Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

Commentary by a National Wildlife Steward who helps Zilker neighbors establish native plant gardens

Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hummingbirds have arrived!

In a recent post on wildlife, I indicated we had only recently seen birds, bees, and butterflies. I was hoping to see hummingbirds.
Guess what? On Sunday evening while sitting on our upper deck, I spotted a hummingbird and he flitted around near the birdbath and then headed to the Firebush plant, which was planted with hummingbirds in mind. SUCCESS!

Firebush flowers year-long (unless it goes dormant due to cold weather here).

Firebush plant

Photographer: Cywinski, Rachel
City: Round Rock
County: Williamson
State: TX
Location Notes: Robb Lane
Filename: RC1_IMG0012.JPG
Slide Index: photos 2009 fall 2010 summer 1363.jpg
Restrictions: Unrestricted
Collection: Wildflower Center Digital Library
Original Format: Digital
Orientation: Landscape
Shot: Early fall flowers. Plant regrows from roots each year due to winter cold in this area.
Date Taken: 2010/10/06
NPIN Image Id: 28464

Guess what is emerging in the garden?

Picture of wildflower seedlings

Yep, the wildflowers are coming up! After the deluge of rain last weekend plus some more manageable heat, these wildflowers are busing through the mulch. So excited for fall!

Garden wildlife

Since I’ve installed the three new gardens in the front, we’ve seen a huge increase in wildlife visitors to our yard. Mostly, we have birds, bees, and butterflies. Adding a birdbath increased traffic earlier in the summer. We’d sit outside and watch the show as the birds played in the water and quenched their thirst. Lately, in the new garden I see a lot of bees on the sages. I’m hoping to eventually see some hummingbirds in the Firebush but haven’t yet. Earlier this summer, I saw the butterfly show. We had a lot of caterpillars eating up the butterfly weed (milkweed). Providing that food allowed us to see a plethora of butterflies later on in the season. Here’s a few we’ve seen.

I have applied for recognition as a National Wildlife Habitat through the City of Austin for FREE! Your garden (of any size) must (a) provide food, (b) provide water, (c) create cover, and (c) provide wildlife a place to raise young.

Caterpillars on the milkweed

Black Swallowtail on the milkweed (above, center bottom)


Queen on butterfly weed (above)

Another butterfly

Common Buckeye on Blackfoot Daisy (above, center – brown)

Free entrance to LadyBird Johnson Wildflower Center this Sunday

Sunday September 23, 2012

Austin Museum Day at Wildflower Center – The Wildflower Center offers kids a chance to talk with women scientists about their careers and free admission in honor of Austin Museum Day. Women scientists will be inside the Visitors’ Gallery from 2 to 4 PM for this Women In Science event. The grounds will be open 9 AM to 5 PM with docent-led tours at 10 AM and 1 PM, and seed planting demos at 11 AM, 1 and 3 PM. There will be activities in the Little House from 11 AM to noon, and a store book signing of “Bloomin’ Tales” will occur starting at 1 PM. Call (512) 232-0100 for more info.


Garden “first”

Here are some firsts from the new garden. I just love seeing the new flowers come into the garden. Texas hibiscus is supposed to be a profuse flowerer. Purple coneflower often has flowers into the Fall. These photos were taken on September 8, 2012, about 2.5 months after these plants were put into the ground.

Texas Heartleaf Hibiscus, flower picture

Texas Heartleaf Hibiscus, First Flower (above). Flowers on this plant last only 1 day on average. But the blossom generously.

Purple Coneflower, picture of first flower

Purple coneflower, First Flower.

Garden … 3 months later

So, we planted the new garden on June 18, 2012. It took only a few months for the small plants to grow. The winner of the growing contest is the Globemallow which has grown 10x its size in a couple months! It was a small 4″ pot and each is about 2′ in diameter if not a little larger. Take a look. The globemallow is in the center front, near the sidewalk near the street. It’s a grayish color leaf with small orange flowers. The plant that has barely grown at all is the Jerusalem Sage (to the left of the dry creekbed). I’m hoping it will start to take off now in fall. It should get to be 2-3′ wide and tall and has small purple flowers on it.

Front garden in September 2012

Do a comparison by looking at the freshly planted vs. the picture 3 months later.

Symmetry at last

Front garden in September 2012

Need free help creating a garden?

Just a quick reminder that I’m delighted to help anyone in the Zilker neighborhood out with their gardening woes or plans. Don’t know what to do with your weedy front or back yard? Want another set of eyes and ears and nose to give you a perspective? Want help planning a new landscape? I can help with all of these projects. Our work as volunteers is to assist others about wildlife-friendly habitats so that more wildlife can be supported within the world. Gardening is a process so you can always start small or big. I started with my front yard, but can admit that my backyard needs some major work! But with limited time, I can only do so much…so the backyard will have to wait. But it’s great to start somewhere … you can even start by planning out a patio or deck garden made up of potted plants!

It’s fall and this is THE best time to plant a new garden. Your plants get the winter to establish themselves before the heat of summer.

If you’d like any assistance, just email me (email is within the About link at top of the blog).

And check out the information on the National Wildlife Federation’s website: Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat

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