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.


Vacation Photos I: Fungi

I spent my vacation in the northeast Appalachian Mountains visiting family and friends that we haven’t been with during the pandemic. No matter where I visit, I can always find interesting nature to photograph. This post highlights the fungi that caught my eye. Sorry, I haven’t researched the fungi names.

The shelf fungus is working on a tree stump. The colors are always so pretty on these.

This fungus called for a second look. The color and shape definitely looked like something else, but upon closer examination (yup, I did get down to take a good look and it didn’t smell) I concluded it was fungus.

An interesting white fungus was a tasty treat for crawling and flying creatures.


A Shell of a Former Self

It is not unusual to find cicada exoskeletons hanging around the garden. This one was in good shape. I read that the cicadas slip out of their shell in the darkness of night.

This photo taken with my iPhone in the morning sun, came out a sunburned red.


Birdbaths

If you were a bird and could choose a birdbath, which would be the most inviting? A natural stone bath surrounded by trees for a quick get-away?

A beautiful glass one tucked into a flower bed?

Or a dirty plant saucer on an open patio that was left behind when the pot was removed? As it turns out, the birds perfer the dirty plant saucer out in the open. So much for thoughtful placement and spending money on birdbaths.


Turtle Visit

Box turtles continue to visit the Automatic Garden. I’m not totally sure why the turtles come, but it may be the leaf litter that I allow to gather under the trees and the fact that this is the highest land in the area. I found this one heading into one of my flower beds. I got a really good shot that showed a small round hole on the left side of the shell.

I had another run in with the same turtle, identified by the same hole in the shell, as it was heading down the driveway to the street.

I quickly grabbed some gloves and redirected the turtle.

And yet on another day I found it again.

This time the turtle was cooperative and posed for a picture.


Mother of Thousands Revisited

The Mother of Thousands, Kalanchoe daigremontiana, can become very invasive. Each leaf grows rows of tiny plantlets that drop, roll or blow away to a new location and grow into another full size plant. Mother can grow in just a smidgen of soil. The plant does make very interesting flowers, but they bloom in the winter and need to be covered during a cold snap. This year the February freeze took its toll on them and I decided to clear them out as they are a bit of a pain.

But, then I saw them highlighted in the Longwood Garden’s instagram as a very special plant. Luckily, one can never get rid of the Mother of Thousands and I found some growing that I had missed in my mission to be rid of them. This time, I am growing them in pots (like Longwood) allowing the plants to be easily moved into the garage when it gets cold.

Longwood Gardens is in Kennett Square, PA. It is a 1,000 acres of gardens and fountains. Its conservatory contains many plants that are grown on the Gulf Coast, including Mother of Thousands.


Tuckered Out

I found this mama squirrel completely tuckered out on a high tree branch.

She curled up as she slept.

The power nap was soon over.

The squirrel freshened up and went on her way.