Baby cardinal rescue, summer whites, Austin Pond Society tour, dwarf basils, coffee grounds

June 3rd, 2010 Posted in Uncategorized

I’ve never seen this much chomping in one year. Somehow the mountain laurels have been spared for once, but I’ve never had caterpillars on the larkspur.

Caterpillar on larkspur

She and her busy team were so pretty that I left them alone. The larkspur was on its way out, anyway.  Meredith at Great Stems thinks it may be a Salt Marsh caterpillar, which is in the same family as the woollybear. Guess we’ll see what moths show up this summer!

A viewer asked what to do with caterpillars EVERYWHERE. Well, you can leave them be. If they’re destroying valuable plants, hand pick them. Or spray Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). However, I don’t advocate spraying every plant in sight, since you could be killing off every wonderful butterfly or moth pollinator.

Also, baby birds are getting lots of caterpillar num nums right now, including the cardinals who nested in our rose arbor. I’m  not tall enough to get a better shot, but you can sort of see who’s waiting for dinner.  Tiny little beak on the right. Only a few days old.

Baby cardinal mouth

Dad showed up for this feeding, while Mom was in the crape, keeping an eye on me.

Cardinal feeding young

Earlier in the day, I’d found a dead one at the bottom of the arbor, covered in ants. Just after I took the shot of Dad, I saw something catapult from the nest. Another had fallen out and landed in the rose. Carefully, I rescued him and Greg returned him to the nest. I didn’t take a picture since its safety and the parents’ peace of mind was more important.  The night of the surprise storm, I was so worried. No need. Mom cardinal spread herself over the babies.

One last-stand larkspur hangs out in front of the variegated dianella in the crape bed.

Variegated dianella and larkspur

A coneflower leans over the Salvia coccinea ‘Nymph White’.  This was the annual salvia I dug up last fall and overwintered in the patio “greenhouse.” Just had to try it, you know?

Coneflower with Salvia coccinea 'Nymph White'

But this year, I wanted to add ‘Coral Nymph’ as well. I added some perennial bicolor salvias (Salvia sinaloensis) in this shady/sunny spot. At the front of the bed, I was going for the perennial pink skullcap. It’s failed there before (not quite enough sun) but I was tempted to try again. Then, at the nursery, I saw white Mexican heather. Cedric cat approves.

Dianella, white Mexican heather, bicolor salvia, cat Cedric

In normal winters, the purple flowered version dies back, but returns in spring. I couldn’t resist trying this white one for the first time. Once it fills in, I think it will be lovely, camped on either side by lambs ears.

Cedric babysits the white narrow-leaf zinnias (Zinnia linearis) that accent other parts of the crape bed and the den bed.

Cedric cat in plant tray

Although the crape bed has a soothing theme, the cat cove is a riot of color with “Senorita Rosalita’ cleome and pavonia/rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala).

Cleome Senorita Rosalita and pavonia, rock rose

We put up the kiddie pool last weekend, just in time! The birdbath and its solar fountain refresh the wildlife.

Variance Vessels birdbath with solar fountain

Since water is on our minds, this week on CTG, Tom meets with Terrie & Michael Lumsden to preview the Austin Pond Society tour. This year, they moved it up to beat the heat a little.  So, mark your calendars for June 12 & 13!

Austin Pond Society tour

As always, this promises to be a chance to see every kind of water feature, from ponds to fountains, big and small, and meet the gardeners for hands-on advice.

Austin Pond Society tour

On our video tour, meet Barbara and Greg Clark in Leander. They solved a drainage problem by building a split-level pond and stream in their deer-country front yard. Working with designer Claire Smith of Murffy’s Landscape Design, they achieved year-round color, foliage, and wildlife friends.

Barbara and Greg Clark pond garden

Got coffee grounds? This week, Daphne explains how to use them. She also explains how to grow native lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata).

Tickseed coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata

Trisha features purple basils, ornamentals, and Thai basil. She includes dwarf basils, perfect for a container or that tiny spot in your garden. Spicy globe has long been one of my favorites, but now I’ve added Pistou in a little spot at the corner of the den bed.

Boxwood is another new yummy choice for small spaces. Get Trisha’s lists, details and recipes for basil bounty of your own!

Finally, Garden Curmudgeon of the Week:  Wipe out all the “bad bugs” and your life will be tortured by them forever. They will return, but your beneficials may not. Remember, even organic/natural products kill good things, too.  Pick your battles, wisely.  You’ve got lots of friends in the garden, whether you can see them or not.  Respect them.

Until next week, Linda

  1. 19 Responses to “Baby cardinal rescue, summer whites, Austin Pond Society tour, dwarf basils, coffee grounds”

  2. By Kathleen Scott on Jun 4, 2010

    Great post, so much to check out. Thank you for noting the Austin Pond Tour! There is nothing as much fun as water features. Except pictures of birds and Cedric the cat.

    I hadn’t seen white Mexican Heather. Does it draw bees like the purple? The purple was invasive in our Florida yard but life is too tough here in the Hill Country. Not that we can plant it much since deer like it.


    Linda reply on June 4th, 2010 11:11 am:

    Seems like the white version was around last year but it’s not that common. This is my first chance so don’t know yet if it will attracts bees. Interesting that it was invasive in Florida! Gets too cold here for that to happen.


  3. By Vertie on Jun 4, 2010

    So glad you were able to save the cardinal. What, no picture of you lounging in the pool? Hope to get ours up this weekend.


    Linda reply on June 4th, 2010 3:13 pm:

    I think this readership would take a “dive” if you saw a picture of me in the kiddie pool! Have fun getting yours ready. It’s perfect timing!


  4. By Annie in Austin on Jun 4, 2010

    Lucky you, Linda- to have and help baby cardinals! Birds make nests in our neighbors’ shrubs but ours must still be too small for their requirements. They do come to our birdbath fountain so we can see them.

    Maybe once you get them going your pink and white Salvias will reseed? It takes the tiny seedlings some time to grow large enough to bloom, but each year the red, white and Coral Nymph reappear in my garden. I planted each color in a different part of the garden and so far it’s working.

    Thanks for the Pond Tour reminder – I love that tour! Unfortunately their attempt to avoid 100°F weather by moving it from mid-July to June might not work…we have predictions for 100°F tomorrow! Yuck.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose


  5. By Meredith/Great Stems on Jun 4, 2010

    Thank you for reminding me about the Pond Tour. Somehow I’m going to have to work in a few pond visits on what has become a crazy-packed weekend already.


  6. By Pam/Digging on Jun 6, 2010

    Ooh, that combo of larkspur and variegated dianella is yummy!

    Every year I think I might go on the Pond Tour, but it’s so dang hot that I wimp out. Probably this year will be the same unless a freak cold front comes through. I will console myself with the CTG show instead.


  7. By Jim on Jun 8, 2010

    I do not think you know what a wonderful photographer you are. I was just browsing gardening blogs and I can across KLRU and I am hooked. I love the pictures.


  8. By Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings on Jun 9, 2010

    Linda, your photos are fabulous, and funny thing, I wrote about caterpillars too today.~~Dee


    Linda reply on June 10th, 2010 3:23 pm:

    Wow, I’ll go check out yours. They are certainly everywhere!


  9. By Ellie on Jun 10, 2010

    I love those cardinal pics! What a great nature show in your garden.


    Linda reply on June 10th, 2010 3:24 pm:

    Yes, I’ve planted for the wildlife! It makes the garden so rewarding!


  10. By Tomi Prashner on Jun 12, 2010

    Read your comments about the Cardinals with great interest. I have a small live oak tree in my backyard and found a nest with 3 eggs in it. Didn’t know what they were until one of the eggs hatched on June 1st. The next day we had a severe rainstorm and I was concerned about the small newborn. Checked the nest out the following day and the small bird was alive and well. Shortly thereafter the other two eggs hatched and we finally knew they were cardinals when we observed the male red cardinal and the female taking turns flying in and out of the nest taking turns feeding the little ones.
    I am concerned about their safety when they leap to the ground in the next day or two. I have a cat and 2 dachshunds and am afraid they will harm the babies. Do you have any suggestions on how I can protect them until they fly away on their own at about 20 days old.


    Linda reply on June 12th, 2010 2:47 pm:

    Is there any way you can keep the cats and dogs inside as the babies start trying to fly? It would only be for a few days. Congratulations on your new family!


  11. By Tomi Prashner on Jun 12, 2010

    Can’t confine the dogs but have devised a way to shelter the birds. Will take some plywood lumber and erect a wall around the live oak tree to keep the dogs out. Will let you know how this works out. Are you in Austin, TX? If so, feel free to drop by and look at our babies.


  12. By Cheryl in Austin on Jun 17, 2010

    Cedric is a great name for a cat! I just wanted to let you know that Dasher and Bobble have found a home in the country. If you haven’t seen Elayne Lansford’s garden, it’s worth a gander. She’s taking the bunnies. I hope you are well!


    Linda reply on June 17th, 2010 4:38 pm:

    Thanks, Cheryl! Yea for Dasher & Bobble.
    We’ve taped Elayne’s fascinating garden. Search Elayne Lansford, Central Texas Gardener, on Youtube. I adore her. I sure hated to miss her plant swap.


  13. By Phyllis on Jun 14, 2011

    I know his is an old post but wondering what you thought of white Mexican heather. As prolific as purple? I’m considering buying about 50 of them as a front border.



    Linda reply on June 14th, 2011 5:01 pm:

    Hi, Phyllis! I’ve only tried them once and they weren’t as good as the purple ones. But that could certainly just be me, my site, and when I planted them. They aren’t terribly expensive so try it and let us know what you find out. I do like their sweet white flowers.


Post a Comment