The passiflora vine is so hearty, so healthy, that during summer months it grows with an unholy unchecked speed, racing up the trunk of the palm overnight, reaching out across squash plants, tangling with sturdy pepper stems, threatening to overwhelm all that dares to grow within six-feet of its expanding reach. I trim and trim and trim, and it grows at an even greater speed. My neighbor complains that he has to keep cutting it back, that it covers his side of the fence in less than a week, and there have been days when even I have mumbled crossly that all lush green will have to go. I love the delicate purple blue blooms, but I can't keep up with the sometimes daily pruning. As I carry off armloads of green to the compost bin, I pledge that next year I will replace it with another flowering vine with a less explosive growth habit.
And then the butterflies emerge. The first year of the vine, there were only a few flitting her and there, and I was glad for their beauty and their grace. The next year, there were twice as many, but when their numbers increased threefold, I realized that the butterflies were birthing in the vine. My exuberant passiflora vine had not only covered my fence if a year, it had created a habitat for the butterflies, a place where caterpillars could feed and spin cocoons, a protected zone where those cocoons might rest until the butterflies are ready to unfold their wings, spin circles on the sky. Now, I grumble less as I prune. Instead, I look carefully at all I cut away, making sure I am not removing any caterpillars or cocoons. If I find any on those trimmings, I carry them carefully back to the fence, return them to their home.
The vine will stay. A rabble of butterflies swarming in my yard as summer ends is perhaps the best way to welcome winter.