Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Monday, May 31, 2010

After the rain

I hear leaves drinking rain;
I hear rich leaves on top
Giving the poor beneath
Drop after drop;
'Tis a sweet noise to hear
These green leaves drinking near.

And when the Sun comes out,
After this Rain shall stop,
A wondrous Light will fill
Each dark, round drop;
I hope the Sun shines bright;
'Twill be a lovely sight.


-William Henry Davies


It has been threatening to rain for the past three days and yet it has passed us by each day. Well, that all changed this morning when some strong thundershowers stormed through the area. I really enjoy walking around the garden after a good downpour. There is something very invigorating about a fresh rain. Everything is revitalized and energized. The birds are singing, the flowers perk up, the colors are more vibrant and intense and there is always something new to discover.

Here are some of my finds this afternoon


Gentle cricket resting on mushroom


Frog hoping about the Georgia red clay


Raindrop on Elephant Ear


Fritillary Butterfly ravaging nectar


pollinators on Butterfly Weed

Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer has arrived when ... the snakes are back!

For the past several days we have seen a small, black rat snake around the backyard. He is a young one about 3 ft. long and pretty thin and very skittish so he moves quickly. Today he was out when the camera was handy.

Here it is wrapping itself around the bearded irises in the woodland garden


This angle shows him resting his head on one of the dead blades


When things got a little busy in the garden (i.e. dog & kids running around) he found himself a home in an old stump and tucked himself away.


Now, I haven't always been a big fan of snakes. Frankly, they still make me a little nervous if I get too close but these are great snakes to have around. They are non-venomous and basically harmless. They are territorial so they do a good job keeping the "bad" snakes away (i.e. copperheads, rattlesnakes and the occasional water moccasin). They also live on the rodents that I don't want to have in my garden such as the voles, moles, and rabbits and some of the ones that I like having around such as birds and chipmunks. But you have to take the bad with the good sometimes. All I know is that it better get busy reducing the vole, mole and rabbit populations in the garden before I loose too many plants to their demise.

Masters of Disguise

As I wandered around the garden today I saw several animals which were great masters of disguise.

First was the green anole (Anolis carolinensis) hiding in my spider plant. He blends in very well don't you think?



Then I found a toad cloaked on the hose reel.



And a very clever moth was camouflaged on a tree in the woodland garden.



What a wonderful gift Mother Nature has given these beautiful animals.

Gosling

One day earlier this week, in the early evening, I heard my husband yelling from the basement "hurry get your camera". So I grabbed the camera and ran downstairs in anticipation of what was awaiting me. There in our backyard was the cutest, loneliest gosling! It was just roaming around checking things out. Where was this little one's mother? It doesn't seem quite old enough to be on its own yet. I took some of these shots from the garage. I didn't dare get any closer as I was afraid to scare it away. After a few minutes it wandered off into the woods. Maybe there is a nest there. Maybe there is a family there. So I like to think. In any event, it made my day.



Sunday, May 23, 2010

Butterfly Weed



I love butterflies and for the past three years I have been working hard to attract more butterflies to our garden. Over the past two years I have planted 7 butterfly weeds (Asclepias tuberosa). They are suppose to be very easy to grow and the butterflies love them. The butterfly weed is a very special plant because not only do the blooms attract a variety of different butterflies as a nectar source but the plant is a type of milkweed and is also a host plant for the monarch caterpillar.

Well, my butterfly weeds are pretty pathetic looking plants. They are a single stalk ranging from 4-6" tall. Perhaps they didn't fare well during the drought when they were working at getting established, perhaps I got bad plants. I don't rightly know. What I do know is that finally after 2 years they are blooming and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Peacock spikemoss



I have found a new, well new to me, shade plant which I love! It is Peacock Spikemoss (Selaginella uncinata) and like its name implies it has the most intense, almost metallic, blue & green colors. It is a great ground cover with a maximum 2' spread and 6' height and is hardy in US zones 6-10. They are said to be easy to grow and like a most, rich soil in the shade. I have put in two in the deepest part of my shade garden and they are doing beautifully. How they overwinter will be tested later this year.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Going to seed ...

I was out scouting yesterday morning and was thrilled to see that my Hellebore are producing seed pods. I hope that the seeds they drop will germinate and I will have more plants in the near future. Hellebore seed can take 6 to 18 months to germinate. The seeds usually require stratification so if they drop now they should endure a hot summer followed by a reprieve before a cool/cold winter. The cotyledons should emerge from the soil sometime in late winter to early spring. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Magnificent seed pods


Seed pods opening. Look at all those potential plants!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Amaryllis

Our amaryllis is blooming! We received this plant two years ago from my mother-in-law. The blooms are absolutely stunning. I found myself taking lots of pictures of the blooms today. I will share a few here.





Check out theses long anthers! I read that removing them will increase the life of the blooms because it will prevent pollination and therefore seed set. I just can't get myself to do it. I just love how they look coming out of the flower!