Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Butterflies in December

The warmer weather and sunshine brought out the butterflies in the garden. This Gulf Fritillary was enjoying sipping from the Pineapple Sage. 

The Pineapple Sage has been a butterfly and bee magnet.

These little yellow butterflies have been out in full force. They are everywhere!

One of my favorite butterflies is the Common blue or Reakirt's blue. It is about the size of a moth and if you blink, you might miss it.

It has this dazzling, iridescent blue color on the inside of it's wings. The Queen FBA (Future Butterfly of America) decided to get in on the shot. 
Only in the South do you get to see butterflies this time of year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Walk around the Garden - December

The garden is winding down for a winter's nap. There are still some blooms, however the cold fronts have zapped some of the flowers. Here is a look at what is happening in the garden this December.

The cooler weather brought a flush of blooms to the Firespike.

I spotted this Rufous hummingbird in the Nandina bush. I was surprised to see two hummingbirds fighting over the feeder.

One Rufous hummingbird decided to stay the winter in our backyard last year. How great would it be to have two this year.

During this busy time of year, hope you find the time to enjoy nature

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spotted - Red Breasted Nuthatch

This Red Breasted Nuthatch has been visiting my feeder for the past couple of weeks. This is an unusual bird for South Texas. From my understanding, some years they migrate here for the winter, and some  they don't. Apparently, there has been an irruption in the population this year.

Even the Titmouse looks a little confused by his presence. The Red Breasted Nuthatch feeds along with the other birds at the feeder. He is very docile and will allow me to get very close to him.

Hope he sticks around for the winter. To learn more about the Red Breasted Nuthatch, please click here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Queen butterfly on Bottlebrush Bush

Coming in for a landing!

Queen butterfly on Vinca

Sunbathing in the Morning light

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monarch butterfly takes a trip

Today I attended the Monarch butterfly release at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. This particular butterfly's migration journey was much different than the usual route. Maraleen Manos-Jones, who advocated on the butterflies behalf, was able to obtain a free ticket on Southwest Airlines for her and the beautiful insect from Albany, NY to San Antonio, TX. Camera crews from local news stations covered the event. Thank goodness the butterfly survived the flight in good condition. This was definitely a win-win for all parties who participated in the event. I'm sure Southwest Airlines got a ton of free PR and Maraleen was able to bring awareness to the struggles the Monarchs are facing.  Luckily, this little butterfly is closer to its winter migration home.

While driving home, I reflected on my encounters with Monarchs. I remember in the mid 70's being in Harlingen, TX during peak migration time. There were hundreds and hundreds of butterflies everywhere. Now I see so few of them that they are a special treat when spotted in my garden. On my way home, I noticed a parcel of land being turned over by bulldozers. To some, the plants might look like weeds, however I've noticed thistles, sunflowers and white mistflowers growing in this spot. All are important butterfly nectar and host plants. As more and more butterfly habitat is being destroyed by impeding climate change, drought and increased pesticide usage, it remains harder and harder for butterflies to survive. Even with my little butterfly garden, I see how hard it is for the life cycle to be completed. Thanks to wasps, I haven't had any Monarch caterpillars survive past the first instar stage. 

Even though I just have four Milkweed plants and some Gregg's Blue Mistflower, I'm amazed at how many butterflies these plants attract. I'm so glad to help these struggling creatures and ensure the species for future generations to enjoy them.

What can you do to help the Monarch butterflies?

1.) Plant host and nectar plants, including Milkweed and Gregg's Blue Mistflower

2.) Join Monarch Watch and create a Monarch waystation in your garden.

3.) Do not use any pesticides in your garden.

4.) Check out Monika Maeckle's blog Texas Butterfly Ranch

5.) Start a butterfly forum in your area. Did you know that Austin has a butterfly forum, but San Antonio does not. Hmmmm:)

Monday, October 22, 2012

New plants for fall

The fall weather has me in a planting frenzy. Here are a couple of new plants in the garden:

Coral Nymph Salvia

Love the pale pink blooms on the Coral Nymph Salvia. The blooms resemble hummingbirds in flight. This plant is known to reseed itself. I wouldn't mind having a couple of these around the garden. 

Bear's Breeches

This is my favorite new plant. It is called Bear's Breeches. The large glossy leaves provide some structural element to the garden. It also sends up a large bloom spike with pinkish white blooms on it in the Spring.  Per Wikipedia, the leaves of this plant are considered by historians to have been the design inspiration for the Corinthian column capitals of Greco-Roman architecture. Interesting!

Smooth Leaf Salvia

Smooth Leaf Salvia was added in a partly shade part of the garden. It doesn't have many blooms, but it has large glossy leaves. It is suppose to be a fantastic hummingbird plant. If anyone has any experience growing this plant, please let me know.

Philippine Violet

Philippine Violet is an excellent part shade plant. Although it mostly blooms in the Fall, the round glossy leaves are beautiful. This one fits in nicely in a corner of the garden. Can't wait to see it fill out.

Jewels of Opar

Although this is not a new plant to the garden, it has reseeded itself in a new spot. This is a pass along plant from my Grandmother.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Lavender Lady Passionflower

“The Earth laughs in flowers.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
Claude Monet

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I see Red

When I added a couple of plants to the garden this fall I realized that most of them had red blooms or berries.
I prefer cooler colors like pink and blues, however lately I seem to be trending towards red. Maybe because it is the color hummingbirds prefer. 


This pigeonberry plant was added in a shady spot in our garden. Love the bright and shiny red berries. The birds had picked off all the berries within 24 hours of planting it. At first I was disappointed, however my husband pointed out that was the reason I picked this plant in the first place. Point taken!


This plant is very hardy, a great ground cover and provides fall color. The little red berries are prized by birds including mockingbirds and doves.

Turk's Cap

Three Turk's caps were added in the back garden. The migrating hummingbirds had found these plants within 5 minutes and were fighting over them.


This Firebush was added for the hummingbirds as well.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall in the Garden

It is the most wonderful time of year to be a gardener in Texas. The 100 degree temps are gone for now and fall rains are very welcomed. The plants seem grateful that summer is over. 

The Lavender Lady Passionflower Vine has put out a couple of blooms.
Lavender Lady Passionflower

The Gulf Fritillaries are still doing their thing.

 The Eyelash leaved sage or Salvia blepharophylla has a couple of blooms on it.

Eyelash leaved sage

The Blackfoot Daisy is still blooming like crazy. It has bloomed continually since I planted it. 

Blackfoot Daisy

The bat faced cuphea looks pretty paired with the potato vine.

Bat faced cuphea

The Blue Mistflower is really putting on a show. 

Blue Mistflower

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Magestic Monarch

I've seen four Monarchs this season in our garden.


They are so beautiful to watch fluttering around the garden.

They are much larger than the Queen butterflies which look similar to Monarchs. 

I had the pleasure of watching this female deposit eggs on some of the Milkweed.

You can see her tilt her abdomen towards the leaf.

They are such majestic creatures.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Twas the Day before Migration

Twas the day before migration, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a titmouse. 
The feeders were hung in the trees with care,
In hopes that the migrating hummingbirds soon would be there.

The birders were searching for tripods lodged in the shed,
While visions of Orioles danced in their heads.
And mamma with her binoculars, and I in my cap,
Had just settled in for a migration nap.

When out in the lawn arouse such a clatter,
I sprang from my birding chair to what was the matter.
Away to the window, I like a flash,
It tore around the yard and made quite a dash.

The sun on the breast of a Red Throated Ruby
Gave the lustre that rivaled royal jewels beauty.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a territorial male and a female who decided to disappear.

  A little odd bird, so lively and quick,
I knew it in a moment, from its music and frolic.

Now Rufous! now Black Chin! now Ruby Throated and Allen!
On Buff Bellied! On, Anna! On Costa, drinking my sugar water by the gallon!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now fly away! Fly away! Fly away all. © 2012

~ A Rambling Wren Original Poem

Get your feeders ready. Migration is here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lavender Lady Passionflower Vine

I have three different varieties of Passionflower vines in my garden including Lady Margaret, Incense and Caerulea. Hard to know the difference between them because they hardly ever bloom. I'm sure if I picked off the Gulf Fritillaries caterpillars they would be lush and blooming. When I saw a picture of the "Lavender Lady' passionflower Pam Penick posted at Digging,
I knew I had to add this variety to my garden. 

This particular passionflower is evergreen with smaller green leaves with a purplish tint. To be honest, the flower is more of a Fushia color with purple filaments.

It is not as purple as I thought it would be, but it is still very pretty. I better enjoy it now. I've already found some caterpillars on it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Year Blogiversary

image via

What my little gardening blog has taught me:

Blogging is a great creative outlet

You are able to share your passion with others who have a similar interest

It is educational. I've learned so much by reading blogs

It provides inspiration to you and others

I started this blog to chronicle our garden at our new home. Leaving my old garden was hard. I felt attached to it. I knew that someone would enjoy it and find pleasure in it. 

What is it about gardeners that is so special? Gardeners tend to have a greater appreciation of nature and beauty in the world. They tend to look at blooming weeds as flowers. They pay attention to the seasons and wildlife around them. Gardening is nurturing. It keeps us grounded and connected.

A big thank you to all that follow this blog. It has been a pleasure reading your comments. It is nice to know there are fellow gardeners out there that can relate to the joys and trials of gardening.