Monarch Life Cycle in the Garden

I found these two very fat Monarch Caterpillars munching away on the Butterfly Weed.

One managed to crawl about twenty feet from the Butterfly Weed to make its chrysalis.

In no time the caterpillar almost had the chrysalis completed.

The second caterpillar did not go far and made its chrysalis on a nearby Texas Star Hibiscus plant.

About ten days later the Monarch Butterfly was formed and could be seen through the chrysalis.

In just an hour or so, the butterfly was free and drying its wings.

Weed Bag

As many gardeners do, I always pull up weeds as I walk around my yard. I set up this empty fertilizer bag as an easy drop for the weeds. The weeds dried up and allowed me to continue filling the bag for an entire year. Now, these are only a handful of weeds at a time, when I do my real weeding, I use a bushel container. I just finished the first fertilizing of my 51 azaleas and camellias. I previously did the other 34 shrubs in my landscape in February. I now have a new empty bag to fill up with this year’s weeds and it looks like it will be a very good year for weeds.

Spring Scents

In the spring there are always never-ending gardening chores to finish before the summer heat makes it impossible to stay outside for long periods of time. The sweet scents of flowering shrubs and trees make the work more enjoyable. My new Miniature Gardenia has a very strong scent for a small shrub.

The tiny holly flowers fill a large area with scent. The ornamental hollies scent the front yard and native American Holly Trees are in the back of the house.

The queen of delightful fragrance is the Little Gem Magnolia. It is loaded with buds this year.

Wax Ligustrum’s aroma makes its way across the street from the neighbor’s. It does have a wonderful smell, but somehow causes headaches during its bloom time. Nonetheless, all the lovely spring scents help to make garden work more pleasurable.

Too Much of a Good Thing

The Cardinal Flowers have done really well in the garden bed outside of my kitchen window. I had tried to grow them years ago, but I guess I picked the wrong location. I had some seeds left that were quite old but decided to give them another try. The flowers flourished and bloom in time for the fall migration of the hummingbirds.

The Cardinal Flowers became so prolific, that they just about filled the entire bed. I thought I was doing a good job cutting off all the seed pods, but some escaped making a multitude of new plants that spent the winter sending their roots deep into the soil. I spent hours digging them up and filling the garden trug. I replanted a few in another location and the rest went into the composter.

And just when I thought I had dug up all the volunteer Cardinal Flowers, I found one in the front yard. I enhanced the photo to make the red veins of the Cardinal Flower stand out in the center of the photo. I guess I will need to be on the lookout for more.

Sudden Limb Failure

I completely stole my title from Tony Tomeo’s blog (find him on my sidebar) posted on April 25. His post was prophetic. Sometime during the night on the 27th, this huge limb came down. Earlier that afternoon I had been working in a nearby bed.

I haven’t found the tree that dropped the limb, but I took a photo to show how tall the trees are that surround my property.

The soaring Loblolly Pine trees have branches only at the top. They drop their lower branches as they grow. Any branch that comes down from that height will pack a punch. Luckily, I wasn’t there when it landed about 7 feet from where I was working earlier in the day.

More Spring Blooms

I saw these poppies at a local botanical garden many years ago when I was just beginning to learn to garden in this climate. I didn’t even know what kind of plant they were, but it was love at first sight. I went into the office to inquire about them and the docent gave me free seeds. What a day! I have been growing these beautiful poppies for close to 28 years.

The lavender Salvia coccinea has made some very healthy blooms after a dose of fertilizer.

I find that volunteers like this Purple Cone Flower sometimes do better after they plant themselves where they want.

A spring favorite here is Blanket Flowers.

The Amaryllis that I bought last year surprised me and bloomed again with four big flowers.

Spring Has Finally Sprung

It is finally starting to feel like spring and the flowers have begun to bloom. I remember the first time I ever saw Shrimp Plant and thought it was the most fantastical plant ever. I vowed I would grow it one day when I finally had a yard. This one is a passalong from my mother-in-law. I think of her every time I look at it. Hummingbirds love it too.

In our wet hot weather, we cannot grow those glorious big hostas that are featured in plant catalogs but we can grow African False Hostas (Drimiopsis maculata) also called Little White Soldiers, Leopard Plant, Injoba, or as I like to call it, Spotted Dick for the cute spots on the leaves. Why Spotted Dick? Mostly because I couldn’t remember Drimiopsis maculata and I find the name Spotted Dick, an English pudding in a can, really funny. Here is a youtube video on Spotted Dick.

The Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata) is blooming nicely although it completely missed the fence it was to climb on.

I have Gulf Coast Penstemon growing in three different places and all are doing well. The hummingbirds finally have natural food. The Rufous hummer is still hanging out and two Ruby-Throated hummingbirds have arrived from their winter homes.

The Dutchman’s Pipe has been growing lots of new leaves. I moved the vine a bit and to my surprise I found a flower blooming. It seems that we went from cold wintery weather (wintery for here) with sad freeze damage to a sudden burst of spring in just a few days.

And just to top off our sudden spring, I found these two fat Monarch caterpillars munching on the Butterfly Weed.

Mulch Pile Iris

This has to be the world’s best Iris. It came to me in a pile of mulch at my former residence. When I moved 22 years ago, I brought it with me.

I don’t know if this is the original iris or its offspring. Some years it blooms and in others, it does not. It is very beautiful this year and it may have liked the cold snaps this winter. If anyone can identify it, I would love to know the Iris’s name.

Taking Back My Words – Azaleas

I had mentioned in a previous post that I was very disappointed in my new azaleas. They were looking scraggly and not blooming. I now have to take my words back as they suddenly burst out in bloom.

There are a couple that are struggling, but I will work on them and see if they can be coaxed back. I took a look at previous posts of my old azaleas and saw that they usually bloom a month earlier. The post Azaleas has the most views of all my posts.

At Last

At last, I am getting some blooms in the garden. The Azaleas and Bluebonnets are nearly a month late. These two are our iconic spring flowers.

The Snow Poppies, Eomecon Chionantha, have been reliable and are multiplying. I have enough now to move some to another bed and see how they do there.

The Nasturtiums were to be a fall display on my patio. They finally decided to bloom this spring.

These are the Dianthus I had planted for my cool weather annuals in front of the house. The blankity-blank deer kept coming into the yard and pulling them up. The plants survived but didn’t thrive. Finally, after staying in the soil for a few months they are growing and blooming.

Salvia coccinea is a reliable stable in the garden, but after being frozen back several times this winter only a few stems are currently blooming. The season has been out of sync this year. The bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds have arrived and hardly any flowers are blooming. Fortunately, the temperatures are rising, it rained a few times and the plants are starting to grow and set buds.