Monday, October 26, 2009

The Orion (historis odius)

Good news! I was using the new editor in blogger and that wasn't working, so I went back to the old editor and am back in action. As they say new brooms sweep clean...but old ones know the corners.
The Orion butterfly caterpillar (historis odius)
A few weeks ago my husband spotted an Orion butterfly near the house and mentioned it to me. I replied that they must be laying their eggs on the Cercropia trees I had planted for that purpose hoping one day that would happen. So I quickly ran into the garden and looked up in the tree. Ha there were these little caterpillars munching away on the leaves. We had never seen the caterpillars before, so to make sure these were the Orion caterpillars, we clipped a leaf and placed it in a container for observation.

Like most butterfly caterpillars they tend to take on the colouring of their immediate surroundings for protection against predators.
I was rather surprised when this caterpillar turned a bright yellow, hubby thought that something was wrong.
It was getting ready to go into the chrysalis stage.
This is when it goes into the J shape and hangs. It will remain like this for 24 hrs.
The next day the chrysalis was formed. It looked like a dried leaf or a piece of twig.

The chrysalis hung there for 8 days and on the 9th day it darkened. This is usually a sign that the butterfly will soon be born. You can actually see the wings through the casing.
The next day around 9.00 am we became the proud parents of a newly born Orion !
I found this one in my garden under the cordyline leaf.
Orion butterflies feed on rotted fruit, they are also nicknamed stinky wings. To attract them we placed old bananas , plantain, carambola and guava outside on a table.
As if by magic one soon appeared. I was elated. Notice the proboscis taking up all the sweet juices from the fruit.
I thought I had seen two butterflies in the area but wasn't sure if it were the same one. So I told my husband that there might be two butterflies. He said that he wasn't believing anything until he had seen it himself and that he had read somewhere that these butterflies were not sociable creatures. He probably though that I was hallucinating but I knew deep down that there were two I had seen.
A while later I heard a shout from my doubting hubby to come quickly! I ran with my camera in hand and ha ha ha....there were two butterflies feeding. I wasn't seeing doubles after all!
Cercropia peltata the larval food for the Orion (historis odius) These are beautiful trees found growing in gullies and hillsides.

It is very difficult to get a shot of the Orion with their wings open. This is one of the few I have managed to take so far .
I've got the whole world
in my hands
I've go the O----RION
in my hands
I've got the whole world
in my hands
I've got the O-----RION
in my hands

The Orion ranges from Cuba to the Greater and Lesser Antilles, Mexico to Argentina. Its wing span is 110 - 130 mm or 4½ to 5½ inches. Larval food is Cercropia peltata trees, also known as Bois canoe in creole. The Orion is a large butterfly with velvety dark brown and orange on the upper wings and dark brown with white bars on the underneath. When closed the wings resemble a dry leaf or a piece of bark, which allows the Orion to blend in with its surroundings without being seen. It feeds on rotting fruit and is a high flier.

Friday, October 23, 2009

another bloomin' Friday nursery visit

Ornamental red banana

This morning I visited another favorite nursery located in the parish of St. Joseph. The owner Anthony, is an eccentric local who is a pioneer of the nursery business on the island. He has a very wide variety and is very pricey. The location is cooler so everything there thrives. His gingers are to die for, and seem to thrive without any effort. Anthony has created a beautiful garden sanctuary in a gully next to the nursery which is now open to the public for a fee. For more blooming Friday blooms why not take a skip over to Katarina at roses and stuff.

Friday, October 16, 2009

eh eh anudder bloomin' Friday

Cape honeysuckle, I had  first seen this shrub in the Miami botanical gardens at Miami beach a few years ago when I attended a wedding there. It was love at first sight!  I just had to get a plant. I took a few seed pods and tucked them into my tiny bag and I forgot about them.  Months later while cleaning out my bags I found some seed pods but couldn't remember what they were. I threw them in a pot of soil and forgot about them.  One day while visiting  a favorite nursery, I saw the shrub again and I fell in love again.  I bought two of these plants and I still have them in pots since I haven't found the right place to put them. These are very difficult to propagate by cuttings so I will have to some  air layering.

milk weed that is food for the monarch butterfly. I haven't seen many monarchs this season in my garden.

The butterfly ginger or hedychium with its heady perfume. Prefers to grow in some shady spot with frequent watering. They come in white , pink and red . 

This is the pink/red and white variegated ginger lily. Still young and I hope to find a shady spot for these plants.

The white ginger lily and  I am busy propagating them.

My pine  cone gingers are in full bloom around the garden at this time only to last a few more weeks and will become dormant until next year.

A stunning red ginger lily

Pink ginger lily

The weeks are hurling by, and I can't believe that  it will soon be Christmas. I am busy trying to get my garden together for another garden ramble and plant sale next month. Lauren my daughter will be home for good and will be on hand to assist me (I hope). For more blooming Friday blooms  why not take a skip and a hop over to Katerina at roses and stuff. Happy Diwali and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

island style fish recipe

I had asked Urban Green from the urban balcony to post some of her recipes using banana leaf to cook fish in. She has posted several on her blog and I decided to try my hand with this style of cooking. The banana leaf is used by many cultures for cooking, baking and steaming. The West Indies with its large diaspora is no exception. In Barbados banana leaf is used to wrap and cook conkies, a national dessert that is prepared at independence time and at Christmas. I will soon post the recipe for this. In the other islands banana leaf is widely used in many forms of cooking. Today I decided to prepare some fish with an island flair.

You will need
4 white fish steaks or fillets(thick ones)
half of a large onion

4-6 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of curry powder

a small knob of ginger
a small hot pepper
a ripe plantain cut in half and sliced 3-4 times  length ways 

2 teaspoons of tom yum paste or shrimp paste
1 large banana leaf washed

Lightly rub  the fish with jerk seasoning and refrigerate for several hours. Take banana leaf and slowly pass  it over a hot burner or flame to make it pliable. I used my smooth top electric cooker to do this. Cut the banana leaf into sizable pieces enough to wrap the fish steaks.  Make  a thick paste of garlic onions hot pepper, ginger, curry powder and tom yum sauce (you can also use a shrimp sauce for this). I  used a mini chopper to do this.  Place the fish on a piece of banana leaf and spread the paste on the fish (skin side down). Place a slice of a ripe plantain (a nearly over ripe one) and dot with a blob of butter.

Fold the leaf over the fish and fasten with tooth picks to make a packet.

On a hot grill place the packets of fish and sear for a 2-3 minutes on each side. The imprint of the grill will be visible on the banana leaf. 

Place the fish on a flat pan and place under the broiler for 15-20 minutes turning after the first 10 minutes. Use tongs to do this and please be careful  of  burning yourself. When done serve with coconut rice (rice cooked in coconut milk) and stir fried veggies. This is a delicious meal and the plantain adds that bit of pizazz to the fish.  Happy Diwali to my friends who are celebrating this festival.