This past February, we had 44 consecutive hours of freezing temperatures with the coldest reading down to 10 degrees. Our average temperature for February is 56. As I mentioned in a previous post, almost any plant above ground froze. It has been a wait-and-see situation to determine what needed to be cut down. My plants have been speaking to me.
The Angel Trumpet, which has finally started to bloom in recent years, does perfer warm climates and did not make it through the freeze. After weeks of waiting, it finally revealed it could regenerate from its roots.
I was confident the Hummingbird Bush would come back and it did. It has a long way to go before blooms appear. Unfortunately, the hummers and other pollinators are really missing its flowers.
It was really difficult to cut my Confederate Rose down to a stump. But it was heartening to see all the stems it is sending up. Click on the links to see the fully grown shrubs. The Automatic garden is proving to be very tough and everyday I see many of its plants returning after a hard winter.
The summer heat is on and the temperature is rising to 100 degrees or so. My red flowers are undaunted by the heat. Usually, I flee these super hot days for cooler climates, but in this current situation all plans have been canceled, so I’ll be enjoying the red hot plants of summer.
Saliva coccinea is a staple in the Automatic Garden. It survives the heat and the cold.
Hummingbird Bush (Hamelia paten) is a favorite of hummers and all pollinators.
Penta lanceolata will reseed and can make it through the winter, although it will look raggedy. Butterflies love it.
This Encore Azalea is kind of red. This azalea will repeat bloom throughout the year with early spring being its most prolific time.
These are probably the last roses until the weather cools.
The Butterfly Weed (Asclepias curassavica) has come back after being eaten by spring migrating Monarchs’ caterpillars.
Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) is the star of the garden. It is big, red and loves the heat.
The Hummingbird Bush was literally buzzing.
There were many kinds of bees,
in the evening, Hummingbird Moths.
A Green Anole was getting into the action, hoping for a bug snack. In the Fall, the birds will eat the ripened berries.
Hamelia paten, named after Frenchman Henri Hamel, is a large shrub/small tree that is native to Mexico. It has many common names including, firebush, scarlet bush, Mexican firebush, Mexican firecracker, Texas firebush and in Mayan, Ix Canaan. In this area, we call it Hummingbird Bush. All of these names give us a good reason to learn botanical names.
The Hamelia paten is related to coffee plants and in Mexico, the fruits are fermented into a drink.
It is certainly a versatile plant that feeds many and produces bright red flowers for humans to enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
For some reason, the Gardenia has started to bloom again. Their sweet scent is always appreciated.
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.
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.
There were moments of rest between fights.
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.
Japanese Anemones love the Automatic Garden and are a perfect residents as they are hardy through heat and cold and they like to spread, making many more plants. This plant was actually a passalong from a fellow gardener. Recently on blogs I follow, I have seen this plant (or similar) growing in Australia and Canada. In both parts of the world, this Anemone bloomed regularly in the Autumn just as it does on the Gulf Coast.
When growing Coleus, the advice is to pinch off the blooms. As it turns out, Coleus flowers attract bees and humming birds. Many of the seeds will also germinate for next summer. So let them grow out at the end of the season to reseed and feed.
Nature’s timing is perfect in providing Autumn blooming plants in this part of the world, giving sustenance for the migrating creatures to continue on their journeys.
The good news is that the bushes are growing well. The bad news is the bushes are growing well. Here are the results of a morning of bushwhacking. Other results are a free workout and money saved by not hiring someone.
This little Tree Frog was found tucked away in the curve of a ginger leaf.
And that is the alpha Hummingbird on a high perch guarding his Hummingbird Bushes (Hamelia paten).
Hummingbirds are having a turf war in the garden. The Bottle Brush has put out a few blooms, the Coral Vine is full of flowers and the Hummingbird Bush has begun to rebloom. This activity has attracted the Hummers and there seems to be at least four of them vying for nectar. But, they just cannot peacefully feed. It is an all out war of chasing and dive bombing each other. One youngster came within two feet of my face several times to give me the “what for”. My size won that encounter.
With the Hummingbirds in a heighten frenzy, taking photos today was impossible. Here is a previous photo taken through a window (not the best quality), but the point being made is clear.
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.
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.