A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Posts tagged ‘sunflower’

Building a Retreat Web

At just a few millimeters wide, this little striped jumping spider (Salticidae) would have been missed except he was busy scurrying back and forth constructing his retreat web on the very top of the sunflower plant just as the morning rays poked through the leaves of a nearby tree.   It was incredibly difficult getting a picture of him because the wind was blowing so hard and would take him back and forth out of the frame of my camera.  I literally had to wait, holding my breath for a lull between wind gusts so I could snap a shot.   At one point, a carpenter ant that was at least twice its size meandered onto the leaf with the spider’s retreat web.  The spider jumped out so quickly I thought it might be gone for good, but it had tethered itself to the leaf and was resting on the underside.  When the ant left, it scurried back onto the leaf and started checking out its construction.  With a bit of rearranging, it settled down into its newly created funnel.  You really have to look at these full-size to see them (click on the photos).


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Wildflowers on Order for 2011

Having looked through countless pages of wildflowers for our area, I’ve made my final decisions for next year!  I placed my order through Wildseedfarms.com of Fredericksburg, Texas.  I loved the annuals corn poppies and cornflowers so much that I’ve ordered them again this time around.

Corn Poppies (image copyright by RoundRockGarden)

Cornflowers (image copyright by RoundRockGarden)

In addition, I chose Purple Coneflower (echinacea), which can be used medicinally.  It reportedly grows up to five feet tall and blooms from April through September.  Bees and butterflies love these!  From what I’ve read, purple coneflower is a perennial.

Purple Coneflower (image copyright by Wildseedfarms.com)

Chicory is the next flower I chose.  It sports periwinkle-colored blooms that last only a single day, but flowers June through October, growing up to 4 feet tall.  Bees, butterflies, wasps and lacewings enjoy nectaring on chicory.  The leaves can be used as a nutritious addition to salads, while the roots can be dried in the oven, ground and used as a coffee substitute.  Chicory is a perennial.

Chicory flowers (image copyright by Wildseedfarms.com)

To add more red to the garden, I chose the almost fluorescent Scarlet Flax.  This variety is shorter than the rest, measuring up to only two feet or less, but blooms from late spring all the way through fall.   It is also an annual.

Scarlet Flax (image copyright by Wildseedfarms.com)

Finally, I’ve decided against the larger sunflowers this year and chose Maximilian Sunflowers.  These are wonderful sunflowers you see all over Central Texas.  Growing from 3-10 feet tall in thick mounds, they make a nice natural hedge absolutely covered in multiple blooms up to 5 inches across.  These are also perennials, and bloom from late summer through fall.

Maximilian Sunflowers (From NPS.Gov)

With the exception of the sunflowers, all of these wildflowers can be directly sown in fall.  I’ll be preparing the beds in the coming weeks and get them sown by the end of October so they can establish themselves and put on a great show in 2011.  Unlike last year, when I used a wildflower mix, I will be sowing these in groupings so as to ensure a good representation of each.

I can hardly wait to see how colorful the garden will be next year with all of these new additions, PLUS the milkweed and the native flowering plants I put in earlier this spring!  Who knows, I may also have coreopsis and primrose come up from last year’s sowing … and maybe even bluebonnets that failed to germinate!

Have you made your wildflower order yet?

Butterflies and Blooms … and then some

Texas Lantana

Whirling Butterfly Gaura

Red Salvia Greggii and Indigo Spires Salvia

Pearl Crescent butterfly on Trailing Lantana

Pearl Crescent butterfly on Four Nerve Daisy

Pearl Crescent

Peppermint flower

Butterfly/Native Garden bed 2

Gulf Fritillary sunning itself after a Purple Moss Verbena nectar breakfast

... taking flight!

White Salvia Greggii and Indigo Spires Salvia

Mammoth Sunflower

sunflowers and sky

Butterfly Weed and Trailing Lantana

Boisduval Yellow butterfly on Trailing Lantana

Divebombing the Four Nerve Daisy

Dragonfly enjoying the warm rocks

Spearmint ... Mojitos anyone?

I thought these were Jalapenos ... but they look more like Anaheim

The herb garden after a trim (marjoram was too leggy, so I pulled it out).

What'cha doin', Katydid?

Spring veggie garden start

As the lettuce continues to mature, the spinach offers yet another harvest, and the broccoli is producing side shoots like crazy, I know the winter garden is almost done.  I still have a few rows of carrots going, and hopefully I can harvest them in another month or so, but I’ve already started switching beds over to the summer garden.  I say summer because Spring lasts all of four weeks here it seems.  I have transplanted zucchini, squash, cucumbers, green beans, and have sowed another round of green beans as well as sunflowers.  My peppers are doing pretty good – I’ve actually had them outside now for the past week, but they are still portable.  I won’t put them into the ground until later this month.  I have to harvest some more lettuce first.  In total, I have four orange bell pepper plants, two jalapeno plants and four cayenne pepper plants.  The pics are small, but you can view them full-size by clicking.

Ring-O-Fire Cayenne and Cal Wonder Orange Bell peppers

Jalapeno plants

Heirloom Yellow Crookneck Squash - second go (last fall was a fail)

Black Beauty Zucchini - Second Go (last fall was a fail) - also pictured: Red Sail lettuce

Straight Eight cucumbers - second go (Last fall was a fail, these look not so good either)

Blue Lake Beans - second crop (last year did good, but planted too late)

Tendergreen green beans - first attempt

Broccoli bed is really full right now

Another view of the broccoli bed

Mammoth sunflowers in the morning shade