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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Red, White and Blue

It's a bit early for a July 4th blog post, but as I was taking photos in the garden recently,  I realized that I was starting to get a little patriotic theme going.

The white Texas Star Hibiscus, Hibiscus coccineus 'Alba', a passalong from fellow garden blogger  Ursula, has been doing very well.  (Ursula will be pleased that I didn't kill it!!)

 It's budding like crazy, as is the red one, although so far I haven't managed to catch one of the red ones in full bloom. 

These are the best I've managed to get so far.  Hopefully there will be more blooms when I am home this weekend.

 I have them growing in containers positioned in front of the Rose of Sharon or Althea (Hibiscus syriacus) and the Flame Acanthus or Hummingbird Bush (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) which are growing in the ground. There's also a Hamelia Patens in a container in the same area, although it was hit hard by the winter freezes and it's only now starting to put out tiny buds.

But in the meantime, the Flame Acanthus is in full bloom and is a hummingbird magnet.  I was thrilled to snap a photo (from a distance) of a male ruby throat checking out the blooms.

Looking at this little vignette makes me realize -- I need some BLUE plants for my July 4th garden!

Actually, I *do* have an Indigo Spires Sage, but it's clear on the other side of the garden, by the dining room window. I'll have to see what I can do about getting some growing in the back border along with the red and white.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy July 4th.

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

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New Addition to the Patio

We are so lucky to have this patio.  It's shady for most of the day, allowing me to sit out on weekends and not broil.  It's got ceiling fans, making even summer evenings comfortable.  My husband and I love to sit out there on Friday and Saturday nights with a bottle of wine (OK -- sometimes two!!)

One thing that could make it even more perfect, I thought, would be the sound of gurgling water, as in a small fountain or other water feature.

At first I was thinking about a pond or fountain out in the garden, but the thought of digging and installing a pond made us think again about that, so nothing was ever done.  Then I started considering the possibility of having a small bubbler-type fountain on the patio. So completely on impulse I headed to Lowe's last weekend to peruse their selection.

I walked in to the garden center and cast my eye over the fountains on display and one little one just sort of jumped out and it was as if it had a "Buy Me" sign flashing over it.

It was small, inexpensive, and within 10 minutes it was in the back of my car on the way and on its way home with me.

It's by Allen and Roth, if you're interested, and is called the Three Tier Fountain.  It comes with a wrought iron stand, or can also sit on a table.  We have it on the stand and surrounded it with greenery.

Click on the above photo to see the full size version and spot the little visitor who particularly enjoys this new addition to the patio -- Kermit, our resident tree frog.

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

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Winds of Change - Progress Report

It didn't take long for the lot to the east of our house to be cleared. Strangely enough, I'm okay with it.

While in Hobby Lobby at the weekend, I picked up a free handout with instructions for some craft projects that use twigs and branches -- a lattice, some picture frames, a "Garden" sign and a couple of other things.  In addition, I found a plan for a rustic gazebo-style bird feeder that I thought would be a nice addition to the garden and my husband volunteered to make for me.

So before they started clearing, we got in there and lopped some saplings and some branches and stored them in our side yard until we get going on the craft projects.

Even though the lot is now cleared (see below) it's like the spirit of the trees will live on as we work on our craft projects and use the objects we make. (Yes, you can call me a tree-hugger)

 So today, they started clearing the lot on the other side.

I always liked the way the trees in this lot provided a backdrop for photos of our garden, such as this photo of a volunteer sunflower I took last weekend.

But I had to laugh as my husband told me how the Sweet Gum was fighting them every step of the way.

Apparently the plan was to dig around the roots and then push it over.

Well, that didn't work.

So they ended up using a chain saw to take the tree down, with my husband nervously watching and hoping it didn't land on our house.

And by the time I got home, they were taking a break, but there was plenty of evidence of the battle that had been raging all day.

It's now 9:30 pm, pitch black out there and they are still trying to heave it out of the ground!  I suspect that by this time, they are considering a small thermo-nuclear device.

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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Winds of Change

We've been spoiled, I suppose you could say, since we moved into our house in 2008. For three years, ours has been the only house on our side of the street, comfortably tucked in between a majestic Liquidambar (Sweet Gum) tree on one side, and a rough but wildlife friendly thicket on the other.  The thicket was where the stray/dumped cat, Cali, raised her kittens last summer.  It's been home to a procession of squirrels, raccoons, skunks, snakes and other critters, many of which paid us visits on various occasions.

We knew things wouldn't stay like that forever but, since we moved in and the economy tanked, we hoped it would be many years before we lost what we looked on as our personal forest.

Recently though, there has been more activity in the neighborhood.  More homes have been going in, a new builder has moved in, (after our builder moved out) and a new model home is going up.

The writing was on the wall earlier this week, when two lots on the next street were cleared.

And today I came home to see this:

And this:

...indications that any day now, our little forest will be history :-(

I just hope they do all the ripping out of trees while I'm at work.  I don't think I could stand to be here while it's happening.  

On a brighter note, we've got tropical milkweed coming up all over the place, ensuring we'll have plenty to offer the Monarch butterflies when they come through on their migration.

Last year we had lots of Zinna "Profusion" that I hoped would self seed, but I hadn't seen any signs of that so I purchased some more seed which arrived from Park Seed today.

Now look at what I saw while out in the garden today.  One of last year's zinnias (and actually I saw two or three of them) has finally self-seeded and was being checked out by a couple of skippers!  I'll still go ahead and scatter some seed in the border and I think I'll share the rest with my neighbors.

 It's been fun living in Wild America for three years.  I can only hope that we still get birds, squirrels, butterflies and other wildlife visiting our garden when we have new homes on either side where once there was wildlife habitat. 

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

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Sweet Texas Home

I purchased this resin cowboy boot birdhouse a couple of years ago as a strictly decorative addition to the patio, having seen a similar one in a friend's garden.  I certainly wasn't expecting a bird to actually build a nest in it.

As you can see -- I was wrong! 

A pair of Carolina wrens spent most of the morning flitting back and forth with bits of grass to add to their nest.

As far as nesting sites go, it's really not too bad. 

In it's favor: it's 5 foot up a brick column, so it will be free from predators. Also it's on the east side of that column, under the eaves of the house and sheltered from the hot afternoon sun.

Possible dangers:  it's 5 foot up a brick column.  If and when the babies fledge, it's a long way down to the ground!  I'm also a little worried that it's so deep, the babies won't even be able to get out of it when the time comes.  

Maybe the parents will give them a boost to help them out.


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