In this climate we plant our spring seeds in the fall and winter and I have been waiting for every leaf to fall from this tree.

In order to plant the seeds, I need to remove all the leaves to get to the soil. Unfortunately, because I have many plants that grow during the winter, I have to pick out all the leaves by hand. No raking here.

I have come up for an inventive way to keep leaves off seedlings in smaller spaces with picnic tents that are normally used to keep bugs from food. Cleaning the bed by hand takes a little more work, but many of these plants are not available in nurseries and only do well with direct sowing.

Bromeliad Update

This bromeliad was one of the plants I had in my Christmas post. I thought it was prefect for the holiday as the flowers of this first time bloomer were red and green. I was quite amazed when the flowers opened all the way and they were blue. The bromeliad was full of surprises this year.

Baby, It’s Cold Out There

The temperatures dropped and the gang showed up. Several flocks of little yellow birds arrived to chow down at the feeders and pick bugs from the trees. There were Pine Warblers, Orange Crowned Warblers, Yellow Rumps and Goldfinches.

As it turns out, the finches will only eat fresh Nyjer seed and I had to quickly run to the store to grab a bag. The knowlegable staff told me I could freeze the seed for next year. The Nyjer seed is expensive and the birds are usually gone before they finish a bag. Another feeder is full of sunflower seeds that give the birds the energy they need.

Another winter visitor that has been around for some time is a Rufus Hummingbird. I have enough blooming flowers in the winter to attact the hummer and I supplement with a sugar water feeder. On these cold days I make sure I have the feeder out before dawn.

It’s All About Location

Location is everything, especially for plants. I have grown this Blanket Flower in another bed for years. The plant always makes a few blooms and is finished at the end of summer. I decided to throw some seeds into this small bed next to the driveway that is south facing and really heats up. The Blanket Flower loves it there and has been growing larger and blooming for months. It is so big now that it sets of the alarm on the car that lets you know when you are close to an object.

Location does make a difference.

Salad Day

It is salad time in the Automatic Garden. The greens perfer cooler temperatures over our steamy summers. It is really nice to have a fresh salad in the winter .

Cold Snap

Snap is a good word to use when describing the change in weather here. One day we are in shorts with the air conditioner running and the next day we need to bundle up and turn on the heat. With temperatures dropping close to 30f, the potted tropicals needed to be moved in.

Both sides of the garage are packed with plants. I really thought I had fewer pots, but after moving all of them, maybe not or I’m just getting older. The plants that can take some cold are covered in frost cloth on the back porch. As this is the Gulf Coast, I will be bringing many back out in a day or two when the wind changes and the temperature goes back up. With all this work, who needs a gym?

Forsythia Sage

My Forsythia Sage has had a hard life. I brought it with me when we moved 20 years ago. I stuck it in a temporary bed while the landscaping was being finished and it has been there ever since. Unfortunately, it is not a great place and is probably too shady. The sage survived, but it is slowly moving south to get more sunlight. The Forsythia Sage must have hit a sweet spot this year and it finally bloomed.

Critters in the Garden

I always enjoy finding wildlife in the garden.  This has been the year of the  Copperhead.  They always seem to appear just where I want to work.

I found these Rosy Wolf snails intertwined on a flower stem.  I hope that means many more snails are on the way.

This Tree Frog blended in perfectly with a Moses leaf. I haven’t seen as many of those this year.

I almost stepped on the small turtle as it was trying to hide under leaves.

Another baby Copperhead ended up in my work space. Thankfully, I usually see them as I am reaching my hand into the bed. I wonder how many I miss. The Copperheads are pretty chill and will hang around to watch unlike the green garden snake I saw earlier that slithered away as soon as I came upon it.

OK…I thought I was done with this post and sure enough, I came across another Copperhead. I was dumping a load of gingers I had just cut down and there it was. As usual the snake was fine with a little photo shoot.

A Perfect Day

It was a blue sky day. The humidity was gone and the sun ray’s felt just the way they should. A Gulf Fritillary Butterfly was enjoying the warm rays as well. I reached out my hand and the butterfly landed. It was a perfect day.

A Sign of Fall

The change of seasons can be very subtle here on the Gulf Coast. Days are still hot and the leaves don’t change color until much later.  But, one sign of fall I notice is the disappearing leaf litter in my wooded area. The leaves have done their job keeping the soil moist and breaking down into compost to feed the trees.  Just as the old ones disintegrate, the trees will drop this year’s leaves to start the process all over again.