Total Pageviews

Monday, May 3, 2010

Flora and Fauna

Slowly, but surely, the garden is blooming out. The wait has been hard for me, but then I'm not the most patient person in the world.  So while everyone has been sharing photos of all the myriad plants they had in bloom and all I had blooming was my pansies, I'll admit, I was getting despondent.

Then my gazanias started blooming, as I blogged about recently, and I began to have hope that I would actually have some flowers in the garden this year.

So in today's post, I'd like to show you some of what is coming into bloom. And in addition, because I get as much enjoyment from the fauna that visits our garden as I do from the flora, I'll show you some of our recent visitors.

In the front flowerbed, the daylilies that I planted last year have started putting out flower buds.  This is the only one that is blooming at the moment, but several of the others are ready to go too. 

I'm not sure what variety this is.  I got a "Daylily Grab Bag" from Spring Hill Nurseries and at one point I wrote down where I had planted which variety, but of course that sheet of paper got lost.

The front flowerbed is starting to take shape now. I'm looking forward to seeing it develop and bloom this summer.

The hollyhock in the back garden is finally rewarding me with blooms. I had mentioned before that the hollyhock I had in the front garden got completely covered with rust and I had to pull it out.  Well I noticed when taking photos of this one that it is beginning to get some tiny spots on it too. But since hollyhocks are biennials, I'm sure it will be dying off after it has bloomed anyway, so as long as I can enjoy the blooms for a while, I won't worry about some spots.

Here's a close up of one of the blooms in the sunshine. You can see the little spots of rust in this photo.

These Salvia "Hot Trumpets" are passalongs from a fellow garden blogger on HoustonGrows and seem to be settling in to the bed between the milkweed and the Rose of Sharon.

At the other end of that bed are some volunteer sunflowers, courtesy of the birds, and last weekend, I happened to notice this guy...

I believe it's a saltmarsh caterpillar - Estigmene acrea (Drury) - also known as a "Woolly Bear."  Of course, all the websites I found it on referred to it as a pest, but since he was snacking on a volunteer sunflower seedling and not anything I desperately wanted to save, I decided to let him be. I did wonder how long he would stay, since the seedling was rather small and he seemed pretty voracious.  As it happened, he was gone by next morning.  I looked on the other seedlings and didn't see him, so perhaps one of my feathered visitors had a nutritious, but hairy, breakfast.

I hope this ladybug decides to stick around, I'm sure I'll have a plentiful supply of aphids for her as the summer progresses!

This blue jay seems to be saying "Good Morning" to the fairy who lives at the base of the pine tree.

While this Red Cardinal took his turn at the bird feeder.

Since we moved in in the summer of 2008, we've had a steady succession of squirrels come to visit.  I never gave much thought to what type of squirrel they were until someone commented that, judging from a photo I had posted, they were Fox Squirrels.

Fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) larger than grey squirrels and have a rusty-colored underbelly and they are Texas' most common squirrel. In fact, it wasn't until earlier this spring that we saw any other type of squirrel in the garden.

The first squirrels to show up this year in the garden, following our freezing winter, were a group of three grey squirrels. They're quite a bit smaller than the fox squirrels and they have white underparts. Their tails don't seem to be as thick either.

Before I sign off, yesterday evening I got around to pulling out the spent pansies from the beds under the small trees in the front garden.  I left the bluebonnets which are still blooming (although they're almost finished) and which have some hefty seedpods on them. I filled in around them with some blanket flower, Gaillardia "Fanfare" and some Verbena "Hot Lips."

Now the trick will be making sure everything has enough water. It's a cruel fact that while parts of the country are having floods, we appear to be having a mini drought.

The rain barrel we installed a few weeks ago is turning out to be a great investment.  Soon after we installed it we had a couple of gentle rains which were enough to fill it to the brim! So I've been able to do a lot of my watering with FREE rainwater!

This weekend, I'll be setting up the new compost bin, which is our latest investment :-)

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.


Lancashire rose said...

I'm glad your garden is starting to bloom and am so jealous of the hollyhock. I have given up on that one. Have you tried dusting with sulphur. They were dong that at the wfc last year on the wine cups which had rust.Glad to learn about the squirrel. Have never looked to see what we have. I know we have some ground squirrels and we don't like them at all.

Jayne said...

Thanks for your comment Jenny. I haven't tried sulphur on the hollyhock. I recently read that sprinkling cornmeal on the ground around infected plants will help keep the rust from infecting new plants, so I'll use that when it's time to replace these ones.

Kathleen Scott said...

Yea--rainbarrels and compost bins, blooms and birds. Your garden is a good example of one step at a time, making a better space.

I didn't know about the squirrels, thanks for that tidbit.

Jayne said...

Thanks Kathleen. It's taking every ounce of patience I have, and then some! lol!