Friday, June 24, 2011

Designing a Butterfly Garden: Part I

When I began this blog, I promised some articles on gardening. I realize they have been few and far between, so I thought I would share my experience starting a butterfly garden. This is the first installment.

When I began planning my butterfly refuge last winter, Paul and I attended a plant sale and expo at the Edison and Ford Estates in Fort Myers. We found a fascinating selection of plants there, ranging from bromeliads and roses to orchids and herbs. I came close to losing my focus, as I am prone to when I get around plants, but I got back on track and headed for a booth dedicated to butterfly enthusiasts.

When the afternoon ended, we walked away with two very different specimens that we were told were guaranteed to attract butterflies. One bush bears purple, yellow and white flowers that happen to be shaped very much like little butterflies.  The other has delicate sprays of tiny yellow flowerlets on the tips of abundant leafy branches. Unfortunately, I neglected to find out their specific names as I normally would, being satisfied with the seller's label of "butterfly bushes." One of these days, I intend to break off a bit of each to take to a nursery for identification. Although both bushes seemed to stagnate during Florida's winter, since March they have taken off nicely.

Fortunately, some of the plants desirable for butterflies were already growing in our garden, such as Hibiscus, Ixora, Plumbago, and Bougainvillea. These, along with the two "butterfly bushes" we added, provide the nectar on which adult butterflies feed. In fact, we have seen an increase in the number of butterflies visiting our garden. However, in order to encourage the butterflies to propagate there, we need to add the particular types of host plants on which they prefer to lay their eggs. That will be the topic of my next post on designing a butterfly garden.

                                                                                    ~ Laura Allen Nonemaker

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Father's Legacy

It might have seemed more logical to post this a couple of days ago. However, this morning is when this reminiscence materialized and so today is when it posts.

I was musing about my compulsion to organize just about everything. Where does that come from? Is it a good thing or not? My reflection led me to the conclusion that my intense desire for order must originate with my father. Daddy was the rock of my life when I was a young child, almost like “God” to me. Of course, that was before I met my heavenly Father. Daddy was a strong and honorable man in many ways – in his values, his work ethic, his integrity, and his protectiveness. He was also regimented in everything he did. For example, he performed activities at consistent times and kept appointments on the dot. He wanted tools and utensils stored in a particular location, drawers completely closed, and cabinet doors shut tight. He wanted his world in order.

The difficulty was that my father’s expectations of others were just as high as those he placed on himself and he was sometimes controlling. In the vernacular of Queen Victoria, who was still reigning during his early childhood, Daddy was “not amused” when the rest of the family did not comply with his preferences.

As I reflect on his background, it is not hard to understand why my father had this tendency. He grew up on the island of Bermuda, in the military environment of the British Naval Dockyard. His mother died when he was a small boy and his father, who was a military man, raised him, a brother, and a sister, with the help of a much older, extremely bossy sister. When Daddy reached his teens, he joined the merchant marine and went to sea. I can see how the loss of his mother interrupted his young life and subsequent influences taught him strict regulation and compliance with authority.

Since Daddy was a strong influence on my life, I also grew up with a striving for order. It is a blessing sometimes and other times a curse. The blessing is that I am able to organize my thoughts and my written notes well, which is invaluable to me as a writer. Also, my desire for visual order and tranquility helps me design a pleasant environment in our home. However, like my father, by nature I like others to see the world as I do, which can be a recipe for disaster. For instance, sometimes I think activities should be done at a certain time and in a certain order. I struggle to be open to the suggestions of my husband, family, or friends who may have a different view on the situation.

Fortunately, I have learned that God is ever willing to teach me how to let go and let Him deal with those around me. I thank my earthly father for his legacy of order and structure for my life. I  thank him also for giving me a reason to reach out in prayer to my heavenly Father for help.
                                                                       ©2011 Laura Allen Nonemaker

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Summer Walk

I walk and ponder.
Watercolor vistas
Beckon to my senses.

Evening comes
And bathes me
In its fragrance.

Like velvet to my cheek,
His Spirit gently falls.               
I nestle in the wonder of His love.

        ©2011 Laura Allen Nonemaker