Cards Hot Off the Press!

You know that rush of relief when you check things off that have been haunting your to-do list for too long? I am supremely happy that I met one of my biggest goals before the end of 2014. Way back in March I told you that the wonderful sales rep who was selling my greeting cards to stores stopped repping. It took me awhile to scramble back to my feet, to decide to sell my cards on my own, and to master the many moving parts involved in that.

Greeting cards

Designing a brochure was a big part of the project, since I can’t go visit each store to show them my cards. I kept it simple (just the facts, ma’am) – a nice large photo of each card, its number, and basic info.

Greeting cards

My wonderful local printer, Jayne at Cerrito Printing, made the process easy and affordable, and I think the brochure turned out beautifully! Hummingbird cards take up 3 pages, the largest portion of my line.

Greeting cardsButterfly cards are really popular.

Greeting cardsA lot of garden stores order the flower cards, and few can resist the squirrels!

Greeting cardsThe back page has an enlarged image of my favorite card and more order info. But wait, by the time the brochure was printed I had added another large task to my to-do list – I decided to design eight new cards. When those were all printed (thanks, Cerrito Printing!) I designed an insert page to show them off, and even had room for an order form.

Greeting cards

So now I’m well on my way selling my own cards, a lot of work but really fulfilling. If you know of any shops that carry my kinda greeting cards, also garden stores or nurseries, send me an email with the name of the store and I’ll contact them! You can click here to see my entire card line, and here’s a link to the brochure as a pdf

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Butterflies in Your Garden

My butterfly display at the El Cerrito Library  is up! It’s in the glass case at the front of the library.  It will be there from June 5th through mid-July.

One of my aims is to show people how to garden to attract and nurture butterflies in their gardens.  Along with some of my photos of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and of the anise swallowtail butterflyand my artwork and crafts from my butterfly photos, I’ve put together some lists with information about local butterflies, their food sources and helpful plants.  I’m attaching the lists to this post as pdfs for you to read and print out for your own use.  If you want to copy them for any other use, please contact me for permission.

First, a partial list of Bay Area butterflies, with my photographs of a few of the butterflies:

Bay Area Butterflies

Second, a partial list of larval host plants for local butterflies. These are the most critical plants, because the butterflies need them to lay their eggs on. When the eggs hatch, they eat the plant to survive until they change into chrysalises:

Gardening to Attract Butterflies: Larval Hosts

Third, nectar plants for butterflies. This is also a partial list to give you some ideas about what you can plant to provide nectar for Bay Area butterflies. Most adult butterflies feed on flower nectar. Not all flowers provide nectar, so if you really want to help the butterflies, try to include as many nectar-providing plants as possible. The butterflies will waste energy visiting flowers that don’t provide nectar. And of course butterflies are great pollinators, and as they feed on the nectar they carry pollen from previously visited flowers:

Bay Area Butterfly Nectar Plants

Fourth, I compiled a bibliography of books related to butterflies, native plants and gardening that are available in the El Cerrito Library.  This is the link:

Books about Butterflies and Native Plants at the El Cerrito Library

Last, but not least, George wrote a wonderful description of the evolution of our garden and yard into a wildlife habitat:

Killing our lawn, by George McRae

If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments.  Hope you can make it to the display.

Butterflies emerging!

What a celebration we had for the first beautiful warm day after a horrendous stretch of pounding rainstorms, hail and cold — two of our swallowtail butterflies emerged!

Anise swallowtail butterfly

Anise swallowtail butterfly

Number one came out in the morning.  He’s an anise swallowtail butterfly that we raised from an egg we found on fennel in our garden.  We let this guy sit inside for a bit, then after his wings had firmed up, we opened the cage and away he flew.  Anise swallowtails are interesting, because they don’t emerge according to a set timetable (as monarch butterflies do).  The swallowtails stagger their emergence, possibly to insure that some of them at least emerge at a time when there will be plenty of food for them.  We have some swallowtail chrysalises in our butterfly nursery that date back more than 2 years.

Swallowtail chrysalis

Swallowtail chrysalis

You can tell they’re still viable because there’s movement inside if you touch them.  After checking some of them, George noticed that another chrysalis had darkened, which they do when they’re getting ready to emerge.  And shortly after that, number two came out!

I only got a few shots of these guys, but if you want to see my photos of the life cycle of the anise swallowtails, go to this gallery in my smugmug website.  I have closeup shots of the entire process — from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly.  Oh, and we haven’t seen any monarch butterflies in our yard yet, and we don’t have any of them in our butterfly nursery, but you can see my photos of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly at this gallery.  Happy Spring!

Native Orchid Hike – Mount Tam

My husband is an orchid lover, and I get the benefit of his amazing green thumb and extensive knowledge by having so many beautiful and unusual orchids to admire and photograph.  He’s also an expert on native plants. The intersection of these two passions leads us to take a yearly hike around this time to Mount Tam, to find a few of the native orchids that bloom there in the springtime.  The first flower we found on our trek along the Matt Davis Trail was this  iris, though.  We’re not sure whether it’s a Douglas Iris or another species.

Iris

Iris

Our next sightings were almost simultaneous.  George saw a calypso orchid, also called “fairy slipper” not far along the trail.

Calypso orchid

Calypso orchid

I had walked a bit ahead, right by the calypso orchid — I missed it because the flowers are so small, their blooms being only about an inch.  If they weren’t so brightly colored, it would be easy to miss them completely.

Calypso orchid

Calypso orchid

Then I made my own discovery – right before he called out to me to come back to see it, I spotted a gorgeous coralroot orchid (Corallorhiza).

Coralroot orchid

Coralroot orchid

The one on the right is in full bloom, and larger than most of the ones we saw here last year.  The flowering portion was about 3 to 4 inches.  These coralroots don’t produce chlorophyll, and have a symbiotic relationship with fungi to survive.  Here’s a closer look at the bloom, with a little bug resting on it:

Coral root

Coral root

This is a spotted coralroot (Corallorhiza Maculata) – you can see the little spots on the flower.  Most of the coralroots we saw on our hike were like these.  Here’s a stand of them that hadn’t bloomed yet.  They were far off the path and I didn’t want to disturb the hillside, so I couldn’t get too close.

Coral root stand

Coral root stand

We climbed up one side-path and found a wonderful stand of calypso orchids.  We had seen many lone calypsos scattered along on both sides of the trail, but this grouping was unusual.  George said they probably bloomed in this same spot over many years.

Stand of calypso orchids

Stand of calypso orchids

George’s next coup was to find another species of coralroot!  This is a striped coralroot (Corallorhiza striata).  He took this photograph because I didn’t want to climb up the hill to get a close shot.

Striped coral root

Striped coral root

We also saw a wonderful tall stand of fritillaries, but they were on the down-hill side of the path and in a place even George wouldn’t climb to get a photograph.

Fritillary

Fritillary

Okay, I had to include a photograph — I took this one of a fritillary blooming near the same location two years ago.

It was a very successful trek. We laughed about the robust youngsters zooming past us on the trail, missing the amazing native orchids and other treasures just off the path.  We were also happy to meet some wonderful people who were extremely interested in our finds, and who shared with us their knowledge about bird calls and other plants.  We have some of the GPS coordinates for the orchids, email me if you want to know them.