does things.
Of course, Justin and crew showed-up on Wednesday (Ranger day), so I was out foraging with Ranger while the wife handled the placing of 12 tons of rock. She worried and confused the boys a bit as they were used to just replacing concrete block retention walls with natural stone. But eventually, they began to see her vision too. JM Smith Landscaping made the entire project a most pleasurable and rewarding experience.
So, once Justin and crew were done, it was time for our next favourite hobby, purchasing flowers. All the years of frustration trying to grow “sun loving” flowers, came to a close as we hit every nursery we’ve ever known and gleefully purchased plants with the decsription “plant in full sun”.
It was while planting those flowers that I noticed a strange phenomenon. Everytime the wife stepped into the front garden, a red admiral butterfly seemed to flutter around her head. Swooping and diving, it launched a brutal attack. Eventually, the wife retreated from the garden and the butterfly settled down. But every morning whilst watering the nubile young plants, “the admiral” launched his assault. It even landed on my shirt one time to glare malevolently at me, as I watered the coneflowers.
I remembered making an observation years ago. There was a painted lady butterfly in our backyard in the Spring. I could hear it make a distinct “click” when it leapt off the bark of our big old maple near the crack that oozed sap, to flutter in my face whenever I passed by. At that time I’d heard they will aggress against even humans to defend their food source.
Recent studies conducted by Iowa State and Indiana Universities have concluded that some butterflies are territorial. Sounds wierd don’t it? Butterfly tough guys. This behaviour has been known and studied since the early 1970s (and was likely known about long before that). This realization has prompted more and more research into the matter, and similar behavior is being observed in more and more species. This is why I love science, there’s always something new and unexpected, just as you start getting bored with it.
There’s even talk of limited migratory behaviour. That’s well known and documented in Monarch butterflies, the stars of the migratory insect world, but they may not be entirely alone.
It’s been a coupla weeks now and “the admiral” has taken to tolerating us in his garden. Perhaps he tried lifting a fully loaded watering can, and decided to grant us conditional passage.