Old and New

Old or new?  That can mean friends, habits, experiences, tastes, or whatever.  Do we have to choose?  Sometimes circumstances, such as locations or life changes, dictate that we can’t embrace the old and the new at the same time.  But fortunately, it’s possible to enjoy old favorite plants and the acquaintance of new plants at the same time.

birdofparadise5This was one of the first bushes we planted after we moved here.  We did make a mistake where it was planted.  I certainly don’t recommend planting a Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) in a flowerbed beside the house.

birdofparadiseIt was a surprise that it grew so fast.  If allowed, it would grow into a small tree.  We cut it back almost to the ground every winter in an attempt to keep its roots from damaging the foundation.  I’ve learned that doesn’t really work because the roots continue to grow even when the trunk is managed.  My hope is that it has deep roots like most plants that are drought tolerant.

birdofparadise2Bees flit from the end of one red stamen to the other.  How they can gather pollen that quickly is a mystery to me.

birdofparadise3They are not alone on the bush.  The spider in this picture successfully netted this bee.

birdofparadise4Not only is the spider enjoying one meal but has another trapped for the upcoming meal.  It’s barely visible in the picture, but the bee on the right is caught in the same web.

Yes, almost every part of this bush is poisonous.

blackberrylilyA new friend in the Garden Club comes up with more varieties of Texas natives or plants that have adapted to this area than anyone I know.  And she’s always willing to share.

This Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis) is just one of many plants that she has introduced me to.  It is a bulb plant in the iris family.

blackberrylily2The flowers are rather small.  Clusters of shiny black seeds are exposed when the seed capsules split open.  I haven’t seen this yet, but look forward to it.

Blackberry Lily is native to China and Japan.  Crazy that it grows here.

I’m thankful for friends who have taught me so much and for fellow gardeners who are generous with their knowledge and their pass along seeds, bulbs, and plants.

“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you.  You have to go to them sometimes.”  Winnie the Pooh

Bird of Paradise

The information out there about this plant is confusing.  First of all, the names alone makes me dizzy.  There is the Mexican Bird of Paradise, the Texas Bird of Paradise, the Pride of Barbados, the Red Bird, the Yellow Hybrid, Dwarf Poinciana, Peacock Flower, Desert Bird of Paradise, Flamboyan-de-Jardin, and the Barbados Fence Flower, etc.

Enough!  See what I mean.

I’ve always thought that my tree was the Mexican Bird of Paradise, but it might be the Texas one.  From the pictures that I’ve seen, the Barbados ones have the red flowers.  Since I’m not a botanist, I won’t worry about it.Birds of Paradise all seem to be Caesalpinia with another identifying word specifying which one.  They are in the legume family and can be pruned into bushes.  They are native to Argentina and Uruguay but have naturalized in Texas.

In our location, they drop their leaves in a cold winter.  Because we don’t want it to get too big, we cut ours down to about a foot of trunk.  It is planted too close to the house.  Another gardener mistake because I did not expect it to do so well.

They really do need much more room to grow.  Their height can get to 10′ with a spread of 6′.  This one does well with morning sun but could handle full sun.   Here it blooms in late spring and all summer.  Some years it produces pods with seeds.

The large fuzzy bees crawl into the blossoms while small bees flit from stamen to stamen, only touching the ends of the red stamens.  After 15 minutes with camera in hand trying to snap a tiny bee zipping around and never lighting longer than a nanosecond, I gave up on getting a picture.

The Bird of Paradise is a reliable small tree with unusual and pretty blossoms that attract bees and hummingbirds.

“Before I came here, I was confused about this subject.  Having listened to your lecture, I am still confused – but on a higher level.”  Enrico Fermi.