Around the Garden

A zinnia just opening.

The perfect host.

Score!


Autumn Gingers

X Maximun – Hedychium thyrsiforme

I was on vacation this summer when my gingers bloomed, missing the jewels of my garden. Thankfully, the gingers must have missed me too and put on some end of summer flowers. Above is the white Maximum Ginger that formed a pretty wreath of flowers around its cone.

Pink V- Hedychium hybrid

Pink V, which doesn’t look very pink to me, has bloomed in two of my beds.

Butterfly Ginger – Hedychium coronarium

White Butterfly Ginger, which smells divine, was the first ginger of my collection given to me by my mother-in-law.

Shampoo Ginger – Zingiber zerumber

Shampoo Ginger will turn dark red and it was actually used to wash hair. I haven’t tried it.

Yellow Dancing Lady – Globba Schomburgkii

The Yellow Dancing Lady was coming to the end of its blooming season, but I find the bulbils interesting. As the rabbits have disappeared from my yard, I have colonies of them coming up everywhere. Like most gingers, they need light shade in this zone and some did not pick the correct place to grow and got sunburned.

Spiral Ginger – Costus barbatus

The Spiral Ginger struggled for awhile, but has really grown and reproduced during the last few years. Even though I missed the big show of blooms, I am pleased that a few gingers bloomed late for my enjoyment.


If Wishbone Plants Were Wishes…

I would have endless wishes to make. Wishbone plants get their name from wishbone shaped stamens. It is a tradition to take the wishbone from a turkey and snap it in half with another person to make a wish. If you got the long part, your wish came true. I have lots of wishbones in my Torenia fournieri that I could snap. Can you see the wishbone at the top of the flower?

The Wishbone is a tough little annual plant that likes part sun and is reseeding profusely in my garden beds. In the evening, I find Hummingbird Moths feeding on them.

I was on a long vacation when the plants germinated and I found them everywhere when I returned. I normally transplant them when they are small, but they became too mature to move. Luckily, I focus on plants and not design. The Wishbones have helped make my poor Split Leaf Philodendron look a little better as it struggles after being frozen last winter.

The Wishbones appeared in the front yard and in patio cracks. How the plants will play when the gardener is away.

All of the Wishbones came up from seeds and here are some of the variations. Pink is the most prolific. Torenias have other names that include Bluewing, Clown Flower and my favorite, Summer Pansy which is its Southern name as we cannot grow real Pansies in the summer heat.


A New Crew Arrives

A new crew of hummingbirds has arrived in town. They took over guarding the feeders. The new group are Rufous Hummingbirds or possibly Allen’s. Both birds are very similar.

Rufous are one of the most aggressive hummers and lots of fights have ensued. They hit each other hard enough to hear the clash and can knock their competitors to the ground. But not to worry as many of the Ruby Throated have headed down the coast for the hummingbird festivals.


Hummer Mania

I now have more than ten migrating hummingbirds enjoying a stop-over in my garden.

I tired to post a video showing all the manic midair jousting, but I couldn’t get it to work.

So instead, I sat in the backyard with my camera ready to get some action shots.

I have five feeders up.

Each feeder has a “guard” that chases other hungry hummers away.

I believe most of the hummingbirds are Ruby Throated juveniles.

They are so intent on feeding, I can sit on the porch just five feet away and watch all the action.

This individual is definitely a mature male and is in charge of this feeder.

When getting access to the sugar water fails, the hummingbirds can always feed on the flowers I grow for them, such as this salvia.

Another hummer favorite is the Cigar Plant, Cuphea ignea.

A cold front has moved into the area, which means for us that temperatures will only be in the mid 80’s, but it could be a signal for the hummingbirds to move on. Luckily, our winter climate is just right for hummingbirds from the far Northwest and Alaska. The flowers and feeders will be ready for them.


Cardinal Flowers

Nature has the best timing and many flowers bloom at just the right time for the Hummingbird migration. I finally got some Cardinal Flowers to germinate a few years ago and they have become a Hummingbird favorite.

To make sure I’m always entertained, I grow the Cardinal Flowers right outside of my kitchen window. It is on the north side of the house and even though it gets plenty of sun, the plants tend to get tall and leggy. This year I cut the perennial Cardinal Flowers back in early spring and the plants developed at least four more stems.

More stems resulted in many more flowers and cutting them early kept the plants from falling over.

Cardinal Flowers have all the characteristics that attract Hummingbirds, a dark red color and tubular shape. I have been hosting about six Hummers for weeks. The little birds spend hours jousting in midair providing me with dawn to dusk entertainment.


Returning Home to Plants Run Amok

After returning from an extended vacation, there always seems to be a lot to get caught up on inside and outside of the house. While we were away, the plants ran amok and the weeds, well grew like weeds. I started in the front yard and pulled about four bushels weeds. Mulch and weed preventer did not do much to stop them. With the temperatures in the 90’s and humidity to match, the backyard will have to wait.

The plants of the Automatic Garden did what they were planted to do and reproduced. There were five different varieties of plants that came up in the cobble rocks outside of their bed. Normally, I transplant them when they are small.

The Wishbone plant (Torenia fournieri), reseeds itself every year and prefers to germinate and grow in high heat and humidity. This year, they overtook the Varigated Gingers that were coming back from the freeze.

All of the potted plants spent their vacation in the woods being watered by the sprinklers. The Pothos Vine particularly enjoyed its vacation and put out a six foot long runner.


Vacation Photos IV: Wonders

Of course, the best part of vacation is to see something wondrous. This rock formation is situated on the edge of a cliff. People are advised not to tickle it.

Waterfalls are abundant in the mountains, but not so much in the flat lands of Texas. This one is called Dry Run, so it was a wonder that it was full of water.

While watching the Perseid Meteor Shower and seeing quite a few meteors, including a blue one, the Moon lined up with a contrail and made its own spectacular show.

And yes, we visited big cities, historical sites and famous museums, but it is always nature that gets my attention.


Vacation Photos: III Plants

I am always fascinated with the ability of plants to find all kinds of places to grow. This lucky grass landed in a bag of peat moss. The question is, was the hole already there or did the plant make it?

Princess Pine looks like a sweet little Christmas tree. It is a club moss and was widely harvested for holiday wreaths and has become more rare.

I found a tiny little orchid with a flower the size of the tip of my pinky finger. I could not pinpoint the name of the plant as my plant identifier never seems to be correct.

Growing among last year’s leaves was a perfectly round ball of moss. The color and shape were amazing.

If my northern readers can identify any of the fungi, critters or plants, I would appreciate hearing from you.


Vacation Photos II: Green Critters

During my trip, I came across a trio of green critters that agreed to pose for photos. One frog posed for me in a pond showing off its webbed feet.

I was also able to get a shot of a frog on land, highlighting its green head.

A very green insect visited me on two different days, although I can’t be totally sure if it is the same individual. On the first day, it landed on my arm and hung out for awhile and the second day it landed on the table for lunch and a photo.

The final photo was a surprise visit by a Northern Leopard Frog. It is listed as a species of special concern. I was lucky to see one.