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Friday, April 29, 2011

Break out the Cigars! We Have Hatchlings!

 A couple of days ago, I saw momma wren leave the nest on the patio and couldn't resist taking a peek.  At first I thought the nest was empty because it was so deep and dark.  But eventually I realized I was looking at some very tiny baby wrens!

Today, I risked another peek (standing on a step ladder from a discreet distance so as not to disturb) Again, at first I thought the nest was empty but as I zoomed my camera all the way in, I espied what appeared to be at least two beaks. I snapped a couple of pics and then retreated indoors to leave them in peace.

Here they are.  Welcome to the world, little ones!

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's a Bloomin' Party!

 A couple of weeks ago, I showed you many of the plants I had getting ready to bloom in the garden.  

Well, the party has started!

 There are lots of buds on the daylilies, but this diminutive yellow one was the first to show its face.

Catching the late afternoon sun, this red one wasn't far behind.

The "New Gold" Lantanas are filling in spots all around the front border, much to the delight of the bees and butterflies. 

My Easter lilies didn't quite get opened up in time for Easter this year.  But they are lovely anyway, if a little late.

Side note: I'm seriously considering digging up the African lily plants that the builder put in (seen here behind that Easter lilies and also in the photo of the entry, above).  

They are huge and one is planted so close to the sprinkler head that it completely blocks the spray from reaching any of that corner of the bed.  Of course, that closeness to the sprinklers is the very thing that has stopped me from digging -- I don't want to rip out the sprinklers by accident.

In the back garden, the Buddleia has started to bloom behind the utility boxes. I didn't see any butterflies on it tonight, but I know from experience they love this bush.

 And the Vitex, another butterfly and bee magnet, is now covered in blooms.

I bought these garden mums for a little seasonal color -- last Halloween!!  They're in bloom already and I'm sure, with a couple of haircuts, they will be blooming all the way to next Halloween!

A little slow getting to the bloomin' party, the Rose of Sharon has opened her first bloom, with the promise of hundreds more to follow.

What's blooming in your garden this week?

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter, from My Garden to Yours

Heading out to the garden this morning, I stopped at the back door for a moment and watched the hummingbird on the feeder which hangs from one of the columns on the patio.  

The location offers a great opportunity to observe them close up (and the cats love it) but unfortunately it's always in the shade, so the photos are always dark. (the blur at the top right hand side is a sticker on the door designed to prevent birds from flying into the glass)

Here's another garden visitor, a grey squirrel.  I know a lot of people consider them pests, but I welcome them and they even have their own feeder.

A couple of weekends ago, Eric and I went out to Washington-on-the-Brazos and, on the way back, we stopped in at Fraziers in Hempstead. Wow - that place could be a whole post on its own! Talk about sensory overload!  Every kind of garden ornament and statuary that you could wish for.  

Eric's eyes rolled and glazed over as he envisioned hours of traipsing round trying to keep up with me as I oooh'd and aaaah'd over everything.  In the end, he was lucky.  I spotted this horse head Welcome sign after only 10 minutes or so and decided I would get it and come back on my own at a later date for a more intense browse.

 In the bed where last year I had some tropical milkweed, this year I planted red Salvia coccinea "Texas Sage" and a bulbine.  In addition, last year's Hot Trumpets Salvia has re-seeded and is doing well.  The blue seed tray against the fence has some columbine seedlings.  Although I planted several other types of seed, nothing much else is coming up yet.

 Here's a close up of the bulbine blooms.

The little white trellis I got in Lowe's to hide the utility boxes really does the job.  However, until now there wasn't much planted in front of it. I had some daffodils there this spring, and there was a White Gold Lantana.  Everything else was in containers and I really wanted to start getting some things in the ground.

I made a start on it yesterday and added some Mealy Cup Sage as well as another bulbine.  There's already a Marguerite Daisy growing off to the right so I think that the combination of blue/purple and yellow will look nice with the white lantana and the butterfly bush behind the trellis in summer.

Here's a close up of the Mealy Cup sage, which was already in bloom  when I planted it.

Happy Easter to you all.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We're Expecting!

This rather bedraggled toad flax lily hosted a wren and her nest last summer and I've been watching this spring to see if she will come back.  Another nest seemed to be taking shape, so I held off watering the poor plant, just in case.


 Last week, as I was watering another plant on the same shelf, I accidentally bumped the watering can against the shelf. Imagine my surprise when a small brown bird seemingly catapulted out of the nest.  I actually squeaked with surprise!

While she was gone, I had to sneak a peek in the nest and see if there was anything there.

I was in luck!

Please excuse the fuzzy photo:

After taking this photo, I began to get worried that I had scared the mother away permanently.  But I've  seen her come and go a few times since, and we've been treated to some serenading by what I presume is her "husband."

I have no idea when the eggs were laid or when they might hatch, but I'll keep an eye out and keep you posted.

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

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No it's a ... what is it?

 I was sitting at the dining room table with my coffee, looking out at the garden as I like to do, when suddenly something caught my eye.

"Wow," I thought, "look at the size of that bumble bee on the verbena." As I ran outside with my camera I scanned the verbena for whatever it was I had seen.

 Please forgive the poor quality photo, it had the uncanny ability to scoot sideways or backwards in the time my camera took to take the photo.  This is the best photo I got.

From what I can tell, it's a Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Hemaris diffinis. It's considered a small hummingbird moth, measuring 1 1/2" to 2 " and, as you can see, it resembles a bumble bee. Like other hummingbird moths, it's active in daylight hours.

I was amazed to see one in the garden.  I'd heard about them and read other blogs which mentioned them, but I had never seen one before.  It's movement was very hummingbird like as it hovered in front of blooms and then backed up, and flew sideways to the next bloom.

A very interesting creature!

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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Coming Attractions!

 Looking around the garden this week, I was happy to see lots of new growth along with the promise of flowers and berries to come.

The vitex tree, now about 10 feet tall, is covered in buds and will soon be covered in aromatic, purple blooms which the bees and hummingbirds adore!

My husband's grape vine, finally now with a sturdy support structure, is rewarding us with bunches of buds and the promise of bunches of tasty grapes to come. Hopefully this year, we'll get to taste some of them and the whole bush won't get stripped overnight like it did last year.

In containers and in the border in the front garden, the garden mums are covered in buds and some are even starting to bloom.  Throughout the year, I will trim these back as necessary to encourage fresh blooms all the way up into fall.

The hydrangea that was passed along to me by fellow Houston garden blogger Ursula last year seems to like its spot in the light shade of the patio and has put out several clusters of buds this spring.

In the front border, the Lantana "White Gold" is also covered in buds.  I like "White Gold" as well as "New Gold" lantanas because they are smaller, mounding varieties and I don't have to hack them back like I've had to do with other varieties. They also don't form berries, so they continue flowering without needing to be dead headed.

I put these bulbs in a pot last year and promptly forgot about them.  They didn't even come up last year, but earlier this spring, several sturdy stalks came up and now they are about to bloom.  I can't wait to see what they look like!

Finally, I had to show off more of the Gaillardia "Fanfare" that I first showed a couple of weeks ago.  This has been putting out a continuous show of 3 inch blooms -- I'm sure it didn't do that last year.

I must be doing something right!

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

Saturday, April 2, 2011


My husband's office is at the front of the house, looking out over the front garden. One day this week, when I got home from work, he pointed out of his window and said, "I think there's a bird nesting in the tree."

The tree in question is the small live oak we planted in May 2009 to replace the builder-planted one that had "drowned." Click here for my husband's amusing account of that adventure. 

Personally, I don't think it's nearly big enough to house a nest, but sure enough, there was a mockingbird industriously hopping to and fro with twigs.

Strange that she didn't just use the fairly substantial nest in the other live oak tree, 15 feet away. (See the dark clump in the middle? 


That tree housed a family of mockingbirds last year but our guest this year prefers more custom features and is building her own nest.

I hope she keeps working on it, because looking at it close up, I'd say there's a good chance any eggs would fall through the bottom as it is right now!

 Here are both trees seen from the street. (This post gets its title from the fact that these trees, and a lot of other things in the garden, are covered in new, bright green leaves.)

Underneath the small live oak, the little clump of bluebonnets is in full bloom.

I hope I get more of these next year.  This self-seeded, but I think I'll try and collect some seeds to give it a helping hand next year.

In the back garden, the Star (Scentless) Jasmine is covered in buds. This vine is growing rampantly and will need to be trimmed this year.  I just need to make sure I do it at the right time of year and that I don't kill it in the process!  The scented Star Jasmine, growing next to it, is much smaller still but is also starting to bloom and grow.

In the back garden, I had pulled out a bunch of weed that was growing in with the homestead verbena.  Apparently I missed this one (which is actually in the lawn - the verbena has spread about 2 feet beyond the border) and I'm glad I did! I love the color combination!  Looking around the lawn, there's a lot more of it but it got mowed last night, so it won't get a chance to flower.

Finally, on the patio, I had pinched the fuschia back to remove the seed pods, and had given it a little fertilizer.  It's now rewarding me with a second flush of blooms.  They aren't as big as the first round, but I'm happy to see them anyway.

I hope you are all seeing signs of renewal in your spring gardens. 

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