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!