The butterflies have been a bit slow on the uptake this year, but there are a lot of bees about. Including the beautiful “green ones” that you can see in both the pictures below. My best “wikipedia” guess is they are members of the genus Agapostemon —unfortunately I didn’t look closely enough to use this really cool key to species.
Although the snow didn’t help out the trees any, and we are about a month behind last year’s blooming times, a few things are popping up. Texas yellowstar (Lindheimera texana), cutleaf daisy (Engelmannia peristenia), and happily the evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa)
Meanwhile, the front “triangle” is awash with globe mallow, blue flax, and my mystery yellow flowering bush.
So spring sprang, and then we had snow about a week later, which was very annoying as it knocked back a lot of the transplanted trees early efforts. Here is a rather imperfect panorama, of course it was all melted by mid-day and we were back in the 90s a couple of days later.
Happily things are just starting to flower, and its a been a nice day to see how things are progressing in the Native Yard. It looks like many of the perennials have over-wintered well and are coming back in force (large mounds), but I think it will be a month or so before everything is flowering. Meanwhile, some photos of whats going on today….
The blue flax — Linum lewisii are doing well. Although they are a perennial, they seem to be quite good as seeding themselves as they are popping up “unplanted” in the SE half of the yard. And another perennial, the Prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) seems to have expanded its holding a little since last year.
Although I spend a good amount of time doing battle with the annual weed Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) – a fairly pointless activity it has to be said – it is much appreciated by the White-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata). There were at least 3-4 of these guys zipping around the yard this morning; apparently evening primrose (which we are not lacking in) is a food plant for the caterpillar, which make explain their abundance.
The native honeysuckle that I bought from Canyon’s Edge last spring (note that they are open for sales from April 12th through end of May), has been going great guns, ad I had to connect up the climbing string between the two plants.
Back in Lubbock after a month of travels in SE Asia, and things are looking a little browned out and crispy in the yard. Most of the flowers are over for now (although I hope that we will get another blooming session as we cool down a bit in the fall), but the grasses are doing quite well. Unfortunately, I managed to leave my camera in Cambodia (doh), so no pics for a bit. We are now keeping our fingers crossed that all the nice grasses will attract back the family of painted buntings that spent all last August with us in 2012
As some of you may know already, we inadvertently acquired a puppy on Sunday – came back from pottering around the local garden centers and nurseries to find him in the back yard. We are trying to find a place for him as we can’t keep him as I am horribly allergic to dogs.
It turns out that puppies and native gardens are a sub-optimal mix, so while he may look all very cute he has been eating my plants (he is particularly fond of black-eyed daisies, which are very glabrous and itchy, so I don’t quite get the attraction). Dude, you are a carnivore, eat your puppy chow and leave my bloody plants alone.
I’m graciously not going to mention all the squashed-grass puppy nests he is leaving – its like mountain gorilla sign.
If anyone in the Lubbock area is looking to control their black-eyed daisy population and would like to give Wallace here a home, do get in touch.
Standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) just started to bloom this week. These are biennials, and germinated from the Native Trail Mix. Known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds as you can imagine. This particular plant is taller than me! There are several more just starting to flower, and others still in the growing phase.
In an ideal world, where you knew your yard like the back of your hand, and every plant you ever wanted was readily available, and the weather didn’t swing merrily between a wetter than average year (2010 with over 26″ of rain) and the worst drought on record with just under 6″ of rain, planning would be a bit easier (best solution — plan for the extremes i.e. driest/hottest/coldest and allow the biomass to build up during the more moderate years).
One might even be able to sit down and make a beautiful organized plan, such as this one from Native Texas Plants (although I don’t know why they put a cottonwood in this plan):
That further assumes you are the organized planning sort. I quite like planning, but it is a little more reactive, and dependent upon what I’ve been able to buy recently. That said, a “good first step” is to round up your back-seat gardener (Danny in my case) and get some help to map out your yard (note we measured to key features which is why some of the distances seem a bit strange):
I used this plan, with sketches of the sunny and shade areas to zone where to put my seed mixes, which for the East side of the lawn were a mix of Native Trail Mix; Texas-Oklahoma Native Roadside Mix (which is almost the same as the Native Trail Mix, but without the grasses); Shade Friendly Wildflowers; Shade Friendly Grass Mix; and the Western Wildflower Mix which used to be called the Llano Estacado Mix as it is inspired by this area. This was a pretty good approach, because you can plant in keeping with broad microhabitat requirements (shade/sun), and then allow selection to take its course and weed out the species that are least suited to your yard’s conditions on a smaller scale. It of course doesn’t allow for planning on a species by species basis — but I like the diverse meadow/prairie look — it seems more like a habitat than a yard. Having mapped your yard also enables you to work out the area of each zone (if you can do the horrible math — I have problems working with the non-metric system and tend to resort to online calculators to get my square footage), and this helps plan how much seed to buy, as you are usually told in lbs or oz per square foot. I’m a bit of a pessimist when it comes to germination and survival rates up here, so tend to over-seed.
The seed mixes are a mix of annuals and perennials; most of the additional shopping has been for perennials, shrubs, and trees. So when I have a new haul of these, its time to settle back in view of the yard and start planning (this is very enjoyable for me):
Of course, when it comes to actually planting them out, I don’t always follow my plan; I like to have a little bit of wiggle room for last minute adjustments, but at least having some sort of plan means you aren’t wandering around the yard with armloads of plants trying to work out where to put things.
Generally I mark existing plants in solid shapes on the map and possible locations for newbies with open shapes and a label (ingenious I know). I do know my yard quite well now, and generally the challenging part is to deal with the full sun “zones of death”, which I’m trying to slowly fill up with xeric perennials. Much of the East side is quite shady because of a huge pecan tree.
As promised, nice pictures of things blooming.
All this talk of flowers but where are the pictures of this beautiful yard I hear you ask? I have yet to devise an organized way to photo the yard (from particular view points etc) so that I can track progress/blooming across time, so for now I’ll stick up a couple of photos a day, starting with fairly recent ones.