Well, the swamp rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) has opened. I keep this plant as a mark of shame, a little dagger to my ego. The ones in my garden bloom pink. A bright Barbie doll shade of pink. I hate pink.
I got the plants (two of them) from a native plant sale without enquiring about the colour. In the wild, swamp rose mallows usually bloom white with a red centre, or red. The pink form is relatively rare, at least in the wild. So I was fairly confident that I would get either the white or red form, and happy to have either. Imagine my shock and horror when I found that they were both pink. But I left them as a warning to myself not to get too complacent. Or confident.
To be fair, I do have a few other pink-blooming plants, but they all earn their keep and they’re not the same horrible shade as the swamp rose mallow. The swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is a deep, dusty pink; it smells wonderful, like a mixture of vanilla and honey and spice, and draws in pollinators like mad. It’s also the main source of Monarch caterpillar food in my garden. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is useful medicinally and makes excellent compost. To my surprise, the hummingbirds like the flowers, which are a very pale pink, almost white.
Anyway the great blue lobelia (Lobelia syphilitica) has also finally started to open, as well as the crested gentian (Gentiana septemfida). Several other things are about to bloom too, but I’ll not report those until it actually happens.
And here it is today. Stretched out, it would be nearly two inches long. It’s just here resting after gobbling down its latest meal, and I’m pretty sure that pupation is not far off. Fortunately, unlike the Monarch caterpillar, the EBS will give a definite indication of beginning pupation: it will ‘purge’ itself. Unlike the usual discrete pellet of blackish frass, this will appear as a rather nasty-looking wet green splat, somewhat like a miniature green cow pat. It’s been fourteen days since I found and brought this one in, at which point I estimate it had hatched two days earlier.
On the other hand, I might be completely wrong about everything.