Saturday, February 25, 2012


Here's my version of a  Monarch Way Station here along the Texas coast.
Monarch butterflies are just like us. They need food, a place to rest, and a place for their young.
Twigs and leaves next to the host plants provide a place to rest and recover from long flights.
Isn't this one beautiful?

This one had an antenna missing and was so tired I could pick it up.

I found two today and both were resting.

Even with bright coloration they blend in.

The menu for mom and dad monarchs include purple lantana.
Black-foot daisies are just starting to open, so that will also be on the menu soon.
In general, these plants have been good nectar sources here:
Rudbeckia (sunflower family)
Mist Flower (small, lavender)
& Zinnias
Monarch caterpillars have a one track mind and it's all about milkweeds. There are many types of milkweed to choose from. I've read that there are 140 species native to North America. I had A. curassavica this year and it bloomed all winter.
I was fortunate to have two monarch way stations; one at my home and one up at our church. Since these plants were stripped and my other garden had plenty of leaves, I transported the lively group over to my house.
If you look closely, you'll see one caterpillar next to the last leaves(right side of picture).
Plant at least a dozen butterflyweeds to ensure that there's enough food. The plants easily regrow their leaves and seem adapted to this routine.

Here they come!


After the caterpillars are finished with their one course buffet, they'll need a place to hide. And HIDE they will.
My favorite story is about a farmer that could not find a single chrysalis on any bush or plant. One day he had to climb under his tractor for repairs. When he looked up, lo and behold, there were dozens of them latched to the metal fenders!
Let's see if we can find some.

There's one on this agave.

And there's one hidden on this agave as well. I found a third one, then lost it again. Oh well!

Do not touch a caterpillar in this 'J' position. It's not sick. It's getting ready to turn into this:

A Monarch chrysalis from my garden. The stripe and the dots look like liquid gold.

If you type free butterfly font, you'll find this nifty font to download.
Or you can click here and scroll down to the third font.

Hope you feel inspired to try a Monarch Way Station this year.
You can make your own Monarchville. It's easy and fun!

Thanks for stopping by!



Sunday, February 19, 2012


It's a doozy meaning it's so packed with information and gorgeous photos, you'll hardly be able to lift it. :0)
Holley at Roses and Other Gardening Joys invites gardeners near and far to share their favorite gardening book on the 20th of each month.
This month I've picked one of my all time favorite design books:
This is one of those books where you read a little and say, 'Hmm, I never thought of it like that'.
I LOVE the illustrations and this book has hundreds to drool over.
Besides excellent text and photos, Scott & Lauren Ogden have 37 plant lists with hundreds of plants for difficult areas. My favorite; dry shade for southern gardens.
Their writing style contains personal stories of plants, gardens, and both good and bad experiences with garden design trends. I like that.
 This is a large book, almost the size for a coffee table. I leave mine out just to flip through when I need some inspiration.
Published in 2008 by Timber Press, I think you will enjoy a copy, especially if you garden in the West and enjoy the look of native grasses mixed with other perennials.
A special note of thanks to the gardener who gave me this copy:
Cindy at From My Corner of Katy...a fabulous gardener and friend.

All for now. Visit the other books at Holley's website.
She's over on my favorite's list as well.

back cover design

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Thankfully, it's getting harder and harder to say the 'D' word; DROUGHT! I look at the drought map and then glance outside and the two don't match up at all. With all the flooding in our area, we might make another dent in the RED ZONE and finally be back to NORMAL. It's almost too much of a good thing since this is now the time for farmers to start plowing fields and planting crops. Still, NOBODY'S complaining.
Getting AHEAD on our rainfall is a BIG DEAL!
Things are looking UP!
(giant, ancient Olmec Head in Mexico)

RADAR from last night. Somehow it reminds me of the shape of Western Europe.

Ah! I propose a toast using my rain gauge. 2.5" of rain in one day.

The pond project is on hold, but it filled up without my help. It's too muddy to do the edge.

We still are technically in a drought even though I can't walk through my backyard due to standing water.
It will take a day to sink in and add to the groundwater.

My garden is in the tan zone, but our farm is still in the red zone.
Many parts of Texas still need rain, but at least it's not ALL RED like most of last year.
I'm thankful to see white areas again like Dallas and Fort Worth.

No water ~ No garden!

While out in the muck, I noticed a pretty set of hackberry leaves framed in a green arch by walking iris.
Some of our oaks and other trees keep their leaves all winter, then lose them just before Spring.

Now, let's do the numbers.
February (so far) 6.09"
January 5.07"
December 4.28"
November 4.70"
October 3.36"
September 1.28"
Drought months 2011
August 0.09"
July 2.98" (:-)
June 0.11"
May 0.33"
April 0.11"
March 0.78"
February 2011~ 0.69"
Another way to look at how bad it all was; we just got the same amount of rain in ONE DAY(today) as we got in 6 MONTHS last year (if you skip July)!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Carol at May Dreams Gardens and Pam at Digging invite one and all to post pictures of what's blooming (on the 15th of each month) and what's leafing (on the 16th of each month).  Since my garden has squeaked by the many frosts and freezes of the winter, I can show you much more than during a typical February.

Carolina Laurel Cherry closeup. I wish there was a rule that said 'once it's in bloom, no more freezes'.
I'm still not certain we will make it to April without a late freeze here in Houston. We shall see.

Purple lantana has won the show again for this month.

First Azaleas are in bloom. Usually it blooms in early March.

Canna indica~ a species canna good for butterflies.


Agave victoriae-reginae compacta

Agave ferox

'Agave Row'


Pittosporum tobira is budding out.

Canna indica 'Red Stripes' with our hens. This is funny; every time I stop to take a closeup of a plant,  the hens run to see what food I'm dropping for them! That's why they are in this photo.

The Holly fern is leafing out with its beautiful fronds.

The silvery foliage of Buddliea davidii 'Nanho Purple'. I'm really excited about this plant and hope it likes Houston. I give it a 50/50 chance since it is actually for colder zones.

This dandelion rosette is stunning against the colorful gravel backdrop. Should I keep it for a while?
Hey, don't dandelion greens taste pretty good?

A striking display of chickweed and pesky oxalis. Here chickens! Dinner is ready.

And finally a touch of class. I potted up some hair sedge, gave it a nice haircut, and put it in a classy piece of pottery.

I might open a new business; haircuts for hair sedge. It was actually quite fun.

Thanks to all for stopping by this month. Spring is one week closer.

Hair Sedge ~ my new lawn awaits! 

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I've wondered if my little garden blog would ever make it to a secret goal I've had. I don't know why, but from the start I figured 50,000 pageviews would be an accomplishment worth noting. It happened this week and for this next couple of seconds I'm going to take a break from garden blogging.......there. That was nice.
Ahh...nothing like a nice break to refresh the senses.
Now back to work!
Thanks for stopping by and I mean it. I've made so many garden blog friends and have enjoyed trading visits to gardens all over the world. That's the most important thing about all of this; to have friends and to be a friend. I'm delighted by all of my visitors and hope you enjoy this little garden we call Tropical Texana along with its lively hodgepodge of characters...
the plants,
 the people,
 the stories,
 the critters,
the chickens,
and the drama
.....and the work!
The Plants (Buddleia davidii 'Nanho Purple') my newest plant. Click on the name for the Missouri Botanic Gardens plant information

The People (my son with a stray cat found along the street....we found the owner)

The stories....(another cover up?)

The critters...(these are little dragonfly nymphs I found when moving the pond)
A face only a mother could love.

The chickens....(wonderful art work by Daniel, one of my 2nd grade students)

and the drama....(Azalea buds already? Will they bloom or get wiped out by a freeze?)

...and finally the work.
Now it's back to work with a new pond for those dragonflies.
David/  :0)

Thursday, February 9, 2012


My friend at My Corner of Katy grows these tantalizing creatures. But I have to settle for taking photos at the local garden center. I find poppy flowers and buds uniquely photogenic. Happy Weekend, ya'll! We are one week closer to Spring.

Thanks for stopping by! David/ :0)

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