Monday, July 6, 2009

Through the Garden Gate

It has been a while since I have been garden bloggin'- I was taking a much needed break from all things computer and spending some much needed time thinking of nothing in particular while resting on my back porch just enjoying my garden. I have returned, and I would like to welcome you all back with a lazy stroll though my garden gate.

Before we pass through the gate, please take note of the fantabulous passionvine to the right. It has been completely decimated by the gulf fritillary butterflies. I just don't have the heart to throw BT powder on them and murder them, so I let them eat as much as they like, and in dry years such as this, the result is, well...just look:

No worries, however, this passionflower will come back from the brink of death next spring.

And here we go through the garden gate:

Yes, the garden is tiny, but wonderful things often come in small packages. The trick is to take the time to really investigate and notice the details.

Looking to the left, we see the butterfly/hummingbird garden.

Looking to the right is the path to the sandbox.

Let us first travel in this general right-handed direction.

Immediately off to the right very near the ground are some clumps of lemon thyme. Run your hands over a sprig or two and your hands come away smelling of lemon. Yum.

Look back up and out and there is a pomegranate growing in a bunch of wild petunia. Notice how short the petunia are again this year. The scratches on the fence above them mark their usual height in a non-drought year - nearly double what they are this year. The coral honeysuckle is also looking terribly crispy this year.

notice the scratches way up on the fence where the petunias should be growing up to:

In front of the pomegranate are some lace-leaf lavender that really love the dry weather. And the butterflies love them.

The coneflower bed is also a bit raggedy this year. In front of them are some new-ish cantaloupe plants beginning to trail. The parsley there has nearly been mowed to the ground by the swallowtail caterpillars. The pot holds a new-this-year pomegranate tree and some Mexican heather.

This is what the black and blue salvia currently looks like. Yeah...not so nice is it? This stuff needs more water than it is currently receiving. Next to it is an orange firebush. It is also very small and needs some water pretty badly. So this little section of the garden is really quite pathetic. Oh well. *throwing arms up in defeat*

Here is Oak Tree Island. It contains a Texas Red Oak circled by Mexican feather grass, which in turn is circled with pink rain lilies. The lilies are only visible after a good rain. I do love little surprises such as that in the garden.

Continue round Oak Tree Island and you will arrive at the sandbox. Yes I have a sandbox, and yes I play in it. Shut up! Don't make fun! You know you want to make a castle!

Behind the sandbox is a stand of native sunflowers. Between the sunflowers and coneflowers a smorgasbord of seeds await the Lesser Goldfinches whom will soon come to visit.

Looking past the sandbox and following the dry creekbed, the veggie garden appears in the distance - we will follow the creekbed there.

The creekbed was created to fix the drainage problem I had in the garden. Now the rain fills the bed, runs down to the side fence where I dug a ditch, and out under the fence into the drainage field instead of making a swamp out of my backyard whenever the powers that be turn on the heavenly faucets full freakin' blast.

Peering along the creekbed and stopping at a clump of star-shaped seed pods, several snap dragon vines are snaking their way up the many trunks of the Mt. Laurel.

A few Tahoka daisy also hang on in the blasting heat, although most have gone to seed.

The Spineless prickly pear and the Pride of Barbados laugh in the face of the heat and are a few of the plants doing well in the garden right now.

In the speckled shade under the orchid tree, Mexican Tuberose are just beginning to flower. Their scent perfumes the entire garden while they are in bloom. I started with 3 bulbs last year and already they have doubled that this year:

The creekbed appears to end at the edge of the veggie garden where a short grass pathway leads to a hanging basket of Torenia above a clump of turks cap. The creekbed actually continues on in an even deeper ditch I dug along the fence and under all the greenery and out the back into the drainage field.

And we have arrived at the Veggie Garden.

Those beans in the front - those are Thai Bush long beans. I was hoping they would be more 'bush' like, but they are really more crawl along the ground instead of growing-up, take-over the garden, jungle-like. Yeah. But hey, they LOOOOVE the heat!!

The carrots have been engulfed by the thai beans. I have to shove the beans out of the way to get to the carrots. You wouldn't even know the carrots are there! But they are, I swear. I just made a carrot cake from the garden carrots the other day.

The tomatoes have sorta stopped growing - they are kinda in a stasis. They really need some rain. All except the yellow pear tomato - it doesn't seem to mind the heat at all:

The cucumbers have gone crazy. Look at this harvest:

The scarlet runner beans in the back are hanging on. They don't really like 100+ heat so well.

Back in the shade are some Chile Pequins. These are what the Mockingbirds have full-out, rough and tumble, knock down, feather yanking, eye-poking-out fights over.

Meet our garden's resident mockingbird. He beats the crap-oli out of any other mockingbird that tries to move in. Seriously. Just the other day 3 of them were rolling around on the ground ripping out feathers and poking out eyes. The fight was just a blur of feathers and blood. This guy is the victor:

Who knew Chile Pequins were worth a death match? Huh.

Moving along on our tour....

To the left of the veggies is our tiki god Kumu-Honua standing guard among the shrimp plants.

Behind the shrimp plants grow a Windmill palm tree and baskets of Fan flower (Scaevola saligna). Fan flower takes our Texas heat and sun like a champ provided it is watered often (I have had to water 2 times a day in 100 plus heat - once in the morning and once in late afternoon)

Tarry a moment to take a closer look at the fan flower...a garden visitor would like to say hello:

Are we tired yet? We could take a short rest and enjoy some sun tea in the mist on the back porch and watch the hummingbirds (the hummers enjoy playing in the mister). I recently added a mister to the porch. It was super-easy and it hooks right up to the hose. BEST. PORCH. ADDITION. EVER.

Let us move on to the right. This is the butterfly/hummingbird garden that is new this year. It isn't filled out too well since the rain has been few and far between, but there are still many pretty flowers:

The Texas Bluebells are amazing - they just won't quit blooming:

I just added these red Brazilian Petunia last week. They are the new hummingbird favorite:

Walking along the limestone path of the butterfly garden, you will want to stop and smell a few flowers - especially this chocolate flower.


Do stop and cool off by the fountain:

While cooling off, look up and to the right - you will see the crossvine slowly making its way around the house. It is planted on the east side just to the left as you enter through the gate. I do trim it up to keep it in bounds. This crossvine is our garden's Anole Highway. Green Anoles are arboreal and so spend most of their time in the trees and bushes. I see them jumping from hanging pot to hanging pot to get to the Anole Highway.

Now look down and to the right - next to the path are some yellow rainlilies that recently opened:

Back up and to the left is some tropical milkweed that always has a Monarch or Queen butterfly perched atop it. Come fall, there will be monarch butterfly caterpillars all over it:

Looking back to the right and down on the ground next to the path is a large swath of silver ponyfoot. Reach down and touch some - it is so soft and fuzzy! The birds love to make nests out of this plant.

Look up and to the right at the end of the path - a hummer at this feeder! I hang feeders on opposite sides of the house to minimize the fighting.

And we are nearly finished with this little garden stroll. Please do turn around and look back out across the garden. It seems so small, yet is filled with so many wonderful things!

And turning around to head out we look to the left and see the dwarf canna looking very thirsty and the Turks cap looking not-so thirsty. Normally the Turks cap is much larger than our current drought conditions have allowed as evidenced by the scratches on the fence from ginormous Turks cap of years past.

Immediately to the right is a gulf fritallary butterfly resting on a crispy petunia plant.

On your way out the gate, you will notice to the right a grouping of Hinkley's Yellow Columbine that has gone to seed. A friend gave me a small clump 4 years back -I now have so many! Please stop and collect some seeds for your own garden and to share with friends. That's right, just shake them out - a pile of little black seeds will fall into your palm.

Now, come back soon! It was wonderful sharing my garden with y'all!


nancy said...

It great to see what is still surviving and thriving in this heat. I think that I may have to find a place for such survivors as Pride of Barbados, Shrimp plant and Mexican tuberose. They seem to really be hanging in there for you.I too have a small garden, but I agree that if you look closely there are treasures to be found in small packages. Because of the small space I think it is sometimes more difficult to garden. So little space, so many choices you know. So a plant really has to prove itself to win a spot in a small garden!

sweet bay said...

Great post! I love your dry creekbed -- it is lovely. And the Pride of Madeira! I will have to try those Thai Bush beans. I love the Texas Bluebells, blue fountain and silver ponyfoot too. You're right, your garden is filled with wonderful things!

Lee17 said...


Yeah, a few things are thriving. I do give the shrimp plant some extra water since it is right next to the porch. It probably would not look so nice otherwise.

Lee17 said...

Sweet Bay,

Thanks! If you try the Thai bush beans give them lots of room!! They are like any of theose other asian beans except they crawl along the ground instaed of going up. They are taking over my garden! But they do seem to love the heat!