Spring Clean-up

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Drimiopsis maculata unfurled its spotted leaves and sent out flowers in no time.  The plant is a great substitute for hostas in the South.

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The climbing rose is blooming and dripping from a tree.

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Pink Flamingo Celosia  usually stands three feet tall before blooming, but this one couldn’t wait.

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The Shrimp plant came back from its roots and the few blooms were welcomed by the Buff-bellied Hummingbird that has wintered here.

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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.


The Guard

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After being gone for a few days, I found this little hummingbird taking up a guard post on the back porch.  The little bird spent the first few days after its arrival chasing around the two local hummers that had spent the summer in the Automatic Garden.  Then the Bottlebrush (blurry red in upper right of photo)  started to bloom and the hummingbird population almost tripled.  The guard bird had its work cut out.  To help ease its ceaseless  duties, I added a feeder to the trellis  guard post.  This hummingbird seems somewhat different from the usual visitors.  It has a bright orange spot on  either side of its neck below the eyes.  Maybe an immature Allen’s?  If there are any experts out there let me know.

All of nature continues in a cycle every year with very little changes.  As I started this post, I realized I had already ready written it.  Please check out Fuel.


Pop, Pop, Pop

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.

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The Fringe Tree opened its leaves and wispy flowers practically at the same time.

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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!

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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.

 


Turf Wars

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.

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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.


If I Could Have Only One Tree…

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It would be the Weeping Bottle Brush (Callistemon viminalis).

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In the spring it is loaded with luscious red brush-like flowers.

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It will lightly bloom again in the fall.

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Bees love it.

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It blooms just in time for the hummingbird migration.  The tree buzzes with hummingbirds and even though there seems to be enough for all, the little birds spar with each providing exciting entertainment.

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The Weeping Bottle Brush is evergreen and provides shelter year-round for birds.


Fuel …just in time for fall migration

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.

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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.