Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ladies Who Lunch

Admittedly, playing hostess for weeks at a time can be exhausting for even the most gracious among us. However, there is a cadre of guests that I welcome back year after year, the more the merrier and, please, stay as long as you like! My garden has the auspicious honor of serving as the local Fairmount to a voracious party of Coccinella septempunctata, or Lady Bugs, as they are known.

While I'm not certain what entices them to overwinter with us, I do mulch freely and have a few plants, such as Bougainvillea and Echium candicans, under which there is a thick and undisturbed layer of light debris where one might nest quite happily over the mild Southern California winter. Apparently December's dampish weather restricted the ladies to indoor activities because, this spring, the population boomed!

As we all know, a good hostess must provide for her guests. I've ferried them from rosebush to dahlia sprout and citrus tree to pittosporum shrub, making sure the hungry Ladies know just where to find the youngest and most succulent aphids in the garden. While I can't say my guests are delicate, hoisting those aphids overhead to devour them outright, they do manage to exude a certain grace. Forthrightness is a virtue in my garden!

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