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!