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

Friday, December 17, 2010

A gardener's week - #19

'Tis the season to be jolly. And busy. Very, very busy. It is likely that my time for blogging will be very scant from now until the end of the year, but before I abandon you, I thought I would leave you with a few images from my garden today.

My lawn service was here yesterday and chopped up all the leaves that were on the ground - about a ton, I estimate - but already today the yard was scattered with a patchwork of more colorful leaves. Earlier this week, I had to drive over to The Woodlands and I was delighted to see the colors of the trees as I traveled the back roads to my destination. We don't often get a good season of fall colors here along the humid southern coast, but this year the weather seems to have hit us just right and the colors are truly vibrant. Maybe we have to wait a little longer than other parts of the country to get our colors but they are worth waiting for.

The drought still holds and I'm still watering my plants, though less often than in the blistering summer heat. I was out doing that chore today and I glanced over to a bed in the southwestern corner of the house's "L" and saw this.

Esperanza, blooming in mid-December! My other Esperanza that is out in the open and unprotected was fried by the frost, but this one, although the tips of several branches were frost-bitten, still has green parts and some of those parts sport blooms.

Nearby the Esperanza, this blue salvia also continues to be covered in its pretty little blooms.

Another late bloomer. A few weeks ago my lemon tree was host to at least fifteen of these Giant Swallowtail caterpillars. One by one, they reached pupation stage and went away to do their metamorphosing. I thought they were all gone, but late last week I found this fellow. He's just about doubled in size since I first saw him and he's almost ready to do his own disappearing and reappearing act.

There's another "late bloomer" that I can't show you because I didn't have a camera in hand, but when I took my hose down off its hanger today, there was a tiny green tree frog under it! I guess a black rubber hose probably retains heat as well as anything in the yard, so that little frog was pretty smart. He probably thought he was tucked in for the winter. Poor baby! Well, I finished my watering and returned his blanket to its place so I hope he's comfy again tonight.

If I don't see you here again for awhile, let me wish you a joyous holiday season with people whom you love and a happy and healthy 2011. Thanks for reading this year.


  1. My esperanza is still vibrant green, but no blooms. Not enough light, I'm thinking.

    Thanks for sharing the caterpillar. I have Texas Hercules Club (AKA Prickly Ash), which is also a host and I see leaves disappear but never find the cats. Nice to see one.

    A few days ago I got a picture of a gulf frittilary caterpillar on a maypop vine. Hoping it's warm enough through the next week or so that he can graduate.

    Have a wonderful holiday season and I'll look for you again in January.

  2. Gosh, it seems so late for all those butterflies! I'm glad to hear you're getting a nice fall (although late, but then I'm used to that). We're going to see the family in Houston this holiday so I look forward to some fall color. Hope you have a nice holiday season!

  3. I was surprised to see that esperanza still blooming, Kathleen. Usually mine is gone with the first frost, but this one just happens to be in a protected spot.

  4. It does seem late, Jean. I'm hoping that my "late bloomer" will be okay. He has survived several quite cold nights and continues to grow.

    I hope you have a fun trip to Houston and that the colors hold out long enough for you to enjoy them. Happy holiday!

  5. Another good reason to leave things as is. You'll enjoy those early butterflies next year. Thanks for visiting today, and I hope your Christmas is very merry.~~Dee

  6. And a merry one to you, too, Dee!