Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday, the debut

Thanks to Tina Huckabee at My Gardener Says..., there is now a Wildlife Wednesday meme--the first Wednesday of the month is dedicated to photos and description of the animal kingdom visitors who grace our gardens.

Since this is the debut, I'll post the few pics of wildlife I've captured over the past year or so. I'm no great photographer, and I probably only manage to capture one or two wildlife sightings out of ten. But I'll do my best to collect them in this post. I'm no champ and identifying them either, but this will be a good motivator for me to learn.

See the little guy hiding behind the trellis, on the horizontal fence board? I believe he's a Texas Spiny Lizard, Sceloporus olivaceus. We've seen this guy or his relatives several times over the years, particularly in hot weather, and most often clutching a window screen--we've often had the belly view from inside the house. Wise little guy, he tends to favor brushy spots where he can easily hide.

Here's what I think might be a Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar (Papilio glaucus). He was scaling a tomato vine, which isn't one of his host plants, but maybe he had wandered over there from the remains of the fennel, or perhaps the carrot greens.
Correction: This is much more likely a Tomato Hornworm, which partially explains why my tomato plant took a turn for the ugly. Thanks for catching this, Tina!

Earlier this year, I snapped a photo of a large Crookneck Squash blossom, with itty bitty ants crawling all over it.  I didn't know whether or not they were beneficial, so I assumed they were either beneficial or harmless and let them be. This webpage seems to support that theory.

These two butterfly photos are from last year. The black one is a Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor (with some pretty blue at the bottom of its wings, if you take a close look). The orange-and-black one is an American Lady, Vanessa virginiensis. Thanks to Tim Jones at Ground Truth Investigations for helping me identify them last year.

Of course, my wildlife post wouldn't be complete without a shot of one of the several resident Anole lizards, Anolis carolinensis. These little guys (and gals) have been occupants of our garden, probably long before we were. They seem to enjoy the deck--we think they might live under there--and they show up on the walls behind our flower and veggie beds all the time. We see them in brown, green and sometimes even a plum purple color, and sometimes we get to watch them change. We see their babies in the spring. We've always been fond of these little lizards.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July update

Well, my prediction about having a June baby is now officially debunked. Here we are, July 1st, and he is still snug in my belly. I'm trying to reinforce my patience by reminding myself that if he were ready, he would be here. There's important growth happening, I just can't see it. Kind of like what happens in the garden.

I came out to water tonight, and to my great surprise, one of the Crinum Lilies (Ellen Bosanquet, perhaps?) has burst forth with a bloom stalk! From what I've read about Crinums, there was no guarantee that they would bloom at all until the second year. I have been watching the dramatic fans of foliage since they came up this Spring, but I really didn't expect to see any flowers at all. Looks like there was more going on under the surface than I realized.

Meanwhile, the Crape Myrtles have reached the peak of their bloom cycle for the year, I think. I thought they looked lovely a couple of weeks ago when they all first started blooming, but they're really spectacular now. If I had it all to do over again, I probably would not plant a whole row of Crape Myrtles, but they sure are pretty when they do their thing.

Hello, Crape Myrtles!

'Candy Cane' Crape Myrtle has pretty white-edged pink blooms. Otherwise, this one has been one of the slowest growers and most reluctant bloomers in my yard. It seems to be having its best year yet.
One of the dwarf (I think) purple-blooming Crapes.

Another view of Crape Myrtle Row, and the fledgling wildflower patch.

Black-Eyed Susans have been the first wave of blooms to grace the new Wildflower Patch.

That floral department Gerbera Daisy sent up three jolly-looking yellow flowers. They're starting to fade since I took this picture, but we've been enjoying them for a couple of weeks.

'Natchez' Crape Myrtles, grabbing up the afternoon sun in front of the neighbor's towering Cedar Elm.

A closer look at the two tall 'Natchez' Crapes in bloom.

It's messy, but there are blooms in the Butterfly Garden: Tropical Butterflyweed, Purple Coneflower and Cardinal Climber.
Tropical Butterflyweed, slow to rebound this year, is finally really blooming.

Twin blossoms adorn the Purple Coneflower I thought I lost over the winter.

Gotcha! I believe this is a Texas Spiny Lizard. They're more skittish than the Anoles, at least in my yard. This one was scampering back and forth behind the Cardinal Climber Vine to avoid my camera.

Blanc Du Bois Grape and Cardinal Climber have twined together to the top of the western fence. I'm not sure how thrilled my neighbor will be, but I'm happy to see the vines thriving.

Cardinal Climber claimed one big gap in the trellis that is otherwise entirely occupied by Blanc Du Bois.

I can't get enough of this view.

The succulents are hanging in there, enjoying this sunny spot and a top-dressing of decomposed granite.

View of the newly-sunny side of the backyard. (Sunny since we had the Chinese Tallow cut down. The firepit planter is standing over the spot where the Tallow once stood.

P.S. The St. Augustine looks lush, but I can't take credit--we've had lots of rain lately.

Indoors, I added a Bromeliad. I had one of these once before, that I think might have been a toddler casualty. Hey, they're cheap and pretty. I hope I'll make this one last a little longer, but even if I can't, the sight of it cheers me, especially during these summer days when I'm stuck inside the house on Baby Watch.

I'll leave you with a few more shots of the Crape Myrtles. All in bloom, they sort of look like exploding fireworks, don't they?

Happy Gardening!