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Winter Honeysuckle

It’s nice to have something blooming in February and it’s nice to have friends like Texas Discovery Garden.

We had all gathered around our Winter honeysuckle to inhale its lovely scent and had questions about this plant.

Winter Honeysuckle Blooming Late January through February at the Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road

Winter Honeysuckle Blooming Late January through February at the Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road

Roger, featured in another of our posts, answered:

Ann,

Roseann had forwarded me your e-mail yesterday and I hadn’t realized until then that ours too is in bloom now!  I had gone out to check on it and never got back to respond.

As you already know it’s a non-native (E. China)so might be discouraged by some purists for planting.  Although it is listed as “invasive” by some sources, most gardeners would disagree, as it doesn’t produce many berries and only suckers for a short distance from the bush.  Perhaps in the moist woods of eastern U.S. it might escape cultivation, but doubtful here in our fairly dry habitat.  Probably it has received a bad rap from its many relatives – like the highly invasive Japanese Honeysuckle which is a VINE or Amur Honeysuckle, a bush that used to be fairly invasive in this area.

Anyone that would rather not try it, might try the native White Honeysuckle (Lonicera alba) that has very similar leaves and not quite so bush-like.  I’m not sure of its bloom time, but it probably doesn’t produce the profusion of strong scented flowers this early in the season like the Winter (or Fragrant) Honeysuckle.

As a landscape plant, it apparently is not picky as to soil type and is relatively drought tolerant.  It does have some other distinct benefits for a North Texas landscape.  The flowers this early in the season do provide a rare nectar source for bees and butterflies that venture out on warm days during the winter months (Question Marks, Goatweeds, and Mourning Cloaks are local butterflies that overwinter here as adults).  It is supposed to be an excellent bird attracting bush according to some sources for the berries.  But since ours rarely fruits, it is often the flowers that attract the birds!  They apparently eat the flowers for the nectar and spit out the petals.  One interesting comment I read is that it is sometimes referred to as “Pouting Flower” as the paired flowers face in opposite directions!

Thanks for asking about this!  I needed to write something for my weekly “In The Garden…” part of TDG’s blog, so I’ll just copy what I wrote to you!  Naturally, Roger

Roger Sanderson
Director of Horticulture

Texas Discovery Gardens
at Fair Park
3601 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Dallas, Texas 75210
P.O. Box 152537
Dallas, Texas 75315
P (214) 428-7476 ext. 210
F (214) 428-5338

RSanderson@TexasDiscoveryGardens.org
The butterflies are back!

Picture by Starla

Texas Discovery Garden Visitors and Others

We had several visitors to our garden on Tuesday.  Erin and Roger from  Texas Discovery Garden  came and were welcomed by  a host of creatures and people.  We usually are greeted by the buzzing of bees but seldom notice some of the other guests that make our garden their home.   An orange wasp flitted  among the squash leaves while the ladybugs had lunch among the fennel.

visitors-ladybug and wasp

We had surprises amongst the mulch; a little toad  managed to ride in the wheel barrow and was relocated near the pond  and  a snake slithered out from the wood chips.

visitors-toad and snake

Fortunately  Roger Sanderson, Director of Horticulture at Texas Discovery Gardens, is also a herpetologist.   He was very excited to learn we found a snake while cleaning out a bed and he quickly identified it as a Yellow- Bellied Racer.  To help you identify snakes you may come across, see this  Texas Snake ID site.

Snake and Roger from Texas Discovery Gardens

The Yellow-Bellied Racer is a harmless and very fast snake.  The one we found Tuesday is very young, covered with spots and blotches.   When mature he’ll be solid blue-gray on the upper side and solid yellow on the belly.  They eat bugs and small lizards at this age, but as adults they eat anything that moves, including lizards, mice and venomous snakes.

The most common snake found in our gardens are the Rough Earth Snakes which are small (6-8” full grown) and feed on tiny insects, worms, and other invertebrates. They are essentially unmarked gray to brown snakes that are paler on the belly.  Another common snake in this area, and about the same size, is the little Texas Brown snake.  Unlike the Earth Snake, it does have faint marking down the body and a distinct black mark just behind the head on both sides.

We love all creatures great and small at our garden, but were happy to add this little snake to Roger’s collection at  Texas Discovery Gardens.

You can see our snake  and everything butterfly at this Dallas premiere organic garden!  Texas Discovery Garden is a valuable asset to Dallas. For more information about it so you can plan a visit, click here.

Written by Sue, Starla, and Ann

Pictures by Starla

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