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

Friday, August 13, 2010

A gardener's week - #2

Happy Friday the thirteenth! You're not superstitious, are you? After all, a Friday is still a Friday even if it is the thirteenth and that means the beginning of the weekend, always a happy time.

I found reason to be happy very early this morning. When I first went outside, I noticed a freshness in the air, almost a briskness. Of course, that didn't last long. It heated up pretty quickly, but for just a little while, I could almost feel fall in the air.

Later, around mid-day as I was taking a break on one of the chairs in my backyard, I looked up at the sky with its fluffy marshmallow clouds and I realized that the sky had changed over the last few days when I wasn't looking. The color was different. It was a deeper and brighter blue, almost but not quite an autumn blue.

Yes, and the angle of the sun HAS changed and with it the shadows in my yard. All these things are harbingers of the change in seasons to come. This week we passed the mid-point of summer (at least as it appears on the calendar). It's all downhill from here! Autumn is a comin'.

With autumn on its way, it is time to get that fall veggie garden under way. I haven't yet replaced my unfortunate tomato plants that I told you about last Friday, but we did get some screening this week that will both provide shade and maybe keep out some of the insects. I hope to get some more plants this weekend.

From the spring veggie garden, my eggplants and peppers are still producing. They just laugh at the heat.

It's been another week without rain here and my sprinklers have been working overtime. They keep the plants going, but we really could use a good soaking rain. Maybe next week...

In looking at my garden journal entries from last year and also my blog entries, I have realized that my butterfly population seems quite a bit less this summer than last. At this time last year, I was seeing a great variety of Swallowtails, as well as Sulphurs, Monarchs, Skippers, Gulf Fritillaries and the occasional Buckeye. This week, I can just about count on the fingers of one hand the butterflies that I have seen - a Sulphur, a Pipe-vine Swallowtail, a Giant Swallowtail, and that is about it. Suddenly, my yard seems almost butterfly-free.

It's been weeks since I've seen a Monarch here, but I do have several butterfly weeds that are all ready for them if they should show up.

Asclepias curassavica,
in bloom and waiting.

And they should be showing up in the next few weeks. The Monarch fall migration has started or is just about to start in the north and these fragile but tough beauties will be winging their way south to us on their way to Mexico. If you don't have butterfly weed in your garden, now is the time to get it planted and growing for them, so they will have a place to lay their eggs that will become the next generation of butterflies.

Though I haven't seen many butterflies this week, the yard is full of wildlife. There are many, many baby anoles, toads, and frogs around. I'm almost afraid to take a step in some places of the yard for fear I might snuff out the life of one of them. I was hand watering some plants today when the tiniest anole I have ever seen jumped from the plant to the fence behind it. It was literally no bigger than the first knuckle of my little finger. It must have just come from the egg.

As always, there are plenty of birds in the yard, although most of them are pretty quiet during this season. In addition to the birds, there is some wildlife that I have with me at all seasons.

One of several squirrels that take their lunch under my birdfeeders every day. I've heard tell that for some gardeners the only good squirrel is a dead squirrel, but they don't do any damage in my yard, maybe because there's always plenty of birdseed lying around for them to scavenge. For me, they are just part of the entertainment of another week in the garden.


  1. Here, we have butterflies everywhere, but I've only seen one Monarch flitting about. It's a little early for them in Oklahoma. They tend to come when the wild ageratum blooms in September. I have seen their caterpillars. Yes, the garden is full of wildlife. It is an amazing thing.

  2. I normally have lots of butterflies in my garden in summer, Dee, but lately they seem to be missing. I hope and expect that things will pick up soon. We generally have a few Monarchs year-round, but I haven't noticed any in the garden for perhaps a month. The migrants should be here soon, though.