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A Very Special Garden Tour Visitor ...

Bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum'), a tall stately herb with feathery leaves and yellow umbrella-like flowers, is the host plant for the Eastern black swallowtail butterfly.

I live in the charming hamlet of East Quogue in a fairly new community that was once a part of our magnificent Pine Barrens. Natural conservation buffers, filled with tall pines and oaks, as well as bayberries and low-growing blueberry bushes, surround my property. Native plants and wildlife abound. I treasure my land and my joy is in keeping it pristine ... no chemicals ... for this land is my personal version of heaven!

I love sharing my garden with anyone who wants to visit and my wildlife stories with anyone who wants to listen!

With that in mind, I’m certain that you can understand how much I love being in the East Quogue Garden Tour. This is the third time that my garden has been on display and it is always thrilling to welcome new friends, as well as to welcome back a few “old” ones who like to “see how my garden grows!”

Surprisingly, this year’s most asked about plant was my bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum'), a tall stately herb with feathery leaves and yellow umbrella-like flowers that adds a nice shade of bronze to an almost-all-green summer garden. It is not the prettiest of my flowers but it certainly is the most prolific.

I grow it for only one reason though ... it is the host plant for the Eastern black swallowtail butterfly and from time-to-time, if you look close enough, you can see beautiful green, yellow and black caterpillars leisurely dining on the feathery leaves.

Bronze fennel also attracts other varieties of butterflies and, sometimes even hummingbirds.

As I, with a sense of sadness, explained to one and all that, so far, this year I had not seen one caterpillar on the plants and that I was truly concerned that I would not have any black swallowtails in my garden this summer, I heard an excited voice call out “here’s one!”

Lo and behold, they were all over the fennel … and scattered all over the garden, hungrily nibbling on all the fennel plants!

I like to think that the garden fairies helped them appear on the day of my garden tour so that finding them would be extra special and a wonderful memory of what a wildlife garden is all about!

So, if anyone wants some of my very prolific bonze fennel … just let me know … I have plenty!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Hamptons4Health July 25, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Thanks for sharing your garden, the tour was lovely and you have a magical space!
Maria Daddino July 25, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Thank you so very much! You just made my day!
ElliotU July 29, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Are there other garden tours yet to come?
Maria Daddino July 31, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Stay tuned ... I may do another benefit tour or I may host a private one. Either way, I'll post it on my blog. And, by the way, thanks for reading my first blog on patch.com!
Maria Daddino August 21, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Hi Elliot! See my latest post and visit the Quogue Wildlife Refuge's website for all the information.
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