A Shell of a Former Self

It is not unusual to find cicada exoskeletons hanging around the garden. This one was in good shape. I read that the cicadas slip out of their shell in the darkness of night.

This photo taken with my iPhone in the morning sun, came out a sunburned red.

Tuckered Out

I found this mama squirrel completely tuckered out on a high tree branch.

She curled up as she slept.

The power nap was soon over.

The squirrel freshened up and went on her way.

Skink Lizard – Not Dead

I noticed this Five-Line Skink on my “GROW” rock and snapped a photo. The next day the Skink seemed to be in the exact same spot and position. I thought it had died and gave it a poke. It was not dead at all and apparently the lizard just liked that spot on the stone.

Lots of Chocolate … Plants

I have been trying to increase my Chocolate Plant, Pseuderanthemum alatum, population. The plant was a passalong from my mother-in-law. I found it tricky to collect the seeds, as they seem to pop and disperse the minute they become ripe. I kept the original plant in a pot, but stumbled on a solution of just letting the seeds drop to the ground and germinate on their own. Then I search the for the seedlings and group them together. I have been able to get this nice colony going and increased last year’s yield.

My best Chocolate Plant is not in an ideal location. It is several years old and dies back every winter, but amazingly reappeared after the freeze.

A close-up without the down spout, makes the plant more attractive. This is the “dark” chocolate variety.

Some Spring Blooms

Although this is not our usual spring due to a freezing February, a few Texas tough plants manged to bloom. The Gulf Coast Penstemon has put out its delicate flowers in three locations in the garden.

Cannas seem to be able to survive anything. This one had no problem coming back quickly and blooming.

Happily, the Hinckley’s Columbine had absolutely no issue with the freeze and just continued on its way.

The Passion Flowers are grown in pots so they rode out the cold in the garage. This has been an unusual spring with very few flowers, but everyday with the temperatures rising, humidity up and a few light showers more flowers will be coming along.

A New Start

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.

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.