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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A gardener's week - #11

This was the week when autumn indisputably came to my garden. We may still have some summer-like days in the offing, but there's no going back now.

Whenever I was outside this week, I could not help but notice the constant rustle and patter of falling leaves. The oaks, the sycamores, the crape myrtles and apple tree all joined in the race to see which could shed it leaves the fastest.

Around my garden beds, I'm noticing that, all of a sudden, the weeds are not growing quite so fast! I'm almost able to keep up with them - not quite, but almost.

In the veggie garden, all the little seeds that I've planted are germinating and I've got lots of tiny baby plants coming along. I did finally get the parsnip seeds planted this week, but from what another local gardener/blogger tells me, I'll probably have quite a wait before they are up.

I moved a few plants around this week - cast iron plants went to the bed under the red oak; foxtail ferns were settled into the big pot with the Musa acuminata, var. Sumatrana that I got from a fellow blogger at our bloggers' meet-up in the spring; and the hydrangeas moved to the beds by the back porch entry where I can keep a closer eye on their moisture needs.

But mostly what I did again this week was to water my plants. It's been over six weeks now since my garden has had any significant rain and the lack of natural moisture is getting to be a serious problem. I'm actually rather amazed that my garden has held up as well as it has.

Another clue that autumn is really here was the arrival in the garden of two more migrating Monarch butterflies this week. Neither of them tarried for long and I don't know if they left me any souvenirs of their visit. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, though, I had an absolutely gorgeous, pristine, no blemishes Giant Swallowtail in the garden this week. I'm pretty certain that this is the adult version of the caterpillar that was on my lemon tree a couple of weeks ago - the one I almost cut in two!

I wanted to get a picture of this beautiful butterfly and I chased it around with my camera but never was able to get it to light long enough for me to capture it, and then I got distracted by another little butterfly.

This tiny butterfly - it could not have been more than 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches wide with its wings spread - was flying around the beet bed that I had just watered and it stopped to sip. I tried to get a picture of it with its wings spread, but I just couldn't manage it. However, as it sits here with the sun shining through its folded wings, you can see that its wings are edged in a darker color. It is black. The butterfly is a yellow-orange and black critter called a Sleepy Orange Sulphur. I always have sulphurs but I don't think I've ever seen one quite like this in the yard before.

Today, I also saw a Queen butterfly feeding on the flame acanthus. Another one of my caterpillars from a few weeks ago, perhaps?

Although watering duties still keep me busy, I'm finding more time to just sit and reflect and enjoy my garden these days while listening to the trickle of water for my little bamboo fountain in the old iron wash pot.

It would look a lot prettier if I could manage to keep the rascally raccoons from periodically uprooting the plants and ripping their leaves. Sigh. It's always something...

But I'm not about to let the rampaging raccoons interfere with my enjoyment of this glorious season. I trust that you are enjoying it, too.


  1. I cover my wine barrel fountain with a piece of plywood most nights. If racoons have been bad, I add some shock cords. It's a pain, but I don't want to lose my waterlily, and last time I got lax they actually broke the bamboo piece...

    Your looks very beautiful, though. Love the long spout1

  2. I have thought about doing something like that with mine at night, Town Mouse, and I may have to resort to it. I had a water lily destroyed earlier this summer, although now it is coming back. I'd hate for it to be mangled again.