|Fennel looks like Dill, Queen Ann's Lace,|
Poison Hemlock, Parsley, Coriander,
and other members of the carrot family.
Yesterday I obtained some Fennel, whose Greek name is μάραθον (Marathon). The famous battle scene in Greek history was the Plain of Fennel. The location sounds more majestic as the Plain of Marathon, where the Greeks defeated the Persians.
| The first Fennel runner raced from Marathon to Athens|
to announce, "We won! Rejoice!"
This family of herbs and poisons is known for attracting beneficial insects. The plants are called umbellifers, or umbrella carriers, for their umbrella-like flowers. I had an enormous Poison Hemlock growing in the Hosta garden last summer. Once I figured it out, Almost Eden pointed out all the newborn Ladybugs crawling on the flowers. Although I liked having a Ladybug daycare center on the property, I did not like one associated with the death of Socrates.
I recalled one writer claiming Fennel was always crawling with beneficial insects, and one reader enjoyed the herb while in Italy. That sounded like a double blessing. As the expert gardening readers know, the whole carrot family is known for beneficial insects and butterfly attraction.
My method is to read about good additions to the garden - and pick up one at a time when visiting Walmart. I am aiming at beneficial insects (don't judge me). When plants are grown for pollinators in general or the bugs that attack pests, the result is a lot of activity in the garden - bees, butterflies, and parisitoid insects. The butterflies usually prefer one or two plants which are perfect for their young, so Butterfly Bush may be good for adults, but not adequate for their young. Likewise, the best plants to build up the parisitoid insects are those that feed the adults who lay eggs where the pests gather.
|Butterfly Weed is an attractive flower.|
More people should grow it.
A famous example is the Monarch's need for the milkweed family, so I have Butterfly Weed growing in the backyard, carefully protected with mulch. Monarch caterpillars can feed on this plant and on milkweed, to grow strong and bad-tasting.
Birds know that Monarchs taste terrible, so Viceroys have a similar pattern to make animals think they are Monarchs. No one has explained to me how the birds all know this and how the Viceroys decided to use color to protect themselves. Instinct? Nature? Evolution? Creation best explains this one example of the millions of micro-miracles around us. The Monarch does not prove Creation to the rationalists, but the Word shows us how this happened - not by accident, but by design.
My mother lived with us in New Ulm. She knew where the milkweed was growing, from her walks, so she brought home several fat caterpillars on a stem of milkweed. We fed them milkweed leaves in their jars until they formed their jade coffins with golden nails. They dissolved themselves in that coffin and formed a butterfly inside. When they were ready to leave, we let them escape.
|The Monarch young feed on bitter milkweed sap,|
knowing this will save their lives.
|The Viceroys skip the milkweed sap|
and use the colors to protect themselves from birds.
But they feed on willows, which do make them bitter.
The birds know more about butterflies than most of us,