On a recent late summer pruning foray into the garden, I was reminded of the importance of looking before cutting. Spring-blooming Gulf Coast Penstemon, Penstemon tenuis, well beyond its flowering and even its seed production time, annoyed me with its messiness. With tidying in mind and Felco pruners in hand, I prepared to snip off the offending bloom stalks, when I saw this stunning creature, a just emerged Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes, drying its wings.
I often–though not always–look before cutting, so that I don’t destroy the home or nursery of some wild thing which has decided to rest or raise a family in the garden. It seems an easy thing to do, this business of wildlife awareness, but pressed for time, or hot and sweaty, the goal of garden clean-up easily becomes an obsessive one. The beauty of the new pollinator,
…transformed from the formerly green, yellow, and black caterpillar which slinks amongst the foliage, to its winged and adult stage ready to take on the flowering world, focused my attention on the why that I garden, not the gardening itself.
A transformational home, newly abandoned,
… and the knowledge that the “messy” plant provided a safe refuge for the morphing, are the only reasons I require to continue gardening for wildlife.