Raccoon Appreciation?

October 1 is International Raccoon Appreciation Day.

Apparently, that is a thing.

However, due to some excitement last night, I’m not feeling particularly appreciative of the masked marauders as this is what I discovered in morning’s light:

And a close-up:

I heard some scrabbling just above my back door last night, but was too slow with the flashlight to catch the critter in the act. In that spot, only one shingle was pulled up. I then surveyed the front of my house, flashlight flashing, and could see that there were a number of mangled shingles all along the front. Daylight demonstrated the full extent of the raccoon’s activities.

The same thing happened early in the year, in February. I noticed that roof shingles were randomly pulled up, some which had broken and fallen to the ground. We’d heard odd noises on the roof in the previous night or two, but never saw the rogue raccoon. Really, who else would do this? As cute and charming as they are, racoons are destructive; it cost a pretty penny to have the damaged fixed. Here we go again.

In the scheme of things, this is minor and even a little bit funny. But also, pretty annoying.

I’ve come to realize that I can no longer keep the old Photinia shrub which leans toward and near to the house. I’ve been reluctant to take it down because the birds use it for cover, but going forward, they’ll just have to wing to the big oak, which sits close by. The raccoon varmints are crawling onto the roof from the Photinia and celebrating their day–and other days and nights, too–by partying on my roof. The Photinia must come down, as I want to have money to live on when I’m old and won’t if raccoons continue to mess with my roof.

I think I may need to re-think this whole wildlife gardening schtick.

Foliage and Bird

It was a sprinkling of snowy Four O’Clock flowersMirabilis jalapa, that caught my eye one evening, not too long before sundown.  My two Four O’Clock plants (the other one blooms a stunning hot pink) are pass-alongs from a gardener and former blogger.  This old-timey, Southern garden addition-by-way-of-Central and South America, is a night bloomer and grows from a fleshy root which can become quite large.  The creamy flowers brighten a shady area close near my pond;  the flowers open in late afternoon, bloom all night, and close by late morning.  

But it was the metal bird, standing in a diversity of foliage, that resonated as a garden story.  Even though I planted this crew, I didn’t recognize just how different the various leaf forms are and how well they complement one another as they mature. 

Sometimes, it’s challenging to see consciously what will be as a garden evolves.

Clockwise from top left, the blue-tinged Soft-leaf Yucca, Yucca recurvifolia, sits next to the tropical green foliage of the Four O’Clock.  To its right, another grey-blue foliage plant, Drummond’s Ruellia, Ruellia drummondiana, serves as backing for three individuals of strappy, stripy Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’ sedge–and that’s where the quirky bird perches.  A couple of iris straps and dangles of autumnal seeds of Inland Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium complete the oddball group.

The Drummond’s Ruellia and ‘Sparkler’ sedges will grow and will require management: the ruellia will need pruning and the ‘Sparklers’ transplanting.  Maybe the bird will  migrate elsewhere.

For now, the group is simpatico and the gardener is pleased.

It was Anna’s own lovely foliage photo which reminded me of my foliage and bird.  Check out her Wednesday Vignette for garden happenings.

September Blooms

Come September, gardens and gardeners in Austin, Texas, zone 8b, breathe a sigh of *qualified* relief, thankful that we’re mostly through the long hot, the searing sun, and the toasty dry.   Come September, very welcome rain usually occurs and even a couple of lame cool fronts puff through, cooling things off (however briefly) and all but ending the truly hot and ushering in the merely warm.  It is still warm, downright hot many afternoons, but our second spring–a flush of autumn blooming–is just beginning.

Turk’s cap, Malvaviscus arboreus, blooms from early May until November, but peak in floriferousness (turns out, that’s a word!) during the last few months of their bloom cycle, just in time for migrating monarchs and ready-to-migrate hummingbirds.

Accompanying the Turk’s cap during the long growing season are potted bougainvillea, a Mexican feather grass, and an American agave–sun worshipers, all.

 

Rock rose, Pavonia lasiopetala, rests during July and August, gifting to the gardener only a stingy few shockingly pink delights during those hot months.  But add a little rain and the pink petals produce a pow-wow.

Late summer rain sets these lovelies up for a profusion of tiny flowers until the days are short and cool and their blooming cycle is complete for the year.

 

Mexican orchid tree, Bauhinia mexicana, have an on-and-off bloom cycle, except from late July and through hot August when this native of northern Mexico enjoys a bit of a siesta during the hottest time of the year.  As soon as the weather patterns gentle up the blooms bust out.

 

Busting out is also a good description of the masses of frothy pink bloom clusters that  Barbados cherry, Malpighia glabra, produce after some needed precipitation.

Most of the year, this large shrub lacks these floral decorations and is green, dense and provides good cover for birds, lizards, and other assorted critters.  But with spring and fall rains, blooms develop (to the cheers of the gardener) followed by luscious red fruits  (favored by many birds).  The dainty clusters attract all sorts of pollinators and fill the air with a fragrance reminiscent of baby powder.

A pretty plant which provides so much for so many.  Win!

I’m linking with Carol at May Dreams Gardens for her monthly bloom huzzah.  Check out her blog for more bloomin’ love!