It’s been a while since I did the first Highlight Real and I thought it might be a good time for another. We’re at the cusp of fall and things are changing rapidly. It’s a good time to get outdoors and soak it all in. Nature’s beauty is eternal, but the individual moments are fleeting.
This week on the farm…
The monarchs are migrating! We’ve purposely planted or let grow about 3-4 acres of wildflowers, and in the past few years we’ve been lucky to have become a monarch waystation as they migrate south. We live just south of Lake Erie, which means it’s a great place to rest after a long flight over the lake. We’re never sure when (or if) they’ll arrive or how long they’ll stay (usually only a few days), so we try to take it all in when we can. We take winding walks through the fields, where the asters are up to my shoulder. Yesterday we counted at least 150. They are quite photogenic if you’re quick, which I’m not – so here is a blurry photo of what was a much more magical experience.
If you’re interested in attracting monarchs, all you need is a small patch of space. Plant milkweed, yes, but also Mexican sunflowers (also called Torch), and purple and white asters. Then, give it a little for them to find you. In the meantime, enjoy the flowers and all the other creatures they’ll attract. It’s so worth the effort.
The sunflowers around my studio are fading. I’ll miss them, but even fading sunflowers play an important role. Right now they’re filled with goldfinches plucking the seeds from their middles. I can’t always see them, but I can hear them, chattering away like inquisitive three year olds. In the winter, these will provide food for the cardinals and other winter birds. We’ll snag a few to save for seeds, but don’t deadhead them until the spring so they can feed everything that relies on them.
No pic for this one, but we were going out to dinner last night and a bald eagle flew across the road with a trout in its talons! Okay, maybe it wasn’t a trout, but it was a fish, and it was close enough for a more fish-knowledgable person to have identified it. What I mainly learned was that even bald eagles like take-out once in a while.
Alan grew dahlias for the first time this year, and wow are they stunners. They come in a variety of colors, and this one just may be my favorite. Apparently their tubers are also edible, but I learned long ago that “edible” does not equal “tastes good”, so we’ll stick to feeding our souls.
One holz hausen is complete, and a second is in the works! This is one of many projects around the farm that Alan is working on. We became enamored with these structures after driving past one on a nearby farm. An internet rabbit hole and two evenings of stacking later, and there she is!
These photos were my attempt to be more intentional and notice what’s going on around me, and this post is a gentle reminder for you to do the same. There is always beauty if you’re willing to find it, but it can so quickly get drowned out by loud, squeaky wheels. Take some time to get outside and quietly listen to the world around you. You never know what you might find.
It’s so sweet to read your words and can now picture all of this in my head since seeing it all in real life ♡
Thanks for sharing my little corner of the world!
Is that first photo the Mexican sunflower?? It is exquisite!!! I HAVE to get seeds for that to plant along the back. Your photo is beautiful,!
The bright yellow one that the monarch is on is a Mexican. They are smaller, maybe 3 inches wide, and either bright orange or yellow. The monarchs and hummingbirds LOVE them. They’re easy to grow – one plant will grow into a shrub of maybe 50 flowers, shoulder high.
The one that looks very painterly is some sort of heritage sunflower. Don’t remember the name. You need to get on the seed catalog mailing lists. You’ll find all sorts of pretty things 🙂