Entries in fall flowers (10)

Saturday
Oct292016

October's End: the Good and Bad

I will begin with the bad:

This is a recent news photo of Lake Purdy, from which Birmingham, Alabama gets its water. Residents of Birmingham and its suburbs are under strict, mandatory water restrictions because of the drought that has extended for over two months, with no end in sight. I live about twenty miles south of Birmingham, and we get our water from other sources, mainly from underground aquifers. We have not yet been hit with mandatory restrictions; but with some doomsayers predicting the drought to continue through the end of the year, I can feel the restrictions coming. Helena has not had a drop of rain in October, and we only had a few drops in September. The drought has been especially bad because of daytime temperatures continuing well into the 80's every day.

Meanwhile, we try to keep important shrubs watered, but with 3.5 acres, it is impossible and prohibitively expensive to water everything. Many leaves look like this:Fothergilla normally has beautiful fall foliage. Not this year!

But here is the good! Despite the drought, there is still beauty out there, especially if one looks through the golden light of late afternoon. So here is a tour. This is likely to be as good as it gets until rain returns.

I will begin with fall flowers:This area by the front walk is brightened by various salvias, lantana and gomphrena. I planted the red snapdragons on the right a year ago. They survived last winter and continued to bloom all this year.They are still going strong. Amazing!Autumn sage and blue salvia

'Black and Bloom' salviaClockwise from top left: Marigold; Asters; Mexican Sage; 'Endless Summer' hydrangea.

This creamy lantana is another low maintenance, front garden bloomer.Most of the Asclepias (butterfly weed) has finished blooming, but I came across these seed pods the other day:

Firebush is still blooming, but I am beginning to see seed pods on that plant, too:

One day I brightened my patio with some leftover cut zinnias from the grocery store; I stuck them in a vase with a spray of Mexican sage.:

Here are random views from around the garden:

Forsythia (Yellow bells) is a common shrub with lovely fall colors, even during drought. This plant never gets supplemental water.

This wren hangs around our patio.

An ancient muscadine vine grows in the woodland garden.
Clockwise from top: Japanese maple; Southern Magnolia; Alabama Croton.

Do you see the bug on the hickory nut shell?

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Blessings to you all, Deb

 

Sunday
Oct162016

Bee Friendly

I have been seeing a variety of bees in the garden lately, including honey bees, carpenter bees and others. Carpenter bees are especially attracted to several fall-flowering plants next to our patio. Every day I see them buzzing around the Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha), Red Dragon Persicaria, and Caryopteris 'Jason'.Mexican Sage
Mexican sage attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. It blooms summer through fall and is hardy to about 15 degrees F.

Here is a view of the front garden, looking over the Mexican sage by the patio. The Japanese maple behind the arch is the one attacked by Ambrosia Beetles. I have treated it and removed much of the affected areas. I will wait till spring to see if it survives. Despite the extensive surgery, it is still a beautiful tree. A close-up of Mexican Sage; it feels like velvet!

Here is another view of Mexican Sage.

The Mexican Sage coordinates well with this birdhouse. The orange flowers are Firebush, another great plant that attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

The pollinators also love Red Dragon Persicaria.

Fall-blooming Caryopteris is also called Blue Mist Shrub or Bluebeard. Be aware there is a spirea called Blue Mist Shrub, which is a different plant!

Carpenter bees look much like bumblebees in size and appearance, but the top of their abdomens are hairless and shiny black, while bumblebees are fully clothed with hairs, many of them yellow.

Carpenter bees are important pollinators and they don't sting you, but they are noted for drilling holes into wooden structures, which they use for nesting and overwintering. They also use trees or telephone poles.

Although we have a healthy carpenter bee population around our home, I have never seen any evidence of damage from them. (We do have problems with woodpeckers, who mistake the stucco on the front of our house for dead trees!) Carpenter bees prefer unpainted or old, weathered wood, so the best way to prevent damage to your home is to paint or varnish any wooden structures. Simply staining the wood does not usually work. There also are both chemical and organic products available to get rid of carpenter bees.

Before you decide to kill them, remember that, unlike honey bees, carpenter bees are native to America and they pollinate many types of blooms. A lot of bee species are on the decline due to disease and insecticide use. Without our pollinators, we won't have beautiful gardens or food!