Total Pageviews

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bugs and Blooms in the Garden

It seems like I haven't blogged in a while. I don't know where my time is going, but I just haven't found time this week to sit down to resize photos and blog until I decided I had to make it a priority this evening.

I don't have a specific subject in mind tonight, so I'm just going to take my cues from the photos I have taken in the past 10 days or so.

First, let me re-introduce you to an old friend.  If you read my post Wild America, you will remember the three-legged stick insect I found in the garden.

Well, guess who I saw again, by the front door this past weekend?  And guess what?  She has a boyfriend!

It has to be the same insect.  I can't imagine that two of them in close proximity to my garden would be missing the same three legs.  It certainly doesn't seem to have affected her adversely and apparently her boyfriend doesn't mind either.

Here's a photo of another fascinating insect that I took recently.

I don't know what type of dragonfly it is, but it's quite lovely and for some reason, it reminds me of an old World War II bomber, somewhat like the one that flew over our house, out of Hooks Airport recently...

(I think it's the "undercarriage" that makes it look like a bomber)

But I digress, this is supposed to be a Garden Blog, so what else has been going on in my garden?

Well the Phillipine Lily, that I mentioned in my blog last week, finally got around to blooming. I actually had three blooming at once, but I tried to take photos on a humid morning and the camera lens kept fogging up.  This was the best I could get...

In the front garden, the Lantana "White Gold" is blooming. I've got several of them dotted around the front and back gardens, but the one in the front is doing best so far.

I love this detail shot of the blooms.

I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with Crepe Myrtles.  I have three of them in this garden, and I love the bright colors that last all summer long.  What I don't like is the mildew they seem to get afflicted with every year.  I think (and this is my unscientific opinion just from personal observations at previous residences) that the mildew is worse on young plants and once they have got a few summers under their belts, so to speak, the mildew won't be such a problem any more. At least I hope not.

This particular photo was taken on July 7, but a week later it was covered in mildew.  I treated it with a fungicide this past weekend, so I'll wait and see how it does.

Last week in my blog, I included some photos of butterflies on the milkweed, Asclepias curassavica. I think it's now safe to say that other than the daylilies, I have more milkweed growing than I have anything else.

The two original plants (one in the back and one in the front) reseeded so freely, they are everywhere :-)

It's just as well we rarely use our front door, using instead the interior door from the garage to the house, because you almost need a machete to get through these milkweed to the door!

Ditto the garage.  "Fideaux", my husband's venerable Toyota, has to plough through a jungle to park.

And they keep popping up!

So I potted some up to share with my neighbors :-)

To conclude my blog post tonight, here's my favorite photo that I took this week -- a bumble bee on the Vitex. As with all the photos, if you click on it, you can see it full size.

Have a great week!

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

Monday, July 19, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My last couple of posts seem to have focused on birds... time to get back to the garden... and butterflies!

I showed you a view very similar to this a couple of weeks back.

It shows the border along the back wall.

Notice anything? 

How about the fact that to the right of the tree, the Southern Wax Myrtle, the Rose of Sharon, the grapevine and the Vitex are all bursting forth with lots of growth and greenery (and in the case of the Rose of Sharon, flowers).

To the left of the tree, not so much.

I've complained about this area before.  Here's another view:

Again, you can see greenery, growth and blooms further away from the corner.

But there's that one section up against the wall, right by those three pine trees, where nothing will grow.

And therein lies the problem.  Those pine trees have sent a mass of fibrous roots under the wall and it's impossible to get a spade in the ground there. 

Well not quite impossible -- you can see I planted a few shrubs there. However those shrubs remain the same size (if not smaller) than the day they were planted.  They're fighting a losing battle with those tree roots.

I think the answer is going to be a lattice on the wall and some large containers with climbing vines.  Plan A obviously isn't working.

You may have noticed in the above photos that the tree ring round the pine tree looks different from before.

Here's  what it used to look like -- cheap plastic "stones" (what can I say, I inherited them from an old neighbor), and then there's the fading volunteer sunflower, as well as greenbriar and other weeds taking over. 

I've been wanting to spruce it up for a while.  So, over the July 4 weekend, that's exactly what we did.

You can see the finished result below:

Real stone this time, and although it's not the same as the stone we used for the border, I think it goes well.

The sunflower is still there - I need to pull it and harvest the seeds for the birds before they go moldy, but haven't got around to it yet.

What else is happening in the back garden? Oh yes, there's Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, everywhere! I purchased a couple last year and they have self-seeded profusely :-)

The butterflies are loving them:

Gulf Fritillary

I wonder,  is the one below a Monarch, or something else? (Sorry I couldn't get a better photo)

That's it for today.  I have some more insect photos, but I'll share those in my next blog post.

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

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We Have a Hummer!!!!!!!

For a couple of weeks we've been seeing glimpses of one or more hummingbirds in the garden.  I've seen them on the Vitex and Rose of Sharon bushes, and my husband saw one hovering just outside the window on the patio.

The camera was never anywhere close until I glanced out of the patio door yesterday and saw a hummingbird on the feeder.  This is our first year of having a feeder, so I was thrilled to see it getting some attention.

I grabbed my camera, zoomed, focused and snapped -- only to find the camera was still in video mode.  So rather than a high resolution photo, I got a low resolution video. I was able to pull a couple of stills from it, which you can see below.

As always, if you click on the photos, you'll see the larger version.

The little guy sat on the perch for a few minutes while he took some sips from the feeder. And then he was gone.  They move so quickly.  I was glad he sat still long enough for me to get some footage/pics.

I'm happy to report he came back later too.  I hope he comes back again, and brings his friends.

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

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Under Construction

As you all know by now, I love to sit and watch the goings on in the garden on the weekends.  This morning I was  startled when two small brown birds flew straight towards the covered patio. They were Carolina Wrens.

As I watched, I realized they may be building a nest, so I grabbed the camera and went to sit outside (at the other end of the patio).

I took some very shaky video clips and managed to lift these still from the video.  As usual, not the best quality, but you get the idea.

One of the birds waits for a moment by the rain barrel with a mouth full of nesting material.
 Wait - there's two of them...

This one did a curious little bobbing routine...

... before heading for the nesting site...

... made it! A few seconds to place the nesting materials in place and...

....  it pokes its head out again ...

... before heading off for more...
... but first, a quick rest.  "Who are you looking at?"

... "On your marks, get set.... GO!"

After taking the video clips from which these stills were taken, I headed back indoors to leave them to it.  I saw them through the window several times this morning, but for some unknown reason, they don't seem to be around now (8pm).  I'm not sure if they will use the nest or whether it was just practice for the real thing elsewhere.

As I felt privileged earlier this week to watch the mockingbird feed its babies, I felt privileged to watch this pair building their nest.  I wish them the best and hope that they and their insect-eating younguns stick around for summer pest control duties.

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

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

All In the Family

 I spent quite a bit of time outside on the patio over the July 4th weekend. It seemed to me that there was an awful lot of bird activity and noise and every time I would try to get on with my reading, something else would catch my attention.

On Saturday was a lot of activity under the pine tree.  During the week, the birds (or squirrels) had knocked two suet feeders down and there were lots of bit and pieces left behind on the ground that they were picking through.

Among my visitors was this male Northern Cardinal.

A little while later, I snapped this photo of what I thought was just a single mockingbird. It wasn't until I saw the photo enlarged on the computer screen that I realized that it was a mockingbird feeding its young. ( Please excuse the weeds around the tree, they didn't get pulled until the next day!)

I also got some photos of juvenile Northern cardinals scratching around in the border.

 On Monday, the mockingbirds were making a racket outside and as I watched them I realized that I was being granted another peek into the secret life of birds.

Over on the fence were some hungry juveniles - that's where the noise was coming from.

While they squawked noisily, dad (or is it mom?) was grabbing mouthfuls of suet from the suet feeder (much to the disgust of the red bellied and downy woodpeckers) and flying over to feed the hungry young.

Then it was back to the suet feeder to restock for the next round.

The mockingbird worked tirelessly for quite some time before the young ones quieted down and they all disappeared in the wild lot next to the house, presumably for a nap.

I was tired too, just watching them!

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

Monday, July 5, 2010

Time Lapse Star Gazer and other Rainy Day Garden Pleasures

 As I was sitting on the patio on Saturday, having morning coffee and wiping the steam from my glasses, I noticed something pink to the side of the grape vine.

I tiptoed across the wet grass and noticed that the small Stargazer Lily, tucked in between the grapevine and the Vitex tree, was beginning to bloom.

I checked on it throughout the day and each time, it's lovely bloom was open a little more. Not great photos, I'm afraid, because the camera lens kept steaming up like my glasses!

This Phillipine Lily looks like it's about to bloom too.

The milkweed are "sans aphids" - perhaps the rain washed them off?

I'm not sure if it's still officially Pollinator Week, but this guy was hard at work on the Rose of Sharon.

This Penta is enjoying the rain... it's neighbor is too far gone to notice...

I hope the swallowtail caterpillar enjoyed it.

I gave the Buddlea a hair cut a week or two back and it's putting out some fresh blooms, which the bees are loving.

OK Mother Nature - the rain barrel is full, you can turn off the waterworks now.

There was lots of bird activity in the garden too, and I managed to get some photos which I'll share in my next blog post.

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