Discover the Fun of Gardening
July 26, 2018   
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Summer Butterfly Gardening   |   Featured Plants

Hunting for the wild ponies of Chincoteague.

'We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We're not scared.' Has anyone else read the kid's book We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen? That line is the way each new part of the story starts. Abby and Maddy love it. It's filled with adventures through the woods, across meadows and over rivers and ends with the family deciding that maybe a bear hunt wasn't such a good idea. In writing this newsletter, I'm reminded of this book, because, while we didn't go on a bear hunt, our recent travels took us on a hunt for wild ponies.

Years ago, my sister-in-law gave the girls the book Misty of Chincoteague and it came with the horse figurines for Misty and Phantom. The girls enjoyed the book and playing with the ponies, but we didn't have any idea that the book was written about events that happen each year. Then, when we were trying to figure out kid-friendly places to visit on our recent trip, we realized that we would be driving not too far from Chincoteague Island - the setting for the book and home to the wild ponies.

We weren't supposed to have to go on a hunt, we had actually planned on taking a boat tour of the islands, but we brought some tropical weather with us in the form of Hurricane Chris. The day of the boat tour it was windy and on the cool side. We were hesitant about going with the girls on a boat in that kind of weather and the boat captain agreed - so no boat tour. Since that had been our plan for seeing the wild ponies, we weren't sure what to do. And then we realized that we could drive into the park and hike around. So we decided 'We're going on a pony hunt!' As it turns out, we were in the area a few weeks before the 93rd Annual Chincoteague Island Pony Swim (which means the population of ponies was at its highest). So
A wild pony sighting!
pretty soon after entering the park, we found a whole group of ponies grazing and lying around. We were relieved that we actually found them. And no need to cross rivers or trek through forests!

So even though our plans had to change, we still got to see the wild ponies and then we enjoyed a hike around the park and found some fiddler crabs, horseshoe crabs and Abby attempted to wade through some saltwater marsh areas. It was a beautiful day, and after the heat of Washington D.C., it was actually really comfortable with highs in the 70s. Kinda wish we had that weather here in the summer!

We may not be in the 70s, but our summers are still pretty nice. With all the recent rain, the temperatures haven't been too high, and every plant in our garden seems to be smiling as it drinks in Mother Nature's water. The other great thing about summer: it's peak butterfly season. So if you want to maximize your butterfly sightings, check out some tips below. Nature is so amazing. Whether it's wild ponies that survived a shipwreck hundreds of years ago, or fluttering little butterflies, it is easy to be filled with wonder each day. You don't even have to hunt for it.

Happy Gardening,
The Kerby's Nursery Family

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Garden Tip
Summer Butterfly Gardening

It's summer and that means that it is peak butterfly season in our area. Maximize your butterfly sightings by following some of the tips below:

1) Prune lightly - In the heat of summer, you don't want to do a lot of pruning. However, if your butterfly plants are getting out
of hand, a little light pruning is fine. And if caterpillars have decimated your host plants (milkweed especially) it is fine to prune them about halfway back to encourage branching out which eventually will give you more food for caterpillars.
2) Enjoy the Rains - There is nothing like the water from mother nature to help all of your plants. Thorough soakings of nutrient-filled water go a long way towards establishing strong plants. But remember - don't check out when the rains check in. A heavy rain today won't necessarily help new plants tomorrow. Skip a day when it rains more than an inch, but be sure to check on new plants the next day. 
3) Watch what you spray - We always worry about insecticides, but fungicides, weed-killer and even high doses of liquid fertilizers can have a negative impact on caterpillars trying to feed. I usually try to make the butterfly garden a no-spray zone.
4) Feed your Plants - To recover well and produce food for butterflies and caterpillars you want to make sure plants have everything they need. Feed plants with an organic fertilizer such as Garden-Tone to safely give them the nutrients to grow and flower well.
5) Don't be Squeamish - At some point in the summer you'll find yellow aphids and milkweed bugs on your milkweed. Don't be afraid to blast them off with a stream of water and squish as needed. That will help preserve your milkweed to feed your hungry caterpillars.
5) Add Flowers - The best way to get different butterflies is to have lots of different flowers: different sizes, different colors and different shapes will provide food for all shapes and sizes of butterflies. Take advantage of all this rain and add some colorful pentas or hardy lantana to your butterfly garden today. The butterflies will thank you!

Summer Fun in the Garden
Gorgeous Pots

All Outdoor Glazed Pots
Buy 1 Get 1 50% Off
Purple Pillar Rose of Sharon

Beautiful flowers on an upright plant.
10" Pot - $29.99
Jazz Hands Loropetalum

Jazz up your garden with this hardy shrub.
10" Pot - $29.99



Kerby's Nursery

2311 S. Parsons Ave.

Seffner, FL 33584
(813) 685-3265
www.kerbysnursery.com


Store Hours
Open Seven Days a Week
Monday - Saturday,  9am - 5:30pm
Sunday,  11am - 4pm