Purple Reign

Purple is the color of the week in my garden.

A purple Spiderwort flanks a potted Ghost plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense), setting the mood for a reign of purple.


Oh sure, there’s yellow, red, and orange too, all vying for attention with their look at me! petals and am I not gorgeous? spring-green foliage.  But it’s the purple array of Spiderwort–demonstrating pollinator-driven color and petal variations–that is stealing the wildflower show at this moment in my March garden. 

Some Spiderwort flowers are darker and suggest an affinity for geometric arrangements.

The petals are curling, heralding afternoon heat.


Other Spiderwort flowers trend pink, though purple is definitely a part of the petal pedigree.


Still other Spiderwort are shy and soft in color, with hint of blue and only a suggestion of exhibitionist purple.


The pollinators are busy, busy, busy and Spiderwort blooms are a favorite dining spot!  This diminutive syrphid fly caught my attention as I was chasing a significantly larger butterfly.  I failed at photographing the butterfly, but I followed the syrphid, or flower fly, as it visited several Spiderwort blooms.  The syrphid was a work-horse pollinator at the flowers, spending more time at each bloom than the flighty butterfly.


Part of the honey for next season will come from this Spiderwort and its farming honeybee.

Check out Ms. Honeybee’s pollen pantaloons.  The proper name for this part of the honeybee is pollen basket or corbicula, but I prefer my own addition to bee etymology:  pollen pantaloon.


Purple reigns in the garden, though it–in the form of Spiderwort–hasn’t quite taken over.  If I want a diverse garden community next year, I’ll need to cull a fair number of these randy Spiderwort plants–they’re rather a promiscuous bunch!    That’s fine, I’ll be donating some to plant swaps and cajoling neighbors into planting some of my extras.  (But will those neighbors ever speak to me again, after they, too, reap the bounty of Spiderwort?)

A stalk of purple passalong iris photobombs the cluster of spiderwort.  In time, this iris and  its compadres will likely  assume the mantle of purple.

Spiderwort: a reign of purple and a prince of flowers.


Late last week, I was excited to see a pair of Black-crested Titmice entering and exiting a bird house, having apparently decided that it was a nice place to raise their little ones.  The charming birds worked diligently for three days, one bringing bits of leaves into the house, while the other perched on nearby branches singing, calling, and standing guard.

All I managed to photograph was the tail-end of the bird as he/she entered the house,

…and its darling face as he/she exited to gather more material.

Titmice gather soft materials like new leaves, feathers, animal fur, moss, and similar items for their nests.

Sunday was windy.  I saw them working that day, but I didn’t watch closely.  By late Monday, having been in and out during the day and not having observed regularly, I realized in late afternoon that there was no activity around the bird house.

It seems they built a dummy.  Birds will build a nest, then abandon for any number of reasons, including that they’re spooked by a predator, or that they built in several spots with the female then choosing one–not all–of those spots for her nesting.  I don’t know why this couple decided against the house, perhaps it swayed too much in the wind or maybe it was just too close to the garage door.  Maybe they thought the rain chain was  a little tacky.  Who knows what titmice think?

Whatever their reason, the house now sits empty. There will be no itty-bitty baby titmice for me to observe this spring.

I’m sorry that the cute bird house won’t house cute birds.  They’re still visiting my garden, though their home-sweet-home is somewhere else.  I wish them well in their family business and hope they bring their youngins to my garden for a drink and a nosh.

Spring Forward

Clocks have been dutifully moved forward and we’re all a bit sleep-deprived.   The great outdoors reveals daily–sometimes hourly–changes as spring happens.  Vibrant green, accompanied by pops of color, appear at every turn as I enjoy a post-sunrise stroll through the garden.

Demanding my eyes turn toward the ground is this blast of sunshine in flower form, Golden groundselPackera obovata, .


Adjacent to the groundsel, one of my two Mountain laurel trees, Sophora secundiflora, calms the groundsel’s screaming yellow with dripping blue-purple clusters.


The other Mountain laurel boasts blooms whose faces reach toward the emerging blue sky, enjoying the warming sun.


Not outdone by either yellow or purple, a CrossvineBignonia capreolata, showcases  belled blossoms for pollinators, though in early morning, no visitors have arrived.


Giant spiderwort, Tradescantia gigantea, currently dominates the floral palette of the back garden.   A passalong plant from years ago, it is a triumphant spreader of royal purple.

This Spiderwort group decorates the front garden; no doubt, it will also seed out, given the work of the bees.


The Spiderwort cluster pairs with two second-year Martha Gonzales roses.


Burgundy in foliage and scarlet in petals, this tough rose is a must-have for my garden.


Planted last autumn after Hurricane Harvey laid waste half of an Arizona Ash tree, the happy-faced, tough-as-nails Blackfoot daisyMelampodium leucanthum,  is open for blooming business and will relish the full sun now available.


An as-yet unfurled Wild red columbineAquilegia canadensis, awaits its flowering turn in the morning sun.

Daily changes of seasonal beauty allow pollinators and gardeners satisfaction with their efforts.  What’s in your spring garden?