Salvias are reliable plants in the Automatic Garden. Some are hardy and most will reseed. They rest for the hot months of summer and start to rebloom when the earth begins to tilt away from the sun.
The Gingers are putting out their last flowers of the season.
Pentas are in full bloom, providing nectar for bees,hummingbirds and butterflies, although the past several years have seen few butterflies in this area. The white Pentas reseeded this year on their own.
The Ageratum, Rudbeckia, and Torenia are blooming nicely. The Ageratum is wild and planted itself in the garden. The Rudbeckia was a pass-along and willingly reseeds. Torenia spreads its seeds all over the garden, especially in cracks and rocks. They can be bought in the nursery in the spring, but the reseeding ones will not bloom until the fall.
The Fall rains have returned after being gone for several years. These Fall blooming Rain Lilies are enjoying rain every few days and are blooming better than ever.
A drought and warmer weather has been over us for a few years and has changed our gardening habits. Plants were switched to ones that liked dry soil and our zone was “extended” by the warmer weather to include more tropicals as they were making it through the winter.
Bartram’s Garden, that is. Several years ago during a visit to the garden of colonial naturalist John Bartram, I purchased Evening Primrose (Oenothera grandiflora) seeds with a challenge printed on the packet. It said that if you are able to germinate them, a free packet would be sent. (Of course, if they germinate, you wouldn’t need a new packet!) The plant and seeds were originally collected by John’s son, William Bartram in Alabama.
The first attempt yielded a couple of plants that grew for awhile and then rested for the summer. In the fall they shot up long stems and bloomed. I carefully collected some seeds to put into pots to later transplant to beds and allowed some seeds to to drop and plant themselves naturally.
Well, by the third year I was rewarded with too many plants! There was enough to transplant to two other beds as well as to share with fellow gardeners. The photos don’t really show all the blooms. The Evening Primrose has done fantastically in the Automatic Garden and certainly germinates well on the Gulf Coast.
After being gone for a few days, I found this little hummingbird taking up a guard post on the back porch. The little bird spent the first few days after its arrival chasing around the two local hummers that had spent the summer in the Automatic Garden. Then the Bottlebrush (blurry red in upper right of photo) started to bloom and the hummingbird population almost tripled. The guard bird had its work cut out. To help ease its ceaseless duties, I added a feeder to the trellis guard post. This hummingbird seems somewhat different from the usual visitors. It has a bright orange spot on either side of its neck below the eyes. Maybe an immature Allen’s? If there are any experts out there let me know.
All of nature continues in a cycle every year with very little changes. As I started this post, I realized I had already ready written it. Please check out Fuel.
A plant nanny holds a wine bottle of water to ensure plants are well watered.
This potted plant has a different kind of nanny. A toad found a cozy place for his daytime napping.
This past winter was one of the coldest we have had in awhile. It was hard to see many plants that have been growing for years in the Automatic Garden succumb to the cold temperatures. This is a patch of Fountain Plant (Russelia equisetiformis) that has never died back until this year.
The Sword Ferns have been a reliable plant reproducing to the point of needing to be thinned. But it could not take the cold either.
Just when you might think all is lost, nature does her tricks and revives the lost plants. The Fountain Plant is back, but not to the point of blooming yet. Hopefully, its red tubular flowers will come in time for fall migrations of hummingbirds and butterflies.
The Sword Fern renewed so vigorously that stray ferns had to be pulled. It is exhilarating to see plants that were thought to be lost resurrected.
Long before I had garden beds to fill with plants, this incredible wild flower spurred my passion for gardening. It was hanging over an apartment complex fence and was the most beautiful flower I had ever seen.
It was long before the ease of using the internet and most apartment dwellers had little knowledge of flowers. The beautiful flower’s impression stayed with me and years later I found its name…Passion Flower or its wild form, Maypop.
Maypops (Passiflora incarnata) grow on woodland edges and bloom spring to fall. The scented flowers open in the early evening and for only one day. They are host for the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly. The Maypop’s fruits are 3 inches around and have an interesting scent. There are many forms and colors of Passion flowers for sale in nurseries, but nothing stirs a gardener’s passion like finding a Maypop in the wild!