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Monday, August 30, 2010

Canna Revival

A few weeks ago, my new Tropicannas were looking a bit sunburned...   someone mentioned that they enjoy moist soil, so I've tried to be diligent about watering them.

Tt seems to have worked. While the existing leaves still have some brown edges, both containers are showing new growth.

Unfortunately, they got some damage this week (after these pics were taken) from a raccoon that went blundering through, but hopefully they can rebound.

I think this is probably the same raccoon(s) that flattened the grapevine and broke some significant branches of my hamelia.  I'll be happy when he moves on to new territory.

I'm looking forward to the cooler weather now so I can begin digging some new beds and also working in the ones we have already.

But in the meantime, I'll enjoy what flowers I have left...

...and then sit on the patio and enjoy birds in the pine trees.

Have a great week.

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

And the Winner Is...

This week we finally got a feeder up on the column on the patio, right outside the back door.  We've been treated to some amazingly aerobatics as at least five hummingbirds swoop around the back yard in the battle for the feeders.

And the winner?  Well I guess that would be this little guy...

He tirelessly defended this feeder and the feeder you can see in the background, plus the Flame Acanthus and the Hamelai Patens.  I think the others managed to sneak a few sips in here and there but I was worried they were just going to wear themselves out.  They wore me out!

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Battle of the Ruby-Throats

Just the other day I commented on Ursula's blog on Houston Grows that I hadn't seem hummingbirds fighting in my garden.  I saw one at the feeder most days, but I hadn't witnessed any territorial battles.

Well, it turns out I'm just not usually there at the right time.  I'm home today, after an early doctor appointment for which I ended up taking the entire day off work.

I love not having to work during the week.  If I could retire tomorrow I would, but unfortunately I'll probably be working till I'm 90!

Anyway, since it was relatively cool this morning, I went out and did a bit of weeding and as I did, I got buzzed.  At first I thought it was just one hummingbird, but then I realized there were two and they were zipping around the garden one chasing the other.

I went into the house to get my camera and managed to snap some blurry photos.  Please excuse the poor quality.  The action was pretty fast paced and I was standing indoors, about 15 or 20 feet away from them.

Look closely at the following pics and see if you can see them...

Double clicking on the photos will bring up a larger sized version.
Can you see them?  Both in the top half of the photo, above the feeder.  One on the left apparently sitting in the tree and one flying on the right.

I put the camera down then, and of course, when I did, they called a truce for a moment and both of them took a sip before flying up and perching in the pine tree.

Another thing I got around to doing was repotting some plants thatI have been meaning to repot for ages. I was careful not to disturb them too much, they basically slid out of one pot and into another, slightly larger one and I filled in around them with organic potting mix.

First is the Hamelia patens I bought a couple of weeks ago, although you can't actually see it's new container in this photo...

And the other is a hydrangea that Ursula passed along...

This hydrangea seems to like this spot on the patio, out of the direct sunlight, and has been putting out some new leaves. Hopefully next year I'll see some more growth and possibly even blooms.  My dad just sent me photos of his hydrangeas that he's growing in his garden in England and they are huge!

Now that the wren family has left the nest, I took the opportunity to give the plant that hosted them a good watering, trimmed off some leaves that had brown edges and removed the nest.  I've never seen a wren's nest before and was quite impressed with their work.
I got a couple of these Homestead Verbena from Ursula but this is the only one that is thriving.  I love the purple color.

Along the fence in the side yard -- the best five bucks I ever spent was on this evergreen (I think it's a cypress of some type).  I got on sale in Walmart and it was the most puny thing when I put it in the ground.  it's doing nicely now, and I wish I had got more of them.

In the bed by the garage, milkweed by the dozen and a couple of very enthusiastic sweet potato vines!

Oh well, back to work tomorrow. Things are about to get busier in my second job as well, so I hope I can continue to find time for gardening and blogging. 

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

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hot Color in the Garden

As I was browsing around the garden when I got home from work this evening, sweating while taking photos, this song popped into my mind...

The quintessential song of summer...

"Hot town, summer in the city,
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty..."

That about sums up summer in Houston.

The colors in the garden are hot now too.  I'm pretty pleased with how things are holding up.  I don't have great oceans of color in the garden, I have bright little jewels set in a soothing background of green.  Looking at it from inside the house, it looks quite pleasant out there until you open the door and the blast of heat hits you.

Oh well, you can browse in the comfort of your living room, office or wherever you have your computer :-)

It wasn't until I saw this photo full size on the 21 inch screen of my new computer that I realized I had a visitor...

Double click on the photo to see a larger version :-)

These zinnias are sprawling along the edging.  They seem to like it hot.

I had been worried that this Anisacanthus wrightii,  Flame Acanthus, aka Hummingbird Bush, aka Texas Firecracker, might never flower. But finally it started putting out some flowers.

As is the Hamelia patens, Firebush I showed you in my last post, seen in more close up below.

But for some reason, my resident hummingbird seems to prefer the sugar water I put out each day...

And finally, I think you all will like this.  Remember the swallowtail busily laying eggs on the fennel last week?

Well check this out!

And this is just on one plant!

I hope I have enough fennel!!!

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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 15th 2010

I haven't participated in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol, of May Dreams Gardens, (mainly because I forget)  in a couple of months, but this month I remembered!

Here's my offering for August.

As always, the Rose of Sharon is the star of the show. This one is covered in blooms, which are loved by the bees. 

Here's a close up of the Cockscomb that appeared in my last blog post.  I love these blooms, the color is so vibrant and the texture is unique.

This new Hamelia patens will hopefully provide some interest for the hummingbirds that come to my hummingbird feeder.

And finally, this little Rudbeckia is another fairly recent addition. I love its sunny blooms.

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

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Of Cannas, Cats and Wrens

If you recall, I'm thinking of ways to enhance a corner of the garden where I can't plant in the ground, due to excessive pine roots.  I had mentioned one idea of putting up a trellis and growing vines.

Well, in a typical moment of impulse spending, I purchased a couple of metal trelllises and some Cannas, which I felt might give a tropical feel to that corner.  Quite an about-turn from what I originally envisioned.

The only problem... while that area gets morning shade, as seen here, it gets a few hours of blazing afternoon sun, before the sun goes down behind the fence.

According to the plant tag on the Cannas, they are supposed to be able to take sun or shade. But I guess "sun" is relative and the leaves of the cannas are already showing signs of burning.

I think I'm going to have to find somewhere else for them, although there's not really anywhere around the house that doesn't get blazing sun at least part of the time. 

Even the section on the north side that is in deep shade most of the day gets blazing afternoon sun, because the house isn't exactly on a north|south axis and actually faces more of a north-west direction.

I wonder if they would do better in the ground somewhere than being in a container (and being dependant on me to remember to water them). Any suggestions re: cannas would be much appreciated.

Here's the view from inside the house.

And a view along the border, looking toward the corner where I put the cannas.

On to other news... Facebook friends may remember that I posted recently that the stray cat that we've been feeding trusted us enough to bring her kittens over to visit...

Well, that's been going very well.  I've been putting food out for her when I feed the birds at 5:30 in the morning.  She weaves around me and lets me stroke her a bit and sniffs my hand.  The plan is to eventually catch her and get her fixed. Then, if she wants to, she is welcome to join our seven cat household.  The kittens, we'll try to catch and socialze with the plan of finding homes for them.

Well as I mentioned above, she's got used to me feeding her at 5 am, so what did I see last weekend when I didn't get up until 7:30?  Miss Cali (yes, we gave her a name already!) was helping herself at the buffet line. I actually saw her jump up and hang off the hanging feeder with her front paws and then drop back to the ground with a mouthful of feathers. (not sure whether all she got was feathers or if she actually got a bird)

After apologizing profusely to the local avian population, since then I've been diligent about feeding her at 5:30 and every morning she's waiting and she greets me with a meow.  But the best part is that once she and the kittens have eaten their fill, she'll either take them back to the thicket next door, or she'll curl up and snooze on the patio. She doesn't pay any attention to the birds at all.

In fact, remember that pair of wrens that built a nest in the container on the patio? Well, just yesterday I went around to the side of the house to turn on the hose so I could water those containers and who should greet me on the fence but one of the wrens. 

A flutter at my feet made me look down and there was a fledgling wren!! It had obviously only recently fledged and was still more than a bit wobbly in flight. But the big thing was that it had left the nest right under Cali's nose.  She was laying in the shade on a blanket, surveying the garden and completely ignoring the wrens, even with the noise the parent bird was making!

At one point the fledgling got a bit stuck between the star jasmine and the fence and the fluttering around attracted Cali's attention and she started creeping stealthily toward it. But we opened the back door and called (okay, yelled) to her to go away and she wandered off, climbed the other fence and disappeared into the thicket.

With the mama (or pappa) bird giving constant vocal encouragement, I witnessed the fledgling fly rather haphazardly to the sweetgum tree on the other side of the house.

I'm so glad I happened to decide to water the containers at that exact moment or I would have missed that!

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

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Busy Weekend in the Garden

It's been a busy weekend in the garden here. 

And I don't mean me -- I haven't done much gardening at all.

I'm referring to the birds and the butterflies.

First, I spent way too long this morning chasing this swallowtail around trying to get a decent photo!

She was too busy laying eggs on the fennell to worry about posing for me.

I did manage to get some decent shots though. If you click on a photo, you can view the full size version.

And I managed to zoom in a bit.

She really liked the Fennel.

And, remember those Carolina Wrens that built a nest in one of the container plants on the patio a couple of weeks ago?

Well, that pot got knocked/blown over twice and one time an egg even rolled out.  My husband put it back, but who knows how long it had been on the ground and we didn't hold out much hope for any babies.

One of the garden bloggers at Houston Grows, Ursula, who is also a retired wildlife rehabber, advised me that I could move the pot to a higher, safer location and the parents shouldn't mind.  So I did -- I moved it to the top shelf of a mini greehouse I have out there (without it's winter wrap)

For the past several days, the wren has been busily flying back and forth to the nest with mouthfuls of insects. I've got worn out just watching him!

I can always tell when he's coming, even if I'm indoors.  Talk about noisy!  It's amazing such a little bird has such a loud voice!

When I'm sitting at my computer desk I can see the macrame plant hangers that I made, out on the patio, and they seem to be a favorite spot for him to stop and check out the territory before entering the nest (sorry - no pics of that, I'd be photographing from twenty five feet away, through the wood blinds).

Sorry these pics aren't great either, I sat at the far end of the patio and tried not to disturb them to take photos, and they came out grainy.

How this will end, I don't know.  I've snuck as close as I can to the nest and not heard a peep out of any babies and/or mama bird that may be in there.  I tried looking through the bedroom window that you see behind the nest and just can't see anything from there either.

At least the nest is in a more secure location now and my moving it doesn't seem to have bothered the birds.

So, we'll just have to wait and see what happens. 

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

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Macro Flowers Saturday

As the temperatures hovered around 99 degrees all this week, I ran the sprinklers in the early morning to try and save the garden.

One added benefit -- I love the way the sprinklers left drops of water on this Rose of Sharon bloom.

This is my entry into Macro Flowers Saturday, hosted by maiaT.

If you'd like to see more wonderful close ups of flowers in bloom, click on the link above, or in the Macro Flowers Saturday box in the right hand column and visit some of the other blogs listed there.  

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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Me Jayne, You Tarzan

After being woken up one morning by the sound of a chainsaw outside the window, I looked outside to see a guy swinging through the trees behind our house...

My husband had contacted the Homeowners Association in the spring about the state of some of the trees along the road that our property backs on to and they had responded  and called in an arborist who had taken down a couple of trees that had succumbed to Pine Bark Beetle damage. 

Some of the trees were still looking *stressed* though and we feared for our "forest" so my husband contacted them again.  This time, they took out one small, mostly dead pine tree and then did some clean up on our little forest behind the house.

They look a lot better, and we feel better knowing there's less chance of a branch coming down in a windstorm and damaging our house.

In the fall, we'll be scheduling an appointment to give the pine tree in our back yard a deep fertilization as part of a program to help it recover from the shock it sustained when the house was built.

We want to be able to enjoy our tree for years to come.

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

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Macro Flowers Saturday

Yes,  I know it's Sunday already, but I just found the Macro Flowers Saturday meme and thought that this photo I took last week would be perfect to include in the meme.

If you'd like to see more wonderful close ups of flowers in bloom, click on the link above, or in the Macro Flowers Saturday box in the right hand column and visit some of the other blogs listed there. 

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

Mellow Yellow

Glancing out into the garden this morning, I saw a splash of lemon yellow where there hadn't been any yesterday...

Can you see it?

Wait.. let me zoom in a bit...

There! Next to the Rose of Sharon...

It's a passalong from fellow garden blogger and gardening friend, Ursula.

Here it is up close and personal.

It's a Mallow "Lemon Creme". The flowers look almost identical to those of my Rose of Sharon, other than the color. I believe it's a type of hibiscus, as is the Rose of Sharon, but I wasn't able to find the exact plant in my online search (there appear to be a zillion types of mallow), so I may be wrong.

I have two of them, courtesy of Ursula, and they both have lots of buds. 

One of the passalongs was a two-fer...

Not only did the pot contain a Lemon Creme Mallow, it also contained this salvia which, coincidentally, also started blooming today.

The garden looks a whole lot different to how it looked at this time last year!

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