Red, White, Blue and Other Stuff Too: Wildlife Wednesday, July

As it’s both Wildlife Wednesday and Independence Day, let’s cheer America’s 242 birthday and wish a hearty huzzah for wildlife in the garden.

Wildlife is active in my garden this summer, but I’ve been slow at catching that activity. Feathered and furred alike, it seems they scatter when they see me with the camera!  That woman is out with her weird, third eye!!  Plus, it’s been unusually windy here, so photos of teeny-tiny bees-n-such have been difficult to come by. Nevertheless, wildlife persists, augmenting the beauty of the early summer garden.

This brilliant male Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis, brightens the landscape with Red plumage whenever he visits my garden.

He and his lovely lady,

…never nest in my garden, but are regular visitors to the trees, feeders, and water features.   They raised two chicks this spring and early summer; both babies have fledged and are learning to garden-hop.  I haven’t managed good shots of the girl, but the boy is working on his red attire.

He’s a bit mottled in this shot, taken in mid-June.   I’ve noticed recently that his red feathers are becoming more dominant, lessening his awkward teen appearance.  Thank goodness!  Soon, he and his sister will move on to a different part of the neighborhood, both in search for mates for next year.

As for White, well, it’s less in the guise of wildlife and more in flower form, like this sweet Four O’clock bloomMirabilis jalapa.  The flowers open at sundown and close early in the morning.

I guess for wildlife White, I could include some white-wing, as in this White-winged DoveZenaida asiatica.

Like many birds who visit the pond, this one perches on a rock which is adjacent to the tumbling rush of cool water.

Blue has greater representation in my garden with a bevy of Blue jays,  Cyanocitta cristata, who call it home.

I dole out peanuts every morning and the Blue jays love them!    Each morning,  7 or 8 jays take turns plucking peanuts from a ceramic bowl affixed to the fence.  Additionally, a Blue jay pair nested in my Mountain Laurel tree in May and June, so I’ve enjoyed watching the parenting care in raising the brood and the antics of the fledglings.  The newbies have finally learned how to take their own peanuts for breakfast, rather than fluttering their wings in hopes that mom or dad will share peanuts.

This Blue made a brief visit one afternoon.

Austin hosts numerous communities of Monk parakeets, Myiopsitta monachus.  I see them flying over my neighborhood and hear their loud cawing, but only rarely do they land in my garden.  I assume this Blue parakeet is part of a Monk group, though he/she could also be an escaped or lost pet.  The bird was eyeing my pond, but was in the tree for just a few minutes.

Other Things in the garden include an uptick of damselflies and dragonflies–they thrive in summer and are constant pond companions as they flit through the garden while hunting for their meals and resting on foliage.  This Neon Skimmer,  Libellula croceipennis, posed beautifully one weekend afternoon as I lolled in the swing.

This male is a bright orange, his mate of a paler hue.  I’ve observed her laying eggs in the pond several times this summer–more skimmers in our future, unless the fish eat all the larvae.

I see Red-bellied WoodpeckersMelanerpes carolinus, during winter and early spring, but this summer, both a male and female have been regular guests at the feeder.

This guy snatched black-oil sunflower seeds from the feeder, afterwards zooming to the nearby oak tree to stuff the seeds in a hole.  I didn’t see a juvenile at any point, but wondered if this was parenting behavior teaching a young one.

Finally, this unknown moth surprised me late one evening.

Like most folks, I’m bedazzled by the beauty of butterflies; their bright colors and lovely patterns seduce the wildlife watcher during daylight hours.  But moths are certainly gorgeous, though subtle in color.  Their patterns are remarkably intricate, but we don’t see these nighttime lovelies enough to appreciate their good looks or their contribution to flowers and gardens.

Wildlife in the garden–it’s been a good month and I hope you’ve enjoyed your critters, no matter what their colors, stars, or stripes.   Please post about your wild happenings and leave a link when you comment here–and happy wildlife gardening!

Happy Birthday, America–it’s been a good run for our democratic institutions–may they remain.

Bloom Day, October 2014

Summer has been reluctant to release its toasty grip on us in Texas, but the cool of autumn has mostly arrived. We’ve enjoyed a couple of refreshing cold fronts, dropping our temperatures into the ’50’s, with highs in the 70’s and ’80’s. The lingering warmth of September and early October didn’t damper blooms in my gardens, though. Joining Carol at May Dreams Gardens, I’m celebrating blooming stuff on this 15th of October.

There is no shortage of blooming native Texas plants in my gardens. Let’s take a tour, shall we?

Barbados Cherry, Malpighia glabra, has blossomed its dainty, pink clusters for a month or so now.

IMGP0216_cropped_3829x2521..new

Soon, cherry red fruits will replace blooms, feeding a whole different crop of critters. Barbados Cherry is lovely in tandem with Turk’s CapMalvaviscus arboreus.

IMGP0218.new

A cultivar of the native red Turk’s Cap, the Pam’s Pink Turk’s CapMalvaviscus ‘Pam Puryear’, blooms as heartily as the red,

IMGP0235_cropped_3548x3355..new

…but with softer pink swirls perched atop the long branches.   In my gardens, the Pam’s Pink is planted with FrostweedVerbesina virginica,

IMGP1283.new

….and it’s a successful pairing.   Frostweed is an excellent wildlife plant.   Attracting butterflies, like this migrating Monarch,

IMGP1166.new

IMGP1149.new

…and bees,

IMGP1077.new

…and this guy, a Tachinid fly,

IMGP1072.new

…who you can see again on Wildlife Wednesday, a fun little wildlife gardening meme I host.  The next Wildlife Wednesday is November 5th.  Frostweed a stalwart native perennial; it’s drought hardy and works well in either shade or sun.

IMGP1031_cropped_3429x3208..new

The GoldeneyeViguiera dentata, is photogenic in the fall garden.

IMGP1236.new

Another perennial which attracts its share of pollinators,

IMGP1241.new

…these pretty yellow flowers evoke glorious autumn sunshine.

IMGP1008_cropped_4129x3078..new

IMGP1342.new

They work and play well with other natives in my gardens,

IMGP1185.new

…like the Rock RosePavonia lasiopetala and Barbados Cherry. And who doesn’t love the tried and true combination of yellow and blue?

IMGP1277_cropped_3129x3382..new

This Goldeneye’s companion is the non-native Blue Anise Sage, Salvia guaranitica.  

The roses in my gardens are awake again after the heat of summer. I grow only water–wise antique or cultivar roses in my gardens.  If a rose can’t shrug off the heat and dry of the Texas summer, it’s out!  The Martha Gonzales Rose is one such beast.

IMGP1208.new

Named after a Navasota, Texas gardener, Martha Gonzales,

IMGP1204.new

…this rose is beautiful, fragrant, and tough. Martha grows in USDA zones 7a to 10b so it it’s appropriate in a wide range of situations.  If you only grow one rose, make it the Martha!

The Belinda’s Dream Rose, which is appropriate for USDA zones 5a to 10b,

IMGP1612.new

is the quintessential elegant pink rose. Fragrant and downright luscious, Belinda isn’t quite as hardy as the Martha, but still performs well for me.  Belinda gets a little peeky in summer, but picks up again with rain and softer temperatures.  Caldwell Pink Rose,

IMGP0975.new

looks dainty, but it’s no wilting beauty.  This poor thing, I’ve moved it four times–I think I’ve finally found its forever home.

IMGP1014.new

A migrating Monarch finds this Old Gay Hill Rose delightful,

IMGP1724.new

…and so do I.  Similar to the Martha Gonzales, the shrub is larger and the petals slightly (but only slightly) more pink than the Martha’s fire engine red petals.

I’m not a grow-only-native purest and host a number of non-native perennials in my gardens, like these Four O’Clocks, Mirabilis jalapa.  Considered a staple of the Southern garden, these are new to my gardens and were gifted to me by a gardening friend, TexasDeb at austin agrodolce.

IMGP1180.new

IMGP0856.new

IMGP0858_cropped_3419x3414..new

These lovely trumpets open late in the day, bloom all night, and close in the morning. Four O’clocks are fragrant and are such lovelies–I’m tickled to make room for them in my gardens.

Jewels of OparTalinum paniculatum, are another new-to-my-gardens perennial from TexasDeb.  Jewels are also an old-fashioned flower of the Southern garden.

IMGP1369.new

IMGP1380.new

I love the teesny flowers, the “jewels” seeds, and chartreuse foliage. Both Four O’Clocks and Jewels of Opar are potentially invasive, so I’ll keep them in check–ripping out uninvited extras who crash my garden party!

It’s now that my Coral Vine, Antigonon leptopus, shines,

IMGP1413.new

IMGP1415.new

…or is that a sparkle?  Whatever it is, the bees love this bloomer.

After each rain, the Almond Verbena, Aloysia virgata, flowers and its fragrance graces my garden.  Shown here in partnership with Turk’s Cap blooms, the Almond Verbena is favored by honeybees.

IMGP0918.new

My Almond Verbena is the anchor plant in a group of native shrubs and perennials.

IMGP0910.new

It fits quite well, I think.

Quoting another garden blogging buddy, Debra of Under the Pecan Trees,  we enjoy a “second spring” in Texas–a  lush blooming autumn gift, after the heat, when all, including gardeners, perk up anew.

What’s blooming in your gardens this October Bloom Day?  Check out May Dreams Gardens for blooms from everywhere.