What’s In a Name? Part 2 Cow Killer

The name Cicada Killer doesn’t seem quite as scary as Cow Killer.  This stunning red and black Dasymutilla occidentalis is rumored to have a sting powerful enough to kill a cow.  It will not kill a cow, but hurts really bad for humans.  The above photo is a male and they lack  stingers.

The females are wingless and pack a potent sting.  I did not have that information on the morning I spent watching the drama of their lives play out.  The female is also call a Red Velvet Ant and she sure is pretty.  The female has a difficult journey.  While I watched, she was pursued by many suitors at once.  Her goal is to lay her eggs in the Cicada Killers Wasps’ tunnel.

Needless to say, the wasps were not welcoming.  It seems like a rough life for the Red Velvet Cow Killer, but as it turns out she has many defense mechanisms and is hardly ever eaten.  A study was done and 59 predators were given the chance to eat the Red Velvet Cow Killer and only two succeeded.  The Cow Killer is one tough lady and lives up to her name.


Passion Flowers in the Wild and in the Garden

I live in an area where the wild Maypops grow.

Not far down the path I found the Maypop’s smaller cousin.  A beautiful little gem called Yellow Passion-flower, Passiflora lutea.

The green to yellowish flowers are about an inch across. I may have passed by this elusive jewel many times and I’m glad to have finally spotted it.

I bought this Passion Flower at a nursery a couple of years ago, mainly to provide a plant to host Gulf Fritillary Butterflies.  As it turned out, the butterflies did not like this cultivar.  The flowers are beautiful and I like it.

This year I purchased another Passion Flower that the nurseryman guaranteed that the Gulf Fritillary would lay eggs on and the caterpillars would eat.  We will see.


Just Gingers

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Gingers have worked out really well in the Automatic Garden.  They are happy in the gumbo soil (heavy clay) and are troopers in the heat and cold.  Best of all, the plants reproduce on their own. When other flowers are taking their summer rest, Gingers really shine.

 

White Angel (Curcuma parviflora) is my most reliable bloomer and has never let me down in the many years it has graced the garden.  The original plant grows larger every year and has reproduced.

*Run your cursor over the photos for names or click to enlarge photos for the slide show.

 

 


Soft and Dreamy

The morning humidity on my lens gave the gingers a soft and dreamy focus.  It is a mishap that turned out well.

It looks even better in full size view.


Look First

This cute green snake didn’t find rose thorns a problem, as it wrapped itself on a stem.

I had been picking off some diseased leaves when I noticed the snake, that was well blended in with the stem of the climbing rose.  It was very happy to stay still for some photos.


Rainy Day

We have had several days of rain in the area and today was our big day.  So far we have had about 3 inches, but other parts of the city received at least 8 inches.  I went out to clear a clog.

We have a French drain that carries the rainwater across the yard, down a drain to a pipe and out to the street.  It doesn’t take much to clog it.

The birds were hungry on this wet day and while I was taking care of them, I noticed how pretty my gingers were glistening with rain.  The gingers are Hedychium coccineum.


Oxalis

The Automatic Garden always provides new plants, just not where I necessarily want them.  I found these Purple Oxalis Triangularis growing in the lawn that had somehow survived many mowings.

The closest Purple Oxalis is growing in pots on the back porch.  It is yet another plant mystery of how they ended up quite far from the pots.

I transplanted the newly found Oxalis to the colony that I started in the wooded area.  They don’t look so happy now, but the Purple Oxalis bloomed nicely in the early spring.  I have the plants protected by broken pots and bricks, as an armadillo has been plowing them up.  When the roots get a good grip or the armadillo moves, I’ll remove the barriers.


Revealed

Two plants popped up in my small patio bed.  I wasn’t totally sure what they were so I let them grow out to reveal themselves.  I thought they might be weeds, Gulf Coast Penstemon or Cardinal Flower.  Once the plants grew to around 4 inches, it became clear they were Cardinal Flowers, which was my last guess.  I promptly dug them up and transplanted the pair to a better location.

More than once, I have mistook weeds for a wanted plant and let them grow.  And yes, there is a mix of weeds and seedlings in that bed.  I am waiting for them tell me what they are.


Attentive Gardening

With rain, you get Rain Lilies and this year’s display was spectacular. The couple of bulbs I bought years ago that just sat around doing nothing, have come alive and planted themselves all over the yard. (click on a photo for slideshow)

Aristolochia fimbriata, is the third kind of Dutchman’s Pipe that I grow.  It has tiny flowers and the nurseryman said it would attract butterflies.  I’ll wait and see.

I had to add another photo of the spiral ginger.  The flower is hidden behind the leaves and I enjoy peeking in everyday to see its progress.

My sweet little Peter Pan Agapnathus has made several flower heads this year.

 

After two years of hard winters, the Shell Ginger finally bloomed.

The African Blood Lily has done extremely well and seems to like our gumbo soil.  It makes huge blooms every year and has even multiplied. A mild winter and an attentive gardener (me staying home) has resulted in a late Spring full of blooms.


Angel Trumpet

The Angel Trumpet, Burgmansia, has put on quite the show this Spring.  It has made at least 50 flowers.

It went for years without blooming and recently started making a few flowers in the Fall.  I am hoping it will now bloom on and off throughout the season.

For more information about Angel Trumpets check out this previous post.