Saturday, August 19, 2017

Having Trouble Gardening Under the Hot Summer Sun?

I have a suggestion for you: a portable umbrella on a tripod! 

I tested it this weekend and it worked beautifully.

The Tripod Umbrella 

It was around 1pm when I decided to garden. You are probably thinking to yourself: "In the middle of the summer? Was she insane?" Not if I had some sort of shade over me, right? Well, I did. I set up my tripod umbrella and moved it around with me as I clipped the spent flowers on my butterfly bushes (buddleia). Not only was I able to stay cool despite the hot August sun, but I was also able to see the spent flowers better. The idea of hiding under an umbrella while gardening came to me as I wrote my book on meditative photography. Bright sunlight is very harsh on photos; the subjects often look washed out. There are several ways to address this problem, one of which is to place an umbrella over the subjects to cast a soft shadow over them. The problem is that I would need a helper who could hold the umbrella over my subjects while I take their photos, but that isn't usually an option for me because I almost always take photos by myself. Taking photos while holding an umbrella would be quite challenging to say the least! I thought an umbrella on a tripod (same idea as a camera on a tripod) would solve my problem. In no time, the fabulous internet led me to my solution: a portable umbrella on a tripod. I bought the JoShade umbrella. It's super light and easy to assemble. Another feature I like about the JoShade is that I can adjust the height. This enables me to control the amount of light I want over my subjects. And as I moved my tripod umbrella around my garden to take pictures of butterflies, it dawned on me that gardening under my tripod umbrella would be very pleasant. In fact, I can garden whenever I want; neither the rain nor the hot sun will have a say on when I can garden!!!

A Peaceful Mid-August Day at Cedarmere

With my tripod umbrella over me, I spent hours trimming my butterfly bushes and admiring the pollinators that were feasting there, especially the Swallowtail butterflies.

Butterfly Bush - Buddleia

Butterfly bushes are super easy to grow and come in a wide array of beautiful colors. They have a light sweet scent. They come in bushes and small trees, so choose carefully depending on the space you have in your garden. They prefer full sun and moist but well-drained soil, but they are tough and can tolerate a variety of conditions.  

Butterflies LOVE them, hence the name. 

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail below was so engrossed in sampling the butterfly bush's nectar 
that he was oblivious to my proximity.

It was a treat to see this Zebra Swallowtail
 because we don't see this type of Swallowtail very often at our farm.

These skipper butterflies had a ball flitting from flower to flower
There were about 15 or so of these happy skippers in this particular bush alone.

Other pollinators LOVE them, too.

This bee was enamored of the butterfly bush.

This is an interesting moth. I have only recently encountered this pollinator.  It sounds and acts like a hummingbird, but it looks like a bumble bee. Despite its plumb body, it's quite agile and can suspend in the air as it sips nectar from a flower just like a hummingbird. There are several species of hummingbird moths in North America. The one below is the Snowberry Clearwing. It's a treat to spot this unusual creation of nature.

Swallowtail Butterflies

For some reason, while I was deadheading the butterfly bush this weekend, dozens of Swallowtail butterflies were swarming the butterfly bush. Most of them were old and had gone through a lot by the time they arrived at our farm. You can see that their wings were tattered and their coloring had badly faded.

They were so hungry and tired that they didn't care that my iPhone was only a few inches away from them.
Look closely at the head of the Swallowtail below. The two top lines with small clubs at the ends are her antennae. The third black line that curves down into the tiny little flower is her proboscis. Butterflies do not have mouths. Instead, they have a straw-like tube that extends from the front of their heads enabling them to reach deep into a flower to sip nectar. This proboscis coils up when not in use. 

The poor tired Swallowtail below was content to rest in the shade of my tripod umbrella even though my iPhone was only a few inches away.

The tattered Pipevine Swallowtail below was probably extremely tired because it (it's so tattered I can't tell whether it's a male or female) had its wings spread out flat for a long while. Butterflies are at rest when their wings spread out flat.

Plant a butterfly bush next spring
and you will be a hero among the pollinators, especially the butterflies.

Please join me and visit these beautiful blogs -

Floral Friday Fotos
Saturday's Critter
Macro Monday 2
Our World Tuesday
Outdoor Wednesday


  1. Great idea about the umbrella!

  2. Hello, the butterflies do love the buddleia. You have a nice variety of butterflies. Beautiful photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and new week ahead!

  3. Tripod umbrella? Gonna definitely have to check that out.

    I was watching butterflies yesterday, too ... standing near a display of Lantana at Lowes. Had all the ones that you featured here, including the Hummingbird Moth. They're my favorites!

  4. Brilliant idea with the tripod umbrella. So many great uses.
    Such an interesting and educational post Christa. Many thanks.

  5. Our buddleia was taking over, so we pulled it out. I'm going to see about planting one in a big pot next year, to try to keep it under control. The butterflies certainly do love the blossoms. Great idea about the tripod umbrella.

  6. What a fantastic variety of visiting critters! I can't wait for spring and summer. I am trying my best to attract them but haven't had much success yet. Love the umbrella, too.

  7. ...butterfly bush is a 'giving plant.' Now that's the nicest case of Coke that I have ever seen.

  8. if I had a garden I would only have plants good for butterflies and other insects :) Butiful butterflies in your post. :)

  9. How wonderful to see such beautiful butterflies in the garden!!
    Gorgeous photos !!

  10. Merry Christmas to you and your family, dear friend !!