A killing freeze descended on this part of the country and for the Automatic Garden, it was a blessing in disguise. I had been away from the garden quite a bit last year and many chores went undone. The Automatic Garden did what it was designed to do and kept on growing, propagating and reseeding, resulting in a interwoven tangle of plants.
The freeze gave clarity to what needed to be pulled, transplanted and cut back. I have been spending hours everyday getting the garden in shape.
Other chores included filling in a hole dug over the winter by some animal, which was probably an armadillo. It was much more work than it looks and the dirt is heavy clay. The extremely strong gingers were able to push their way through the pile of clay and the dirt had to be carefully removed.
Volunteers had to be rounded up and replanted into their places in the garden. There were many, but free plants are a good thing.
A scant few flowers have begun to bloom in the garden. Most years have flowers blooming all year around, but the freeze knocked back almost all of the winter flowering plants. This red canna is a welcome sight.
Drimiopsis maculata unfurled its spotted leaves and sent out flowers in no time. The plant is a great substitute for hostas in the South.
The climbing rose is blooming and dripping from a tree.
Pink Flamingo Celosia usually stands three feet tall before blooming, but this one couldn’t wait.
The Shrimp plant came back from its roots and the few blooms were welcomed by the Buff-bellied Hummingbird that has wintered here.
The Bottlebrush has perfect timing providing food for the arriving Ruby Throated Hummers and the honey bees that are living near by.
Bit by bit I am seeing my hard labor paying off and I have high hopes for a beautiful garden this summer.
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.
Could this be my old friend The Guard? He was the Hummingbird that sat on the on the trellis protecting the feeder from intruders. The place and time are about the same.
Actually, Hummingbirds are likely to follow the same migration route and remember where to find flowers and feeders. After arriving on the Gulf Coast, the Ruby Throats need to fatten up for the 500 mile trip to Mexico and some go as far as Northern Panama. It is nice to think that the Hummingbirds remember the Automatic Garden.
The cool winter months brought some northern visitors to the Automatic Garden. They were attracted by the flowering plants, but the supplemental sugar really kept them happy. From dawn to dusk the sugar birds could not leave the sweet nectar. It is not unusual for a Rufous Hummingbird to enjoy the liquid sugar, even a Ruby-crowned Kinglet will indulge, but I really think it might have been a new experience for the Yellow-rumped Warbler, who could not leave the feeder and spent a lot of energy chasing the rest away.
I was afraid that the birds may not be able to break their sugar addiction, but the weather changed and nature called them back to their northern homes.
And as the seasons always return, so did the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds taking their place at the feeders and flowers.
The Guard is back. It was gone for a week or so. During its absence an adult male Ruby Throat took over the Guard’s territory. No more! The Ruby Throat flies in the other direction when he sees the Guard on duty. Besides dealing with all the other hummingbirds, the Guard has had to chase big bumble bees away from its food source and had an altercation with a dragon fly that decided to take over the guard post.
The trees and shrubs suddenly popped with flowers! It seemed to happen over night. Each morning in spring holds a new surprise to start the day.
The Fringe Tree opened its leaves and wispy flowers practically at the same time.
Nature does a great job timing the Weeping Bottle Brush blooms with the return of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. The hummers would not pose for a photo!
This shrub popped full of flowers all at once. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow starts with purple flowers that fade to lavender and then to white.