Beautiful, But Deadly

Today we woke up to the ground covered with snow. It was a beautiful site.

The overnight temperatures dropped to 16 degrees.

For those of you in a northern climate, it is no big deal. But here on the Gulf Coast, it has been difficult to deal with. Our houses are not made to keep the heat in, it is just the opposite. We do not have equipment to clean our roads. And the people that provide our electricity were not prepared. Many have spent hours without heat or water. I have been lucky so far. We are facing another frigid night.

My plants have froze and are turning to mush.

I am pretty sure the ones I covered are not going to make it.

A majority of plants here stay green in the winter and also bloom.

Snow is beautiful, but deadly in a climate that is not prepared.


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.


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 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.


All Dressed Up

Could these two be heading out on a date?  It was just too cute when I saw some that Crepe Myrtle flowers had fallen in just the right place to make her look all dressed up.


Orb Weaver

Orb Weaver sounds like a very mystic name for this giant spider.  As usual, I stuck my arm into plants without looking around first and was startled by this very large spider on a very large web.  I did some research and found that the nearly 4-inch spiders are nonvenomous and not aggressive.  Like all wild creatures, it will bite if provoked.

The Orb Weaver is most active at night.  In this photo the spider was preening itself, carefully cleaning each foot.

Enlarge for a better look.


Philippine Lily

Philippine Lilies (Lilium formosanum) are one bulb that is possible to grow in our Gulf Coast climate.

The white flower looks similar to an Easter Lily, but grows 3 to 5 feet tall and blooms in July and later.

In the evening the lily gives off a scent that attracts hummingbird moths.

The plant makes an attractive seedhead that is quite decorative. Most importantly, it is filled with seeds.  I have been trying to get a colony growing, but usually, only one plant matures and flowers.  It is definitely a goal to work on.


From One Small Stem

One small stem cutting turned into a behemoth plant stuck in a planter.

I wanted to make sure I had a back-up Bat Face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea),which attracts all kinds of pollinators, and decided to start a cutting in my self-watering planter.  It is an excellent planter to start cuttings and seeds in as it will stay damp.

Unfortunately, I paid very little attention to the size the cuphea had become until it had taken up my entire planter. It had to be removed and it was no easy job.  It took a lot of time and tools to free it.

The Cuphea is looking as droopy as I felt after hard work on a hot day.

Note: The plant is much more colorful than the cutting in the first photo.

And I was being watched the entire time.  I found this Rosy Wolf Snail that had crawled to the top of the garbage bag.


Bisected

The Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar perfectly bisected a Passion Flower.


A Beastly Bug

Most consider bugs beastly, especially when they show up in human spaces and mess with our stuff.  This creature is over the top.  Maybe E.T.’s are what we call bugs.

I was standing on my patio when this insect dropped out of the air onto the arm of a chair.  It looked like some kind of grasshopper with prey.  I grabbed my cell phone and started snapping.  The bug was more interested in lunch than me, so I was able to get a few photos.  Once I blew up the picture, the true beast emerged.

I had no idea what this creature was, when it popped up on “pbm garden” blog from North Carolina.  She identified it as a Red-footed Cannibal Fly (Promachus rufipes) and I think the name fits it.