Ursula’s Garden and Black Butterflies

Written by Jerry Pierre

The following blog post is a story from the mother of a good friend of mine at Merrimack College. I would like to call her by her real name, which is Ursula, for this. Ursula has a backyard with a lot of plants and flowers, which are bound to attract creatures such as Butterflies. Last year she planted an herb garden in pots in the months of May and June of 2020. While planting these herb gardens she included herbs such as dill, parsley, and white sage. Soon July would arrive, and she would see a black butterfly flying around the pots.

Now, the eggs of these butterflies are tiny and light green, and it’s very rare for them to survive and become caterpillars because of predators. Also it was pretty surprising for Ursula to see the eggs grow up in potted plants and not in a bigger garden. So at the end of their growing stage, the Caterpillar based on its colors will become an “Asterius” or a Black Butterfly as it’s called. This wouldn’t be the only time an Asterius would make an appearance in Ursula’s garden though.

In August of 2020 Ursula would find a green and black caterpillar on her white sage plant on her deck outside. She would name her new Caterpillar friend “Guilbert.” Her kids would ostracize her for having Guilbert as a pet and for having them greet the animal. The Caterpillar would start changing, and would eat for about a week, and would thread a chrysalis as well as Cocoon for 2.5 weeks. Finally, the chrysalis would turn black on the morning of August 21, 2020, and the process of Eclosion would occur. This is a long process in the development of a Butterfly, as it can take up to an hour for their wings to strengthen. Fortunately, the butterfly would finally sprout its wings and make its place in Ursula’s garden. Based on the wing colors, the butterfly was a female.

In conclusion, I think Ursula’s experience teaches us a lesson we shouldn’t forget. It’s always the little things that matter. Having a butterfly grow in your garden may not mean much to others, but I think Ursula naming it and making her children greet it is very telling about how something so little can bring so much joy. I think this happiness is the essence of what gardening is.

Hydrangeas Create a Lasting Connection

Written and Photos by: Kaitlyn Foley

My Nana’s House
Photo from Google Maps, September 2011

Ever since I was a baby, my family and I always spend a portion of our spring and summer in Falmouth Heights, Massachusetts, which is part of Cape Cod.  My nana and my grandfather, my father’s parents, bought a house on the Cape many years ago. I have created some of my favorite memories here, which include spending quality time with my family, talking walks along the beach, admiring the plants and growing my love of photography.

One of my favorite flowers found all over Cape Cod, and in my nana’s yard are hydrangeas.  I love them because they add a pop of color and they remind me of my grandfather.  Hydrangeas can range from red, pink, purple, blue, and white, however their color all depends on the acidity of the soil in which the plant grows.  A pH scale, which goes from zero to fourteen with seven being neutral, is used to determine how acidic the soil is.  If soil has a pH level greater than 7 it would produce pink hydrangeas, while a pH level less than 7 would produce blue hydrangeas. In other words, the lower the pH, the more acidic the soil is. If an individual wishes to change the color of their hydrangeas from pink to blue they can easily do so by increasing the acid in the soil. Some home remedies include, adding vinegar or lemon juice to the soil, mulching the area around the plant with coffee grounds, or even burying rusty nails or copper pennies in the soil.

My love of hydrangeas increased my love of gardening and flowers in general.  When I was younger, I would help my father garden and keep the lawn on my nana’s property in healthy condition, and it eventually turned into an activity that strengthened our bond.  My grandfather passed away before I was born, but he took pride in his lawn and plants.  After he died, my father took on the role of tending to the yard, which was later instilled in me.  Pulling weeds, planting new flowers, trimming bushes, trees and much more made me feel closer to my dad, but also my grandfather as well.  Even though I did not get to meet my grandfather, I feel a connection to him by gardening the land he bought and worked hard for. Knowing that I am tending to the same hydrangeas he once did gives me the satisfaction of feeling like he is a part of my life and I am part of his.