April 17- late bloomers and butterflies

Didn’t get far past my backyard today, which is alright as there’s plenty going on close to home.  To start with, the gooseberry bushes, which are covered in small yellow flowers these days, are also host to an amazing quantity and variety of insect life.  By far, the charismatic megafauna of the backyard today was the swallowtail butterfly (which I just learned is the state insect of Virginia), which I’m seeing all over the place, often two or three or more at a time.Image

Along with the numerous bees, wasps, and other insects, this swallowtail butterfly was enjoying a little nectar-y treat.Image

Butterfly drama, as a yellow swallowtail butterfly and a similarly sized black one flew aggressively around and around one another, careening across the yard and back.  Are they different species?  Different colors of the same species?  Were they fighting?  Courting?  It was a pretty cool (and extremely difficult to photograph) spectacle.Image

This little purple groundcover flower was blooming abundantly, and was a buzzing mass of insect pollinators.Image

The fig trees in the back yard are often some of the last trees to start leafing out.  I noticed that the younger, smaller trees just started opening their leaves in the past 48 hours or so, while the older larger ones still have their buds wrapped up tight.  Although it seems unlikely that we’ll have another freeze soon, it is statistically likely that we’ll have at least one more frost this spring.Image

pretty little newborn fig leafImage

The kiwi vine in the back yard is getting into the act as well, with more freshly-opened leaves.Image

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We’ve got two small sweet cherry trees in the back yard that typically don’t give more than a couple dozen fruits each year.  Their flowers are past their prime, but still quite pretty.Image

About three years ago, relocated this flowering shrub to the back of the yard at the edge of the woods, so that I could use the spot closer to the house to grow popcorn (which I plan on doing again this year).  Judging from the way it’s flowering this year, it doesn’t seem to be doing too poorly…Image

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