Orchard Oriole – A New Visitor

New visitors have come to the garden and they are a family of Orchard Orioles.  These birds spend their time in the trees, so I was really lucky to have one land outside my kitchen window.  I took the shot with my phone in between the blind slats.  It was good enough to Identify the bird as an immature male Orchard Oriole.  He was not alone and had sisters and parents with him.

The mature males have a black head and chestnut body and the mature females are yellowish green. The birds are fast moving, but were interested in feeding on the nectar of the  Bottle Brush that was blooming near the window.   I checked my bird lists from neighboring parks and they were listed as rare and uncommon in this area.  They winter in Mexico and Central America. Hopefully, the Orchard Orioles will come back next year to nest.

Meanwhile, all the other baby birds had to come around to see what the fuss was with the Orchard Orioles.  Cardinals, Carolina Wrens and Chickadees came to check out the plants for something to eat.  The three hummingbirds were getting territorial with the Orchard Orioles drinking their nectar.  All of this provided lively entertainment during my lunch.


Kisses in the Morning, the Walking Iris

I had a nice crop of white chocolate Hershey Kisses this year.  My Walking Iris, Neomarica gracillis, took a hit from two years of freezes and it has finally recuperated.  It is originally from Brazil and can be grown as a houseplant, which explains why it didn’t like the cold.

In the morning the flower starts out in a Kiss shape.  Here it is starting to open slightly and the flower’s colors are showing.

The Walking Iris opens bit by bit revealing the flower inside.  I have seen videos on the internet of it opening, but I don’t have the patience to sit and wait.  I was able to catch the flowers in various stages of opening during one shoot.

The Iris’s flowers only last for one day, but it will continue to open in a secession of new blooms.  Mine has been blooming since Easter and I think it might go for two more weeks. After the flowers bloom, little plantlets form making the stem heavy enough to bend to ground for the plantlets to root.  This how it was named Walking Iris.

Caterpillar Relocation

The Monarch caterpillars are doing so well that they ate all the leaves from some of the Butterfly Weed plants.  I gently collected these big fat ones for relocation.

The caterpillar got right to work munching on the new leaves.  Having too many Monarch caterpillars is definitely a good sign for the population.

Cheery Blooms

This time of year it is hard to tell if it is late winter or early spring.  The temperatures are going from 80’s to 30’s depending on the day. Thankfully, there are some blooming plants cheering up the season. The Nasturtiums, started from seed, have done really well in the strawberry pot and can be viewed from my kitchen window.

The Purple Oxalis Triangularis prefers to bloom on cool days and takes its rest in the summer.

Kalanchoe’s electric colors joins the other two potted plants on the patio to brighten up the day.

I bought these Ageratums one deary flowerless winter and have been surprised that they keep coming back.  They start putting out growth in the fall.  I didn’t bother to learn what kind they were, as I thought they were annuals and would die.  They are reproducing on their own and maybe I’ll eventually have a bed full of them.

Firespike, Odontonema strictum, is another passalong that grows really well.  I did some gardening no-no’s and threw some cuttings around my wooded area and they rooted.  Now I have several clumps around the yard.  They do attract my winter hummingbirds and add color to the season.

Kalanchoe daigremontiana or Mother of Thousands, probably Mother of Millions, really put on  a show this year.  Mother can grow in just a bit of soil and reproduces like crazy.  I pull up hundreds or thousands every year. It is from another part of the world and likes to bloom in the winter.  This year with no freezes, the plant reached its potential. There are 13 flower heads blooming. Its unusual flowers with many subtle  shades of color is what makes me keep it around.

Backdoor Beauty

This pink and blue beauty has always amazed me with its striking color combination.  My Aechmea gamosepala has had a long but difficult life. It lived in the ground for a while until the rabbits found it.  Its life in a pot has kept it alive, but not totally thriving.

This past summer it had to live in my wooded area and as luck would have it, the Aechmea loved it and put out more flower spikes than it has in years.

Now it is positioned next to my backdoor, so my cat and I can enjoy it all day.

A Perfect Day

We have been having perfect days in this part of the country.  The January sky has been blue and sunny with the ideal temperature in the low seventies.  In the summers it is too hot to indulge in sunning, but on some winter days it is glorious to feel the warm rays.

And to make the day perfect, my Sugar Bird has returned along with a winter hummingbird.

Confederate Rose’s Last Hurrah

These three photos show the the Confederate Rose, Hibiscus mutabilis, changing from white to dark rosy pink.  If you  have been following, you may be asking why are there so many posts on this tree.  Yes, I am obsessed this the Hibiscus mutabilis, but this is its last hurrah.  It is going to have to be cut back after the blooms are gone and it will be many years before it returns to this level of blooms.

Changing Flowers : White to Red

Confederate Roses are never boring.  Everyday there is a new shade and combination of color.  Each flower can look different on the same tree.

Love Them and Hate Them : Swamp Sunflowers

These happy, yellow flowers can catch my eye from across the yard. I love to see their sunny petals. I believe these are Helianthus angustifolius and were given to me, as the way most unruly plants get to my garden, by another generous gardener. Or in other words, from someone who had too many of them and I can’t refuse a free plant.

But, I hate the fact that they grow  over six feet tall and eventually fall over, landing in the middle of my beds.

The Swamp Sunflowers lean against the trees and the fence.  And yet, every year I enjoy them so much that I can’t bring myself to remove all the plants that come up. I collect their seeds to hopefully pass along to someone else that likes free plants.

Confederate Rose, Fading to Pink

The Confederate Rose greets the morning dressed in pure white.

As the day goes on and the sun is stronger, the flowers begin to fade to pink.

By the end of the day, the flowers have blushed to pink for the evening.