Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June already?

I only planted two tomatoes this year, but they are producing in abundance- yum!

In the middle back my Peter's purple monarda has attracted a Question Mark butterfly and is glowing aside my cenizos (now blooming again today after the rains this week). The native grasses are filling into my old lawn space and my wildflower seed areas have fuzzy basketflowers that smell like honey. The neighborhood house sparrows (along with the doves, grackles, blue jays and cardinals) empty the bird feeder within hours of filling.

In the sunny far back the flame acanthuses (acanthi?) have filled in along with coneflowers, tropical salvia and milkweed. All attract fliers such as horsefly-like carpenter bees (on the coneflower) as well as blue mud dauber wasps (which buzz and flop around me dramatically but leave me alone).

The relocated bird feeder in front of our dining table and front window is also full of activity, from a cardinal pair cheeping from nearby tree branches before dropping down to a sweet titmouse (as well as the requisite too-heavy doves and blue jays).

The front bed (reclaimed from lawn a couple of years ago) has filled in with (native or adapted) cottage garden flowers. It is slowly becoming full of coneflowers that reseed every year- no complaints from me! Along the driveway the tough St. Johns Wort (present from before we bought the house 10 years ago) is blooming reliably. The fall asters have become confused and have put out cheerful purple blooms, too.

Everything is lush and the wildlife happy- the native critters and I will enjoy the greenery while it lasts! Thanks to Tina at for hosting Wildlife Wednesday. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Blooms and foliage

I have a little of both brightening up the garden this month. Thanks to Carol at for hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.

My bearded iris finished blooming a few weeks ago but was lovely to see while it was out. My winecups are my favorite wildflower. I think they make a beautiful groundcover, particularly since the foliage remains throughout the year.

A few of the pink flowers that I have include coneflowers that are spreading happily in the front, my cenizo blooms that follow rains, and a rock rose purslane filling out in a pot.

I have been removing these little plants from my crushed granite driveway for years but am now transplanting them to the shady part of my back garden. I believe they are a type of golden grounsel.

These variegated flax lillies are new as I fill in areas that are recovering from my (formerly free range) chickens. They have little yellow and purple blooms in addition to bright foliage that lightens up their corner.

My success with blackfoot daisies is mixed- some explode and bloom vigorously like this one, others not so much. 

I have a new jerusalem sage to pick up the yellow from surrounding plants (like the agave behind it). They can grow quite large so I've given it room to expand.

Wildflower vignette- fleabane, yellow somethings from a seed packet and horseherb that has snuck in.

Speaking of horseherb I've decided to take advantage and use it as groundcover in the areas where my buffalo grass won't grow. I have plenty of stray plants of it to transplant- this one was formerly in a walkway.

I believe I need to trim the salvia greggi back a bit to give the four nerve daisies (the bright yellow flowers leaning over) room to stand up.

What do you do with amaryllis bulbs that you think are done after blooming inside? Toss them in the rosemary bed and watch them pop up as a spring surprise.

The turks cap in the front has started attracting hummingbirds. It is mixed with white mistflower that blooms later.

The primary bloomer in the back back area right now are multiple tropical salvias that spread everywhere. They get ragged quickly but attract so many butterflies, bees and wasps (like the one above) that I keep them. I just mow through the middle to keep a walkway.

Finally, these succulents are not blooming but have a beautiful flower pattern anyway. This was a mother's day present for my mom this year.

Happy spring everyone!

Saturday, May 14, 2016


2014- St Augustine in spring, before grubs and drought. Not much else for butterflies or birds

Water stressed grass, yellow spots and grub damage starting

2015 - Carving out beds in winter (and widening walkways) to reduce watering

Ombre colors.. not by choice 

2016- After removing all the St Augustine (which was brown and shriveled anyways)

6 weeks after seeding native grasses (Thunderturf- buffalo grass, curly mesquite and blue gramma). Still patchy, but the side beds are full of native or xeriscape plants and abuzz in butterflies and bees. Much less monotonous than the (admittedly lush and green) first pic!

Globe mallow near texas milkweed, homestead verbena and scattered wildflowers

Mint and culinary sage in the herb corner

Hungry swallowtail caterpillars

Winecups spreading far and wide

Lantana, homestead verbena amid wildflowers filling in from a seed packet

mystery wildflower awaiting unfurling..

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Wildlife and blooms and all..

It's been a busy month for the critters in my garden. I finally glimpsed my first hummingbird this morning and have enjoyed the numerous butterflies that come to visit. My winged visitors usually fly off before I can take a picture  so I tend to focus on the earth-bound insects around me..

Friend or foe? It looks like this is a multicolored Asian Lady beetle and friend hopping around my globe mallow and Texas milkweed. They are good and bad- they outcompete native seven spotted lady beetles, but do an amazing job eating aphids. My milkweed at least is happy they are around.

Speaking of my globe mallow, this one is still putting out its delicate blooms that remind me of orange creamsicles.. 

This Ailanthus webworm (Atteva punctella) looks more like a fancy ceramic bead than a beneficial (to me) bug. I think it was on my Blackfoot daily incidentally since from what I read they feed on the leaves of China sumac trees (Ailianthus altissima or Tree of Heaven) which are invasive. I have two scraggly ones on the boundary line with a neighbor and am constantly pulling up sumac shoots around the yard, which are both pungent and annoying. Removal of the trees has been on my "to do sometime" list for years. Of course if I get to catch sight of an ailanthus silkmoth in the meantime that would be cool.. 

The digger bee that was creating a nest in my new native grass area flew off to the salvias when I noticed it.. I didn't quite get all the St Augustine, but I expect it will wither in summer when it is not watered..

I initially meant to take a picture of my kidneywood tree's flower, but noticed this garden spider jumping around to hide..

Teeny ant in the rock rose..

Gulf fritillary caterpillar in the back (which has less invasive China sumac shoots underground because the passionflower vine has outcompeted it!). I leave a few nice stands of the passionflower vine since they have beautiful flowers and host these caterpillars which turn into the happy butterflies shown below.

Out of focus frolicking fritillaries..

Paused on the rosemary out front

Enjoying the lantana up front

Other butterfly visitors include this Variegated fritillary on my silver ponyfoot and a Red Admiral that enjoyed pausing in the shade one day.

The passionflower vine also attracted this red wasp- time to keep an eye out for nests. One year a wasp tried to place her nest in the middle of my front door. I tend to leave nests alone if they are placed in a far away location, but I had to knock this nest down at least three times since I didn't enjoy the thought of chasing wasps through the house every time I went in and out..

Happy Mother's Day to everyone!