Wednesday, April 30, 2008

That mystery bulb...It's a Rain Lily!

A couple years ago I was out collecting landscaping rocks from the construction site behind our housing development and in one of the Texas Holey Rocks were a couple of small bulbs. I thought maybe they were wild onion bulbs or something, so I tucked them in by the ferns I planted and forgot about them. Every year they would get a few flat, strappy leaves that stayed evergreen throughout the winter. I was walking past them this evening and happened to glance over and....Holy Cow - A HUGE white bloom! What?! Those bulbs were White Rain Lily bulbs! Sweet! I love it when things I rescue turn out to be something really keen. I think it is a Hill Country Rain lily (Cooperia pedunculata). Please correct me if I am wrong, I have a hard time telling the different rain lilies apart. These lilies are night bloomers and are supposed to be fragrant.

Here it is in all its white glory:

A little closer:

How ironic that I just bought a whole bunch of rain lilies.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Bulbs Arrived - Hurray!

I ordered some rain lily and tuberose bulbs and they just arrived in the mail. The postperson put them in the WRONG mailbox, however, and the neighbor was nice enough to immediately deliver them to my door. It is a good thing that they didn't sit in that hot mailbox for several days or they would have been crispy critters by the time I finally had them in my posession. Anyway, here they are:

I purchased some yellow rain lilies (Zephyranthes citrina), some white rain lilies for my swampy area by the air conditoning unit (Zephyranthes candida), Pink ones (Zephyranthes grandiflora), and some Mexican Single Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) that are supposed to be easy to grow.

Rain lilies are native to the Americas, which I think makes them a neat plant to own. They also like really hot and humid summers, and can take both drought and drenching rains. What better bulb for Austin? Right? I had to get my hands on more of these. I have some Pink Zepharanthes 'Labuffarosa' in a shady spot that bloom spectacularly for me (even though most rain lilies like full sun). I guess the pink ones can take more shade than maybe the lighter colored ones.

As a side note, according to the Wikipedia, The name Zephyranthes comes from Zephyrus, the god of the west wind in Greek mythology. I guess the West wind is supposed to bring in the rains that makes these lilies flower. Nifty.

And here are some keen images of the bugs that are pollinating my prairie cactus:

These weird little beetles are just diggin' around in the flowers. I think they are kinda neat looking with all their yellow spots (or are they yellow with black spots?):

Here is a wider image of the cactus with its blooms:

And here is a bright green Sedum that is doing well and flowering for me. There is also another type of sedum in the image that is slowly dying off. It is just too darn hot for that variety here:

The Gulf Coast Penstemon I put in the air conditioning unit drainage area:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Green Anole Standoff!

As I was strolling about the yard today, I caught sight of 2 Anoles in a standoff. They were slowly circling each other and displaying their dewlaps (that pink fan of skin on their necks) to each other in what I would guess was a territorial display of some type. They were both on the brick wall of the house, and so had changed to a brownish color to match their surroundings.

Here they are circling again, and there is also a third Anole that I couldn't get in the photo just to below and to the right - maybe the third was a female and they were fighting over her?

Anyhow, this guy seems to have won out (he was the biggest one) and is now King of the brick wall:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saturday Gardening Frenzy

I went into a gardening frenzy on Saturday. It was sunny, I had been locked in the house with the sick kid all last week, and I needed to get out. So, I went to 2 different nurseries and bought a bunch of new plants.

-Jerusalem Sage
-Russian Sage
-Yellow Bells (to replace one I lost over the winter - or so I thought - when I went to dig out the dead one - which I JUST checked on Friday and NO leaves were evident anywhere - I will be darned if there wasn't new leaves poking up from through the ground. Oh well, I guess I will put my new one in a pot or something)
-Heartleaf Skullcap
-Gulf Coast Penstemon (for that soggy, poorly drained spot by the air conditioning unit)
-Spanish Lavender (To replace one I lost in the deluge that was last spring)
-Gaillardia or Blanketflower
-Black-Eyed Susan
-Pigeonberry (I am making a bed of these behind the orchid tree)
-Several small pots of pink skullcap (because they were only 2.96 a piece!)
-Several small pots of Pink Guara (again because they were only 2.96 a piece)
-A Weeping Yaupon Holly (This is my big score of the day)

Here is an image of some of the items:

And the Weeping Yaupon Holly:

The new bed I dug for the Gaura. There are also a couple of baby Rock Rose I moved into this bed as well:

This is an image of one of the Spanish Lavender in the front bed. I lost it's companion last year in all the rain we had (as a side note, the bees simply MOB this plant):

And here are some images of a couple things blooming in my garden this weekend.

Golden Leadball tree. Note the bamboo sticks that once were used to prop up the tree - they no longer prop up the tree, but do serve a purpose as a perching spot for the occasional Ladderback woodbeckers who seem to enjoy trying to make a lunch out of any insects that reside in the bamboo posts:

Plains Prickly Pear. This is a terrific plant to keep the neighbor kids from traipsing through my front flower bed - vicious spines this one has!:

Then, there is this tiny little morning glory-type plant that came up in my flower bed. Anyone know what it is? The bloom is really dime-size small. I like it, whatever it may be, so I am going to leave it right where it is:

Ok, so it turns out that this is Convolvulus equitans Benth.
Bindweed, or Texas Bindweed (according to the Wildflower center)and is a non-aggressive annual that grows to 3 to 6 feet. Well, I like it, so it is staying ;)

And off I go to dig a new bed for the skullcap I purchased yesterday...they are going in front of the Sago palms:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bloom Day - April 15th

There is much going on in my garden, so here we go:

Here is my Anacacho Orchid tree. This tree is a bird MAGNET - hummingbirds, finches, sparrows, cardinal, etc, etc. The finches and sparrows like to torture me by eating all the blooms off before they open. Luckily, it gets so many blooms, it is hard for the birds to do a large amount of damage. It is difficult to get a good image of the tree and get the whole thing in the picture, but here is my best shot:

It is fully abuzz with honeybees. If you stand near the tree all you hear is the drone of honey bees as they go about their work. Here is an up-close image:

And another image:

The Rock Rose started blooming the other day:

The native Lantana too:

The Cedar Sage (a hummingbird favorite in my garden):

Blackfoot Daisy:

Golden Leadball tree (who thought up the name for this tree anyway?):

Coral Nymph salvia that I just purchased (I hope this one seeds itself all over the general area):

And check out this moth I found on the trunk of my Texas Ash tree. He is at least 3 inches long - this guy is HUGE. I believe he is a Waved Sphinx Moth. The image doesn't really show how big he is:

Another image:

And here is my Fuschia 'Angel Earrings Snowfire' I have had it for a month now - longer than any other fuschia have survived for me, and not only is it not dead, it is THRIVING. UNbelievable. The true test comes in the next couple of months - we shall see if it truly is 'Texas tough' as the tag promised.

Hot Lips Salvia with Mexican Bird of Paradise in the background:

And a late entry into the Bloom Day post belongs to the Passionflower 'Passifloraceae incarnata':

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Alien Pods and Abutilon

I was feeling mopey about not being able to attend Spring Fling, so I went out and bought myself a consolation prize. I purchased an Abutilon 'Little Red Bells'. I put it in a pot in the shade of my entryway. I love Maple trees, but obviously those are out of the question down here, and Abutilon have leaves that look pretty similiar to maple leaves - even though Abutilon are really in the Mallow family.


Then I was out browsing at the local nursery, and just as I was walking out with nothing (yes, nothing, I was browsing remember?) I spotted a Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince, and I HAD to have it. I am so weak. Here it is (isn't it pretty?):

And more new things are blooming in my garden today. My new Texas Persimmon tree has some nifty blooms on it. They are really tiny and I swear that they look just like little alien pods:

This one has apparently already birthed its contents. I expect to see some really tiny martians running about my garden this summer:

The Granny Smith apple tree also just started blooming today:

And the Bicolor Iris also has its first bloom:

Too bad these Iris flowers only last a single day - they would be really pretty in flower arrangements.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hail! and a couple flowers...

It was storming this morning and dropped 1/2" to 3/4" sized hail all over my garden, pelting the plants and knocking their flowers off. It was still kinda dark out, so I couldn't get a wide view image, but here are some close-ups of the hail:

Thank goodness the hail didn't get any bigger than that. I don't want holes in my windows. Small hail is kinda exciting, large hail...not so much.

And to switch the topic to new flower blooms, yesterday the Pomegranate got its first bloom of the season. I love this Pomegranate tree - It thrives on neglect - I never water it and it grows like crazy. I only trim up the suckers at its base every once in a while. I just let it do its thing and it rewards me with these beautiful blooms all season long:

The Mexican Petunia also just started flowering. I have this planted around the pomegranate - this plant spreads like mad, but I really like the flowers so I just try and pull out the ones that spread where I don't want them:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New Hummingbird feeder!

Yay! My new hummingbird feeder arrived in the mail today. I am replacing an old one that is made of plastic, is really hard to clean, is ugly (the red plastic faded after being outside only a few weeks), and the hummingbirds never really liked it anyway. The new feeder is easy to clean and made of glass. I think they didn't like the old one because since it was plastic, the sugar water would go bad faster.

Here is the old one (Blech):

And here is the Nu feeder (Yay! Hummingbirds rejoice!):

I know they will like the new one because I already have one like it and it is their favorite feeder by far. I have to put feeders on opposite sides of the house to keep the little buggers from fighting with each other so much.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hawk Moths and Wildflowers

I finally caught an image of one of the Hawk Moths that has been zooming about my yard. This guy was feeding at one of the purple salvia greggi in my wilderness area of the yard. He was so busy with the flowers, has wasn't paying me any attention at all.

Hawk Moth (A Striped Morning Sphinx, I believe):

This is my wilderness area:

I dug out all the bermuda grass on the west side strip of the house and planted native and adapted plants in its place. Near the back of this image, you can see the desert willow starting to leaf out and near the front, the Granny Smith apple tree that should start leafing out any day now. I love this little section of the yard. It attracts all kinds of birds - just this morning I saw a yellow-rumped warbler hanging out in the apple tree.

An Image of the Damianita that takes a beating from the sun in the summer, but doesn't seem to mind it in the least - it just keeps on blooming throughout it all. One of the best flowering plants I can find for that 'Hell Strip' by the sidewalk.

Here are the Columbines and the Texas Betony that the hummingbirds LOVE:

A closer shot of the Texas Betony:

And the Cedar Sage is just starting to bloom. I really love this plant. The red is really quite intense and I think this is THE favorite flower for the hummingbirds in the spring in my garden: