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

Friday, August 27, 2010

A gardener's week - #4

Every day now the sun rises a minute or so later and sets a minute or so earlier. It's as if it, too, is tired of this summer and anxious to get it over with.

When we went for our walk early this morning the temperature was at 70 degrees and the humidity seemed correspondingly low. It was almost cool! For the first time in...forever, I came home after an hour's walk without my clothes being saturated and dripping salty water. Don't look now, friends, and for goodness' sake don't say it out loud for fear of scaring it away, but autumn is coming.

If we needed any further comfirmation of that, we would only have to look around the garden this week to see the abundance of hummingbirds and butterflies. The fall hummingbird migration is well under way now, with lots of all sexes and ages of the little birds visiting us on their way south. (See my post at Backyard Birder.)

Butterflies, too, especially the Sulphurs, are making their way back into my garden, after a hiatus.

Maybe their return has something to do with this. The flame acanthus is back in (almost) full bloom again after I whacked it back severely - was that only two weeks ago? I tell you nothing keeps this plant down for long and it is a magnet for both hummingbirds and butterflies. This Sulphur looks as though it has lighted among tongues of flame. You can certainly see how the plant gets its common name.

This Clouded Sulphur enjoyed a nice long snack on this blossom, allowing me to record it for posterity.

Another butterfly and hummingbird magnet is the Texas Star hibiscus which continues to send out several of its dramatic blossoms every day.

Each blossom is visited many times during the day by both the hummers and the flutterers. The Sulphurs seem to be particularly fond of these blooms.

Giant Swallowtails have been present in the garden again, too. I seldom see one of these beauties that hasn't been nicked up in some way - usually one of its swallowtails or part of a hindwing is missing. But this one was absolutely perfect in every way. It had not yet had any close encounters with predators which leads me to believe that it may only recently have emerged from its cocoon. It gave me joy just to see such a perfect and perfectly beautiful creature.

After leaving the flame acanthus, he paid a visit to the nearby butterfly weed.

Gulf Fritillaries were highly visible visitors to the garden this week, too. This one is visiting a Mexican sunflower blossom that has poked its way through the cypress vine.

This 'Monkey Business' floribunda, seen here with its blossom turned toward the sun and away from me, has been a good performer for me this summer.

Likewise this yellow cestrum. Does this thing every stop blooming? It has been in bloom literally since I planted it in the spring and as the plant gets bigger it just puts on more and more blooms. I may have to get another one of these next year.

The garlic chives are blooming. I find these little flowers very pretty. (That orange thing on the one on the right is an assassin bug, one of the good guys.)

'Lucifer' is again bringing light to my garden. This is his third (I think) flush of blooms. Or maybe fourth.

I have to come clean and tell you that I really haven't spent too much time in the garden this week except to do obligatory watering. Yes, I'm still waiting for rain.

But whenever I've been out there I have been greatly cheered by the multitude of colorful fliers and a few colorful blooms. All in all, my garden has held up well in the heat of summer and that makes me happy.


  1. Your butterfly pictures are great. I noticed an abundance of sulfur butterflies in my garden today.

  2. Thanks, HGG. There's been a real population explosion of these butterflies in my yard this week. It seems that everywhere I look there is another yellow flier.

  3. New blog format, I like it!

    Lovely butterflies and flowers. So much fun to see. We have so many of the same things, in spite of the difference in our temps and soil. I'd love to have hibiscus but deer love them too...

    I'm going now over to your bird post. We're in the midst of hummer migration too, non-stop fighting over the feeders and plantings. This is my favorite time of year.

    Wish it would rain...

  4. Isn't it interesting that so many of our favorite plants will thrive in different environments, Kathleen? Just like us!

  5. All of your flowers are gorgeous and they are all loving by butterflies. It seems that the butterflies like the ambiance and the smell of your garden. I like the Mexican sunflower blossom it is really perfect when it is reflected by the sunlight.

  6. Mexican sunflowers are great favorites with the butterflies, rose dipped, and, somewhat oddly, with the hummingbirds as well. It's not the shape of flower that hummingbirds normally go for, but there must be a good store of nectar there because it pulls them in.

  7. Wonderful photos of butterflies you have! Sulphurs butterflies are also fond in my rose buds in my garden. They are really looking beautiful flying around in my garden. I just hope that winter will not come anymore to have these butterflies come in my garden everyday.

  8. Late summer and fall is definitely butterfly time in my garden, melanie, one of my favorite times of the year.

  9. The Texas Star hibiscus is like the Gumamela flower that I saw in the Philippines when I first went there. They are really alike. I will surely plant like that in my garden. My garden don’t attract butterflies but bees and birds will do.

  10. Hi Melanie. I Googled Gumamela and you are absolutely right! The flowers look almost identical. No doubt the plants are closely related.