Monday, September 15, 2008


We've had a LOT of hummers this season! I'm not sure what makes this year different from the past but they've been coming steadily and been a great source of entertainment. I've enjoyed sitting out on the patio with a cup of coffee and my camera just waiting to catch them...hard to do with our slow camera but I've been lucky a few times! My current header picture is one I took - that is the zinnia out front. I have more to post later but for now the laptop has a broken fan, and that's where they are.

I think this is the first year we've had to refill feeders before the food had time to spoil! So I was looking up the recipe for the umpteenth time just now and figured it would be a good idea to just post it here.

Artificial nectar:

  • Use one part ordinary white cane sugar dissolved in four parts water.

  • It's not necessary to boil the water. The microorganisms that cause fermentation don't come from the water; they are transported to the feeder on hummingbird bills.

  • Store unused syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

This mixture approximates the average sucrose content (about 21%) of the flowers favored by North American hummingbirds, without being so sweet it attracts too many insects.

The recipe was taken from this site, which has a lot of great info on hummers, plus a really cool video of hummers at the feeders.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Old post, 9/17/07, Secret Garden

Note: I love looking back on my old posts! I especially love that there has been progress since this was written. I'm so glad I took pictures and recorded my thoughts.


We woke up to some beautiful fall-like weather yesterday morning! So as long as it lasts, my early morning will be spent with coffee on the porch rather than here at the desk. Don't worry, it won't last long - it never does! Rolling Eyes

But it's great while it lasts. I was out in the back yard yesterday and decided to pull a few weeds on my way to do something else, and got completely sidetracked!

The background - our back yard is an odd shape. There's an interesting little area right behind the sunroom, then the shop juts out to separate that area from the main part of the yard where we have the pool, trampoline, shed, vegetable garden, etc. My plan when we bought the house was to make the small area a lovely butterfly garden. I was working on it before the hurricane, and parts of it actually survived! However, in the process of removing the pine tree and rebuilding the fence, what survived Katrina was devastated. The area has been ignored for 2 years, other than the dog digging holes in it. Every once in awhile someone mows a path through the weeds to the gate. I've put working back there on hold while I concentrate in the front porch area, mainly because the pine tree pushed the concrete patio slantwise and it needs to be removed first (lest it all be destroyed again!). The insurance money for that was long ago spent while H was unemployed, and it's not high on the list. So there it sits, a jungle of weeds and mud puddles. Sad

So I passed through yesterday. My plan was actually to mow a path, but it didn't need it too badly and I was lazy, preferring to join the kids in the pool. But I stepped into a small area of the garden where there is still a lemon tree. We had placed a small garden fence there to keep the dog from watering it...LOL. At first glance there was nothing left there but the tree and some elephant ears. Everything was tangled in some kind of vine that seems to have taken over! My initial thought was to kill everything but the tree and start over, so I went in to ruthlessly yank some things out. Once I got the big stuff out, I could cover all but the tree with plastic and kill it off.

But I can't do that! You see, once I started pulling, I found all kinds of treasures down in the weeds. Just like the potted plants from the ruined patio that I couldn't believe were still alive. Everything buried under weeds 2 to 3 feet tall. There are actually lemons on the tree! Lots of lemons! Cool A little creeping plant called "Ragin' Cajun", with gorgeous bright red flowers that attract butterfiles and hummingbirds, is right under the tree where I planted it.

There is an interesting plant my parents brought me from Hawaii - I don't know the name of it. I planted it after the storm; it lived through Katrina forgotten, in the nursery pot next to the house. Didn't even topple over, LOL. It's there and has spread as well.

There's a beautiful fern that apparently grew wild, and a couple of nice shoots of the lantana that was destroyed when the fence was put in.

I couldn't believe it. The beginnings of a great garden, hidden in the weeds and vines, just like in the book! Shocked

So I got into it, and spent a couple of hours back there! Rather than ripping things out as I had planned, I had to be careful not to disturb the good plants. The vines could easily pull lemons off the tree, so I had to cut, untangle, cut, untangle.

I have to admit, it felt great. Garden therapy at its finest. I hope I can get it looking good again. This spot should be far enough from the patio that it isn't harmed when that gets chopped up with a jackhammer. I still won't put effort into finishing yet, but I can get it cleaned up. Cool

So, here are pics! Click on the thumbnail to see it big if you're really interested. Razz

This is a view of the whole little side area where I worked. You can barely see the tree! Shocked

The tree tangled in vines

Lemons on the tree. I counted 10, which is a lot for this tiny tree! I can use them in my Mulligans. Wink

You can't really tell how BIG this pile of pulled weeds/vines is. Just trust me. Rolling Eyes

This is the outside corner by the roses. Shocked

That used to look like this:

This is what the dog has done by the sidewalk:

View of the cockeyed patio and remains of the pine tree stump from both sides:

The archway trellis was an anniversary gift and will be used as a divider between the garden and the rest of the yard when we finally get to work.
(This one was right after the stump was removed)

Another view of the side garden

Found these under the weeds near the roses. It's vinca vine.

A surprise lantana by the roses. I don't want it there so I'll probably remove it, though I hate to! Laughing

Vine covered roses

Yep, they sure do need a trim. Shocked

Ick. Not looking forward to this. Sad

The possibility is what motivates me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Old post, 8/27/07, Garden Journal

Taking notes from this year's garden. So many things were purported to be "heat and drought tolerant". Ha! Laughing So this is for next year when I am swayed by all the purty flowers. Razz

More recent notes are in blue.

LSU Garden when first planted

LSU garden in later spring

LSU garden plants:


Verdict: Jury still out on this one. It's looking OK so far in the heat.

It died off that winter and didn't come back.

Blue Fan Scaevola


Verdict: Um. Not good. I'm fairly sure it was properly taken care of. Heat is supposed to be a fricking PLUS. I'm not going to pull it out yet, still in wait and see mode. I may cut it back and see what happens. Although from the info it seems like it should still be looking good. Grr.

Never came back.

Butterfly Bush
It's the long purple flower in the top picture.

Overall I am pleased with this plant, although it's not as formal looking as I had first hoped. It gives the garden a wild look, not in a bad way really, just not what I originally envisioned. It came back great after last year, and flowers pretty profusely. If definitely attracts butterlies! Next year, if I can find a good spot, I would like to try some different colors of this plant.


I need to find out if the butterfly bush needs to be deadheaded. I did it the first year but it never seemed to grow so I didn't this year. It grew, but looks horrible with dead things on it.

Need to find the name of this one:

So far, I like it. It hasn't flowered the entire summer though, like it said it would. There was about a 6 week period of NO flowers at all. Not sure why. But at least the plant grew and looks good regardless.

Still looking pretty good, with or without deadheading.

Front gardens:

Whirling butterflies


Again - a disappointment. I read that I should cut them all the way back and they will be nice again for the fall. We'll see.


Need name of these white foliage things:

Those are a definite keeper. They are from LAST year and all I had to do was cut them back - they get pretty leggy, as they are looking now. They did not freeze back at all. I'm actually thinking of redoing this entire garden with those, some mums (bloom in fall) and begonias (bloom in spring and summer). That way I will have color all year round!

I did plant more and it didn't look as good as I expected.


I like them, but I don't like them in this garden. They are heat tolerant, but very needy water-wise. As careful as I have been they are still yellowing, and I don't like how leggy they have gotten.

Don't know what this is:

But I like it. I'll see how it does over the winter. The sticks in front of it are butterfly weed, which was eaten by aphids. By the time the ladybugs found them it was too late. Hoping it will come back but leaving the stems right now so the ladybugs can clean up the buggies. No chemicals for butterfly gardens. Sad (ignore the weeds! LOL!)

Green thing died back and while it's not dead, it has only like 2 leaves on it. Milkweed never came back. Weeds holding strong. :P

Again, don't know name:


Nuff said. But they were so pretty when they were nice, that it may be worth it. They're supposed to be perrenial so we'll see if they come back.

Still don't know what it is, never came back, will buy again and treat as annual

Maypop (passion fruit vine)

It needs somewhere better to climb, like a fence. But this was the best I could do at the time. I like it and want other colors of it.

Tried to save it when we had the tree cut. It's in back by the herb garden and doing OK but not great.

Need name of the flower

I like it a lot and it's doing great although it was not in flower when I took the pic.

The vine is sweet potato vine. I like it, but it needs a fence or something too. I had no idea it would grow like this. I call it the vine that wants to eat my house! Shocked Look how it grows in the bushes - it's as much as 15 feet long in some spots:

I would cut it back but it will die at first freeze anyway.

The Bird Garden:

I love lantana. It was also not flowering at the time, but full of buds. Perennial, doesn't freeze, impossible to kill, many colors, how can you argue with that?! It does look wild, but I planned that in this garden anyway. These are red. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them!

I also have pink up by the house:

Note the Mexican Heather in the above pic. I can't say enough good about this plant. I love it, and I have yet to manage to kill it! Laughing Here, it's perennial, although in northern zones it's an annual.

Hydrangeas and begonias don't like it here so much:

Probably need something in the soil. And for sure to get rid of weeds. Laughing They look just good enough yet to not give up on.

They look worse, but not dead. Story of my garden life. :(

Potted plants on porch:
Shrimp plant. Nothing to say but YEAH baby! Razz

I don't think it would do well in the ground though. It also comes in different colors and I would like to try more.

Apparently praising a plant causes it to die. LOL. No, it froze even though it was up by the house. I would still buy it again, this one lasted 2 years.

More vincas. Can you say high maintenance?? But they were a Mother's Day gift. Smile

Whatever it is, it looks nice, but needs to be trimmed regularly to keep from getting too leggy. It was part of one of those mixed bowls from Lowe's. It had some other stuff including vincas (still doing OK) and impatiens. Why they put those two plants, with such opposite-spectrum needs, is beyond me!! But it was only 10 bucks and we enjoyed it. Cool

These, I rescued from my back patio where they had been forgotten and neglected. They're supposed to have light sun and plenty of water, and were in full sun and no water for over a YEAR. I can't believe they lived!

Angelwing begonia:

Variegated Hibiscus:
This one hasn't flowered at all that I've seen. Garden Center says repot and fertilize. Still on the to-do list.

Finally, this is my porch after cleaning it up. I love it! We replaced the regular lights with ceiling fans and got some nice furniture. It's one of my favorite places!

This is the side we usually sit on, to the left of the front door:

The bench on the end is actually a glider and my early birthday present for this year. Big Kid works at the pool store and called H when it went on 50% off clearance (plus his discount. yay)

The right side of the door:

And this will just give an idea of the whole front (it's from last year so things have been rearranged):

My front porch makes me happy. We all hang out there if the weather is nice. The little kids play there, the big kids take their guitars out there or just chill. Daddy reads bedtime stories and then we chill out with a cold beverage. Smile When friends call me I take it out there to chat. Razz This fall I will be working to transform my junk room back into a sunroom, and the back mud pit back into a garden. I want to post pics of how it looks now but would rather end this entry on a happy note! Laughing

Porch still makes me happy. :)