Life and Death in a Native Wildlife Garden


After several days of rain, this Helianthus debilis rots and withers as it sits inundated in water. A reminder that Mother Nature is unpredictable. I see this as an opportunity to plant something new and to spend time in my favorite place, my beautiful garden.
Spending a generous amount of time in my wildlife garden forces me to see beyond the flowers, fluttering butterflies and my selfish desire to focus only on what is green. Where there is life, death is certain to follow, allowing me to see the fragile impermanence of Mother Nature.



Orange-barred Sulphu dead
This motionless Orange-barred Sulphur butterfly is a reminder that all life comes to an end. Instead of mourning, I imagine the life it once led on the wing and all the flowers that were pollinated by her unfurled proboscis. Notice the brilliant colors on her wings that are reminiscent of a beautiful sunset sky. 
Think of native annual wildflowers that must decline so that they can reseed and continue their seasonal cycle. What once was a beautiful patch of blossoming Monarda punctata is now a pile of brittle, gangly upright twigs adorned with captivating spider webs that glisten in the morning dew. Imagine a Gulf Frittilary butterfly fluttering around a Passionflora incarnata vine where she alights a tendril to lay an egg. Will she live out another week, or will she succumb to a famished predator that depends on insects such as her for survival?



Beautyberry rotting
This rotting Beautyberry fruit that the Mockingbirds forgot to eat is a reminder that autumn is just around the corner. 
The aged wildflowers and the fateful expiration of the butterfly reveals a silver lining. The beneficial garden spiders now have a place to construct their glorious webs and the hungry toad has found a nourishing meal. The idiom, “live and let live” does not apply here, but nature has a way of ironing things out, enlightening us if we are willing to accept what we might first see as sketchy. The destined passing of plants and critters grants us a new perspective where life becomes more appreciable, more valuable.



These two Monarch butterflies are creating new life. 





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