Search This Blog

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Green Squiggle meets Purple Undulations

Last summer I adopted a pineapple lily of uncertain species or variety; it was from that booth at the county fair that sells fragipani and all things exotic, avoiding latin names like the plague. It was put into an orange ceramic pot, grew a sumptuous bunch of leaves, then died back for a winter's sleep without producing a flower spike. As of late-March the eucomis had awakened and is now growing strong. On a recent semi-magical morning I noticed this glowing green caterpillar squiggle on the undulating purple leaves of the young plant. This is a cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni, a plant-damaging pest with a broad range of favored plant foods. The adult is a ubiquitous moth you've probably seen but not really noticed. It also has one of the cooler specific names in the taxonomic world.

When faced with the destruction of one of my plants by insects, my first priority is to snap some photos. The caterpillar crawled around striking interesting poses until I felt I had enough. I went inside to put away the camera, meaning to go back and pick the leaf-destroyer off my plant. Distraction ensued and it wasn't until the next day I found the caterpillar was gone. It had left no trace of itself, not a chewed leaf nor a poop.

Designers study plant varieties, make plans, acquire materials to make their envisioned color schemes come to life in the garden. Sometimes a fortuitous combination just happens and you're lucky enough to be able to see it before the caterpillar disappears and the eucomis matures into olive greenness.

No comments: