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Sunny Yellow Flowers For Fall Beauty From Raincatcher’s

Our yellow flower tour starts as the cheerful yellow daisy like flowers of zexmenia welcomes visitors to the garden.  It is hard to go wrong with this native plant. Zexmenia asks little beyond a sunny spot with a bit of room to spread.  Butterflies and bees are frequent visitors to the lasting display of clear yellow flowers.

Zexmenia

One need not go far to see the bees enjoying the fuzzy round blooms of the golden lead ball tree. This small tree, native to Texas, has been blooming for months.  The flowers are a bit out of the ordinary and always attract attention.

Fall is the time for the tall yellow cosmos to shine. It is true the tall plants may fall over in wind and rain and it can be over ambitious in seeding itself.  But, no plant is perfect and isn’t it a happy sight? It is well worth overlooking a few things—and bees and butterflies really do love it.

The fast growing well adapted argentine senna is literally covered in lovely yellow flowers.  Some sennas bloom for a short time and seed out to an alarming degree. This one doesn’t. The flowers last for a long time and seeding is not a problem.  If that isn’t enough to make it a favorite—it is also a host plant for those pretty yellow sulfur butterflies.

This yellow rose is part of the trials to try and find plants that resist rose rosette disease.  Let’s all think positive for this little plant with flowers in such a delicate shade of yellow.

Esperanza cannot be left out of any list of favorite yellow flowers.  This plant was almost given up for lost in the Spring—what a come back it seems to have more bright yellow flowers than it has leaves.

Don’t forget that vegetables can be as pretty as they are delicious.  This yellow okra flower is a perfect example.

If your garden could use a little sparkle or if you want to do more to provide the nectar pollinators need to live,  add some , or all, of these lovely yellow and you will do both.

You can see all of these plants at Raincatcher’s garden at Midway Hills Christian Church.  Garden work is on Tuesday mornings and you are always welcome.

Susan Thornbury

Pictures by Starla Willis

 

The Bath House Garden is 10 Years Old!

Come celebrate the 10th anniversary of the planting of the Bath House Garden Saturday evening, July 7th, 7-9 pm

This celebration is part of a fun night at the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake with an art gallery opening, live music and refreshments.

All Master Gardeners and members of the public are welcome!


Janet D. Smith, fresh out of the Master Gardener class of 2005, was brave enough to think a partnership between Dallas County Master Gardeners and the City of Dallas Parks and Recreation Department could evolve to build a garden  in front of the bath house at White Rock Lake.

The White Rock Bath House Garden and “Whirl” Sculpture in June 2018.

Janet, having a passion for pollinators, dreamed of a garden that would host and feed all kinds of bees, butterflies, and birds. Carmel Womack,  Dallas County Master Gardener  class of 1997, took up Janet’s mantra and designed the garden around the “Whirl” sculpture. Monies were donated and following the May 2008 art installation the garden was planted in July that year.

Garden funding is so important!

10 years later, let’s look at the changes. Plants have been cut way back, a few have died, and some have been removed. More native plants like autumn sage, cowpen daisy, native milkweeds, four-nerve daisies, rock rose and blue mistflower have been added.

The original irrigation system was inefficient and has been disconnected.  Instead Master Gardeners volunteer to hand water the new plants until they are established and then about once a month in our hottest, most scorching weather.

The current garden tenders include garden coordinator Janet D. Smith and CMG’s Judy Meagher, Ginnie Salter, Barbara Hardin and interns Nancy Griswold and Monica Nagle. They currently meet Tuesday evenings to work when the sunny garden is in the shade. Ginnie also provides TLC for the plants inside the BHCC. 

All the plants are labeled and the Texas natives have Texas-shaped stakes to make them easy to spot.

Native Plants are identified with appropriate signage.

Oh, and a new garden has been started on the other side of the building. It’s a small start with salvias planted around a desert willow,  but look at the view.

The new bath house garden with a view of downtown Dallas.

The team also takes care of a tiny garden surrounding the historical marker at Winfrey Point. Check it out when we have meetings there.

Ann Lamb

For more information and the plant list click here.

Those @#$%&! Butterflies

Though curses aren’t usually the words usually associated with seeing beautiful butterflies soaring around your garden, if you are a home vegetable gardener or part of a community garden that donates produce to food pantries, there is one butterfly that you may dislike.

Large Cabbage White Butterfly on Cabbage

No, it is not the butterflies whose larval host plants are dill, parsley and fennel.  Many people who have butterfly gardens purposely grow extras of these plants as host plants for the butterfly larva. By following the rule “one for me, and one for the birds and butterflies.” you can have your share and the butterflies/caterpillars can have theirs.   However for vegetable gardeners, the sight of pretty white butterflies flitting around members of the brassica family (ex- kale, cabbage, mustard, turnips, etc) can mean only one thing:  an invasion of hungry larva caterpillars that will soon damage their crops.

Large Cabbage White Butterfly Larvae, note larvae color is green not pink as this photo shows

Cabbage white butterflies, also known by butterfly-lovers as “summer snowflakes,” are found in two sizes, the Small Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) and the Large Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae.)  The small cabbage white butterfly, though still considered an agricultural pest, is not as voracious a feeder as the Large Cabbage White Butterfly and will be the focus of this article.

The Small Cabbage White Butterfly is found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa.  It was accidentally introduced to Quebec around 1860 and spread rapidly throughout North America.  By 1898 it had spread to Hawaii and by 1929 to New Zealand.  Often, one of the first butterflies to appear in the spring, it lays eggs on the underside of a leaf.  The eggs are laid singly and are yellow making them difficult to spot.  The eggs hatch after about five to fourteen days and then the damage to members of the mustard family begins.  Using their powerful mandibles, the larva munch holes in the leaves.  Sometimes they will even eat into the heart of a cabbage, leaving a shell in its place.  The larva then pupate, to start the whole cycle again.

Cabbage Damage Due to White Butterfly Larvae

Thankfully there are safe biological and barrier controls for this pest butterfly.  In the mid 19th century the Australian government introduced parasitic wasps to control the damage produced by both species of butterflies.  However this approach is only suitable for large commercial growers.  There are other insects however that can help.  These include ladybird beetles, lacewings, and some species of insect-eating birds.  A physical control might include covering the plants with mosquito netting or other barriers.  Be sure to secure all the edges.

Perhaps the easiest organic method of control is to use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a naturally occurring bacteria that kills a caterpillar but leaves beneficial insects unharmed.  When the caterpillar eats a treated leaf, it will get an upset stomach, stop eating, and die within four days.  Just be sure not to apply it in wet weather as the spray will wash off.

By using Bt or other methods of control, you should be able to “have your cabbage and eat it too.”

Carolyn Bush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made For The Shade

Have you always wanted to grow a passion vine but have too much shade to grow the showy purple Passiflora incarnata?  Or perhaps you have a butterfly garden and are interested in providing one of the host plants for Gulf Fritillary, Julia and Zebra Longwing butterflies?  Well, if you don’t mind having a Lilliputian passion flower that is only about an inch in diameter, then Passiflora lutea is for you.

Passiflora lutea is also known as yellow passionflower, though the color of the flowers may range from chartreuse to off-white.  It is a native plant in Texas that blooms from May through September. In Dallas it is considered a perennial herbaceous climbing or trailing vine that can reach 15 feet in height.  Here it will loose its wide shallowly-lobed leaves in the winter but it comes back reliably in the spring.   The fall leaf color is a shade of yellow. Though considered somewhat drought tolerant once established, P. lutea prefers moist, rich soil.  Its flowers are followed by small black berries, which some say are edible but not very tasty.

 

Tiny Yellow Passionflower and Leaf From Carolyn’s Garden

I have P. lutea growing wild in my shady yard near White Rock Lake.  If I don’t keep an eye on it, the vines can grow rampantly in some spots.  However they are very easy to pull off from wherever they are growing.  I also have one pot of purple Passiflora incarnata and have noticed that the Gulf Fritillary butterfles tend to prefer to lay their eggs on P. incarnata rather than P. lutea.  However, one of my neighbors had P. lutea growing in her yard and had many caterpillars feeding on it.

One of the historic uses for the berries has been to make ink.  A recommended recipe is:  ½ cup of P. lutea berries, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. vinegar.  Crush the berries, and then strain the liquid through a fine sieve.  Then add the salt and vinegar.  Though this ink is not archival, the deep purple-black color is pretty

Yellow passionflower  is not often found in most garden centers. However,  Roseann Ferguson says that the annual plant sale at Texas Discovery Gardens will carry it.  The dates for this year’s fall sale are September 15-16 with the member-only sale taking place on the 15.  Many of their unusual plants sell out quickly, so get there early and consider becoming a member.  Further information about the plants that will be for sale will be posted on Texas Discovery Garden’s website (www.txdg.org) closer to the date of the sale.

Carolyn Bush

 

Have you ever seen a butterfly laying an egg?

Thanks to our own intrepid photographer, Starla, for capturing a rare picture of a butterfly laying an egg.

Black swallowtail butterfly laying an egg on fennel

And here’s the egg-

Look for the creamy yellow egg located on the lower right of the picture

*Eggs are laid singly on the host plants—usually on new foliage and occasionally on flowers. Development time is variable depending on temperature and host plant species, but generally the egg stage lasts four to nine days, the larval stage 10–30 days, and the pupal stage nine to 18 days.

Fascinating!

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

*http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/bfly2/eastern_black_swallowtail.htm

Study up on our butterfly garden by looking at the right hand side of the front page of Dallas Garden Buzz under Raincatcher’s Resources for a list of hummingbird and butterfly plants or type butterfly in our search box for a host of articles on butterflies.

 

That Doesn’t Look Like Milkweed!

The milkweed section of the April Texas Discovery Garden plant sale is not for the faint of heart. Once the gate is opened, you’ve just got to get in there—elbows flying—and grab.

Turns out, this year we purchased an interloper that hitched a ride to the Raincatcher’s Garden with the native Rose, Common, Green, Green-flowered and Antelope Horns milkweed.  And this milkweed has been turning heads.

The green pods of African Milkweed

The green pods of African Milkweed

African milkweed Asclepias physocarpa or Gomphocarpus physocarpa was a mild mannered herbaceous plant with tiny white star-shaped flowers from August through September.  Then 3-inch pale green, round seedpods covered with soft hair-like spines appeared in October.  None of the Raincatcher’s volunteers had seen anything like it. The spiny pods will fade to red or brown and slowly split to release numerous oval seeds, each with a tuft of silky hairs to catch the wind.

Brown pods obviously

Brown pods with milkweed bug

African milkweed, which is also known as Balloon Plant, Swan Flower and Tennis Ball Plant, is an annual milkweed native to Africa. Its distinctive seedpods are often used in flower arrangements—or as conversation pieces in the Raincatcher’s Garden.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla

Texas Discovery Garden Plant Sale, November 4th  for members, November 5th for the public. Information here.

Butterflies at The Raincatcher’s Garden

After many months of planning and work, our hopes are being fulfilled.  Butterflies are visiting The Raincatcher’s Garden and more are sure to come!

Pipevine Swallowtail on Lantana 'Miss Huff'

Pipevine Swallowtail on Lantana ‘Miss Huff’

The Pipevine Swallowtail is identifiable by the iridescent blue color on its upper side and the band of bright orange spots on its underside. Like the Monarch, this swallowtail is poisonous to predators, since its  caterpillars feed on native species of pipevine.

Gulf Fritillary on Mexican Sunflower 'Torch'

Gulf Fritillary on Mexican Sunflower ‘Torch’

The Gulf Fritillary is easily recognized by its bright orange upper side and flashy silver markings on the underside. The caterpillars that become Gulf Fritillary butterflies feed on the Passion Vine which we have growing over our Arbor.

Purple Coneflower 'Bravado'

Purple Coneflower ‘Bravado’

This variety of coneflower has large and profuse blooms. It is a host plant for several butterflies and a nectar source.

Black Eyed Susan 'Goldstrum' with Little Bluestem in the Background

Black Eyed Susan ‘Goldstrum’ with Little Bluestem in the Background

Little Bluestem grass is a host for a good number of skippers.  Black eyed Susans are also nectar and host plants.

 

To learn more about the planning and planting of our butterfly garden, read:

Butterfly Plants: I Love You But It’s Time to Leave

Dallas Butterflies

Browse the Butterfly/Hummingbird Plant List in our sidebar for excellent reference material.

Ann

Pictures by Starla

 

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