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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Monarchs are a-mating

Since we got back from vacation this weekend, I have seen a Monarch butterfly floating from bloom to bloom, enjoying the nectar.

I remember commenting to my husband that it would be sad if only one Monarch came by and this one didn't find a mate.

 Just now, as I was belatedly putting some birdseed in the feeders, my heart flipped as I saw something I couldn't quite explain. It was a Monarch flying around, but it appeared to have another, seemingly lifeless, Monarch attached and dangling from its body.

As I watched, it headed for our young pine tree and settled on a branch. Then I realized that the seemingly dead one wasn't dead after all and what I was seeing was, to coin a phrase used by another Houston area garden blogger, Dorothy at The Nature of Things, a little backyard porn.

I'll admit, this is something of which I haven't ever pondered the mechanics. 

Now I know. 

I'll leave it at that :-)

My recently planted native milkweed probably isn't big enough to sustain Monarch cats at the moment, but I do have some healthy tropical milkweed.  So she should have enough locations to lay her eggs.

I'll keep a lookout for them and keep you posted :-)

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

Monday, May 25, 2015

Back from vacation - How has our garden grown?

Eric and I were on vacation for two weeks, taking a road trip across Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, up to Montana and Wyoming where we visited the very moving Battlefield at the Little Bighorn, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons.

While we were away we were hearing about the torrential rains and flooding our area was receiving. I could only imagine what the garden looked like, especially as we have some serious drainage issues  since the house next to us was built.

But as it happened, things were looking pretty good. Okay so of course the grass and the weeds needed taking in hand, but generally speaking, if one doesn't look too closely in between the flowers, the effect is quite pleasing :-)

One of our island beds has a volunteer Vitex bush growing in it.  I was going to take it out, as we had a River Birch growing there.  But the River Birch never really thrived and ended up getting snapped in two in a windstorm, so I decided to let it stay.  I will just be more vigilant about keeping it pruned back to shrub form (if I can) rather than letting it grow tree sized like I did with the one behind it.

The daylilies are blooming beautifully.  I had meant to divide them but never got around to it.  I think late winter is the time to divide and replant them, so I will put some in the other island bed and I will probably have some to share.

The little Sam Houston Peach has some nice sized fruit on it this year, but unfortunately many of the fruits got damaged in the hail storm we had before we went on vacation.  They may still be edible, but just blemished.

 The other island bed had millions of zinnia seedlings which I thinned out before we went away. I also planted some native milkweed and some liatris,which are coming up, and some coneflowers, which didn't do anything. Last year's tropical milkweed, which I had trimmed back, is looking good, and the New Gold Lantana are flowering.  I also noticed lots of little Cleome seedlings coming up around the waterfall.

By the bird bath against the back wall, the Angel Trumpet that I keep giving up on has once again returned. I doubt I will see flowers on it, but I like the different texture of the big leaves against the holly.  In the containers, last year's Gaura and lantana have come back and some violas are still going from spring time.  There are self seeded zinnias in this area too and I've thinned them out and kept them where I want them for some color.

This has been a basic overview to catch up after our vacation.  I'll be back on my usual blogging schedule now and hope to take time to visit my blogging friends and see how your gardens are growing.

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