Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A gardener's week - #10

Sometimes called firebush, the Hamelia patens did appear to be burning this week. It could be a symbol for my garden.

Another week without rain. Another week of manning (womanning?) the sprinklers and hoses and trying to make sure that nothing actually dies of thirst.

In spite of the very dry conditions, progress continued on the fall vegetable garden. So far, I have planted:

- 'Russian banana' fingerling potatoes
- Red cabbage plants
- Spinach plants
- Broccoli plants
- 'Sugar Daddy' sugar snap pea seeds
- 'Cherry Belle' radish seeds
- Collard plants
- Mesclun mix plants and seeds
- 'Mizuna' mustard seed
- Multiplying onion plants

I still have seeds for beets, carrots, turnips, and chard to plant. Plus my wild card seeds for fall - parsnips! I've never planted parsnips before and I have no idea how they will do. Gardening is such an adventure, isn't it?

The fall tomatoes that I planted back in summer are finally looking like they might actually do something and the peppers from spring just keep going and going.

Today's harvest of "spring" peppers.

The chili pequin is also producing its share of fiery little fruits but I leave those for the birds.

Around the garden this week, butterflies are still somewhat scarce. I haven't seen any more Monarchs, but I did have a Tawny Emperor on a stand of blue mistflower on Thursday and I have seen Spicebush Swallowtails and Pipe-vine Swallowtails in addition to the Giant Swallowtails that I've had pretty much constantly since spring. There's also been a slight uptick in the number of Gulf Fritillaries and Cloudless Sulphurs, as well as little skippers too numerous to name, but all in all, I have to say that it continues to be a pretty disappointing year for butterflies in my garden.

In other news of fliers in the garden, the hummingbirds are dwindling. I have at least one left in the backyard but I haven't seen any in the front yard since I snapped this picture on a chilly Wednesday morning.

He was sitting on the feeder hook just outside my study window, waiting for the sun to warm him. He was all fluffed out and looked like he was wearing an overcoat.

I recently showed you my butterfly ginger that had finally bloomed after three years. Now I feel I must give equal time and space to my delinquent bougainvillea.

'Barbara Karst' hasn't bloomed in three years and is taking up valuable space in my garden. I was determined to rip her out this winter if she didn't bloom this year, so now she is grudgingly giving me a FEW blossoms. I'm not sure it is going to be enough to save her.

I don't often get the blues in my garden - either the emotion or the color. October brings two good blues, the aforementioned blue mistflower, which butterflies love, and the blue plumbago.

This plumbago sprawls by the fence offering its blue blossoms to the passing Cloudless Sulphurs that seem to favor it. Perhaps they know how pretty they look with their yellow wings complementing the blue of the flowers they sip.

No, I don't often get the blues in my garden, but I may just catch them soon if it doesn't rain.

I hope your garden is getting sufficient rain and that you and it have a good week.


  1. I know what you mean about rain. I spent 3 days rotating low-volume watering to our 30+ young trees and various perennial gardens. Hoping for rain before I have to do that again.

    I was tickled to see your firebush as lead-off in the post, I'm talking about firebush at Hill Country Mysteries today.

    We've had a bumper year for butterflies. Maybe the difference is the mass of wildflowers in the Hill Country? Do you think there is a lesser amount of habitat in your region?

  2. I saw your post about the hamelia, Kathleen. Wonderful plant! I have several scattered around my yard.

    I'm not sure to what I should attribute my lack of butterflies this year. In recent years, by October, my yard has been overrun with them. The cold winter may have hit some species hard and this year's weather overall may simply have not been conducive to good production. There are plenty of nectar and host plants in my yard and, really, there is no lack of wildflowers around the countryside, so I'm guessing that the big factor may be the weather.