Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week Following Fall Equinox - 2014

I took the following pictures during the past week.  This is my garden journal post for the week following the Fall Equinox here in North Texas. 

We've had serious issues with grasshoppers this year in the vegetable garden - they insist on munching the leaves off the new foliage.  The marigolds planted on the edge of the beds are purported to keep pests away.   Maybe it helps with some pests, but grasshoppers could care less. 

Watering the beans, peas, broccoli, squash, and cauliflower.  The back raised garden bed contains tomatoes from the spring - they continue to flower and produce tomatoes, although not in great quantities now.   We are watering by hand this fall.  We plan on replacing the soaker hoses in the spring - they were at least 8-9 years old and had begun leaking. 

The bell peppers that were planted in the spring continue to do well.

A  giant swallowtail butterfly is sipping nectar from the pink/yellow lantana.  The long leafed plant next to the lantana is Mexican marigold - it has not started blooming yet.

Orange/yellow lantana

 Female Ruby-throat Hummingbird with pollen on its beak - sipping nectar from red salvia greggii.

Close up shot of salvia greggii with a paper wasp in the background.

A ruby throated hummingbird sipping nectar from blue salvia variety. 

A gulf fritillary landed on a dried purple coneflower head.

Gulf fritillary with its wings open.

Garden Spider

Garden Spider with zig-zag pattern on web.

A small butterfly sipping nectar from the blooming Lantana

We planted a couple of flowerbeds this weekend.  The fall is an excellent time to plant trees and shrubs because the days are getting cooler and shorter and the plants don't have to endure the searing heat.  The first bed I worked on needed some color.  Because I have so many green dwarf yaupons in my yard, I decided a deep red or purple was needed in a small shrub.  I found these dwarf loropetalums with beautiful purple leaves - they only get 1-2 feet in height which is perfect for the spot I put them in.

 Five dwarf loropetalums - we staggered them in the garden bed in front of the dwarf yaupons.  I think they will be either the same size as the yaupons or slightly smaller.

We also took out an old rose bush that was looking very ratty and replaced it with a large loropetalum shrub that has been pruned in the shape of a tree - it will get 10 feet tall.  Around it we placed 4 dwarf silverado sage plants - they are significantly shorter than the usual cultivar.

The tag of the dwarf sage - it will only reach 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide - I'll keep it pruned a bit shorter than that.

Fresh hardwood mulch was placed around the new plantings to help retain moisture and give the garden bed a clean and fresh look.

And finally - I caught a picture of a beautiful sunset in my neighborhood on September 27, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Planting the Fall Garden - Mid-September 2014

Now that we have had a cool front come through North Texas (it was 57 degrees on my back porch this morning), we felt like going outside and working in the garden.

This week, my husband alerted me to a fight on the back porch between a wasp and a spider.

The wasp won.  The poison has taken affect - the wasp drags the spider off to his lair.

A female ruby throat hummingbird was visiting my garden and fending off a lot of other hummingbirds today that were coming by to sip nectar.  She sat on the rose bush and anytime another hummingbird came by, she ran them off!

Here she is going in for a landing on the blue salvia.

Flapping her wings!

See her white tips on her tail feathers.

This is the first Praying Mantis I have seen in the garden this year.  He/She is checking me out!

Climbing on the rosemary now.

I'm not sure if this is a male or female.  It is not too large - possibly a male?

We cleaned up the garden this weekend to make it ready for fall planting.  The ratty looking tomato plants are still producing some fruit so we left them in the ground.

Jonie and Clara are enjoying some bean pods from the plants that were pulled up.

This picture shows the summer garden weeded and raked and nutrients (compost) added.  Many of the summer plants have been pulled up.  Believe me - it looks much better now!

We planted broccoli, cauliflower and swiss chard plants - all of these plants are "cool season" plants and can withstand frost and below freezing temperatures.  My husband also planted snow peas and green beans by seed - we are taking a chance by doing this though.  Beans cannot withstand frost.  Snow peas can take some below freezing temperatures - but they cannot take long term below freezing temps. 

Another view of this fall's garden.

My bell pepper plants have tons of blooms now and should produce fruit up until the first frost.   These plants were put in the ground in April and have produced well all summer long.

The plants are covered in peppers!  We will have a big fall crop.

And finally - we had a frog swimming around in our pool today.  I took him out immediately - I didn't want the chlorine in the water to harm or kill him.

 When I fished him out - I looked at the frog's spotted belly and webbed feet.

This frog is very green - just like Kermit!   I will update this blog post when I identify his specific type.

I sat him in one of the plant pots on the back porch so he could catch bugs for me.!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Life in the Garden: Early September 2014

The garden is in its summer dormancy now in early September.  There are not many birds or bugs to find in my yard so I thought I would post this picture of a pregnant Mediterranean gecko that I took back in July to add some interest to this blog post.  My daughter found her on the back porch, turned her over and wow - look what we saw!  Eggs!  I think she is about ready to lay them.  This is also a good picture of her feet - they are perfectly designed for climbing vertically up walls.

The rest of the pictures were taken the first week of September. 2014

The Vitex is still blooming and attracting Bumble bees.

My husband found a very small nest in the Trumpet vine yesterday.  We think it is a hummingbird nest based on the size alone.  We are not sure though.  The bird used toilet paper as nesting material - our house was TP'd this summer and we couldn't reach the top branches to get it all down.

We have way too many grasshoppers around here this time of year - ughh

We planted a Bur oak tree in the front yard in 2004.  It was a 3 gallon size and about 5-6 feet tall.   The tree is at least 25 feet tall now.  Bur oaks will reach a height of 60-70 feet.  See link for more information on this beautiful oak.

Bur oaks are known for their large acorns.  Here is a green one.

Up in the tree.   Note how the leaves of the tree in the front yard have some kind of blight. 

The Bur oak leaves on the tree in the back yard look healthier.  They are very wide and chunky looking.

We also have a couple of Shumard Red oaks in our yard.  They are also about the same age and size as bur oaks.  They will reach 50-60 feet in height.  See link for more information.

 The Shumard red oak leaves have a thinner pattern.

The Shumard red oak acorns are much smaller than bur oak acorns.

About the only blooms we have around here now are on the Althea shrubs, also known as Rose of Sharon.  These flowers attract hummingbirds.

This time of year the Paper wasps are building huge nests.  We found this one on out back porch that will have to be knocked down.  See all the larvae in the nest? 

And finally - I haven't seen many birds around here this week except for the yacking (see their open beaks?) house sparrows visiting my back porch for a drink from the dog waterer.