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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Red Hot Summertime

Back in the days before central air (the dark ages), an afternoon nap was mandated.  We would lie down while Mother read to us.  Soon she would be asleep, and we would be restless and anxious to get outside again.

Today, any work that needs to be done outside must be finished by noon.  This morning I mowed and moved the pots seen in this picture.  So it looks much more manicured now.  Coral Drift Roses still blooming.  If they are deadheaded, they will bloom until frost.

Salvia Greggii holds up well in the heat.

Today there are so many different Geraniums on the market.  The colors and scents vary.  They do better here if they only get indirect sunlight or early morning sun.

Flame Acanthus or Hummingbird Bush (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii)) provides nectar for pollinators.  It can take poor soil, hot sun, and is root hardy to zone 7.

Critters visit off and on all day.

The bright red of Strawberry Fields Gomphera (Gomphrena haageana) draws attention like a neon sign.  They are native to Texas and Mexico and are strong reseeding annuals.  Away from the yard, they pop up around the compost heap.

Pink Coneflowers (Echinacea) attract butterflies, who like to land on their dome shape.

Roadrunner strolls across the yard nibbling here and there.  He froze when he sensed my presence at the door.

So thankful for A/C, shade, and iced tea.

“Both the cockroach and the bird would get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most.”  Joseph Wood KrutchSave

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Awesome Autumn

In our region, every drop of rain and every cool day is a blessing.  Makes us all feel rejuvenated.

autumnblooms Vitex still has blooms.

autumnblooms12Flame Acanthus has gotten a lot of attention from butterflies lately.  Here some fast little Sulphurs zip from flower to flower making it a challenge to photograph even a blur of yellow.

autumnblooms1This Giant Swallowtail lingered at each tubular blossom.

autumnblooms2Beauty in motion.

autumnblooms6Swallowtails have a wingspan of 4 to 5 and a half inches, so it’s easy to spot them.

autumnblooms3Globe Mallow is covered with bright orange cup shaped flowers.  Boy, I never expected this native to get so large.

autumnblooms4The orange flowers pop on the grey-green ruffled leaves.  The bush is a nice contrast to all the green leafed bushes around it.

autumnblooms5The flowers on the Blue Plumbago or Cape Plumbago are dropping daily.  The blue flowers are so pale that in bright light they look white.  Soon it will be time to carry it into the shed.

autumnblooms7Roses are putting on a final extravaganza.  I love how rose bushes perform year after year.

autumnblooms8Pale peachy color on the flowers from this bush is stunning.  I’ve had it so long that I don’t remember the variety.

autumnblooms9A tight bud.

autumnbloomsaTropical Ixora (Ixora coccinia) is known as jungle flame.  It amazes me that the flowers bloom almost indefinitely.  The evergreen shrub has a rounded shape with glossy foliage.

Being a plant that naturally grows in Asian heavily wooded areas, it prefers shade.  Mine is grown in a pot that is tucked into a corner where it only receives late afternoon sun as it is low on the horizon.

autumnbloomsbReblooming Irises are back, although on very short stems.

autumnbloomsccVariegated Fritillary on a Pink Coneflower (Echinacea).  Most of the Coneflowers have dried, but a few have appeared in recent weeks.  Coneflower is an easy plant to grow.  It reseeds and multiples every year.

bunches5Back in August after a heavy rainfall, this trellis that has Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) was growing so thickly that it toppled over.  We cut back the vines to the ground, put in more concrete, and righted the trellis.

Since that time, the vine is growing like crazy.  It’s going to be difficult to keep this thing in check.  Okay. Maybe it’s becoming invasive.

autumnbloomsdCopper Canyon Daisy (Tagetes lemmonii) blooms in late fall and is always a nice surprise.  It is native to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and northern Mexico and truly doesn’t need much water.

Up close it also stinks, so deer don’t like it.  It’s not a problem outside but reeks in a confined space.

autumnbloomsddIt flowers on the ends of wispy stems that bounce around in the wind.

autumnbloomsdddNice bright yellow flowers.  This might be a Painted Lady butterfly on it.

“Love is like wildflowers; it’s often found in the most unlikely places.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Eden

A small town in the midst of scrub brush in flat West Texas has a garden, which was the result of one man’s labor.

eden01The Garden of Eden has some surprising elements.  It’s been two years since I last visited, and it has changed some.

eden1A large plastic tank has recycling water – nice soothing sound.

eden2An old milk can is used as the spout vessel.  I’m surprised that it hasn’t rusted out.

eden3Flame Acanthus (Aniscanthus quadrifidus var. quadrifidus var. wrightii) is scattered throughout the garden.  Once established, it’s very hardy.

eden4No surprise that hummingbirds and butterflies visit the tubular flowers.  It is drought tolerant and even does well in poor soils.

eden5Coral Honeysuckle or Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) has become a bramble beside the metal archway where it was originally trained to grow.

eden7A banana tree growing in West Texas.  Hard to believe that it can withstand the dry heat or the winter temperatures.  Yet, here it is producing bananas.

eden6This was a volunteer plant that came up and no one has been able to identify it.

eden8Lots of pretty grasses.  Although many ornamental grasses last only one year, this one must be perennial.

edenaNative Morning Glory grabs hold of lots of bushes and intertwines in the stems and leaves.  Here it is growing among Mexican Petunias.

edenbThe yellow flowers are Texas Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans), which is a beloved plant that is native to far West Texas in the Big Bend area.  It is a tall shrub with gorgeous flowers that is drought tolerant and abides limestone soils.

However, cold winters have done mine in.  But I keep trying to save one.

eden02Although this garden has been turned over to the city and depends on volunteers for maintenance, the man who planted it is still very much involved.

edencTypical agave with Mexican Petunias behind them.  Agaves are not all that cold hardy, so I’m surprised to see them here.

edendTangerine Beauty Crossvine (Bignonia capreolate ‘Tangerine Beauty’) is a perfect fit for this part of Texas.  It is cold hardy, endures the hot summers, and is pretty, to boot.

edeneTexas Sotol (Dasylirion leiophyllum) is a common sight in pastures and is extremely hardy.  It has sharp edges, so it should not be planted close to walkways.

edenfAnother hardy plant, Salvia Greggii Red Sage has a pleasant scent, especially when brushed as one passes by it.  It is a semi woody plant that is native to Texas and Mexico.  It thrives in the heat but does not tolerant wet feet.

edengAs a soft plant for touching, Artemesia in the Mugwort family is a wonderful choice.  They are grown for their silvery-green foliage and for their wonderful aroma.

edenhMore Yellow Bells

edeniFour O’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) were grown by the Aztecs for medicinal and ornamental purposes.  They spread profusely.  Where each black seed falls, a new plant will spring up.  The seeds can be seen in the picture where spend flowers have fallen.

edenjPalo Verde Trees (Parkinsonia aculeata) are desert trees that have pretty yellow flowers in the spring.  Maybe the mild winters the last few years have allowed this one to get a foothold.
edenkA clever tin man that I would like to duplicate but finding the right size cans could be a problem.

Although most of the plants in this garden are what one would expect to see in this area, it seems lush with the paths winding through tall shrubs and full plantings.

“Knowledge is knowing what to say.  Wisdom is knowing when to say it.”  unknown

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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

Summer Continues

Summer drags on, but we did have a respite with rain and cooler temperatures one day last week.  And thankfully, there have been only a few 100 plus days since then.

summercontinues6Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) is doing well even though it may receive too much water from the sprinkler system as we try to keep other plants alive.

summercontinues7This one is probably ‘Santa Barbara’ since it has pale purple calyx and flower.

summercontinuesdI like that Drift Roses spread out low to the ground.  Another plus is that they almost always have flowers during the blooming season.

summercontinues8Coneflowers (Echinacea) have won a place in my heart.  These were planted late in the spring, so they’re blooming much later than the older ones I have.

summercontinues9Bees seem to be everywhere gathering nectar.

summercontinuescWhite Plumbago (Plumbaginaceae) or Leadwort looking good. That’s also Plumbago in the turquoise pot.  It was purchased in the spring and is still small but has grown quite a bit.

summercontinuesaThe Plumbago flowers aren’t as full as they were in the cooler temps of late spring.

summercontinues3The Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii) to the left looks a little weary.  The Senna from the family of Fabaceae has perked back up.

In the background, the fields are white from searing heat and lack of moisture.

summercontinuesI love this bush and so do the bees.

summercontinues2The bright yellow flowers are so cheery.

summercontinuesbWe had a seven foot tower built for a rose bush since an aggressive climbing rose tore up the old, less sturdy one.  We pulled that rose up and will replace it with something else this fall.

summercontinues4This Common Garden Spider immediately claimed the tower.

summercontinues5A camera flash was needed to capture the spider’s web.

animals5Freeze.  Let’s play statues and maybe no one will notice me.  This Jackrabbit stays in the yard and sometimes has companions.  I’m okay with them as long as they just nibble on grass.  But lately, they have ventured into the flower beds and are eating plants down to the nub.  Chasing them off is useless.  They return as soon as I go back in the house.  Ah, the pleasures of country living.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams

Wintertime Yard

When it’s cold but dry outside, I sometimes wander around in the yard looking for some beauty in forms or at least, something unusual.

winteryardThese Coneflowers (Echinacea) are a good place to start.  I like their spiky ball shape and the way the light creates different color tones.  The name Echinacea comes from the Greek word meaning sea urchin.  That spiny center certainly looks like one.

This past year Coneflowers became one of my favorite flowers because the petals and central disk have bright colors and demand attention.

winteryard2The branches and seed pods on this Blue Curls (Phacelia congesta) strikes me as interesting.  In a state known for its Bluebonnets, this native loses out on the spotlight.  But it has beautiful light blue bell shaped blossoms that grow on curling stems.

winteryard3The dried flower heads of Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana) in their winter gold make me anxious for their bright red color to return.  Lots of seeds should have fallen to produce a good crop this coming spring.  Another fave.

winteryard4A few orange-rust colored leaves cling to this Flame Acanthus (Acanthaceaae Anisacanthus wrightii) creating a stained glass window look.  Maybe my imagination is too strong.

winteryard6Bare branches emphasis a characteristic of the Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii).  The bark loses its outer layers on the trunk and larger branches.

winteryard5As with other white oaks, the Chinkapin is a hardwood used in building construction.

winteryard7The curly leaves of Woodland Ferns take on an artistic look in the winter.  They are crisp and look like they would crumble easily.  But past experience reminds me that they are difficult to pull out of the bed to prepare for new shoots in the spring.  So I use loppers to chop them off at the ground.

With little shade in my yard, they occupy the only flowerbed that receives almost no direct light.

winterskyHow fortunate we are to live where the skies are clear and vast.  When I think of all the millions of people who only see smog when they look up, it makes me sad for them.

wintersky2Love the buttermilk sky.

Plants, trees, and skies remind of God’s daily grace.

“Counting other people’s sins does not make one a saint.”  Unknown