Heat. Stifling, wilting, melting hot. So are the summers along the Gulf Coast.
Trying to deflect the sun’s rays, blades curl.
Leaves flop over waiting for evening’s relief.
Such are the hot summer days of July and August. Wilting occurs when plants put out more moisture than they take in. This process is called transpiration and is a self-protective mechanism plants use to survive excessive heat. Nature provides plants for every climate and while many wilt, others such as tropicals thrive in the heated oppressive air.
Lilies are difficult to grow on the Gulf Coast with the heavy clay soil, heat, humidity, and soaking rains. But, Philippine Lilies (Lilium formosanum) love these conditions and bloom in July and August. The plants set seeds that easily germinate to produce many more lilies, which makes them perfect for the Automatic Garden.
The blooms give off their perfumed scents at night and attract the hummingbird moth, often mistaken for “baby” hummingbirds because of the moths’ ability to hoover while they gather nectar. Philippine Lilies grow about 4 to 5 feet tall and make a stunning back drop for other summer bloomers.
A Hibiscus bud with a luscious drop of rain water on its tip. The other bud is showing just a peek of color.
This is a hardy Hibiscus that was a pass-along plant. It opens to the size of a dessert plate and displays several colors of pink. This Hibiscus makes seeds that easily germinate and then the plant disappears in the winter and returns in spring to begin its cycle again.
This cute little baby was navigating around the leaves in the natural area of the garden. It is barely 2 inches long and its brown coloring blends well to keep it safe. I was able to coax it onto my glove and take a quick shot with my phone. I am guessing it is a Skink as they are usually found slithering among the leaves.
Over the years there have been some intelligent, stand-out wild animals that have come through the garden. This is the case of the rabbit and cardinal in the photo. The male cardinal figured out that I was the source of his morning feeding. He would start hopping around on the back porch waiting for me to come out. Next he would wait on the porch roof and fly over my head to a tree near the feeder, waiting impatiently for his breakfast. As time went on the cardinal would fly beside me on the way to the feeder and the ultimate fearless feat was flying through the porch just a few feet from me, demanding that I hurry up.
It wasn’t long until the rabbit caught on. More than once he came charging across the yard when he saw me with the seed, stopping at an uncomfortable (for me) proximity to my feet.
The ultimate pressure came one morning when the cardinal was perched on a porch chair and the rabbit was waiting on the sidewalk to the porch. Who is training who?
Seeds from the plant Jewel of Opar, have been carefully collected and saved. This packet is one of many.
The plant produces tiny sweet flowers that become red seed capsules and then dry to brown.
As it turns out, there was no need to collect the seeds. The plant drops seeds in cracks, other pots,the lawn and beds.
The seeds germinate quite easily and the little plants just need to be transplanted or passed along to fellow gardeners.
Four babies’ tails are spotted in the yard. (Click photo to see the one on the far right.)
The baby armadillos are plowing through the leaves looking for a meal of bugs and grubs.
They don’t mind having their picture taken or even care that humans are close. Lunch is their priority.
Time to slip under the fence to check out the neighbor’s bugs. Toodle-oo.