Tuesday, October 1, 2013


My original blog, Just Verte is back in action with news about antiques, antiques shows, interior design and my 'Two Cents Worth' column. Please visit me there.



Wednesday, June 5, 2013


..and we're taking some time off to enjoy it! Happy Summer to everyone!

One of the ponds in the Japanese Gardens at Gibbs Gardens, Ballground, GA

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Black Swallowtail-Female
Female Black Swallowtail Butterfly

It has been called one of the great 'miracles' of nature. From a mere speck of an egg, to a slowly growing caterpillar, to a chrysalis, to one of the most beautiful of nature's creatures: The Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

The egg laid by the female Swallowtail on the host plant is no bigger than a pencil dot. When the caterpillar emerges, it is an 1/8th of a inch long, hardly noticeable to the eye. But that tiny creature grows...and grows...and grows, going through four stages, slowly shedding its skin with each stage until it is ready to enter the chrysalis stage.

First Instar Stage
First instar stage

Full Grown Caterpillar
Third instar stage
The host plant is usually one of the carrot family, either fennel, dill or parsley. 
Flat leaf parsley on left, curly leaf on right. The caterpillars seemed to prefer the flat leaf.

Usually, this miraculous process goes on quietly in nature, unobserved by anyone. Finding a chrysalis in the wild is rare. It is tiny in size...about a half inch long... and is opaque at first, turning a dark black when the butterfly is ready to emerge in about two weeks. We were privileged to witness this process, from the tiny egg, to each stage of growth of the caterpillar, to the forming of the chrysalis to its final emerge.
This actually happened quite by accident because two of the four caterpillars from the parsley created their chrysalis in places that would have put the merging butterfly in danger. After a search on Google, I found a website that offered the solution. After carefully pulling the chrysalis from its anchor (a very thin line of silk spun by the caterpillar that circles it like a girdle and had fastened it to the wall of the house), I put a tiny dab of non-toxic glue on a paper towel, gently fastened the chrysalis to it (making sure that the exit opening was at the top), then taped the toweling to a long dowel placed in a narrow glass container.
Then we waited. And waited. And watched. After two weeks, we were rewarded with this:
The emerge just thirty minutes out of its chrysalis.
Here you can see the paper towel attached to the dowel. The dark thing on the toweling is the old chrysalis, now empty and dry.

The emerge rests after its struggle and then slowly begins to unfurl its wings, fluttering them in the air to dry.
Do you think it knows how beautiful it is!

The end of the story: I went inside to get a second cup of coffee. When I came back outside, our Swallowtail had gone off into the world. We're hoping it comes back once in awhile to say "Hello". We miss it!

(P.S. We have another chrysalis in the courtyard. Perhaps we'll be lucky enough to witness this miracle all over again!)

Here's a link for more info about Swallowtails. http://www.pbase.com/rcm1840/lifecycleofblsw