There’s Always One

There is always one hummingbird that decides it will be the bully and guard of the food source. Hummingbirds seem like such cute little birds, but they can be very vicious to each other and even to large birds.  This little bird is spending its days chasing away any creature that comes near the feeders or flowers.

Right now there are 3 to 4 hummers in the garden.  That works out well when the dominate bird chases another away, the third one can grab some nectar.

My garden is filled with hummingbird friendly flowers, such as this Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea)…

and a Hummingbird Bush (Hamelia patens). Plus beds filled with nectar producing flowers in the back and front yards.  Yet, it is an endless fight all day long with the bully attacking and knocking the other hummers away.

And does the bully feel bad about this at all?  Ppptttthhh, the hummingbird  just sticks out its tongue and continues its reign of terror.


A Tale of Two Beds

The two flower bed at the entrance of my front porch tell a very different tale.  The plants were all bought at the same time and the same place.

One side is growing lush and blooming well.

The other bed is struggling and dropping yellow leaves.  Early on I gave this bed fertilizer and a new layer of soil.  Both beds grew equally well in the past.  This is definitely a gardening mystery.

 


Come on Down

During a recent trip to the northeast part of the country, I came across these Monarch Caterpillars eating a Milkweed plant. I would guess that this would be the generation to go to Mexico and the butterflies’ route could very well pass through The Automatic Garden.

So, come on down and stay for a spell.  We are ready and waiting for the Monarchs.


A Killer

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When this flying creature is spotted, one’s first thought is to run from the world’s biggest bee. This flying killer makes the human heart jump, but thankfully it is only cicadas that this wasp  (Sphecius speciosus) is after.

Commonly called Cicada Killers, the females hunt and sting cicadas to feed their offspring in nests that are burrowed 10 to 20 inches into soft soil.   The eggs and larvae overwinter and emerge in June and early July.

I first noticed these flying beasts a few years ago. I have to say they are very scary and make a loud buzz. I once saw one carrying a cicada on a pine tree.  Neighbors have complained about knocking at their doors that turned out to be the Cicada Killers.

I got a lucky shot of this wasp with my cell phone.  The Cicada Killers are only up to 2 inches long, but I swear this one was at least 3 inches as she flew around checking me out.

The Cicada Killers do not hurt humans unless they are handled roughly.  I’m not sure who would really want to handle them. I prefer to just let them fly by.


Garden Happenings

There is nothing like starting the day being greeted by a happy Mexican Sunflower drenched in morning sunlight.

 

 

In my wooded area I came across ten or more Cicada Hunters.  They look like the world’s largest bees, but  they didn’t pay any attention to me and I was able to stand among them to snap a photo.  In the front yard I found a Rosy Wolf Snail shell.  It was a large one and the snail probably lived a long life.

 

There has been a new hatching of baby lizards and they are everywhere.  The other night when we arrived home in the dark, we were first greeted by a juvenile toad and in the corner of the brick pillar, a Carolina Wren was tucked away for the night.  I haven’t gotten a photo this year, but Pileated Woodpeckers have been announcing their arrival to the garden.

Why and what did this?  Some critter made a neat little path through my Balsam Impatiens bed.  It is always hard to leave the the garden and after some time away, the weeds took over a bed.

And now the weird and amazing.  I found mushrooms growing in a bag of compost.  I had planned to use it months ago, it never happened and the mushrooms grew.  Plants just can’t be stopped.


Summer Bloomers

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The summer heat is on and we are looking at 102f degrees (actual temperature) for the next few days.  Thankfully, some of my faithful flowers can take the heat.

The Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) greets me from my kitchen window each morning.  Yes, we do like to name as many things “Texas” as we can.  I recently found out that George Washington also grew this plant. He probably didn’t call it Texas Star.

The Black Eyed Susan is a reseeding annual and can pop up anywhere in the garden.  I never mind volunteers and just transplant them back in their beds.

The seeds for this Cleome are from my father, who always called them Spider Plants.

Many bloggers have shown photos of Purple Cone Flowers.  I just have one hanging on, as the deer and rabbits ate most of the flowers.

Butterfly Weed is ready and waiting for the Monarch Butterflies.

I was in total awe when I first saw a Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana), I had never seen a plant like it.  Now, it happily fills my garden from a cutting given to me by my mother-in-law.

 

 

 


Freak of Nature

It was a hot and steamy morning.  The backyard critters were lined up waiting for their breakfast.

I walked outside, not totally caffeinated yet,  my eyeglasses fogged over in the humidity.  As I trudged across the yard to feed the animals, my skin was becoming wet from the moisture in the air.  And that is when I saw it.

A freak of nature.  The dark red plant had the wrong flower blooming on it.  I dried my glasses and shook my head awake.  I then realized it was a zinnia perfectly centered on a celosia plant.

I retreated to the cool of the air conditioning, finished my morning coffee and contemplated on what I had just seen.