Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chasing Butterflies

My family already had used Echinacea as medicine to treat upper respiratory illnesses for many years when we added the plant – often known as a purple cone flower – to our backyard garden. Although I first thought of planting these flowers so we could make our own medicine, I quickly learned the work involved to convert plants into usable product was not worth the expected yield.

But, by that time, I’d fallen hard for the daisy-like flowers with several twists. Down-turned petals, in a stunning pale purple, surrounded dark brown and slightly prickly-looking centers. During our second summer growing these lovely perennials, they bloomed profusely, filling nearly one third of the garden with riotous color.

Little did I know that purple cone flowers also are one of the top 12 perennials for attracting butterflies. The next summer, they became a Monarch magnet, the striking black and orange wings a perfect visual counterpoint to lovely blossoms. The fragile creatures flitted from one flower to the next and one day to the next, until my camera beckoned me to capture the magical scene, only steps away from my kitchen. I zeroed in on a single butterfly and followed him with my lens for a quarter hour, seeking just the right shots.

Six months later, one of those images graced the Nature Conservancy’s Natural Events Almanac.

1 comment:

Jessa said...

You know this is a particular favorite subject for me. I love reading your interpretations, in relationship with the images you've captured.

On another note, the desert is getting hot already, but yes the cactus are just fine.