Flit, Flutter, Flap

Faster than the speed of light:  at least, that’s what it seems like when you’re trying to photograph flying creatures.

Although I’m definitely not knowledgeable about identifying butterflies, this is a type of Giant Swallowtail feeding on Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii).

Flame Acanthus grows in poor rocky soil and in direct hot sun, so it’s great for our location.  It’s a perennial that does better if it is severely cut back in the early spring.  It starts to leaf out late in the spring, but from then until the first frost, it is covered with small tubular red flowers.

Here’s a Swallowtail on Obedient Plants (Physostegia virginiana).  Obedient Plants, native to North America, freely reseed, so they spread easily.

Another Black Swallowtail on Acanthus.

Queen Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) camp out on Gregg’s Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) all summer long.

They swarm the tiny powder puff flowers flitting from flower to flower.  If you want butterflies in your yard, Bluemist and Flame Acanthus will do the trick.

Some Dusty Miller is hanging over the Bluemist, but their meal is found in the Bluemist.

Vine Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha vitis) is common to the southwestern US.  Thanks, moth, for being perfectly still so I could get a picture.

A  Monarch (Danaus plexippus) stops on her journey to Mexico to enjoy the Bluemist Flowers.  Also known as the Milkweed Butterfly because that’s the only food source for their caterpillars.

Thankfully, the Monarch Butterflies aren’t as picky as their caterpillars.  This one enjoys Purple Asters.  Actually, it looks like two are feeding on the same flower.

This beauty – Pipevine Swallowtail or Blue Swallowtail (Battus philenor) adds color to the garden.

Detail is seen in this bright orange Dragonfly resting on a fence.

Giant Sulfurs or Cloudless Giant Sulfurs (Phoebis sennae) must love red flowers.  They have been a constant presence in our yard for a month.  This one is feasting on Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), the last one left from summer.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) attracts of Sulfurs.

Sulfurs are also fans of Flame Acanthus.

Other butterflies like this small one that I can’t identify are flitting here and there.

“Resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  St. AugustineSave

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Menard Community Garden

Menard, Texas, is a small town with concerned citizens.  One couple has taken on the project of educating children about gardening through the Junior Master Gardener program.  They have classes for students from kindergarten through junior high.

This couple also maintains the citys Marjorie Russel Education memorial garden.

menardgarden5Following a relatively wet year, the garden has grown tremendously.  My husband and I were there in early spring this year to help other volunteers do clean-up to get ready for the new season.

menardgardenOn this visit with the Master Gardener students who were finishing their course for certification, the garden was alive with butterflies.  Bluemist Flowers (Conoclinium coelestinum) is a must have plant for central Texans to attract butterflies.  I admit that I’m prejudged about this plant because it has been so successful in my own yard.

menardgarden1A Viceroy butterfly busy feeding.  In front of the Blue Mist Flower is Artemisia, another wonderful plant.

menardgarden2Monarch butterflies absolutely must have milkweed plants to survive.  This tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is one of the showier milkweeds that is a beauty in the garden.  Unfortunately, mine freeze each year and don’t return.

On the right are rose hips from spent roses.

menardgarden3Lots of Zinnas are scattered throughout the garden.  Anyone who says they can’t afford plants should consider buying cheap zinna seeds.  The flowers reseed, so they keep on giving.

menardgarden4Behind the zinnas is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) which adds another dimension of form and texture to the garden.

menardgardencThe layers of plants, even with their intertwining, appeal to me.  Guess I just like a jungle look.  Not for everyone; I understand.

menardgarden6Not only do the Junior Master Gardeners meet here and plant their own plots, anyone in the community can rent one of these plots for $10 to $30, depending on what they can afford.  The city provides the water, and the couple in charge do the watering.  What a deal.

menardgarden8Another popular plant that appeals to pollinators is Salvia Greggii.  Not sure what kind of butterfly this is.

menardgarden7I think this is a Black Swallowtail.

menardgarden9This Salvia Greggii is called Lipstick.  The grower that came up with this name had quite an imagination.

menardgardenaBluemist Flower usually has lots of dead blossoms.  Doesn’t seem to bother the butterflies.

menardgardenb

menardgardendThere are several fruit trees in the garden, including this Fig.   Many of the plants and trees have been donated.

menardgardeneRock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is a hardy Texas native with small flowers.

I admire people who give of themselves to their communities.

“Trump and Clinton are like divorced parents fighting over custody of us. And we just wanna live with Grandma.”  unknown

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Flower Bunches

One philosophy of landscape designers is to plant large sweeps of one color for a bold eye catching display.  They also say to have a limited number of plant varieties in a yard.  Now I don’t follow either of those landscape rules.  Not that I doubt their validity.  It just that I prefer a cottage garden look.

bunches2At this time of the year, those mass plantings that I do have look kind of scraggly after a long summer.

In my opinion, one of the best plants to draw butterflies is Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium Greggii).  But even large groups of them aren’t that impressive except for all the activity of beautiful butterflies darting all around.

bunches4To really see the flowers themselves requires a close up shot.  They are like little puffs of pale lavender.

bunches3Migrating Monarchs stop to feast for a day or two.

bunchesThis year I vow to divide the Purple Asters.  If only making that statement would get the job done.

bunches1Some plants like this Russian Sage grew and spread beyond what I had expected.  Putting one tiny plant in the ground, I certainly did not leave enough room for them to expand.  So they are wedged between Earthkind® Roses and Salvia Greggi.

bunches6I have planted these Coral Drift Roses since this picture was taken.  They are low growing, spreading bushes with clusters of roses from spring until frost.

Last year we planted five along one edge of a bed.  I had planned to put something else along the other edge.  I tried some irises, but it looked lopsided after their blooms ended.  So these are to fill in to make one larger group of roses.

buncheskHere is a close up from one of the bushes from last year.  Drift roses are a variety of Knock-out® roses.

bunches7Sometimes groups of flowers can be small but their brilliant color still grabs one’s attention.  This Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) came from a friend.  Many stems have been cut and rooted and shared.

Note the thorns on the stems.  I have a cheap pair of kitchen tongs I use to handle them.  Most of these stems will be cut off soon because it is too difficult to put the pot in the shed without tearing skin.

bunches8Gorgeous clusters of bright red from this Bougainvillea, still blooming in late October, steals the spotlight.  It also has thorns and will need to be repotted in a larger container as well as trimmed back.

bunchesbAnother striking blossom made up of tiny flowers is found on the Vitex tree or large shrub (Vitex agnus-castus) .  Its upright bunches are very attractive.

Whatever your garden style is, just enjoy it.

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”  unknown

Oldies but Goodies

One of the pleasures of gardening is the return each year of perennials.  Success with plants is not always the case, so it feels good when it happens.

oldiesOne sure way to achieve success in the garden is to use native plants.  All plants are native somewhere, so planting native always refers to what grows naturally in your neck of the woods.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is one of those wildflowers that comes up wherever it pleases.  If that doesn’t bother you, then it works.   I like the way the white flowers kind of glow.

oldies8Clammy Weed and Zinnas are easy to please – just a little water and sunshine.

oldies1Rose of Sharon also does well here.  Most of my bushes have the flowers that look like Hibiscus.  These have a rose look.

oldies2One of the best plant that gardeners in central Texas can have are Gregg’s Blue Mist Flowers (Conoclinium greggii).  Just step up close to them and have butterflies darting all around you.oldies3Blue Mists fill in spaces among other plants.  If you like that, you’re good to go.  If not, put them in a contained flower bed.

oldies44Another beauty is Turk’s Cap (malvaviscus drummondii).  It doesn’t look like it would survive Texas sun, but this plant has been in this spot for eight or nine years.  it’s tough.

oldies4The garden is doing well when all kinds of “good” bugs live there.

oldies5Bright red of these turbans always make me smile.

oldies7Behind the Blue Mist, Mexican Petunias (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’) keep expanding.  This is another one that needs to be contained if you have limited space.

This group all came from one cutting that I took nine years ago.  If you see something you like, then ask permission to take a cutting.  If it doesn’t survive, then nothing lost.

oldies6One of my favorites:  Henry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) was planted many years ago.  I bought it long before I knew anything about it.  It is now a Texas Superstar plant.

Many hardly plants are found in cemeteries.  These were growing on a grave when they were discovered, so they were named for the name on the tombstone.

oldies9Ordinary Morning Glory reminds me of old gardens of the early settlers.  There’s a reason they have been around for years and years.  It’s impossible to kill them.

Just a few seeds from a friend and voila, you’ll have flowers forever.  But they are invasive, so beware.

oldiesaRock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is one of the better behaved natives.  It stays where it is put and is not invasive.

oldiesbPretty little flowers that look more like hibiscus than roses.

oldiescStrawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) does come up profusely.  But it’s a small plant that looks good poking its head up among other flowers.

Neat and tidy in the garden isn’t my thing.

oldiesgCanyon Creek Abelia (Abelia grandiflora ‘Canyon Creek’) is fighting to keep its place in a bed since Pink Gaura keeps spreading out.

oldiesdThis bush in the back yard is so bright and cheerful.  I have sought to identify it definitively.

Finally, a nursery man had one like it and told me it was a Texas Flowery Senna (Senna corymbosa).  Other names include Flowering Senna, Tree Senna, and Buttercup Bush.

After about six years, it’s about 6 feet tall and wide.  Great plant.

oldiesfSmall green flying bugs or bees flit from flower to flower.  One is on a petal in the upper middle of the picture.

Wildflowers are just weeds.  So pick the pretty ones you love and plant a few seeds.

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”  W. E. Johns

 

Heat Lovers

The title, Heat Lovers, refers to plants, definitely not me.

heatlovingDesignated a Texas Superstar Plant, the Texas Star Hibiscus, doesn’t look like a hibiscus.

heatloving1It has not been a heavy bloomer for me, but the flowers are unique.

heatlovingfTo me, the only reason to plant Gregg’s Bluemist Flower (Conoclinium Greggii A. Gray) is to attract butterflies.  These are truly covered from late spring to late fall with Viceroys.

The Bluemist has spread into Red Yuccas with sharp spikes.

heatloving2Bluemist flowers are small and not that noticeable or impressive.  The purple flowers to the right are a few larkspurs hanging on.

heatlovingg

heatlovingdOn the porch that provides indirect light, A Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) has outgrown its container.  That should be fun to transplant.

It was a pass along plant, and I’ve started several other pots from this plant.  Color of the flowers is so pretty.

heatlovingeIce plant has been in this pot for years.

heatloving3A Bubba Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Bubba’) that is a couple of years old has gorgeous blooms.

heatloving4This will grow into a tree with several trunks that arch out from the center.

heatloving5Clammy Weed (Polanisia dodecandra) is a wildflower that came from the same lady who gave me the Crown of Thorns. The seeds are carried by the wind, so it comes up in unexpected places.

heatloving6Rose of Sharon Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) must be watered regularly to bloom.  But it is so worth it.  The other bush with red blooms is Dynamite Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Indica ‘Dynamite’).  Both of these bushes are about 10 years old..

heatloving7Love Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum (L.) Salisb. Ex G. Don SSP Russellianum) and Strawberry Gompheras (Gomphrena haageana ‘Strawberry Fields’) and Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).

heatloving8One of my favorite flowering bushes, Duranta doesn’t begin to bloom until mid July when the temps rev up.

heatlovingaIt is in the verbena family.  The clusters of tiny flowers are breathtaking.

heatloving9Although Duranta does well in our hot, hot summers, it is iffy in cold weather.  Mine is on the east side of the house, so it gets morning sun and no direct northern winds.  A heavy mulch when it starts to get cold protects the roots.  So it’s a great plant if you have just the right place for it.

heatlovingbRecently we bought three new Crape Myrtles from a guy attending a gardening seminar.  He said that they are a new type called ‘Alamo Fire’ Red Crepe Myrtle and will grow to 10 – 12 feet tall.

heatlovingcLove the color of the flowers and that they have been blooming since they were planted.

Right after these pictures were taken, some of the branches were broken off and the flowers eaten.  Jackrabbits, I think.  Grrr!   So I put cages around them to protect them.

“… it looks to me like the upcoming U.S. presidential election will force Americans, to paraphrase the great American writer Gore Vidal, to cast their ballot against the evil of two lessers.”  Ted Woloshyn

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  unknown

Blooming in the Heat

Whenever I go outside to move the water hose from tree to tree, I feel like I should apologize to all the plants for the heat.  It’s unbelievable that they can live in 100 plus temperatures that continues for days.

In spite of the heat that takes one’s breath away, some plants continue to bloom.

flowers5Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’) Bloodflower, Swallow-wort, Butterfly Weed, or Scarlet Milkweed
Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’ is a survivor.flowers6Butterflies love it.  Monarchs must have milkweed to survive, so this is a pretty one to have in your yard.

flowers8Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)  or false dragonhead has gotten tall and is still blooming.

flowers9Friends have warned that it is invasive.  Anything that lasts in the hottest part of summer is okay in my book.  Plus, it’s attractive.

flowersgGood ole Gregg’s Blue Mistflower (Physostegia virginiana) is a Texas native that never gives up.

flowershIt, too, could be considered invasive, but I love that it has spread.

flowersfTo get the orientation of this picture, Ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii Torr.) or Baldwin’s ironweed or Western Ironweed, is growing in the pot to the right, but has twisted up to the left.  It’s also called Tall Ironweed.  Now I know why.  This fall I plan to plant this in the ground somewhere, keeping in mind that it is aggressive.

flowersePink Gaura (Gaura angustifolia) Southern Bee Blossom or
Morning Honeysuckle with tons of swaying blossoms is a favorite.

flowersbBees were flitting so quickly that I couldn’t get a good picture.  But there’s a side view of one here.

flowersdSo much activity with these branches and pollinators.

flowerscIt was also covered with Viceroy butterflies.  Lovely.

Hope you find some beauty in this heat – maybe looking out of a window to a favorite view.

“Skinny people are easier to kidnap. Stay safe. Eat cake.”  unknown