Recent Entries to this Blog Annuals to Grow Again
Posted: 07 Aug 2007
Meet Copper, the Beagle Pup
Posted: 07 Aug 2007
Bursting with Butterflies!
Posted: 16 Jul 2007
Hypertufa Garden Art--Mouth of Truth
Posted: 10 Jul 2007
Frit's Emergence, Monarch Pupas, and a Crazy Garden Man
Posted: 09 Jul 2007

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hummingbird3172's Blog

My Crazy Creative Chaotic Garden, a work in progress!


Creatures with Wings

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:46 pm

The butterflies have started to come and bring a little of their magic to my garden. Some are too fast to catch in a photo, the Orange Sulphur was one of these speedy butterflies with a crazy flight pattern. I don't think I'd seen one of those up close before, very pretty.

Now I REALLY love this one:


I have never noticed these before, but I was pretty sure it was a Painted Lady, that was a guess, but I looked it up and "YAY!", I was right. I actually prefer the outer wings with the soft lacy browns, a hint of violet dots and a coral blush on the upper wing. The inner wings are pretty too and remind me of calico fabric. It was really enjoying the zinnias that my 6 year old planted.



The Gulf Fritillaries really enjoy this passionvine. I don't see many large caterpillars so I think the lizards are eating them when they are small. I usually will bring them in to help them get big in safety....sometimes lizards are TOO helpful.

Still waiting on the hummers, but my hanging hummingbird garden a.k.a. hanging basket of cardinal climber, is getting closer to blooming...I really hope that brings them in.

I got inspired when a saw Bethie's gorgeous mosaic birdbath. I've always wanted to really get into mosaic, but the stained glass is hard to come by around here...I work with glass rods so that doesn't help me either. So I made a hypertufa birdbath....I used an oil pan...I pushed a plate into the center to create a nice solid nonporous bottom...the plate was $1 at the Dollar Tree. It is a very earth plate and I made a very earthy birdbath to go with it. I pushed pebbles into the edges to give the birds something to grip on when the climb out.



As it dries and cures it will look better...it is going to go on top of the palm stump out front....the morning glories are starting to engulf it...this will look pretty peeking out through the leaves.

I saw a picture online of a birdhouse made with a flower pot so I was determined to make my own...



The hardest part was enlarging the hole...I used my Dremel tool, but I think there must be a better way, it looks like I chewed it. I decided to paint it to kind of hide the ugly hole...the painting looks cute in kind of a whimsical retro look. I glued the pot (with gorilla glue) to a board and then hung it up....I don't know if birds will really go for it, but it does look pretty in the corner.

Still inspired by the mosaic, and then I found a book about PAPER mosaic...I think this might be a good starting point for me! I decided to paint some paper to make it look like stained glass, the paper came out nice, and then I glued it to posterboard. Now I am starting to place the "tiles" on my birdhouse that I first painted black. I am very excited about this. Once it is completed I will give it many coatings of spar urethane so that it looks like tile or glass...I can't wait to finish!




Last edited: Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:47 pm

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Disturbing Evidence

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 5:08 pm

When I went out my front door today I found something quite disturbing: a pile of feathers. The incident occurred right in front of one of my feeders. I can tell from the feathers that the victim was a mockingbird, and from the sheer number of feathers I do feel that foul play was involved. I didn't see any blood or any other signs of the bird so I have a small hope that he escaped.

This mockingbird is the most belligerent fellow. He is extremely possessive of the feeder, even though HE doesn't eat bird seed. This feeder has two baskets for suet on either side and that is what he loves. I make a special mixture that they really seem to enjoy. He always likes to sit in the tree out front watching the feeder, I haven't seen him this morning. He's hated by the blue jays, grackles, titmice, and cardinals...it almost makes me wonder if they set him up?

A main suspect in this crime would be the neighbor's cat, whom I call "Smokey", he's the nicest cat, but is allowed to roam free and he spends a lot of time here. I've never seen him stalking the birds, but HE'S a CAT!

The next suspect would be a hawk, I've seen them around and have on occassion seen them making a meal of a songbird (usually doves).

We've also got bald eagles that roost across the street...so they could be suspects, but I know they prefer fish.

I don't think I'll ever know, but I'm hoping I see my friend around, maybe a little less feathered, but alive and well. I'll miss his scolding and chasing the other birds.



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A Visit from a Weary Traveler

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 2:59 am

She floated into the garden, gracefully gliding, and restlessly searching, her body heavy with eggs. Her wings, faded and battered, had seen better days. She had traveled many miles, looking for the perfect place to lay her precious eggs.
She circled around me twice, her silken wings brushing lightly against my hair like a whisper soft kiss. I felt a thrill of joy because I had been planning for her arrival for months. I walked over to one of my Asclepias bushes and she followed behind, gracefully circling and surveying the flowers around us.
Then she saw it, the object of her search, the stately Asclepias bush with flowers like little chalices of sweet nectar. Although she was most certainly weary with hunger, she paused to lay several tiny eggs beneath the leaves before she finally took a moment to refresh herself.



She hungrily fed, her slender proboscis delicately dipping into each flower, and rested her tired wings. As soon as she regained a bit of her energy she continued to lay her eggs underneath the leaves. She would lay a few eggs and then circle the garden bed, admiring the coneflowers, then the marigolds, everything seeming to make her very pleased. I've never so much felt the happiness of a butterfly, but in this case I could say she was joyful, her very flight changing and becoming more excited. She would feed, lay eggs, and then come back and circle me, which I took as a "Thank you, for being here".

I wanted her to see my other Asclepias bushes so I walked over to them, and again she followed me and quickly found them. She spent at least an hour inspecting the garden, always returning to the Asclepias. She seemed to take such enjoyment out her visit to my garden, even pausing to take a sip from my hummingbird feeder.



It was a moment of magic, a connection with nature, and the driving force behind my choices in my plants. This poor tired butterfly who needed me as much as I needed her. I love gardening because of the bond it creates between nature and me.

I plant a lot of plants because their appearance pleases ME, but many of my plants are chosen because of the wildlife it might attract. I realize in about two weeks, these Asclepias will be quite a ragged sight, but it will be all worth it to have more beautiful monarch butterflies visiting my garden this summer.







Last edited: Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:20 am

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Reasons Why Hummingbirds Should visit ME

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 1:56 am

We have been at this house for almost a year, but I have yet to attract a hummingbird here. I religiously clean and refill my feeders each week, but I've yet to spot one of the little devils visiting.

Here are reasons that a hummingbird should consider visiting MY yard.

1. I've got a hummingbird tattoo on my right ankle...I got it in a moment of madness, but immediately the next day I had a hummingbird visitor at my last house. (I don't think I want another tattoo though....)

2. I've planted trumpet vines for them, and plan to train the vines over a large arbor.....

3. I've planted 8 hummingbird mint (agastache) plants, and have more coming from seeds.

4. I have many vines with tubular or cup shaped flowers, mandevilla,jasmine, cathedral bells and morning glories.

5. I have two lovely hummingbird feeders, one in the front yard and one in the back.

6. I just bought and planted 7 Cestrum plants called "Bacchus" they have tubular wine red flowers. I moved all my gardenias and hydrangeas so that I will have a hedge of these...just for the hummingbirds.

7. I have planted a hanging basket with cardinal vine...to create a hanging hummingbird garden.

8. I have all kinds of subtle hummingbird themed garden art...windchimes, garden stakes, thermometer...just to give them the hint.

9. If they would visit me, I'd consider buying them this: http://www.bestnest.com/bestnest/RTProduct.asp?SKU=PAR-CHB , a hummingbird feeder chandelier, to hang beneath the arbor.

10. Just because!

If they don't show when the cestrum blooms I don't know what else I can do.

I blew it, really. They usually show up here in early to late March...they are here all year round, but more show up in early spring....I was having some health issues and was unable to be as vigilant with filling the feeders....hopefully I don't have to wait until NEXT March!

On a more positive note, I did get a visit from my favorite type of butterfly, a zebra longwing. I hadn't seen any since we moved here and I've planted their larval host plants with hope of a visit...if you plant it, they will come...I hope that is true in the case of the hummers too.

Last edited: Fri Jun 22, 2007 1:59 am

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Unmolded Mushrooms, Grouted Balls, and a Metallic Green Bee

Category: Garden Projects | Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:48 pm

Unfortunately my smaller mushrooms didn't do as well for the unmolding, but the larger ones look pretty good! I know what to do differently next time.


I used a Mr. Pumice to soften the edges a bit. I think they will look nice in groups with various sizes tucked in shady parts of the garden.

I am very pleased with these balls...they have such sparkle. I want to make some more with earthtone polished pebbles for more of an organic look.



I made the stand with hypertufa...it looks very ancient.

This is the ball that was made with the extra large gems...it makes me think of dragon scales.



While I was out taking pictures a tufted titmouse flew right by me and landed on my bird feeder....I feel lucky to have gottn this picture!



My cat, Shadow looks on longingly. He really wants to catch the birds and the lizards.



I think this lizard is very glad that Shadow is an inside cat.



My Sundown echinacea is looking good! It is being enjoyed by this gorgeous metallic green bee:



The ladybug larva are growing and scattered all over the superbells plant. Hopefully soon I can get some pictures to show how they've changed.



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Mushroom Making

Category: Garden Projects | Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:46 pm

Mushrooms were one of the first projects I wanted to try with hypertufa. I love mushrooms! I especially love the nice stony looking hypertufa mushrooms, covered with a light coating of moss.

I love those tinkling toadstools, but haven't bought any...they are just too expensive and I can't buy just one.....one isn't so expensive but I'd want at least three. I did find a set here:
http://www.earthlygoods.com/garden_whimsy/witchety_toadstools.html#
I love the earthy colors and they look like they'd sound great!

I've even put mushrooms on some of my beads:


Today, I've been making my hypertufa mushrooms. I did a lot of research online because I was going for a certain look, I want kind of roly poly mushrooms. I made the stems with styrofoam or paper cups and made them a few days in advance. Then when I made the caps I pushed the stems into them. Not sure how they will come out, but I've read of others using this method. The caps were made using very rounded bowls that I got at Dollar Tree for 4/$1. The small caps are made from plastic salsa bowls.


I also tried casting my first leaf...and don't you know I had to go and get myself a great big castor leaf? I know if is likely to be a big crumbly mess, but maybe it will come out....maybe. I used the buff color concrete colorant and plan to do a wash of diluted green acrylic over it (IF it comes out), and then seal it. Right now the color looks quite a bit like cat poo...a big one!




I love leaves and if I can do this well, they I plan to make some inside decorations as well as out.

I've planted an Empress tree and someday it will have pretty large leaves, maybe 2 feet across. I imagine those would be nice...maybe constructed into a fountain....too many ideas, too little time!



Last edited: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:55 pm

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Hypertufa Firsts, Ladybug Babies, and Planting Endeavors

Category: Garden Projects | Posted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:20 pm

Well, I tried hypertufa again and boy am I pleased! Last week I made a planter. I wanted it to be round and very stone-like. I know I kind of cheated, but after it was dry I soaked it in water with vinegar to help neutralized the alkalinity.



I've put some interesting succulents inside, several types of hens and chicks, burro's tail, bear paws, and some type of sedum (I think). I need to look them up. Some of these things don't usually care for our humidity so I made a special fast draining soil mix to help (I hope). My grandma, who can grow almost anything, but has hen & chick issues, loves hens and chicks, so if I can figure a way to keep them happy then I want to make her one of these for Christmas.

I also plan to work on my mushrooms today and finally grout my balls.

I have been thinking about casting leaves too...the other day I saw some castor plants growing in an empty lot so I think I want to start with one of those leaves.

My cardinal vine is starting to take off in my "Hanging Hummingbird Garden".



I keep rotating the pot to keep the vines growing straight. I can't wait to see some color....and hummingbirds...I hope!

The ladybug eggs are hatching!





This picture shows the little larva as they hatch. They aren't so cute right now, but some day they will be beautiful red ladybugs.

My garden bed is done, well sort of, it needs to fill in. I got so sick of weeding that I laid weed block fabric and mulch...it is an improvement. I am not fond of mulch...I don't like the way it looks, but these weeds are too vigorous to keep up with!



So this is what's growing: Planted by the tall stump, Grandpa Ott MG's, to the left Porter Weed, Butterfly Weed, and Mystic spires salvia. Across the front-orange marigolds and Decor Zinnias (apricot and chartruse). Behind the marigolds and still tiny, Bravado Echinacea, and Anise Hyssop, then sundown echinacea and behind that, a bicolor butterfly bush, and at the very back peach passion sunflowers. All the way to the right: mexican petunia (purple showers), crossandra (orange marmalade), and more salvia. I know it sounds kind of a mess, but should look better when the plants get bigger. The perennials are still pretty small so the annuals will fill in until they reach their proper size.



I've got two hanging baskets done: they contain baby pink and white impatiens and torenia with some tricolor sweet potato vine to fill in. I am not sure I like the way dh hung them, but at least I can reach them and admire the plants at eye level. I am wishing that I'd added kind of a punch of surprise color because the pink and white is a little bland...I may go back and add some bright purple or blue.

Have a great day!

Last edited: Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:27 pm

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Garden Friends

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:40 pm



I found this very large female Cuban Tree Frog the other day after a rain. She is quite enormous! Look, here she is in my hand for perspective:



It is incredible how many beetles and moths these frogs eat each night. This gal has obviously been eating well!

I've been having some aphid issues lately so I have been really wanting to have a some ladybugs visit. I found one sleeping on a palm frond and decided to take it to my problem areas. She did not want to wake up, but finally she noticed the aphids and got busy. While I was looking at the plant I noticed there were FIVE other ladybugs feeding!

Here is an Asian Ladybird Beetle feeding on pesky aphids:



This is an interesting ladybug that I found nearby, it is called the Twice-stabbed Ladybird Beetle (what a name!):



I noticed a very fat ladybug with no spots walking around. I am not 100% sure but she may be the Spotless Ladybird Beetle:



I was absolutely THRILLED to see that a ladybug has been laying eggs so soon we will have reinforcements! I have read that the larva eat even more aphids!


There are several clumps of eggs so I am really pleased! I can't wait to watch the cycle!

Another garden friend, a spiny soldier insect....he'll eat aphids too, but I'd rather NOT smell him....he stinks!



One of the most magical things about having a garden is being able to witness all the life it abundantly holds.




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It Hatched!

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 5:14 pm



Last night when I checked on the chrysalis, I noticed that it was turning black(usually a sign of impending emergence). This morning when I came downstairs I noticed that my cats were WAY to interested in my butterfly "box" . Flapping around inside was a brand new Gulf Fritillary butterfly! I wasn't sure how long it had been hatched, but it was totally dry so it needed to be released very soon. I grabbed my camera, in which of course the batteries were DEAD. I took batteries from the remote control and managed to get this one, very poor photo. I had hoped the butterfly would stick around so I could take a better picture, but he was off and flying before I could get a chance. Here is a picture of the empty chrysalis:


I've collected a new tiny little caterpillar so we can start all over again.


This little guy is about 5mm long! It seems this type of butterfly has a faster metamorphisis than the monarch (It was about 8 days). At least next time I will know when to expect it to hatch.

I found this little fella on the inside screen door handle:


They don't bother me, but my DH is very much afraid of them. Hehehe, I'm leaving the frog here to surprise him. I know, I'm awful, but there is no sound funnier than a grown man screaming like a little girl.

Actually, he is quite mad at them. Now that we are getting wetter weather they've been more active....active as in interested in the opposite sex. We have a pool and they seem to think it is their "Oasis of Love". In the morning we find lots of frog eggs in the pool...which is kind of gross when you want to swim. The eggs are too small to get caught in the net so you have to wait for them to go to the filter. The frogs also get noisy. Their cries of love can sound like a velociraptor from Jurassic Park or like an evil gremlin. Try taking an evening swim and hearing that coming from the bushes! These frogs are an introduced species: Cuban Tree Frogs and they can get quite massive in size. They are voracious eaters, but unfortunately sometimes they eat our smaller native species of tree frogs. We kept one for a pet for awhile and it actually ate itself to death...quite gross. I've been told I should kill them, but I am not good with killing little creatures. I usually try to put them outside the yard. The other problem is that they have toxic secretions in their skin. It makes them undesirable for predators and you do NOT want to get that stuff in your eyes (yes, I know from experience), because it feels like jalepeno pepper oil). If you wash your hands immediately after handling them (which I have always done except that ONE time), there is no problem.

Going off topic just a bit, but I am so pleased that my Grandpa Ott morning glory is blooming!


I think this is the most electric shade of purple that I've ever seen! Can't wait until I have more blooms!!!

Have a great day!

*UPDATE*
Yah! He screamed better than I could have DREAMED! He screamed once when he saw it, and then again when he gingerly tried to open the door and it leapt at him...EXCELLENT!





Last edited: Fri Jun 08, 2007 6:50 pm

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After the Rain......

Category: Garden Wildlife | Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:39 pm

We have been under drought conditions for some time but yesterday our rainy season started with a BANG! We got almost 6 inches of rain in just a few hours. Now, you'd think I would be pleased...I don't have to water this morning, but actually it kind of made a mess. My plants ended up kind of dirty because of the water coming down so fast....and my seedlings got very water-logged. I don't think they will be much worse for wear, I've got them in the sun drying. They expect more T-storms and rain today so I will be sheltering them this afternoon.

The wildlife seemed especially perky this a.m. . I think their evening feeding was messed up because the storms. This little baby lizard was sunning himself on a rock...



It looks like a hatchling, about 1 inch long. You can imagine how close I must have had the camera...explaining his worried expression!

This beetle is such a pretty metallic navy blue...he's probably going to eat my plants, but I thought he was quite pretty!



My mourning doves are kind of funny. They always seem to be following me, or sneaking up...and then they look shocked and horrified when I see them. A few of the males seem a little less flighty. I call this guy "Bert". Bert is always around, I don't know if it is the same Bert each time, but since he is getting tamer, maybe he is.



He has such a pretty iridescence on his neck! I needed to fix something right where he was and unfortunately startled him. He flew up into the air, circled, and landed almost right behind me. I could feel the air from his wings on my legs. I didn't look at him, but he seemed to rethink his landing zone and took off again. Crazy bird!



My calladium is blooming. I forget that they have pretty interesting flowers in addition to their beautiful leaves. They kind of remind me of Jack-in-the-pulpits.

I hope the rains aren't QUITE as bad as last night, a nice quick shower would be about perfect!

My moonflower vines seemed to grow 5 inches overnight....it is exciting to watch them grow. I can't wait until they bloom!!!

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