Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Plans for TransPlantation

The hostessed monthly wide shot meme seems to be missing in action at the moment. Regardless, I'm posting wide shots because I find the discipline of taking in my spaces as a whole on a monthly basis to be very useful, especially when it comes to planning.  And oh boy, do I have plans!

Fall is "get to work" time in Central Texas gardening circles.  New plants dug in and seed spread are able to take advantage of gentler temperatures.  If the weather stays within usual bounds, seasonal rains will water newbies in, helping them get roots established in preparation for the little bit of winter cold and whole lot of summer heat to come.  It can be an exciting time, an opportunity to make changes, and I have lots in mind.

The changes I want to implement reflect my desire to more directly support local pollinators. I'd begun the work last year, putting several native flowering plants out front.  Unfortunately I hadn't taken into consideration how close the overgrowing live oak branches already were to completely shading out those front spaces.  Those trees aren't going anywhere so the solution will have to lie elsewhere.
I realized I need to turn my attention more towards my back garden spaces.  In this overhead view it is apparent I've let well adapted non-native plants take over a lot of my sunniest spaces here.  I intend to address that with a series of substitutions, transplanting out and passing along non-native plants that have become a little too successful where they are.  I'll work to open space for new native plants and have plans to spread seed for others.
Looking out from a flat footed perspective I readily admit I see nothing "wrong" with these back garden spaces as things currently stand.  The problem is more that they no longer accurately reflect my philosophy or priorities.
Take this bed for example.  It is currently dominated by a volunteer Meyer Lemon, rosemary, a bit of verbena and various mostly non-native transplants thrown in there over the past 2 seasons.

I've been delighted to have a self-seeded native "weed", Bristly mallow, (Modiola caroliniana) establish itself along the front left rock edging underneath the bird feeder.  I like its scalloped leaves and the tiny orange flowers it sports in April.  Between my pruning and the birds' attention I feel optimistic I can keep the mallow corralled to this and other areas where I'd like it to function as a ground cover.

The non-native Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum) with their deep taproots are going to be moved to less hospitable spaces.  The ox-eye daisy mounds (Leucanthemum vulgare) and the garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) will be passed along and/or relocated.  A straggly orange daylily will be transplanted into more sun in another bed where it will hopefully partner well with coneflower and wine cup.

The Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) might get moved back a bit, but stays in the bed.  There is a small coneflower trying to survive in there, and I hope to get it a little breathing room.  The large throwback orange cosmos in the corner is coming out.  I'll keep trying to dig out recurrent ruellia (whoo boy - I know what puts the "rue" in ruellia!) and a bit of liriope on the other side of the feeder pole rock pile stays put.   I'm not sure what will go in the opened spaces yet but I know I want to use natives.
Looking from the far back, I visualize changes for the rest of these beds as well, but realize I can only get so much done in one growing cycle.  For the next few weeks my focus will be on replanting the sunnier beds closer to the house. These shadier areas will get whatever leftover energy I can muster as cooler weather kicks in.

I'll continue to dig out ruellia, (so much ruellia!) and other pushy plants I originally welcomed that no longer deserve as much space as they've taken.  I have multiplying clumps of variegated liriope I hope to organize into more of an edging effect, some aloe to thin out... Oh, there's plenty of work to do!
As my parting shot, a fond look at the one corner I'm essentially ignoring for the moment where the Hub's plethora of potted plumeria are in full bloom. August is their time to really shine, and our entire family appreciates the way their fragrance dances around on late summer breezes.

And that's officially it for Summer 2014 here at Austin Agrodolce.  It has been a delightful season really, with unexpected rains and not too many triple digit days.  Now, as the weeks of waiting out the heat wind all the way down, I want to state it plainly here in part to hold myself accountable:I intend to rededicate my energies towards using a wider variety of native pollinator friendly plants.

Regular reader, occasional visitor or first time drop in- it is always an honor to have you come along for the ride. I hope you'll stick around to see what comes next!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Adapting to August

Faced with folks complaining about June or even July's heat, native Texans can be a bit dismissive. "You think it's hot now - wait until August!" we hoot with equal measure of scorn and delight.

Frankly, the last weeks of August are discouraging for even the most enthusiastic local boosters.  A typical August in Texas does not provide much of what most would consider tolerable, much less pleasant. Challenging, sure, but enjoyable? That's a tough row to hoe.
Grocery store rose, replanted in a garden bed.  Bless their hearts, they don't know any better.
The weather parses out into an all too familiar pattern.  It is hot, it has been hot, it will stay hot.  It is dry, it has been dry, it will stay dry.
The Hub's plethora of potted Plumeria.  August is their time to shine.
As we wait out August, people and plants alike can get a little bedraggled. While locals hunker down, banking energy for September and beyond when it eventually cools and we get some much needed rain, it falls to resilient yet oft disparaged non-natives, our relative newcomers, to provide some late summer flair.
Hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon or Althea, in common use here but actually the national plant of Korea.
Speaking of bedraggled, my attitude matched my landscape.  End of summer heat or no, my chore list had narrowed down to one last task:remedial weeding. Due to previous neglect, weed seed banks in the soil of our beds and paths were well financed. Completely clearing the paths this year as a starting point had taken sequential weeks of work. Keeping the paths clear was going to take many subsequent sessions.  Including the last few days of August.
As the weed's numbers reduced, I worked to make the best of my enforced August experience.  My focus shifted from the square foot in front of my sweaty face to the general ambience of being out in our garden spaces.  I savored the coolness of the morning hours relative to the afternoon's heat to come.  I took time to appreciate the slightly gentler nature of the angled light before the sun rose to brutal height.  As I looked and listened, a certain repetitive sound began to filter into my active attention.

It sounded a bit like a finch.  It was similarly high pitched but less a song and more a call.  I don't know how to explain this other than it sounded bigger. The calls were coming from close by, behind me, and continued until a raucous scold of jays arrived. The calls were first drowned out, and then ceased altogether.

Over the next span of days as I scouted for reappearing weeds I heard the calls again and again. When I finally caught a glimpse of the source it was obvious why they sounded bigger than a finch.  My calling bird was a hawk!
A real beauty, majestic in flight, impressive at rest, and yet conveying a certain immaturity in demeanor.
When unmolested by jays it routinely perched atop a nearby power pole spending the better part of an hour each morning, looking first one direction, calling, then rotating a quarter turn, looking out and calling again.
I had trouble identifying what type hawk this was, and turned for help to local naturalist/bird blogger/photographer extraordinaire Mikael Behrens of Birding on Broadmeade.  He reassured me that hawks can be particularly tricky to differentiate but what he thought I was seeing and hearing was a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus).
Though the officially recorded range maps for broad-winged hawks don't currently include our area, Behrens confirmed these hawks are showing up in Austin more and more as summer residents.  Folks, please greet another well adapted non-native into the fold.

I realized, as temperature patterns shift, our previously fixed ideas of who and what are considered "native" to Texas will require shifting as well. Turns out Lyle Lovett was prescient when he famously sang, "That's right, you're not from Texas - Texas wants you anyway!".

Who knew weeding could lead to so much delight and unexpected beauty? August may be the month Texans love to hate, but given the chance, this August revealed it had a few surprises yet in store.

Nerd Out: Behrens graciously pointed me towards two remarkable resources for those of us interested in understanding and identifying local (for now) wildlife.  iNaturalist ,which hosts information and spectacular photographs of sightings of all sorts of fauna, and a site specifically for reporting bird sightings,  eBird.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hot but not especially bothered

It took longer than expected this summer, but the temperatures have most definitely eased up into "hot enough for you?" range.  Faced with daily highs in the upper nineties and the occasional foray into triple digits, even established plants begin to look tired, especially those planted in full sun.  It is too late to prune, too early to plant and too hot to weed.  As a result, there's not a lot to post about this time of year.

Nothing much bothers with setting flowers in August under ordinary circumstances, and after our colder than usual winter, a lot of my usual late summer bloomers (most of them non-natives) are running several weeks late. The vast majority of my native plants have bloomed and set seed and are now content to coast and reserve their energies for cooler days to come.  The view outside is set for the season and at the risk of sounding like a piker, things in the garden just now are fairly boring.  That is what makes these exceptions so notable.

Garlic chives have taken advantage of their propagation dominance and are overrunning their bounds.  But.  They bloom in the heat of August, and though the cut stalks smell (and taste) like garlic?  The flowers at least look sweet, a bit like miniature lilies.
Another bed bully that at least partially redeems itself this time of year is mint.  I harvest a bit of it to use for tea, salads, and sauces, but mostly I appreciate how it holds up in the heat, blooming when little else will.  Bees seem to enjoy the tripartite spears and I can only imagine what a lovely top note that might give the resulting honey.  The white blooms in combination with the bluish green of the leaves and stems are as refreshing to the eyes as they are to the palate.
Then there are the annuals, typically much more well mannered. Specifically, the basils.  I cook with them some, but I plant a smattering of these in the garden each year just as much for their contrasting foliage, late summer blooms, and seeds.  Finches love basil and I enjoy watching the tiny birds hanging on to nodding stems as they work to harvest seed.  This year I planted purple,
Thai basil,
and the usual sweet green Basil.
I didn't spot the crab spider hiding behind the white blooms until after I enlarged the photo for editing. These little guys have fewer potential lairs this time of year so I'm happy he found a good spot. Did you know basil blossoms are as delicious as the leaves?  They are not only beautiful looking but quite tasty sprinkled into salads or arrayed atop sliced tomatoes for a more floral version of a Caprese salad.  Just be sure to shake the spiders out, first.

Last but certainly not least is a native workhorse, Prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) which is apparently a distant relative to teak trees.  These purple blooms are central Texas garden standbys, persistently offering a bright splash of color to their surroundings from March through at least October, and occasionally blooming through until our first frost.  It is my tendency to take these little troopers a bit for granted because they are so reliable.  In mid to late August however they prove they are stars in their own right, as they shake off heat and drought in a beautiful way, inviting late Summer skippers into the garden.  Here, a verbena offering what I'm pretty sure is a Erynnis funeralis a midafternoon meal.
I haven't always done a great job of planning for year 'round beauty in my garden beds, but late August, even with its blaring afternoon heat and searing breezes, still holds plenty of rewards for any soul brave (or crazy) enough to venture out.  That suits me just fine. I grew up here and enjoy mad dogging it outside in the summertime no matter how toasty it gets.  Now, if I could only get a handle on my January and February views!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An August surprise

Just when I start to get complacent and maybe even a little smug about how well I know my spaces and what grows here?  I run across a new vine that is not only present, but is in this case rampant, and I'm pretty sure I never saw it growing here before.
What I'm referring to is Melothria pendula, commonly known as Guadaloupe or Creeping cucumber.  It has shown up as a lacy covering atop of a little copse of roughleaf dogwood, spreading sideways over the crests of surrounding vinca, creeper and jasmine ground covers, to climb and drape a recurrent hackberry sapling.

At first I thought we had muscadine grapes establishing, which I would have welcomed, but then I realized there were no clusters forming. Whatever those green fruits were, they weren't grapes.
A little bit of searching here and there revealed that what we have is a wild vine, not exactly common but occurring county wide, producing yellow flowers followed by hanging green fruit resembling micro-watermelons, that will eventually ripen to a deep purple black.  Bird planted, most likely.
The fruit is arguably edible depending on the source consulted, with the general consensus being that toxicity can be avoided by eating the fruit while in its unripe green state.  Eating the ripened fruit once it darkens in color will apparently produce a significant "laxative effect".

I doubt I'll test that ediblity premise. I'm not particularly adventurous when it comes to foraging wild plants.  As far as I can determine, the vines aren't invasive and won't strangle out their supporting props.  I think they are quite lovely, so at least for this season, I plan to leave them in place and enjoy their twining tendrils.
Hackberry?  Your date with the pruning shears has been temporarily postponed. So long as you are covered with creeping cucumber vines, you may stay.

Monday, August 18, 2014

August angst...

I complain as bitterly as any about our heat and humidity and how I long for the ease of cooler days.  But in actual fact, August as it passes is bittersweet for me, signaling as it does the beginning of the end of summertime.

For the most part I am in complete agreement with Henry James who said...

Summer afternoon-summer afternoon:to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."

Friday, August 15, 2014

All tangled up

I am absolutely obsessed with the black and yellow garden spider and her cohort that set up shop days ago in the bromeliad patch out back.  After reading Argiope aurantia spiders consume the central stabilizing part of their webs at the end of each day only to reweave a new one the next, I've gone out every morning first thing, rushing to assure the colony is still there and past that to admire each new day's webbed handiwork.

On the third morning I was shocked to find the large female's web unoccupied. I gasped involuntarily and asked aloud "where did you GO?".  I didn't think a bird or other predator could have grabbed her without disturbing the web and as it remained intact, I fervently hoped this lovely lady had only stepped out to grab a few things...
I watched and I waited while taking photos of the other smaller webs in close proximity.  Just as I was about to give up and declare her disappearance a tragic garden mystery, after a few spasmodic lurches, the web was quickly recentered with its queen.  Losing no time, the immature female spider began to re-spin the upper portion of the stabilimentum with movements so quick I wasn't able to capture them well with my camera in the morning light.  
Relieved and honored to have witnessed what might be routine to the spider but seems miraculous to this gardener, I got ready to retreat and return the space to her and her retinue of teeny tiny companions.

As I was turning to leave, I noticed a new installation across the path.  A smaller immature female built her own web in the bromeliads on the right hand side of the walkway to the greenhouse.  Queen Charlotte has a lady in waiting.
This young lady is about half the size of Charlotte.  There I stood, admiring her stabilimentum, wondering why I'd never seen these spiders in our spaces before. It seems suddenly this year, CandyLand is prime real estate. As I watched, the spider began to push on the silks and purposefully vibrate her web.  Before I could even try to get a photo, she dropped to a far reach of her web and began working furiously to wrap a captured insect in silk.  She was moving so quickly all I managed to catch was a blur.  
Once she'd neatly wrapped her package she brought it back up to the center of her web, where she continued with a few finishing touches.  I could see the tiniest bit of motion from within - whatever she'd caught was still struggling.  
Frankly, some days I wander around the garden and don't find a single novelty to capture my interest.  Today has been the precise opposite of that, courtesy of the newly established resident orb weavers.  I'm reminded so much goes on right under our noses without our ever knowing, if we don't know where to look.  Or how to see.

I'm making a case to The Hub to stop watering the bromeliad cups with the hose wand, asking him to use a watering can so as not to disturb these beauties arranged on their silky structures.  He was a little noncommittal.  He's not as entranced with the spiders as I am, nobody here is.    

Regardless, I find these beneficial insects fascinating.  I don't know what is different about this season or the space that has them showing up in numbers this year, but I do hope they'll find good reason to stay. I think they make lovely companions.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Webbed Relationships

I am fascinated by spiders and their webs.  I love it when I find them in the garden, though quite not so much when I literally stumble across one. Watching the way spun silk catches and holds the light can stop me in my tracks long enough to forget where I am and what I was doing.

That said, the attempt to capture a good image of a spider web with my camera is my photographic stumbling block.  I try various techniques, I try in various lights at various times of day, but I rarely get anything I'm happy to share here.

Today I spotted a clutter of spiders and webs all securely anchored to various plants on the left hand side of the walk running through Candy Land.  I figured with all the angles and sizes represented it was a rare opportunity to give my web photography a true workout.

I started with this shot of the far reaches of a web.  Its hard to see I know but once you recognize the pattern your brain will "see it" for you.  It was very fine, moving in the breeze, and twinkling when the light hit it just so.  I tried every angle imaginable but couldn't quite get the edges to stand out.  So I moved into the center for another shot.
The spider in this web was about the size of a spent staple.  Teeny tiny.  I was able to capture a bit of the stabilimentum to show you but nothing I could do would bring the spider itself into sufficient focus.  Too small!
I got closer to a good shot with this slightly more mature, larger version of the little spent staple spider.  This one is still tiny however - those "huge" green leaves in the background are asian jasmine ground cover, barely two inches long.  I could tell these spiders are all some form of orb weavers, with their striking stabilimentum (the technical name for the thickened patterned webbing in the center) especially noticeable in the larger spider's web..  
I had another go at these later in the day, hoping the angle of the sun would help.  Here's another male (I'm guessing) that was just around the corner from the others.
You can't see details on him much better than the others but the web stands out a bit more.  Here is his web in its entirety from further away.  It is a bit tattered, reflecting the natural wear and tear of a day in garden traffic. Aren't these wonderful?  (the spiders and their webs I mean, not my photos!)
The big payoff however, was quite near by.  And when I say big I mean that literally.
Gorgeous, isn't she?  I'm totally smitten.  Though this specimen is an immature female, yet to develop the larger rounded abdomen of a fully mature spider, she is a fine example of a young Argiope aurantia, otherwise known as a black and yellow garden spider.  Her "common" name hardly does her justice.

Unlike the other smaller webs scattered nearby, hers is about 14 inches square, limited only by the space between the anchor leaves she has chosen.  The spider herself has a body about an inch long, with her legs reaching out another inch and a half to either side. Quite impressive. Here's a view of the under side.  I think she's beautiful from every angle.
This large web is in a well traveled area where I'd certainly have noticed if it had been there before today. Reportedly, if left undisturbed, this spider will keep her web in place overnight and will reuse it for the remainder of the summer.  Charlotte (what, you don't name your spiders?) will consume the stabilimentum silk in the center at the end of each day. It is speculated those consumed silk components will then be recycled into a fresh new stabilimentum for each day's hunting.  Or for writing messages, perhaps?

It could be the surrounding smaller orb weaver spiders are immature males of the same species.  They certainly all appeared to set up shop at the same time.  I read that male garden spiders are often two to three times smaller than the females but most of these guys are barely a quarter inch to the female's inch.  There are so many of them, too.  Is Charlotte keeping a male harem?  Will she choose one male preferentially?  I've no clue, but I'm certainly going to keep my eye on this burgeoning little community.  

If the orb weavers stay alongside the path (and oh I hope they will!)  I ought to have plenty of chances to hone my photography techniques.  For now, I'll leave you with one of my favorite spider "quotes", from comedienne Ellen DeGeneres:

“Our egos tells us we're the only ones that have any kind of feelings. We're the only ones with a relationship. We're the only ones with family. You know, I think that if you kill a spider, there is a relationship that you're ruining. There's a conversation going on outside with the other spiders. 'Did you hear about Chris?....Killed yeah....Sneaker. And now Stephanie has nine hundred babies to raise all alone. Well, she's got her legs full I'll tell you that right now. Chris was so kind, wouldn't hurt a fly. It's just been tough for them lately. They just lost their web last week. Those humans think they're so smart. Let them try shooting silk out of their butt and see what they can make.'”

Postscript:  It isn't that I don't believe what I read, it is just that I am curious to see things for myself.  I went back out the next day, after the sprinklers had run, wondering if the spider had returned to her nest and built in a new stabilimentum for the day.  She did and she had.  Here's Day Two's web center:

Friday, August 8, 2014

An experiment begins

I wrote not too long ago that I wanted to transplant several bed hogs that were taking more than their fair share of the sunny beds in the fenced back yard. One of the hoggiest of them all?  The garlic chives.

Nobody ought to ever have to buy more than one pot of garlic chives.  Even if you wanted an entire lot filled with them (which would certainly be striking in August when they set blooms) you could have that based upon divisions from one four inch pot in the space of just a few seasons.

Garlic chive clumps are easy to divide, every flower stalk sets a head full of seed with a high germination rate, and they don't seem particularly fussy about their growing conditions.

I plan to put that to the ultimate test.

I had a gap in a front bed, in plain and constant line of sight from the front door, and it has been bugging me for months.  I had a planter there before which I moved once summertime arrived because it was blocking the sprinkler for that bed.  Summer is not a great time to start a new plant anywhere, so I figured I would let the gap ride a while, knowing the perfect plant to fill in that spot would come to me.

But like I said - this gap was part of my front porch view, and guys, I like that view.  I view that view, dozens of times a day through the glass in our door and often, once the temperatures ease a bit, I find that view conducive to sitting with a glass of iced tea or chilled white wine, as I contemplate the goodness of life.  So that gap nagged at me.  It wanted me to fill it sooner rather than later, but with what?

Oho! Garlic chives! Of course!  A nice clump of strappy bright green leaves with the occasional spires of white blooms thrown up overhead in the heat of August, when little else is in bloom.

So I grabbed my favorite shovel, now dubbed "the wire killer" by The Hub after a few nasty run-ins with sprinkler wires, dug out a clump of garlic chives that were absolutely superfluous, and moved them out front.  Gap, meet your filler!

Then I had what just might turn out to be a slightly genius idea.  I'm always impressed with symbiotic plant combinations where one plant offers some benefit to the other.  Nature often does that effortlessly and I find that when I copy what Nature is up to, I often get great results.
I took two or three of the outlier plants of my garlic chive clump and carefully placed them in among a patch of rain lilies that are routinely browsed down to stumps by our neighbor-herd deer.  My hopes are that the bulbs will coexist peacefully, and once the deer chomp down on tangy garlic chives mixed in with the delicious (to them) rain lilies, that they will find it distasteful.

The "ultimate test" nature of this pairing comes into play because it is August, and this particular corner of the mailbox planter does not get one drop of supplemental water.  Ever.  The rain lilies and opuntia established there survive because they are natives, and do just fine with whatever the Texas weather hands them.  In fact there is very little other than rocks and sandy soil under those lilies.  The stonework for the retaining wall is cracked, and when it rains, the water flows right through that corner and down the drive.
I mixed in a some soil with the chives to hopefully hold a little more moisture while they get started.  I'll hand water the transplants until it looks like they are either going to make it or prove my idea to be just another misplaced gesture.  Fingers crossed the plants in combination will prove to be just the deer proofing needed.  I have a few singleton lilies here and there that I plan to pair with garlic chive plants when the Grand Transplantation Implementation happens later this year in cooler weather.  A garlic chive a day to keep Bambi away?  Here's hoping!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What you see in your own garden might not be what you want...

but it is what you've got.  You might as well make your peace with that.

But oh, I so do not.  I am covetous of what I see on other folk's blogs all the time.  I fall prey to envy on every level, from the macro to the micro.  I want this flora, if I only had that fauna!  A portion of my angst revolves around timing, as I wonder why my own fill-in-the-name-of-your-recently-posted-blossom, hasn't bloomed here yet.
Most recently I came down with a serious case of caterpillar envy.  Not only was I green as the swallowtail caterpillars I was admiring as posted by Tina at My Gardener Says, but I was frustrated to note that my own fennel plants were not only NOT hosting swallowtail caterpillars, but were rather perversely infested with aphids instead.  Humpf!

"OK," I thought to myself, "calm down, aphids are insect life too. Its totally cool the way the ants farm them, and maybe the little suckers will draw in some ladybugs.  Ladybugs are awesome.".

So this morning out I went with my camera, determined not to waste any more energy regretting what my fennel plants were not hosting, and to pay a little better attention to what was happening among the fronds.  I was not disappointed.
The usual suspects were there all right, aphids aplenty along with their farmer ants, but I also counted three or four eight-spotted forester moth caterpillars.

As I'd hoped for, with so many aphids in play, an adult ladybug was busy at work, eating her (his?) duly allotted five thousand plus aphids of the average ladybug's year long life span.
Also noted?  What I am pretty sure are Cryptolaemus montrouzieri larvae, which resemble a small mop head in action.  Looks like this one has something cornered there at the end of that frond.
These preferentially eat mealybugs and are indeed commonly called Mealybug destroyers, but the larvae especially will feed on aphids when that's the predominant bug on offer.
Cryptolaemus grow up to be another form of ladybug beetle, bicolored though unspotted, and as with their cousins, are native to Australia and New Zealand. They were introduced here as biologic control agents against agricultural damage caused by aphids, mealybugs, scale and the like.  The white stuff you see is a waxy substance excreted to discourage attacks, especially from ants, as the two insects have seriously competing interests concerning the best use of any given aphid population.

So maybe I don't have the targeted, coveted swallowtail caterpillars happily munching away on my aphid beleaguered fennel this year.  It is what it is. And I have seen swallowtail butterflies daily especially around our citrus plants.
Maybe I'll just wait a couple of weeks more before I count out the possibility of swallowtail caterpillars altogether.  Stranger things have happened.

This post is my contribution for August to Wildlife Wednesday, a new meme occurring the first wednesday of each month, fresh to the blogosphere and hosted by Tina at My Gardener Says. Thanks to Tina for hosting, and to you for reading. Glad you dropped by. Hope you'll feel free to post about your own wildlife, and join in on the fun. 

Per Tina:  "Post your wildlife wisdom, then leave a comment on this (My Gardener Says) blog along with a link to your blog so all can share in new information, experiences and maybe even some chuckles about wildness in our gardens!"

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Widely weeded!

I am absolutely thrilled to post photos of the main garden paths this month.  I want order! I want clear views! And now (for the moment) I have them because the paths that take you into and around the garden beds proper?  They are by golly weeded. At long (LONG) last!  Here's the overhead:

A closer view looking from the northernmost bench.  I never noticed it before but from this angle the view reminds me of the prow of a ship.  A weeded ship.

Batting last for the back views?  A look at CandyLand, where "Gold dust" acuba japonica, Spathiphyllum and bromeliad blooms all brighten the shade.

Heading out front, a glimpse from the top of the drive towards the street.
Monarda citriodora (Lemon beebalm), Ratibida columnifera (Mexican hat) and Ratibida peduncularis (Prairie coneflower) have all gone to seed.  Their sere stems look a bit untidy but I am leaving them unpruned. The birds can have their fill and hopefully knock enough seed to the ground to assure a new crop next year.  My blue "cheater pot" with pink and white vinca provides a pop of color while verything else is biding its time, just coasting through these, the hottest weeks of the year.  We are all, plants and planters alike, looking forward to Fall!

Here is the back of the front view looking towards the street from the other side of the drive:
Tropical sage all along the driveway is just beginning to bloom.  It was knocked down pretty hard by the cold last winter and has been slower than usual coming back.  I'm happy to have it finally reasserting itself and look forward to the cheerful plumes of pink flowers that are on their way.  The view is much better when this slope is in bloom but even without flowers I think this looks much more interesting than lawn.  

And that's it for this month's wide shots.  Thanks as always to Heather of Xericstyle for hosting the meme each month.  If you'd like to be part of the fun, simply post your own wide shots (weeded or not!) and link back to her wide shot post (when it appears) in the comments section.  Hope to see you there.

Now, I'm off with a cup of coffee to sit on my garden benches and enjoy the fruits of my weeding labors.  Have a lovely August, all!