Sunday, August 17, 2014

Outside My Front Door

Outside my front door today is a welcome sight, rain!

It is a nice slow rain and I hope it continues all day long. I enjoy seeing the drops splash in the bird bath. I know the plants appreciate the rain. Most of them have not received any supplemental water this year and I noticed yesterday that several were looking a little stressed. They all seem a little perkier today.

We are still below normal for rain this year. A couple of cold fronts in July brought rain when we do not normally see it and that helped to keep the garden green and blooming. My next assigned watering day is this Thursday and I was thinking that I should probably run the sprinklers for the first time this year. Maybe I can wait a little longer if this rain continues.

Next to the front door, a newly emerged pipevine swallowtail butterfly clings to a brick as its wings expand and strengthen.

Its sibling attached to the weatherstripping next to the door and emerged yesterday. I saw it flying around the garden in search of pipevine. It did not find any. The last generation of caterpillars stripped all of the plants to the ground. I saw a monarch flying around the garden too. This was only the second monarch spotting this year. I saw one in the spring and then the one yesterday. It does not appear to be a good year for the monarchs.

Some other critter built a webby cocoon or nest on the other side of the door. I will give it a few weeks to do its thing and then it is time to clean up this mess.

And that's what is going on outside my front door today. I did not say it was exciting.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Are you Cereus?

My Night Blooming Cereus produced its first bloom of the season last night. The large flowers open after dark, usually around 11:00 PM, and are very fragrant. Unfortunately, the flowers do not last long. They are usually wilted within a few hours of sunrise the next morning.

This is one of my few potted tropical plants. It is very easy to care for. I keep it watered and shaded from the hot afternoon sun during the summer. During the winter, I bring it into the garage and forget it.

The Night Blooming Cereus will bloom off an on throughout the summer and fall. It often has several flowers blooming at one time. I have another plant that appears to be a different variety. It had its first bloom last year, but I did not notice it until it was wilted. I am looking forward to to seeing this plant bloom this year too.

The garden is looking reasonably well in late July. The temperature has been fairly moderate and it has rained a few times. Even with the rain, we are several inches below normal rainfall amounts and experiencing Stage 3 (sprinklers once every other week) watering restrictions. So far, I have not watered any plants other than those in pots, the vegetables and new transplants.

I was a little surprised when I received a call last week from a member of the Plano Garden Club. The group's garden tour committee wanted to come by to see my garden and talk to me about having it on their tour next April. I knew I would be hearing from the group at some point because another member of the group asked if I would consider it when she visited my garden during the Plano Water Wise Landscape tour last month.

I explained to the caller that my garden it was not looking all that great right now because my native plants were going dormant for the summer. (These photos make the colors look more vibrant than they really are.) I said I would have plants blooming again in September once the temperature begins to cool and we receive a little rain. She said she already drove by my house and thought the garden looked great.

She explained that it is necessary to line up gardens and prepare publicity well in advance of the tour date. So the committee of three came out two days later and saw my garden in a rather unkempt state.

I had not done much maintenance in the last month. The weekend before this photo was taken, I started removing some spent spring wildflowers and that left patches of bare soil. I still had several patches of wildflowers that were brown and were going to seed. I also have late summer blooming Eryngo (to the left of the pathway)that are growing taller than me. Even so, the committee was impressed and very interested in including my garden on their tour. Being susceptible to believable flattery, I agreed.

The next step? A photographer is coming out this week to take photos for a tour feature in a community magazine. I was thinking, "Are you serious? It is almost August! Can't it wait a couple of months? Can I submit my own photos?" Nope. But I am not quite as concerned about having the garden photographed at this time of years as I was. Most of my above photos turned out better than I expected so I am expecting a professional photographer can make the garden look even better.