After the Rains

The Spiral Ginger, Costus barbatus, looked luscious in the morning after an overnight storm.  The rain made the red flower shine.

The Spiral Ginger has not bloomed in awhile, so it was nice to see two of them blooming.  I tried to get a photo showing how the leaves form around the stem in a spiral.

As long as I was taking pictures, I checked out some other bloomers.  The Black Eyed Susan pops up in different locations around the yard.  This one is self-sowed.

The Salvia coccinea also reseeds on its own and is loaded with flowers to the delight of pollinators and hummingbirds.

I was surprised to see the Hyacinth Bean had suddenly flowered.

Another surprise was finding a Resurrection Lily Ginger, Kaempferia rotunda, had bloomed.  The flower comes before the leaves.  It is a pretty little thing.

 

Cuphea ignata which is commonly called Cigar plant has been blooming profusely and is a hummingbird favorite.  I saw that this  plant sold is as an annual up north where it does not get very big with the short growing season.  Mine is a perennial and grows nearly 5 feet tall and spreads easily to make new plants.

The Gardenia is so heavy with delicious scented flowers, it is bent to the ground.

And now a garden mystery, which I love.  I found my Pink Polka Dot plants growing nearly 30 feet from where they were planted.  How did they get there?  Something to ponder.  Of course, I love a volunteer and they will be moved back to the original bed.


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.


Taking the Heat

Summer days have become extremely hot.  Here on the Gulf Coast a heat index of 108 degrees calls for a heat advisory and this week we reached it.  Humans are told to stay out of the heat and take it easy.  Most of the plants are pretty much doing the same, taking it easy that is.  But, a few flowers can take the heat such as the pair of Zinnias above.

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The Tropical Hibiscus scoffs at the high temperatures and has just started blooming.

The Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea) and Hummingbird Bush (Hamelia patens) do not have spectacular flowers, but Hummingbirds sure love them and are not using the feeder.

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For some reason, the Gardenia has started to bloom again.  Their sweet scent is always appreciated.


Hummer Madness

Hummingbird madness descended on the Automatic Garden this morning.  The little birds are impossible to count, but there may have been nearly 10 participating in a feeding frenzy.  The little Ruby Throated hummers are also impossible to photograph, but these pictures give an idea of the action.

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The sparring was rampant.  Little bodies clashed with thudding sounds and dropped to the ground.  Bees were chased away by screeching hummers using their beaks like swords.

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There were moments of rest between fights.

DSC_0451Clever hummingbirds took advantage of the feeders while the rest of the birds chased each other.

This group will probably be here a day or two during their migration, loading up on nectar from Hummingbird Bush, Cigar Plant, Bottlebrush, Salvias, Mist Flowers and good old sugar in the feeders.

I wish them well on their trip south and the garden will be ready for the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds’ return.


Where Have the Butterflies Gone?

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Monarchs have finally arrived to the area, but only two were seen in the garden where they were feeding on Tropical Milkweed.  Hopefully, they will have a safe trip to Mexico.  According to Monarch Watch, their numbers are going down.

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Sulphur Butterflies are common here.  This one is on a cigar plant which is also a favorite of hummingbirds.

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Gulf Fritillary Butterflies have filled the garden with caterpillars in the past, but now few show up.

The garden used to be filled with many different varieties of butterflies.  Where are they now?  There are many different theories, but for the time being we gardeners can just do our best to grow blooming plants that butterflies prefer.  Has anyone else seen a decline of butterflies in their area?

 


Winter Hummingbird

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This is a Rufous Hummingbird and probably a female.  She was very difficult to photograph and these photos are through a window. Click on the photo one to two times to enlarge and see her colors.

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There has been a Rufous in the Automatic Garden for the last 7 years.  They can be found as far north as southern Alaska, which must be why the little birds can tolerate recent night temperatures in the 30’s.

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She is perched on the remains of Texas Star Hibiscus stem right outside the kitchen window near some Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignata) that is still blooming.  It is a favorite perch for all the backyard birds.

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As Rufous Hummingbirds are very protective of their nectar source, she is often seen chasing other birds around the garden even though they are much bigger than her.


Fuel …just in time for fall migration

Pentas ((Pentas lanceolata)  had a lazy summer, but perked up for fall.

Wild ageratum (Eupatorium coelestinum) planted itself in the garden and is now in full bloom.

Firecracker (Russelia equisetiformis)  growing in a pot low to the ground doesn’t stop hummers from visiting.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is blooming in time for Monarchs and hummingbirds.

Cigar plant (Cuphea micropetala) is hugely attractive to hummingbirds.

Pam’s Pink turk’s cap provides plenty of fuel.

Hummingbird Bush (Hamelia patens) is the number one favorite of hummingbirds.

Salvias. Bees need fuel too.

Weeping Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis) This tree just re-bloomed and is buzzing with hummers.

A hummingbird sitting still for a moment.

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Fall is a great time of the year to be on the Gulf Coast. Hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies are passing through on their way to warmer winters.  Today the garden was humming with six little Ruby Throats vying for fuel for the long trip ahead.  Nature is in sync with the migration as many flowers re-bloom for the season.