Sunday, August 3, 2014

Early August 2014 - Usually the HOT Time of Year!

This time of year I am more reluctant to go out and see nature at work in my yard, due to the heat.  However, it just so happens that we had an unusual cool front come through North Texas.  Luckily we got 1 1/2" of rain!

I'll start my garden journal off with a picture of my cantaloupe harvest.  I picked about 2/3 of them this morning.  I also picked the last of the cucumbers for this season.  We'll probably pull the cucumber vines up today.  I'll be taking some of these into work to give to friends.

When we were in California this summer on vacation we stopped at several fruit and vegetable roadside stands.  One of the new things we tried was dried cantaloupe.   It was delicious.  So we decided to dry our own.

On to the latest happenings in my yard this week.   I found this interesting bug on my Black Japanese Pine tree.  It is an Assassin bug.  Note how the bug matches the tree bark perfectly - excellent camouflage.   According to the TX A & M web site, this is a good predator bug because it eats many garden pests.  Do not kill it.  See the link for more information.

After reading about the bug I learned they have a very PAINFUL sting.  What was I doing chasing this bug around with my finger so I could get a picture?

I had an earlier post on bagworms decimating my Bald Cypress trees.  See link:   I also found bagworms invading other shrubs in my yard this week.  Notice how their bags reflect what they are eating.  So very irritating...The first photo is a bagworm on my rose bush.  Its bag reflects the rose's leaves.

Here is a combo bagworm that has been munching on both my expensive smoke tree while previously dining on the bald cypress - see the cypress's needles on the top.

On to a happier topic.  The sunflowers are beginning to bloom.  I hope to roast the seeds this year.  I'll cover that in a later post.

The bumblebees love them - they are covered in pollen!

Note the seed distribution in this close up shot and how it reflects the Fibonacci number.   Watch this wonderful video on the topic - see the sunflower in the video!

While I was taking pictures of some blooming blue sage I initially thought I saw a bumblebee.  On closer inspection I realized it was a Robber fly.  Notice how it mimics the bee!

 The remaining Silverado Sage in my yard is blooming well now.   I lost some of them this past winter due to the extreme cold snap we had. 

 These shrubs always attract bees.

Cactus and succulents always survive in the heat.  Here is an Agave (the plant from which tequila is made).  Note the wasp nest on one of the leaves.  We have a huge number of grasshoppers this year, they have decimated the iris leaves in front.

The cows tongue prickly pear and spineless prickly pear cactus are getting large.  I cut them back every winter.  In the foreground are the branches of a Pomegranate bush.  The cold winter killed the main trunk of the tree, but its coming up from the roots.  When it gets a little bigger I'll start pruning it back in the shape of a tree again.

I captured this Black Swallowtail butterfly sipping nectar on my salvia greggii this morning. 

Seeing the butterfly reminded to go out into the garden and see if I had any of its caterpillars on my Dill - They were there!

I got a front shot of it eating the dill.

For more information about wildlife in the Dallas Fort Worth area I wanted to share a cool web site I found.    DFW Urban Wildlife

And finally, I am sharing a couple of pictures of my lone survivor from last week's bobcat attack.  This is Jonie - my beautiful black hen.  She is very wary now and has begun regularly staying on the back porch.

In the late evening she begins sitting in the chair on the back porch up next to the window so she can watch us.  She won't put herself up at night (like she used to) in the chicken tractor.  I have to carry her over there and then lock up the door behind her.

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