Bee ecstatic; citrus tips; backyard chickens

April 7th, 2011 Posted in Insects, Late spring flowers, bees, chickens, garden design, garden projects, poppies, wildflowers, wildlife

Bee ecstatic, even with one little flower.

bees on red poppy
Here’s a bee honing in on Gulf Coast penstemon (Penstemon tenuis).  Beyond, Salvia microphylla ‘La Trinidad Pink’ got its turn later.

Bee on Gulf Coast penstemon with Salvia microphylla 'La Trinidad Pink

For dessert, they hit the pink evening primrose, (Oenothera speciosa), a native wildflower that just showed up in my garden. It’s so fun watching them rock and roll!

Pink evening primrose with bee

They also like the native spiderworts (Tradescantia gigantea) and non-native, but tough candytuft (Iberis sempervirens).

Spiderwort with iberis
Penstemons and poppies weren’t lonely from morning until evening.

Poppy with Gulf Coast penstemon
Right now, the cat cove is really the “bee cove,” though the silvery gray here and there is catmint for you know who.

Cat cove spring

The bees will head for the catmint when it flowers, but until now, they’re going for purple and white winecups and pink evening primrose.

wine cup with pink evening primrose

White winecup with pink evening primrose

We may not have as many bees on our citrus plants that suffered in the harsh cold. This week on CTG, Tom meets with Monte Nesbitt from Texas AgriLife Extension at A&M University to select the hardiest fruits, how to tell if a plant’s going to revive, and how to fertilize them.  Get his list and details on citrus selection and care.

Although my ‘Mr. Mac’ satsuma mandarin put on a few flowers, the tiny fruit fell off. It’s still alive and thriving, though, so if I miss out this year, it’ll be around for the future.

Satsuma orange flower

I’d love to know how your citrus plants fared this year and what’s happening in your microclimate!

Monte cautions us about Citrus Greening, a serious problem caused by the Asian citrus psyllid. Texas has quarantines that prevent importing plants from outside the state.  Although no infected psyllids have been found in Texas, they should be controlled

Asian citrus psyllid

According to Monte, they represent some risk of disease spread and will damage the foliage of the plant they colonize and feed on.
He adds: Citrus tree owners should be vigilant for suspicious signs of CG infection, including blotchy leaf mottling.

Citrus greening
If that happens, call the Texas Department of Agriculture (800-TELL TDA) for help in getting the tree tested.  In home gardens, psyllids can be controlled with oil and soap sprays. Don’t use these sprays in the heat of day since they can burn the leaves. It’s always easier to get a direct hit on insects in the early morning, too, when they’re sluggish like us!  Get more information about Citrus Greening, along with photographs on TAMU’s website.

Daphne continues the citrus theme with a question from Garron Guszak about his potted young Meyer’s lemon (not a true lemon) which hadn’t yet flowered in mid-February, even in his greenhouse. As it turns out, it did flower since then.  But very young plants may not flower much or keep their fruit, and freeze-damaged ones that survived may be late or may not bloom this year at all.

On tour, see how Molly O’Halloran and David Brearley renovated their 1915 house and the former car-park front yard in east Austin with sustainable, beautiful, and creative ideas on a budget. In their sunny front yard, textural structure and silvers  join organic vegetables.

Molly and David garden makeover east Austin

David and Molly garden makeover east Austin

Then, they fell in love with chickens.  Get their hands-on tips learned from “scratch” for happy chickens safe from predators. They even explain why yolk color varies by the season.  But every day, they collect warm eggs that don’t need Easter dye to be simply lovely and delicious.

backyard chicken eggs

We thank musician Gurf Morlix for the outstanding music. I selected “Need You Now” and “Windows Open, Windows Closed” from his album Birth to Boneyard.

If you’ve been a little chicken about raising chickens (but really want to do it), check out the Austin Funky Chicken Coop tour on Saturday, April 23 for more ideas and advice to have a brood of your own.

John Dromgoole shows how to take cuttings to insert into the propagation box he built last weekend. This is such an easy way to propagate plants, including tomatoes you want to renew this summer, or favorite cold-tender plants you want to save next winter to replant in spring.

John Dromgoole propagates plants for propagation box
Daphne’s  plant of the week is a diminutive native that packs a pollinator punch:   Four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa).

Four-nerve daisy, hymenoxis
You may hear it called Hymenoxys. I do love this long-blooming perennial, but it’s not happy in my heavy soils. If you can’t provide well-drained soil, pot it up with decomposed granite mixed into a loose potting mix.  For gardeners with built up berms for agaves and yuccas, this would be an outstanding colorful addition.

This spring, watch for it in the wild!

Four-nerve daisy growing in rock

That picture is from my documentary, Wildflowers|Seeds of History. If you missed it, catch in online or watch on KLRU April 10 at 6 p.m. and April 14 at 7:30. Check your local listings since it will be coming your way! Plus, don’t forget the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center spring plant sale this weekend to nab the natives on your list!

Until next week, Linda

  1. 12 Responses to “Bee ecstatic; citrus tips; backyard chickens”

  2. By Joseph on Apr 8, 2011

    Everything looks so colorful and inviting for spring, no wonder those bees are active all day! I miss my poppies this year, but happy to see yours. The red, dark-centered poppies are my favorite. We have a lot of primrose this year, too, just growing wherever. I’ve left the majority of them along, but had to mow some. They produce such delicate looking pink flowers. So lovely!


    Linda reply on April 8th, 2011 3:51 pm:

    Hi, Joseph! Great to hear from you! I tried to comment on your blog a few times but it kept kicking back. Congratulations on the new little gardener coming your way.


    Joseph reply on April 10th, 2011 7:49 am:

    How odd! Don’t know what’s going on there…

    Thank you! We’re very excited! Just a few more weeks! Oh and yes, we’ll be getting him/her working (or at least enjoying) the garden as soon as possible! :)


    Linda reply on April 10th, 2011 3:03 pm:

    I’ll try again!

  3. By Robin at Getting Grounded on Apr 8, 2011

    Linda, I’m behind on visiting and I just read your last four posts. First, your garden is so incredibly lush! And that Lady Banksia, oh my. Your bee pics on this post- great job. I have poppies for the first time this year, too. I wonder if the bees are having a good time out there like yours. I did see several swallowtails today, hooray! Great posts, thanks.


    Linda reply on April 9th, 2011 3:17 pm:

    Thanks, Robin! You’ll have poppies again next year, I bet! The swallowtails are going crazy here, too, and already a few caterpillars have hatched on the satsuma!


  4. By Jenny on Apr 10, 2011

    Isn’t it fun to watch the bees in the poppies? They just roll around in the stamens as though they are drunk. I though it was interesting that you posted about the citrus greening because 2 years ago I was convinced that I had that on my citrus. I sent photos off to TAMU but never heard back from them. Anyway in the end it seems I didn’t have that as my plants are still alive and the leaves look good although not as green as the ones you buy in the nursery. I don’t know what they feed them but I have tried everything and they never look that good. Even the iron chelate. Still they produce so I guess I shouldn’t worry too much. I think I would like to walk into your cat cove some day.When are you doing go go?


    Linda reply on April 10th, 2011 3:05 pm:

    My cat cove is a mess compared to all your coves. One thing that Monte Nesbitt said on CTG this week is that some citrus are grafted onto trifoliate orange which doesn’t do that well in our alkaline soils. I’m wondering if that’s the deal my citrus. But high nitrogen, liquid seaweed with iron and epsom salts seem to help.


  5. By Shirley Dehmer on Apr 10, 2011

    Linda, I enjoyed your bee pictures. My Kifir Lime kicked the bucket this past winter – I think. It hasn’t come out yet. My Bougainvillea also died in the house (over winter). I’m still watering the dead plant (in a hanging basket) about once a week hoping it will come out again. It was slow coming out last year. I won’t give up until Easter. Otherwise, I’m all broke out with little Marigolds. Last year, as the blooms dried I sprinkled the seed around. So far I have 33 plants up and growing. I am sooo pleased! I transplanted them into more appropriate spots so they won’t be crowded. What a great welcome to spring! Think how much those 33 plants would have cost me!


    Linda reply on April 10th, 2011 3:03 pm:

    That is so neat about your marigolds! Yep, I think you’ll probably have to replace your Thai lime. But I would give the bougainvillea until Easter. With this heat, I bet it will come back!


  6. By Karen Poore on Apr 19, 2011

    My Improved Meyer is rewarding my efforts of taking him in at night with lots of fruit. This is my third season with this guy who is in a wood half barrel. After the first season where is spent the winter on the side of my house I thought he was dead (my first citrus tree) and I pruned him down (I know I did not know I was not suppose to do that) and he started growing again. Last year he spent growing and this year he had lots of flowers which the bees and critters loved. I know these trees are grafted, but the Natural Gardener seems to think I am safe with lemons on the way and not oranges! We will see.


    Linda reply on April 20th, 2011 5:46 pm:

    Yahoo, Karen! Well, if you just pruned it and not to the bottom, I bet you’re good. I simply must find a spot for one of these. Thanks for the tips!


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