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Monday, September 30, 2013

Let It Rain!!

Being from England, I never would have thought I could get excited about rain.  But with all the drought we've been having down here in Texas, any downpour, however brief, is a thing to be cherished.

I watched the clouds rolling in all Saturday afternoon, but we didn't get any rain then.  But when I woke up Sunday morning I found it was gently raining.  I went out and fed the birds anyway, sprinkling the seed along the top of the wall and the fence and the birds soon swooped in for breakfast.

Their feast was interrupted because 30 minutes later, the heavens really opened and it poured for an almost an hour and the birds all took cover somewhere.

And then the rain stopped, the sun tried to break through, the birds returned and the rest of the day was spent very pleasantly pottering about in the garden, and over at the stables with the horses.

That's my kind of weekend:-)

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

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Island Bed in Fall

I stepped out of the back door this morning and realized that the sun was just in the right place to really light up the Pink Muhly grass in the island bed, so naturally I stopped what I was doing and dashed back inside to get my camera.

I'm really happy with the way the island bed has developed this year.  The daylilies have been blooming profusely all year, after doing nothing at all last year. 

And the Zinnia "Profusion" has lived up to its name and self seeded generously throughout the bed, much to the delight of the bees.

I call the bed a "happy mess", but there are a couple of things I need to make decisions on, such as this mystery plant that has self-seeded in the middle of the bed. I have no idea what it is, but you can see it's crowding the Muhly grass and the Hamelia patens.

I was also surprised earlier this year to see a baby Vitex growing in the bed.  It's a couple of feet tall now, and blooming, but I'm debating on whether or not to let it stay there.  The Vitex in the back border is hugely overgrown and I do not want this one taking over the entire island bed, to the expense of everything else.

One of the things I love most about the island bed is that I can lie in bed on weekend mornings, and see it right outside the window of our master bedroom "retreat" :-)

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

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Animal Antics in the Garden

 For my blog post today, I thought I'd share with you the antics my husband and I witnessed as we sat on the patio with our morning coffee.

We've got at least four hummers, gearing up for their migration.  They expend so much energy chasing each other round the columns on the patio and around the garden, it seems like they will be worn out before they even get started across the Gulf.

Usually, I can only get photos of them either on the feeders, or perching in a tree.  I was lucky this morning to be able to capture these photos of a female in flight as she approached the feeder.

The hummers aren't the only birds in evidence today. As I was sitting on the patio, aiming my camera at the hummingbird feeder for the photos above, I kept seeing flashes of color and movement along the back wall of the garden.

This male Northern Cardinal perched and posed momentarily for a photo op, but not for long. As you can see in the photo above (I'm amazed I caught it on film), another male is swooping in to chase the intruder from "his" territory.

At the same time, on top of the wall, what I thought were two adult females, but turned out to be an adult and a juvenile when I looked at the photo on my computer, are happily pecking at bird seed.

The juvenile enjoyed hopping up and down the milkweed stalks.  Do they eat aphids?  I'm not sure, but at least there were no caterpillars in the way.

When we first moved in here and were surrounded by our own personal forest, we seemingly had our own resident squirrels.  Since all the trees died and/or were removed, and since the lots either side have been cleared and built on, we very rarely see squirrels.

I was missing them, but happened to glance out and see one on the fence last week.  This morning, it was back, helping itself to the birdseed and nuts on the fence. 

There such sweet little things, and so entertaining, I welcome them in the garden.  They've lost so much habitat around here, I'll do anything I can to help them survive. If it means the birds have to share their seed and nuts with the squirrels, so be it :-)

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

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monarch Nursery

Last week, I cast a disapproving eye over the tropical Milkweed in the back garden.  They were living up to the "weed" part of their name, they were covered in aphids, they were falling over and generally looking scraggly.

I was about ready to hack them back (which I hoped would encourage some bushy new growth in time for fall) but I ran out of time over the weekend and never got to it.

During the week, I got a surprise when I spotted a tiny caterpiller, less than half an inch long, on one of the plants.

This weekend, I counted and found 9 of them, between an inch and two inches long and looking fat and healthy.

The plants still look pretty awful, but any hacking back will have to wait!

Some of them had almost eaten themselves out of house and home, as it were. So I had to delicately relocate them by removing the leaf (or remains thereof) that they were on, and placing it on a plant that still looked decent.

It didn't take them long to realize there was more food around and transfer themselves to the new plant. 

The photos I have shown, including this one of a plant that is actually taller than the fence, were all taken in the back yard.

We've also got a zillion milkweed in the front, but unfortunately, when we got back from vacation, I discovered they were all covered with white powdery stuff and what looks like spider webs.  I'm thinking spider mites of some sort.  

I really need to get out there and either rip them out or just hack them back but it's too darned hot for me.  I have to do my gardening in 15 minute increments or I end up with something akin to heat stroke. 

I've been here in Texas 31 years and the summers still kill me!

I'll try and get out there a couple of evenings this week and see what I can do with them to save them for next year.

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