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Lantana a flashy addition to the garden

by Amy Roby

During a visit with my friend, Judy, last July, we took her three dogs for a walk each morning before it got too hot. Lining the sidewalks and pathways throughout her California neighborhood was this spectacular, low-lying green shrub covered in an explosion of red, orange, and yellow flowers.

Judy told me the bushy shrub was a variety of Lantana that flourished in her area with very little effort. I made a mental note to include it in my decorative gardening plans and had visions of lining my yard with its fiery hues, but alas, lantana is a perennial only in hardiness zones 8b-10b. The Carson Valley hardiness zone is rated 6b, meaning lantana performs as an annual here. Hoping for the best, I purchased a small one this past spring and placed it in a pot that’s visible from the back door.

The plant has been blooming and re-blooming with consistency all season long, and I’m not the only one enjoying its robust seasonal color. While outside the other evening, I heard the unmistakable whir of a hummingbird’s wings and watched with delight as the bird paused to dip its delicate, curved beak among the tiny blooms.

Lantana is also quite popular with the yellow swallowtail butterflies that frequent our yard this time of year. One recent visitor was so entranced with the flowers that I walked right up to it and took several pictures; the butterfly wasn’t deterred from its task in the slightest.

I believe this specimen is a western tiger swallowtail, as evidenced by its bright coloring and prominent stripe pattern, although it didn’t have an extended “tail” on each lower wing. After emerging from its cocoon, the adult Western Tiger Swallowtail’s lifespan is only about 1-2 weeks, and it spends much of that time seeking nectar from flowers such as Lantana. Milkweed and zinnias are also attractive to these butterflies.

As host plants, Western Tiger Swallowtails look to Cottonwoods, Alder and Aspen trees, all of which are found in this region. They are also fond of willows, which are plentiful in our yard because of our proximity to an irrigation ditch. For this I am grateful, as the happy sight of butterflies dancing through the air always brings a smile to my face.

Once the weather turns toward frost, I plan to bring the Lantana indoors near a sunny window to see if I can keep it going until next spring. Fingers crossed.

Elks host Dash and Dine

The Tahoe-Douglas Elks’ “Dash and Dine Date Night for Two” happens tomorrow night from 5-7 p.m. Each takeout order provides enough for two servings, and this week’s menu features Each takeout order provides enough for two servings, and this week’s menu features barbecue chicken, Santa Maria-style beans, and salad.

Cost is $25 and reservations must be made by 4:30 p.m. today.

To place an order, call 775-265-5483 and leave a message with your name and phone number, the number of orders you’d like, and the time between 5-7 p.m. you plan to pick up the food. Meals are retrieved and paid for in the lobby of the Tahoe/Douglas Elks’ lodge, 1227 Kimmerling Road in the Gardnerville Ranchos.

Proceeds from events hosted by the Tahoe-Douglas Elks support organizations and causes for veterans, seniors, and youth in our community.

Amy Roby can be reached at ranchosroundup@hotmail.com.