Bloom Day, April 2015

Welcome to the April edition of Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.  There are so many blooms in my April garden and so little time to profile all of the flowers, so I’ll focus on a few, mostly native Texas lovelies.

The purples have taken control of my gardens–holding the garden hostage with their beauty.  Included in the violet-hued blooming coup are several varieties of non-native Iris and native Texas perennial

I have scads of Spiderwort, Tradescantia, sspclumps which have spread willy-nilly throughout my beds.  They vary in size, color, and petal form, but all are pretty in purple and pollinator-attracting.

A relative of the Spiderwort, this dainty False Dayflower, Tinantia anomala, displays a delicate spring lilac. It’s a nice companion to the Spiderwort and like its taller kin, was a surprise gift in my garden.

Cedar SageSalvia roemeriana, is a blast of red-hot gorgeousness in spring and is flowering a bit earlier than typical for this shade-loving perennial.

It’s certainly no shrinking salvia in the garden.

This darling Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium chilense, popped up in a crack in my patio and is blooming along just fine in its mortar mulch.

I’m only guessing at this identification–I didn’t buy it in either seed or container plant form.  It’s definitely a blue-eyed beauty, though.

Native Texas Columbines are spring favorites.  The Yellow ColumbineAquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana,

…and the smaller, less flamboyant Wild Red ColumbineA. canadensis,

…and the natural hybrids of the two that occur when both are planted together over the course of a few seasons.

I love ’em all!

Lyreleaf SageSalvia lyrata, is at the peak of its beautiful spring blue flower spikes.  Or is the color purple?  Or maybe more of a lavender?  Whatever it is, it’s welcome in my garden.

Lyreleaf Sage is a good choice for a shade-tolerant ground cover and is attractive

Coral Honeysuckle vineLonicera sempervirens, is a blooming monstrosity!

But no one can doubt the beauty and pollinator zing it adds to a

Hill Country PenstemonPenstemon triflorus, stands as s a fuchsia sentinel in my early and mid-spring garden.


This one is perhaps a hybrid between the P. triflorus and P. cobaea.  The tag at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was labeled P. triflorus, but  it’s never quite looked like my others.  It sports larger blooms and foliage in an overall taller plant, plus the coloring is variegated.

Nonetheless, like my other Hill Country Penstemon plants, I appreciate its good looks, long flowering time, and purpose as an excellent pollinator plant.

Not native to Central Texas but instead, to West Texas and New Mexico is the Globe Mallow,  Sphaeralcea ambigua. Hot, dry, and sunny makes this mallow happy and I’m glad I have ONE spot that it’s happy in.  Doesn’t it look happy to you? Happy April GBBD–check out other gorgeous April bloom happenings at May Dreams Gardens.


Spring Vignettes

As my interest in and experimentation with photography evolves, I find that I am engrossed in the process of photography in macro mode.  It’s the profile of the bee in flight with clearly defined grains of pollen and fine hairs on which that pollen attaches or the intricacies of the parts of flowers–pistil, anther, pollen, petal, taken in a wisp of breeze, that rivet and challenge me these days.

I am a novice and have a lot to learn. I harbor no ambitions beyond improving this new hobby and skill.  I don’t currently own a macro lens and don’t know that I’ll invest in one. However, I accept every photo session as a tutorial in translating what I see, or think I see, to the still and silent screen.

Regardless of my current focus on photography (and ceramics, but that’s another conversation), I am, first and always, a gardener.  My garden reflects an avid interest and deep affection for plants and their animal partners, as well as a sense of personal space and expression. My garden is an established one–I’ve gardened in this allotment for well over 20 years.  Whew! That’s a long time.  That space isn’t static though–not one bit.  I wish I had better visual records of my garden through the years, but alas, I don’t.  You’ll just have to trust me when I say that my garden, like any is alive and breathing, has evolved and adapted over the years in response to changing conditions, plant preferences, gardener whimsy and sometimes, gardener impatience.

Because of my passion for plants and their workings, in short, a plant geekiness, I don’t often take photos of my gardens in full shots. I favor selection of subject, not always the full palette. But this bountiful spring, I see my garden with its perennials abloom and mementos in place, not differently, but in its entirety: lush, growing, and life-sustaining.   Come and take a virtual walk with me this lovely spring day to see a garden created by someone who loves her plants-n-critters.  Mine is an attempt to heal a small part of the world by primarily working with what belongs here: a collaborative-effort garden between the gardener and her surroundings.

The back garden,


...and the front garden, where I rarely take photos.

It’s not a stylish or designed garden.  It’s just a garden.

But it’s my garden.


Can She Build Cabinets?

While taking care of some long-neglected chores on my back patio recently, I had the opportunity to watch a Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis (parkinsoniae?), drill into the wood frame of the covered porch. Grateful that she distracted me from a responsibility I didn’t much want, I watched her zoom to, from, and around her target building site.

She examined other potential nesting spots along the woodwork, but returned again and again, …to the spot that she intended, for a particular moment in time, to become a nest for her youngins’.

I love these bees, but they are hard to photograph.  While solitary bees in their living habits,  I find them quite social and gregarious.   They buzz around me almost every time I enter my garden and I find them chasing each other around plants, in a comical Apidae version of hide-n-seek.  Obviously that is territorial protective behavior, but fun to watch. While not shy about buzzing me, they have never been, in the least, aggressive.

I certainly can’t say the same thing for my beloved honeybees–and I have the welts to show for it.

I was able to get good photos of Ms. Horsefly-like Carpenter Bee because she was intent upon her woodworking and not zooming hither and thither, as is typical of this bee

This Carpenter bee species is especially cute:  sporting pretty blue eyes and cool racing-strips along the sides of their abdomens, they’re common pollinators in my gardens.

Regardless, it took me a long time to correctly identify this particular species of bee.

I can easily get the racing-stripes in photo-form, …but have yet to successfully photograph a bee head-on, to profile those baby-blues.

Most photos are blurred visions of bee action.

I watched this bee in the morning, then had to leave for the day.  When I came home that evening,

…I saw two holes, the larger is the one she worked on while I watched and a smaller one, to its right.  It doesn’t look like she finished her carpentry with either.  Or perhaps, she decided that the neighbor with the camera is just too nosy.

Maybe she found a more suitable home and a quieter neighborhood in this old

I spied her, or another, buzzing around, clearly interested in this piece of real estate.  A nest hole made by native bees might look like this hole.

And this,

….is what I found in the back of that selected piece of wood. The wood shavings suggest that somebody is creating a nesting site. I carefully picked up the rotting log and looked at the back of it–there she is!  Mamma Carpenter Bee!

Racing stripes visible in the depth of the hole, is she crooning to her eggs, singing sweet  buzzy-bee lullabies ?  More than likely, she’s packing pollen in the hole for her larvae to snack on once hatched.   I’m leaving the nursery alone–Ms. Horsefly- like Carpenter Bee and her progeny don’t need me bugging them.

Maybe after she’s completed her motherhood responsibilities, I could hire her for some carpentry work?  There are a couple of holes in the frame of my back patio cover….