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

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A Smorgasbord of Color and Form

This spring’s rains has brought exceptionally beautiful sights.  There’s plenty of green and other gorgeous colors all around us.

olioThe first Cone Flower from the Echinacea genus has opened.  Even though the petals aren’t as perfectly formed as later ones will be, the pollinators don’t care.

olio1Drift Roses are covered with masses of blooms.  At the far end of the bed is a Prairie Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) with its silvery airiness and a mound of gray Santolina (S. chamaecyparissus) with its buds ready to provide small yellow flowers.

olio2I love that drift roses stay under two feet tall and continually bloom through autumn.  To the right of them is Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) which will have brght red flowers in the heat of the summer.

olio3The clusters of roses make a strong visual  impact.

olio4This three year old Privet is blooming for the first time.  From the genus of Ligustrum, Privets are now considered invasive.  I’d be surprised if its seed would take hold in the hard clay in our area.

olio5It smells heavenly.

olio6Pink Guara’s (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’) swaying branches look pretty in our ever present wind.  Beside the pot, the Texas Ash needs the sprouts at the base trimmed away – again.

olio7Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) is blooming.  To the left of it, Duranta is slowly growing, awaiting the heat blast of August to bloom.

olio8Pretty stalks of closed buds on Red Yuccas reach up for attention.  In the background is a raised bed that will be shown in the next picture.

Note the pieces of black ground-cover cloth.  They was put down about nine years ago.  Knowing what I know now – it doesn’t keep weeds from growing through the cloth; it hinders planting something new; and seems to last forever –  I definitely would not use it again.

olio9Henry Duelburg Sage (Salvia farinacea Henry Duelberg) continues to perform magnificently after eleven years.

olioaA wonderful plant that bees love.

olioaaTexas native Square Bud Primrose (Onagraceae Calylophus drummondianus var. beriandieri.) is a showy splash of yellow on a low mound of thin grassy stems.

oliobLarkspurs (Delphinium consolida) are providing their surprise locations all over the yard.  Scatter these seeds and have purple flowers popping up everywhere.

In the lower left corner are some native False Foxglove (Penstemon cobaea).

oliobbMore Pink Gaura in a flowerbed.

olioccA copper colored reblooming Iris.

oliodAnd a lavender and yellow one.  Can’t resist snapping pictures of these beauties in the spring.

oliocWe have always called these natives that appear in the yard Lamb’s Ears because they look and feel like the ones sold in nurseries. They have soft, velvety foliage.  But recently I learned that they are actually Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).  They are sure plentiful around here.  My husband loves to mow them down, but I want a few left to grow.

The leaves get about a sixteen inches in size.  Then late in summer a tall stalk will reach about three feet in height and small yellow flowers will form an elongated cluster.  Interesting plant.

Thanks for perusing my blog and enjoy your own green space.

“When a woman wears leather clothing, a man’s heart beats quicker, his throat gets dry, he goes weak in the knees, and he begins to think irrationally.
Ever wonder why?
She smells like a new truck.”  unknown

Robust Flower Bed

Still have the same dilemma that I always have when planting.  Beds usually become too crowded because the plants get bigger than I imagined they would.  Or there is too much space around the plants.

frontbedhjpgThis bed is visible from the front porch and front windows.

frontbeddI like the colors and the plants individually but overall design needs work.

frontbedbThe yellow border is made up of Stonecrop Sedum.  From a small start taken from my mother’s yard, I have scattered it around in several beds.  This year I put some around the edge of one end of this bed to create a border.

The positive characteristics of this sedum is that it roots and spreads quickly, is drought tolerant, and covers nicely.

frontbed8As soon as summer heats up, the yellow will disappear and leave tall dead stems that will need to be cut off, unless they don’t bother you.  The green will become a dull greyish green.  So it’s not a perfect plant.

frontbedcThis is the first Butterfly Weed (Asclepias) I’ve had that is covered in blooms with a bright orange color.  I have two others in a different bed that look pretty bland.

This plant seems misnamed because it doesn’t attract butterflies like other plants that grow nearby.

frontyard614uIn front of the Butterfly Weed Bush is a native Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis) that has filled out this year.  A friend assured me that I would like it when she gave it to me.  And she’s right even though the blooms are not large.

frontbed1These Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum) have spread and bloomed like crazy this year.  These were also a pass-along from a friend.

frontbedNot sure which specific Gomphera these are, but they are a neon magenta color.  I planted them because I didn’t think last year’s Gomphera were coming back.

frontbedmThe Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum) have gotten leggy this year, so they are susceptible to being trampled by whatever creatures stomp through them at night.

Some interesting facts about Texas Bluebells:
The Japanese have been breeding them for over 70 years and know them as Lisianthus.  They have developed pink, white and deep purple varieties with both single and double petals.

Texas Bluebells are little known now because they are so pretty.  People have picked them so much that the native flowers haven’t been able to reseed in the wild.

frontbed7Bluebell are delicate looking flowers but are hardy in nature, if left alone.

frontbedkThis monster just keeps growing.  If it didn’t die in the winter, it might just take over the yard.  I don’t remember what it is, but it was bought at a Lady Bird Johnson Center sale, so it’s a native.

frontbedlSandwiched between that plant on the left and the Cone Flowers on the right is another mystery plant.  I don’t think I planted it, but it grew here last year, too.  I keep waiting for it to bloom hoping to identify it.  The leaves look like those of a mum.  If it doesn’t bloom this year, it’s out of here.

frontbedjThe Cone Flowers(Echinacea) did a great job of reseeding because many more are coming up.  The Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) with the red flowers did return but apparently did not seed.  I’m still hoping that some of those seeds will set for next year.

frontbedaLove the look and color of these Coneflowers.

frontbediThe Blue Curls bush (Phacelia congesta) also is growing like a weed.

frontbed9The Blue Curls flowers on stalks are a soft muted purple.

frontbednIn fact, the bush has gotten so big that the wind whirligig won’t move.

frontbed4The Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) also is jammed up against a bush.  Small clumps came up all around the original plants.  I have moved several to get a fuller look at this end of the bed, but some four legged varmits keep digging them up.

Makes me wonder if I’ll ever get it right.  I like a nice full look, but not this crowded.

frontbedfLast year three small Strawberry Fields Gompheras (Gompherena haageana) were planted here.  I asked the man at the nursery if they would reseed.  He said “Maybe.”

This year I had given up hope but the other day noticed the mass of tiny plants.

frontbedfgjpgThey are already blooming and getting their height.  So I have plenty of Gompheras to share.

Guess I’ll keep muddling along trying to get the look I want in the flower beds.

“The biggest lie I tell myself is “I don’t need to write that down.  I’ll remember it.'”  Unknown

Cheery Plants

Because I can’t see my grandchildren or friends everyday, there is another way to brighten my day.  I just step outside and watch the fluffy cumulus clouds drift across the sky.  Or walk out to look at some flowers blooming.yellowbellsIn August clusters of Texas Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans) hang on drooping stems.  The branches are leaning more than usual this year because I didn’t put them through metal hoop stands to hold them up as I usually do.

yellowbells2Texas Yellow Bells are native to the Big Bend area of West Texas.  That alone reveals how hardy they are.

yellowbells3The tubular shape is good for bees.

standingcypressIt’s not uncommon to hear:  “Oh, my gosh.  What is that gorgeous red flower that grows along the Texas highways.”

The answer is Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra).  The flowers are along the top of a tall slender branch.  They are bold and eye catching in any landscape.  I’ve wanted some for years.  Finally, in the spring at the Lady Bird Johnson Center, I bought three small ones.  Only two lived, so I’m really hoping they will reseed.

cornflower2Another plant I’ve wanted is a Coneflower.  This one (Echinacea sanguine) is bigger than others I had seen.  This was also bought this year at the Lady Bird Center.  Sanguinea is Latin for blood.  This refers to the color of the petals.  But they look pink to me.

cornflowerThe shape is so interesting.  It reminds me of badminton birdies.

cornflower4See.  It makes you smile.

God has provided many things to bring us joy.  Nature is just one of them.

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” James Matthew Barrie