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

Friday, June 29, 2012

This week in the garden - #20

Finally! A productive week in the garden! In spite of the oppressive heat this week, I spent most of it in the garden doing much-needed weeding and pruning, trying to get everything back into some semblance of order. As I've documented in several posts in recent weeks, for one reason or another, things had really gotten out of hand here and I was beginning to get quite desperate about it. But after spending several days ferociously uprooting the weeds that had threatened to overwhelm me and pruning back all those limbs that were headed where they didn't need to go (Well, some of them anyway.) I feel renewed and rejuvenated! I think there may be hope for my garden.

In spite of my neglect, the garden is actually doing quite well. So far, there has been enough rain this summer to keep things going, with very little resorting to the sprinklers and hoses. In fact we received another nice shower just this afternoon.

  A raindrop from this afternoon's shower trembles on the tip of an almond verbena blossom.

 The 'Ellen Bosanquet' crinums continue to bloom profusely.

And in another part of the garden the angel's trumpets are playing their sweet music.

Moreover, the critters of the garden are flourishing. Everywhere I worked this week, I kept encountering tiny, newly-hatched green anoles, a well as many adults. The Mediterranean geckos still patrol the ceilings of the porches at night, looking for insects drawn to the lights, and once the sun goes down each day, the frogs begin their chorus. It is a truly amazing sound to step into the backyard at night and hear those hundreds, maybe thousands, of frogs around the neighborhood singing their songs.

Butterfly numbers and diversity are back almost to where they were before we endured the long, long drought of last year and the year before. I see caterpillars of many kinds as I make my rounds of the garden each day.

In addition to the butterflies, I often encounter interesting moths around the garden. I'm not nearly as knowledgeable about moths as I would like to be and so I often cannot identify what I see, but sometimes a picture will help.

As I stepped onto the back porch/patio after working in the garden yesterday afternoon, I happened to look up at the light fixture and this was what I saw - a huge moth. It was about three inches long and if its wings had been opened, I estimated that its wingspread would have been at least four inches. I grabbed my camera and took a series of pictures.

Here's the critter from a slightly different angle. With his wings folded, he was very cryptically colored and blended into the background. If I hadn't just happened to look up, I would never have noticed him.

I checked my pictures against my field guide later and I think this is the Waved Sphinx Moth (Ceratomia undulosa). There are lots of sphinx moths around, of many varieties, and it is often hard for an inexpert observer like myself to correctly identify them. If you know this guy and believe my identification is incorrect, please let me know.

And  so, I end this week, for the first time in awhile, satisfied with my efforts in the garden. It is a good feeling. A few more weeks like this and I may not have to hang my head in shame every time I see my fellow gardeners!


  1. Good for you, for getting so much work done in the garden in this heat! I've got a little bit done, but still lots to do. Your moth is lovely, but I can't help with the ID.
    I'm getting depressed that so much in my garden is NOT blooming so far this year. Even my dependable Rose of Sharon's have got just a couple of blooms between them and my Angel's Trumpets, in containers, are showing no sign of blooming at all.

    1. Patience is the hardest lesson for us gardeners to learn, I think, Jayne, but plants proceed at their own pace which sometimes seems awfully slow to us. My angel's trumpets that are planted in pots haven't bloomed yet either. The one in the picture has been in the ground for several years and is about ten feet tall.

  2. I'm so excited a friend gave me a wonderful cutting of her almond verbena. I hope I can get it to root out!! I'm so happy to see you are having a wonderful range of diversity over there! Our lizard population is still quite slim out here on the prairie land. Lot's of butterflies, but scant or no bees. So much heavy herbicide usage out here in rural ville...Hay growers are really bad with it and I'm surrounded. Thinking between wildfires so close/drought and farmers ..Trying to stay focused on nature and doing the right thing here... xox

    1. It is frustrating and disappointing to have neighbors who make it difficult to achieve your goal of enhancing the habitat, Pammy. In the end, we can only do what we can and try to be good examples and ambassadors to others to encourage them to curtail use of chemicals on the land.