Thursday, April 7, 2016

April Wildlife 2016

Spring is in the air, and with it comes new creatures to the garden.  Here are a few of my favorites in the garden this month:


A couple months ago, mommy and daddy wren built a beautiful home together in the protected environment of my courtyard and inside the comfort and protection of a decorative lantern.

A couple of weeks later, I heard the chirps of a few little baby wrens.  A couple of weeks after that, I found the little family and fledglings hopping around the courtyard, working on getting their wings.

Come on out, little guy.  I won't hurt you.

There you are!  Nice hair-do, by the way.

 Mom (or Dad?) wasn't too sure about me.  Both parents were keeping a close eye on their little ones as they explored the garden.

After I was sure the mommy and daddy wren had completely abandoned the nest after a few days, I went to investigate.

Wow - that is quite the nest!  I can only imagine the hundreds of trips back and forth that it took to create this comfy little home.  I just read that the male house wren builds SEVERAL nests, and the female picks which one she likes the best.  I guess he outdid himself on this one!

 Unfortunately, it looks like two little ones didn't make it.  I guess that is why they generally lay 6-7 eggs in a brood.  Circle of life, I s'pose.


The Hummingbirds returned this year on March 15.  That's about three weeks earlier than last year (April 4).  Maybe their earlier arrival was due to the mild Texas winter, or maybe they just remembered where they found the delicious nectar last year!

I mainly have black-chinned hummingbirds.  As you can tell with this guy's yellowed beak, the pollen is heavy right now.  Thankfully, pollen doesn't bother me, so I'm able to be outside in the garden and enjoy these little pollinators.

Coming in hot!  I love the iridescent purple on the male's chins!

So far, I've noticed about four hummingbirds; about three males and one female.  I rarely have more than one hummer at the feeder at a time because they are extremely territorial and always chase each other away.

I can always hear hummingbirds before I see them.  They really do make a humming sound with their wings.  They also have a distinguishable chirping sound.  When we leave our patio door open on cooler spring evenings, I always know when the hummers are at the feeder, even when I'm inside, with their commotion of chirping and humming.

They are such magnificent little creatures!  One of my favorite animals in garden, certainly.

I have to give photo credit to the hubby - he is always able to get better shots of these fast little guys.  Thanks hun!


The green anoles are common to see out in the garden.  I usually spy them sunbathing every time I walk around the garden.  They have really been enjoying basking on the artichokes lately.  I think they don't mind the fact that it is pretty much an open buffet of various bugs and beetles.

I also spy the Texas Spiny Lizard from time to time.  Here, I captured the rare occurrence of getting both the anole and the spiny lizard in the same frame.

That's all for this month's wildlife.  Thanks to Tina over at My Gardener Says for hosting this enjoyable meme.

Monday, April 4, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: By Any Other Name

It has been six months since my last gardening post.  I've been doing plenty of gardening in that time, but just not documenting it. I don't want to forget about how my garden grows over the years, or all the wonderful things that come from it, so I figured it was about time to get back in the swing of things...and what better way than with some beautiful bouquets!

The roses are blooming like crazy already.  We had a very mild winter in Central Texas, so the roses have had an early start.  I have so many roses in the garden right now, that this week's vases are made up entirely of roses!

Vase #1 is a combo of Belinda's Dream (pink), Madame Joseph Schwartz (white), and a mystery red rose that was a pass-along from a gardening friend.

Looks like Valentine's in April!

Vase #2 includes more Madame Joseph Schwartz (white), some Mrs. B. R. Cant (pink), and one of my favorite roses in my garden - Abraham Darby (pinkish apricot).

I love the old-time look of these antique roses.

Not only is the color magnificent on the Abraham Darby, but the smell is intoxicating with it's fruity tones.

Thanks to Cathy over at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this fun meme!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Monet's Giverny Garden: The Clos Normand Flower Garden

During our travels in France in September, we had the opportunity to see Monet's Giverny gardens. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  There are two main gardens at Giverny - the Japanese Water Garden, and the Clos Normand Flower Garden.  I previously posted about the water garden, so now, onto the flower garden near Monet's country house...

During September, the garden is bursting with bright colors, mostly from dahlias.  Here, in the arched path that leads up to the house, nasturtiums spill out onto the gravel pathway.  I would love to make my way back in late spring sometime, to see the wisteria vines hanging down from the archways.

Monet lived in this beautiful country home with his family for 43 years, from 1883 to 1926, so he had quite awhile to build up his beautiful gardens.  

Every path contains a new treasure of plants and color combinations.  Monet has over 200,000 annuals, biennials and perennials on display in his garden throughout the year - that's insane!  Monet and his handful of master gardeners since truly are masters of succession gardening, a gardening skill I continue to try and develop.

The sunflower season was just wrapping up during our visit.  I was able to find a few stragglers in the mix.

I absolutely love the cottage garden style of the painter's garden, with rows upon rows of various flowers, packed to the brink, but with plenty of space to thrive.

The lavender season had just ended - I bet this path was quite stunning with spires of purple a month or two prior to our visit.

There is so much going on in every nook and cranny of the garden.  If I had had more time to explore, I could have walked these paths for hours.  I'd love to come back in the spring time to see all the spring bulbs in bloom.  Here, you can see some remnants of what appear to be irises.

There were a lot of interesting surprises in the garden as well, plants that I'm not use to seeing in Texas gardens, like these various amaranth plants.  It seems that there are some varieties of amaranth that can be grown in Texas.  I'd like to give it a try, since it is a unique plant, with very bold burgundy colors that look great in the fall garden.

There were other various surprises in the garden as well, with little treasures everywhere you looked.

I even spotted some plants that are native or adaptive Texas plants, like the Bat Faced Cuphea,


and various salvias (which were favorites among the pollinators).

But the most prominent flower in the garden, by far, were the dahlias.  Everywhere I turned, there was a different species of dahlia.  Here are just a few...

This little spider found shelter in the dahlia flower petals.

Such photogenic flowers!

I can see why Monet was such a great painter - it is impossible to not be inspired by these amazing views.

We were able to take a tour of Monet's farmhouse.  You can tell his love for color went beyond the canvas and garden - the rooms in his home were brightly colored and had certain themes, like his yellow dining room, complete with many Japanese prints, which I'm sure helped inspire his water garden.

Then there is the blue kitchen, with an impressive stove and oven, complimented by various type of copperware.

Peering out the windows, you can see a small portion of his beautiful gardens.

With these beautiful gardens, it is no wonder that Monet is quoted as saying, "I perhaps owe becoming a painter to flowers." Who wouldn't want to paint this beautiful landscape?