Friday, April 27, 2012

What's Blooming: April 2012

We went to First Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX this month and on the way home stopped at Pope's Azalea Farm.  We were on the hunt for some additional plants for the new shade tropical garden.  Below are two of the beauties we brought home with us.

The clematis began blowing early this month.  It's growing on a fence the eventually will be covered with flowering vines. You can see the veggie garden in the back of this picture.

Indigofera growing along the same fence.  It's related to the indigo that fabric is dyed with.  Right now I love the plant, but it sends out runners and forms a thicket.  We'll see how I feel down the road.

One of the bottle brush shrubs we planted along the flowering shrub boarder and the shrub boarder in the chicken yard.  

The lantana is going strong.  This is one of the random plants that just seem to pop up throughout our yard.  We have some as sort of a weird looking shrub in the middle of the front lawn, one growing under the stick pile, one in a weedy patch between our yard and the neighbors, etc.  Each year we're here we end up with one of two more. I keep saying I'm going to dig them and put them somewhere in the chicken yard (they don't seem to taste good to the chickens), but I haven't yet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shade Tropical Garden: Part I

For the last year or so we have been stock piling (or maybe hording) plants for our next garden project...the Shade Tropical garden.  Living in North Texas we can't really create a true tropical garden since we have a winter (a mild one, but it does freeze).  The idea of this garden is to create a tropical look using plants for our area.

This garden will be in what we call our front side yard.  We had a really black slate to start with.  Just post oaks (hence the "shade") and grass.  

After we tilled everything up and raked the area out, you can see the outline of the bed.  this process did cause one of neighbors some minor concern.  She couldn't figure out what was wrong with our grass in this area.  I tried to explain that we were putting in a new garden, but I'm not sure that she understood.

Next is plant installation.  We will finally get to used to what we have been storing in the backyard.  There is no formal-on-paper-plan, but we do have a good idea of what is going where.  There will definitely be a lot of Japanese Maples, since we bought some really interesting ones special for this garden.  Once we get everything laid out and planted, we'll post more pictures showing how it turned out.

Come out and play

I got to take home a Monarch chrysalis from last week's training.  After being handled by everyone in the workshop and traveling all over town it was not expected to hatch. Two days later the chrysalis had turned dark and started to split.

When the Monarch came out it look really odd.  All of it's boy fluid is in it's abdomen and it needs to "pump" it out to it's wings.  It's uses gravity to help.

After about an hour or so, it's wings had fully extended.

The next morning we put it outside in the garden.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flight of the Monarchs

I had the opportunity to attend an out of town training where I learned all about the Monarch butterflies, their life cycle, migration, etc.  It was a great workshop.

If you look really closely you can see Monarch eggs on the piece of milkweed.  They are small like a sesame seed and have ridges.  Right before the caterpillar hatches out you can see a black spot at the top of the egg.  It's the caterpillar's head.

After they hatch and eat their egg case, they are tiny little caterpillars.  This photo shows the first, second and third instars.

Here you can see the fourth and fifth instars.

After the caterpillar completes it's five stages of growth it forms a chrysalis.  Here you can see how interesting a Monacrch chrysalis is.

Right befor the butterfly emerges from it's chrysalis, the butterfly inside turns from that jade color to the black and orange Monarch we are familiar with.  The chrysalis is actually clear the whole time.  This photo shows one of the adult Monarchs we had in the workshop nectaring on some apple juice.

What's Blooming: Sarracenias

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mystery Sloved

After asking around, my husband's boss knew what they mystery tulips were.  They are called El Nino, and not really that unusual.  At least we can get more for the front if we decide to do tulips again.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What's blooming: Irises

Right after we moved to Texas we had the opportunity to go to the Fort Worth Iris Society's fall plant sale.  We picked out a bunch of Irises for our new yard and two years later we actually have a bloom on one of those plants.  (Admittedly, they aren't really in the best of spots and will be getting relocated to an area they should like much much more.)  Here it is.  Isn't it a pretty one?  Unfortunately, the tag that went with the iris is MIA, so I'll need to do a bit of research to figure out what it is.  Plant labeling isn't really one of my strong suits.

Beside the "fancy" iris plants we bought, we actually have three other types of irises in our yard.  They're in yards all over the neighborhood (including the the yard that I refer to as the "Iris Lady's House").  The first summer we were here I dug all of the iris I could find along the fence, so we could kill the weedy mess that was that part of the yard.  They got plunked into a temporary bed in the way back of the property and receive minimal care.  They will be joining there friends in our front yard along our fence.

Ignore all the weeds.  Like I said, it's a temporary bed in the way back of our property that we don't do much to.

Playing Ball