Autumn – Nope, Not Yet

Even though it’s autumn on the calendar, the weather here is still hot in the daytime with highs in the 90’s.  The mornings are cooler, which has perked up some plants.  There are still lots of things that are blooming.

autumn2The Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) has been covered with small flowers for months.  Garden designers suggest that wide flowerbeds look more pleasing.  And I don’t disagree, but there is a problem.  It is harder to reach into those beds and pull weeds.  Notice the green weeds.  Longer arms might allow me to pull them out with roots, but I can only break off the tops.

autumn5

animals5If I am totally still, you can’t see me.

autumn3In February of 2014 I bought a miniature Kordana rose at the grocery store.  I posted a picture and commented that it probably wouldn’t survive the winter outside.

autumn4But it did – in a clay pot, even.  That one got broken, so we’ll see how it does in this new fiberglass pot.

autumnA crow has adopted our yard.  He flies away fast whenever I open the door.  At the top of this Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), maybe he couldn’t hear my stealth approach.

autumn1Orange Marmalade Crossandra (Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’ was an impulse buy.  It is heat tolerant.  That’s a plus.  We’ll see how it does inside for the winter.

autumn6Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is in the Stonecrop family.  It’s a wonderful hardy succulent.

autumnbHere’s another pot on the back porch that has been here for nine years.  I keep meaning to plant some directly into a flowerbed.  If they survive the winter in pots, surely they’d do well in the ground.

In front of the Sedum is a Purple Leaf Shamrock (Oxalis regnellii), which has also been in that pot for years.  I do take that into a heated shed for the winter.

autumnaNormally Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) isn’t that striking a plant to me.  But in full bloom, it caught my eye.

autumn7Finally, the Duranta bush (Duranta erecta) has more blooms, although not as many as some years.  The red clay pots under it were my solution to lift the branches up off the ground so I could mow beside them.  In this case, a wider flowerbed would have been better.

autumn9I really love this bush.

autumn8So do pollinators.

autumndThis is at one end of a long bed in the backyard.  The Texas sage or purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) is blooming.

autumne

autumncNext in line is a Senna bush.  The long branches with a single yellow flower or a couple of flowers on the tip is very different from the bush behind it with large clusters of yellow flowers.

autumnf

autumngI think I have finally identified this bush – Cassia, Winter Cassia, or Butterfly Bush (Cassia bicapsularis).  I have guessed that it is Senna or Thryallis but have never been certain.  But I finally found a picture on the internet that seemed to match.

Beside that is a Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii).  If you want something that multiples, here’s your plant.

autumnhWhatever its name, it is gorgeous.

autumniAt the far end of that flowerbed is a Butterfly Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri).  Lovely.

Cooler days are ahead.  In the meantime, the crisp mornings are great.

“It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It’s the regrets over yesterday. And the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves that rob us of today.” Robert Hastings

Early Morning Golden Glow

In an attempt to beat the harsh sunlight, I went out early to get some pictures.  Only when I looked at them on the computer did I notice the eerie gold cast from the rising sun.

earlymorning glowBy the gate a couple of young rabbits were hopping around.  At first, they looked like cottontails.

earlymorning glow1But some of the pictures show characteristics of jackrabbits – tall ears, long front legs, and coloring.  So it seems that the jackrabbit population in the yard is growing.

earlymorning glow2In the backyard flowerbed everything is waning.  Flame Acanthus (Wright Anisacanth) or hummingbird bush on the left with slender red blossoms provides a perfect tube for hummingbirds to feed.

reblooming1The flaky bark on the branches, along with its shape, makes a nice winter accent.  Acanthus does well in sunny, well-drained soil. It is hardy throughout zone 8, and root hardy to zone 7.

reblooming3The Thryallis (Galphimia glauca) with the yellow flowers had a burst of reblooming after a few cooler days a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a gorgeous bush when covered with bright yellow flowers.

earlymorning glow4In the background of the previous picture is this new arbor structure.  The plan is for this Cross Vine (Bignonia capreolata) to cover the sides and top to make a shady nook.

The stats say that the vines grow 50 feet, so I think it will happen.  It also seems to be evergreen here.  Another vine in the same family, Trumpet, is greatly maligned as being too aggressive.  They both have pretty orange tubular flowers.  So far, I’m happy with the look.

earlymorning glow5The root system of this Mexican or Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) still concerns me because it’s so close to the house, and the tree itself is larger than I expected it to grow.

earlymorning glow6Bees were extremely busy in the early morning.

earlymorning glow7So active that getting a pix required some patience.

earlymorning glow9For some reason, the Duranta (Duranta erecta) has not bloomed very much this year.  I suspect it’s because I did not do a good job of fertilizing everything or applying mulch this year.  The bees were enjoying the few flowers on it.

earlymorning glow8Also, the Morning Glory only has a few blossoms.

earlymorning glowcClammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra),a  small native bush was given to me by a friend years ago.  It’s one of those plants that comes up in different spots every year.  Insect holes in the leaves appear every year.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty little bush.

earlymorning glowaA couple of wildflowers, Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbiaceae), came up in a flowerbed.  At first, I kept planning to dig them up.  Then, I decided to leave them because they brighten up the area.

earlymorning glowbThe actual flowers are yellow and tiny set in white and green bracts.

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

“Chocolate comes from cocoa which comes from a tree. That makes it a plant. Therefore, chocolate counts as salad. The end.”  unknown

Jackrabbits

Visitors to our place are always fascinated by the jackrabbits in our yard, especially city folks.  In the early morning and evening, there are usually six to ten rabbits munching away at the grass.  They really aren’t too bothered by people and don’t run unless you get within four feet of them.  I guess they are more worried about the coyotes, foxes, bobcats, snakes, and hawks on the property.  Those are real threats.  But jackrabbits are ever alert and can zip off with amazing speed and long leaps.Jackrabbits are actually not rabbits but hares.   Lepus californicus are the kind we have, with black tails.  They do not burrow in the ground but use shallow depressions or a flattened nest of grass for sleeping and birthing.  Their young are born fully furred and eyes open.  Soon after birth, they must fend for themselves.

Six years ago a baby was born at the edge of our front porch.  There is a step down.  We found him or her up against the edge of that step.  It stayed there for  three days.  Although the adults are pretty strange looking, this little one was cute.  I’m sorry that I didn’t think to get a picture.

Even though they mate all year and have two to four in a litter, we’ve only seen that one young jackrabbit.  They do grow quickly to adulthood within eight months.

Hares are generally larger than rabbits, with longer ears, and have black markings on their buff colored fur.  Their ears are the same length as their hind feet. Out in the field they sit  upright and still with their fur and ears blending right into the brush, or they flatten their ears against their back and scrunch down on the ground.

Jackrabbits are strict vegetarians. During the spring and summer, they feed on almost anything green that grows low on the ground.  During the lean fall and winter months, they subsist on woody and dried vegetation.   I don’t mind them eating our grass except for when they concentrate on one spot.  One year they created a 10′ x 10′ bald spot in the yard.  I tried scattering cut onions and anything else that smelled bad.  Nothing stopped them.

The jackrabbit name came from their resemblance to both a jackass and a rabbit.  They are nicknamed mule-eared rabbits.  The cowboys used to call them muleys.

A crazy mythical character called a jackalope has the body of a jackrabbit with antlers on the head.  Cowboys and early settlers told outlandish tales about jackalopes.  For instance, a female jackalope could be milked and the milk used for medicinal purposes.  Also, it was able to mimic sounds made by humans and other creatures.  They could misdirect hunters by yelling, “Over there.  It went that away.”
There are many statues of jackalopes in the western half of the US, from Wyoming to Texas.  This one is in Fort Worth on Camp Bowie Boulevard.  It was installed on the  roof of the Jackalope Store, a pottery and gardening store, in 1982.  It is 8′ tall and made of chicken wire, paper mache and fiberglass.  It is now on top of a used car dealership.

The Jackrabbit embodies the summer struggle of survival in west and central Texas.  The climate is harsh, extreme and not pretty, but jackrabbits and people are resilient and adaptable.

“The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.”  Mark Twain