Posts Tagged With: Tales from the Hort Side

Prey of the Praying Mantid

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Before I get into the garden horrors of this afternoon, let’s recap. Last week you may remember I put a few photos on Twitter about the praying mantid (Mantis spp.) I discovered in my Garden of Goods and Evils. I was working on one of my patios, watering some plants in a raised bed. It was hot. Very hot. And humid, although we were in need of rain. That’s why I was was watering with the hose. It was late evening and the mosquitoes were bugging me (yeah, that’s good) to the point where I just wanted to get back in the house. It was at this moment that something caught my eye. A flittering. A fluttering. A rapid movement under the topside one of my arbors covered in vines.

“What in the world is that?” I said to myself out loud. (I do enjoy a good conversation with myself). It looked like a moth that was really enjoying something on my Aristolochia vine. But there were no open flowers. I finished watering, put the hose down on the ground, and walked over the arbor. I stared up in amazement, nay, shock and awe.  The moth was not enjoying itself. A praying mantid was enjoying the moth. The taste of the moth. The head to be exact.

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I exclaimed for my husband to get back outside. “You won’t believe what I am seeing!” I yelled toward the house. I ran inside, grabbed my old cell phone and my Canon 60D (only cell phone shots on this blog post). I should have grabbed my tripod too, but I was in a rush.

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Back through the sunroom and out into the yard, I slowly crept up to the arbor. She was still there, feasting. The first images were blurred by the wings of the moth flapping as he tried to escape. Or perhaps it was just nerves twitching as the brain was being quickly eaten by the praying mantid.

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Even after the moth ceased to move, the praying mantid would dip her head into the neck cavity of the moth, grab a juicy bite, raise her head, and turn to look at me. I was interrupting. Nonetheless, it made it tricky to get a clear photo in the fading light, under the arbor. It was difficult to look away, though it should have been easy.

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I continued to take photos with both cameras until I could no longer stand to be eaten myself, by mosquitoes of course.

A few days later passing back through the patio, my husband said to me, “Whoa, check this out, a good photo opportunity.”

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Indeed, another (or the same?) praying mantid was hanging out on the flowering stems of my potted chives. Back into the house I ran for my camera and phone.  I was really wishing I had grabbed my extension tubes for my 50mm so that I could practice some macro photography with the little dude. But alas, my time was once again shortened by the constant slapping of mosquitoes on my arms and legs.

Today I was walking across the patio to dump my compost bucket out back when I saw a beautiful monarch butterfly gently nestled in the stems of my chives. OH, wow, I thought. It is just sitting there in the light rain, perhaps taking a break from flying. I went ahead and made a deposit into the compost pile and returned to the patio garden area.

I again looked in on the butterfly. But the more I stared, the more I really began to look, I realized it wasn’t moving at all. And there was something odd about the wings. The wings were all backwards or upside down. Pointed in the wrong direction. No! No! No! Could it be? I slowly peered down into the chives into the wings of the monarch. I shook my head (which was more than the butterfly would ever do again for its head was missing) and stepped back. Did I see that correctly? I stepped back up to the pot of chives and looked down again among the stems. Indeed, the butterfly’s head was gone. I quickly looked up and down the chive stems for the praying mantid. Who else is currently in my garden eating heads? I don’t want to draw from stereotypes, but lets face it. Who was recently eating the head of a moth and was recently seen on the chives? A praying mantid. I once again ran back into the house (hey, with all this running why am I so behind on losing weight?), grabbed my phone and returned to the scene of the crime.

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I took a few photos in the rain.

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Then I began to look again for the culprit. Any culprit.

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There she/he was…hanging out calmly on a sage plant about 18″ away from the chives.

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I would say she looked guilty, but considering how extremely creepy they look anyway, who knows? Is this enough to convict the praying mantid? Perhaps not.

Well, you just never know what lurks ahead or above in my Garden of Goods and Evils. Perhaps there is something lurking in your garden as well. Take time to observe and you never know what you will find.

Good links with information about the Praying Mantid (Mantis spp.) from Iowa State University Extension and the University of Kentucky College of Ag

 

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Yours In Garden Horror,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

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Categories: Garden Insects, Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I Like Big Blooms!

A few of my favorite big bloomers from my own garden: Below Clerodendrum bungei

And now for something completely different: a bit of parody from one of my favorite dance songs of the 90’s: Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-lot. That song has been stuck in my head on repeat since 1992 and comes out at the oddest moments.  Last year was the song’s 25th year anniversary and it was featured on NPR. My parody lyrics below.

…”Oh, my God, Becky, look at her flowers, they are so big, I can’t believe they’re just so round…I like Big Blooms and I cannot lie, you other gardeners can’t deny. When a flower opens up and it’s as big as a plate, get your camera, do not wait! …I’m hooked and I can’t stop starin’… Oh flower, I wanna get wit ya and take ya picture…Other gardeners tried to warn me, but those flowers you got makes me so…HAPPY!” 2017 The Garden Maiden.

Newly added to my garden last summer, Confederate rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) is an old fashioned Southern garden staple.  I was surprised to find out one day that the blossoms change color from whitish pink to deep pink by evening.  I admired it in the morning, left for work, came home, looked across the yard and was like, WTH Dude?

Daylillies may be common, but their flowers are an uncommon delight.

I think I finally have enough moonflower seed saved to last me for many years.   I love to marvel at the flowers that open in late afternoon and fade by the next morning, adding drama to the evening garden.

Finally, and by no means is this the end of my favorite big bloomers, in my own yard or otherwise, however, this is a personal favorite…Aristolochia gigantea. I was first introduced to this plant while living in Hobe Sound, Florida (thank you previous renter).  I have also grown this vine in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and now in Mississippi. Previously I have grown the larger (yes, folks, even larger) flowering variety: Brasiliensis  There are some tropicals I don’t mind fussing over to bring indoors.  This is one.

Check out my Big Blooms board on Pinterest

Yours in Gardening,

 

The Garden Maiden

copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

 

 

 

 

Categories: Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

March Madness in The Garden of Goods and Evils

Just sharing a few images of what is flowering in the Garden of Goods and Evils this morning. I’ve got some other images of garden “winter survival” and miscellaneous work going on to share later.

It is a beautiful day along the Mississippi Gulf Coast region. Crisp, high in the lows 60’s. We started out in the upper 30’s and it was 40 by the time I got outside with the camera and phone.  It is still only 50, but that won’t keep me from hanging laundry on the line!

Here are a few images from my old phone to share. I love this time of year in the garden.

Good, old-fashioned, spirea. A standard for vintage gardens. I believe this old shrub is S. x vanhouttei, but it could be S. thunbergii.  Now, I could go back outside and get a better glimpse and key the plant out better, but at the moment, I’ve spent way too much time working on this post instead of projects that will actually show me a little money.

My husband has commented that these two azaleas which have nearly doubled in size since we moved here 6.5 years ago might need a good whacking back. But, I’m not much into whacking.  In general, especially for azaleas, I think the bigger the better. And they do provide a nice screening.

This lovely two-tone pinkish azalea was planted, like most of the azaleas in my yard, by a previous owner. I am lucky to have two of them. They really brighten up the darker areas under the canopy of a large oak. If I thought about it much, I’d probably fret that I have way too many lovely plants without any sort of scientific  name/label in the yard. (Bucket List) So, for now, I’m good with “look at all the pretty azaleas”.

What I love about this azalea is that for such a small size (I planted it a couple of years ago), it has great floral impact.

Perhaps the pride and joy of my early flowering azaleas is this fine, bright, yellow-orange, native azalea that I planted several years ago.  Rhododenron austrinum (Florida flame azalea). Bet you can guess how it got it’s name.

And, yes, I have things other than azaleas flowering right now. Like these lovely, perky, little gerbera daisies.  Fortunately, they are perennial here. If you read the Southern Living article from the link in the previous sentence, you may wonder “how did she do it, how did she get them to live?” Well, maybe it is because the soil is very poor (it was some nutrient-poor potting soil I dragged home to build raised beds with years ago), very dry and I never tried to get them to live after planting them three years ago. But they lived! This is their fourth year blooming, and in partial sun. Of course, that partial sun is more than partial in winter when the crapemyrtles have no leaves, imparting additional sunshine to the bed where they are growing.

Ahh, wisteria. I trellised my vine several years ago, but last year we came home to find the entire thing bent over on the ground after a big storm.  A neighbor has two that are grown as standards: one lavender and one white. The white flowering wisteria has the most amazing smell, making my current daily walks with the dachshunds much more enjoyable, especially when I am carrying a bag of dog poo (the dachshunds are elderly, so the walks are slow, and I don’t walk faster than the poo smell). So, here I am with only a half dozen flowering clusters, but they are still pretty.

The Osmanthus (fragrant tea olive) had more flowers before the most recent cold snap, but they are still there, filling my yard with an amazing perfume.

Speaking of perfume…the banana shrubs are really going strong with spring flowers. It is no wonder after working outside all day with two banana shrubs flowering, I end the day with visions of banana flavored cocktails. (yes, I have an issue on this particular plant…some kind of disease on the leaves, which may be why the previous owner cut it down…but no time for evaluation right now…I’m just glad it came back from being cut down to the GROUND).

Well, that’s it for now. Are you enjoying your spring garden? Are you ready for March Madness? Go GREEN! Go Razorbacks!!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have two or three more blogs to post, but I really need to get an article submitted, bake some bread, hang more laundry, vacuum the carpets, care for a sick dachshund, you know…life.

Yours in Gardening,

 

The Garden Maiden

 

copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

 

 

 

Categories: Observations from My Garden of Goods & Evils, What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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