Saturday, May 3, 2014

Early May 2014 - The Latest Flora and Fauna in the Garden - lots of roses

This time of year it seems like every day I see a new flower in bloom or a new bird or critter visiting my yard.  Here is the latest gardening happenings this week.

Climbing Clemantis - established bloom.

Early bloom

Clotilde Soupert antique climbing rose

Close up of New Dawn antique climbing rose.

New Dawn with new blooms of the Red Cascade climbing rose.  Red Cascade is a huge climbing rose, but the roses are the same size as miniature roses.  Next week I expect the Red Cascade will be in full bloom so those will make another post.

Another antique climbing rose - although the bloom is pretty, this variety has a big problem with black spot.  I'll post the name later.  Honestly, I'm considering cutting this bush down because it only looks pretty in the spring of the year.

All of the close up pictures of the roses above are the bushes below. I wanted to share this photo of the "walls" of climbing roses so you can get some perspective on how large these monsters can get.

Old Blush antique rose in the front yard with a Smoke tree to the right of it.  This rose bush is about six feet tall now.

Belinda's Dream.  This is an "EarthKind" rose and is an excellent variety.  This rose is not a climber - but it can get 5-6' tall and just as big around.  It blooms in both spring and fall and smells wonderful. 

Here is a picture of two Belinda's Dream roses (ends) and two red Knock-Out roses (center) behind my swimming pool.  They can get very large!

Red Knock Outs - perfect in every way except there is no scent.

Red Hot Pokers.  These flowers are perennials and are native to South Africa.  They are very drought tolerant.  Their bloom season is short though.

Hummingbirds love Red Hot Pokers.

Honeybees on asian persimmon blooms

We will have lots of persimmons this season, check out all the blooms!

The Mallard duck family (George and Martha) have officially adopted us now, I believe.  I haven't found their nest, but I bet there is one somewhere in my backyard.  I don't want them to become dependent on us, but unfortunately, it looks like that is happening - the male is the sentinel and watches while the female runs in the chicken tractor to sneak some food when we let the hens out.  A big concern is that since they are wild they could bring in diseases to my hens.  I guess I have accepted this risk.  They have made themselves at home.

Indian Blanket Flower, otherwise known as Firewheel is a perennial.  I planted them last year and they made it through our very cold winter.  These are the first blooms of this season.  They will bloom all summer long and are drought tolerant.

 Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) are also perennials.  However, I've had to replace mine every few years.  Still, it is worth it.  They bloom most of the summer and are drought tolerant.

We have a multitude of cottontail rabbits that love to munch on our vegetables.  Our rat terrier does a good job running them off!  He's slowing down though and can't catch them.  He's 14 this year.  We used to have a miniature dachshund who would sniff out vermin (rats and mice) and then the rat terrier would go in for the kill - a perfect hunting pair - both were specifically bred for this task and in their young days they never failed to catch rats and mice.  They usually couldn't catch rabbits, but they were good at running them off.  Rabbits can decimate a vegetable garden in one evening if they figure out how to get in under the fence - and they are not by any means endangered.  I'm like Mr. MacGregor in the tale Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter! 

We have 4 grapevines - my husband built a trellis for them to climb up.  We have not always had good luck with grapes here in North Texas - too humid and clay soil being the most likely culprits, but I think I've finally found 4 varieties that are hardy.  Trial and error only - Honestly, I have lost numerous grapevines.  I have two native grape varieties and two conventional varieties that I bought at Wal Mart.  A friend in my neighborhood has created a small lovely "vineyard" in his backyard so I know growing grapes in North TX can be done successfully. 

A photo for perspective on the size of the trellis.  My vegetable garden is in the back.

And finally, a Killdeer.  Up until 2 years ago, these birds always laid their nests in my yard.  I took care to not run over their nests which are camouflaged well on the ground.  I think too many people are moving in my neighborhood and don't take care when mowing, and end up destroying the nests.  Sad.  I miss seeing their tiny babies running around.  I found some pictures from a few years ago, of a nest in my backyard where the chicks hatched before our eyes! 

 They can start running, almost immediately after drying off.

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