May 17, 2012
Bee happy|Succulent strategies|Natural Bridge Caverns
One thing I love about wildlife is that they don’t mind if my garden gets a tad messy. As long as the place is clean (no pesticides), they’re going for the atmosphere—free food in a diner that’s open all year. This combo platter of shrimp plant and oxalis attracts a wide selection of customers, including hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Thanks to the rain, the sunflowers tower over us! Perhaps they’ll entice some Bordered Patch or Painted Lady butterflies to lay their eggs. Certainly, they’ll be attracting birds, who planted these in the first place. These natural designers picked an inspiring spot!
In the front bed, there’s something for everybody, too: pink skullcap, shrimp plant, heartleaf skullcap, white mistflower, zexmenia, copper canyon daisy, eupatorium, pine muhly, setcresea (Purple Heart), Mexican bush sage and evergreen sumac. With Yucca recurvifolia ‘Margaritaville’.
Greg nabbed a picture of Coreopsis tinctoria on the creek bank behind our fence. I hope some of the seeds end up in our back “prairie!”
My baby skeleton-leaf goldeneye daisy appears to be MIA, but I’m getting more! In the meantime, here’s a beneficial wasp (I think) on one at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Another I’d like to have again is ‘David Verity’ Cuphea, beneficial to insects and hummingbirds. My former one froze in the “big chill” two years ago. I didn’t replace it since it wasn’t getting enough sun, but I’ll find a spot to have one like this!
Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) is another that I didn’t give enough sun. So, I’m glad a neighbor is growing it in a new hot strip curb bed, converted from lawn.
It really does take a village to feed the wildlife. If everyone in the neighborhood plants even a few plants, the “strip mall” cluster attracts a bigger crowd.
Along with masses to attract the masses, the secret to diversified wildlife is diversified food, even in winter. While we’re sipping hot chocolate, honeybees head for narcissus.
In early spring, they make a beeline to Mexican plum, viburnums, and roses like this Mutabilis.
And native annual baby blue-eyes.
I laughed like crazy to see this bee gleefully rolling around in the Pink evening primrose.
More ecstasy in poppies. Sights like this are my favorite part of gardening.
This mild winter, everyone headed for a Salvia coccinea that didn’t freeze. It was protected by other plants in a warm niche, where spuria irises served dessert on April flowers.
In summer, when this heat-loving annual salvia usually performs, it attracts bees and butterflies.
My “patrons” all rave about my fall goldenrods, though it wasn’t my recipe. These perennial natives just wandered in on their own.
What a fascinating quick primer on the lifestyles of honeybees, bumble bees and solitary bees, like Mason bees! Here’s a native honeybee on my rosemary in January.
Mason bees quickly found my house, a gift from Travis Audubon stewards Georgean and Paul Kyle, who handcrafted this. You may know them best for their delightful handmade toys at Rootin’ Ridge Toymakers, but they also make the bee houses, bird nesting boxes and food perches.
For more about bees, check in with The San Marcos Area Bee Wranglers, where you can meet Kellan in person! Follow him on Twitter at @BeeKellan.
This week, Daphne answers: why did our fall-blooming plants show up this spring?
Daphne’s Pick of the Week is Texas Star Hibiscus, a native hibiscus that feeds wildlife all summer.
That’s a screen grab from our tour this week to Natural Bridge Caverns (hence why it looks a little odd!). We didn’t go on the cavern tour, though you should! Our focus is what’s on top: design concepts for home gardens, plants for wildlife (no pesticides!), and mainly, a vivid illustration to remind us that what we pour on top of our gardens or to kill insects ends up in our water.
Sources: Jeff gets his knives and covers, ice scoops, brushes and gravel bins cheap at a restaurant supply store. On Amazon, I found several sources for these tools. But Jeff gets the big tweezers (forceps), hemostats and the sharp pointed tweezers at Miles’ To Go cacti and succulent nursery.
And also from Rainbow Gardens Bookshop that specializes in cacti and succulent plant books. The toolkit is a fishing tackle box from Academy.
Until next week, garden safe! Linda