things I love – friends of the garden
I may have mentioned that my favorite landscape professional, Ed Hilla of Native Texas Wildscapes, came out for a little visit last week. Seems as though we need to take care of a bit of arbor maintenance before starting on anything new. But that’s ok … first things first. We want our trees to stay healthy and strong for many years to come.
Anyway, I fret about garden pests (aphids and milkweed bugs) because we don’t use pesticides in the yard, except for localized spot treatments on fire ant nests. When I mentioned my concerns, he seemed pretty nonchalant and described the microcosm of the milkweed plant habitat. The relationships between plants and insects really opened my eyes.
I’m so grateful for this new knowledge about beneficial insects and other helpful inhabitants of the garden. Here’s what I’m talking about: this little critter (the syrphid fly) is an aphid predator. These guys hover all around the potted plants and flower beds.
My niece and nephew helped me out with a little zoology lesson on July 4th, identifying this common lizard as a green anole. I’d been calling it a chameleon my entire life. Although the anole can change colors, the chameleon is a different lizard entirely. Green anoles eat all sorts of bugs and they’re definitely a friend of the garden.
Parasitic wasps also prey on garden pests, aphids in particular, elevating them to bff status. I’d heard of them before but was never able to identify them. Thankfully we’ve got lots!
Honey bees are my longtime favorite insect and they’re here daily along with their bumble bee cousins.
Shhh…don’t tell Cristybella I included this photo…toads and frogs creep her out. But they have a place in this habitat 🙂
So next week the wax myrtles are going to get a serious haircut and a big dose of nourishment with a truckload of compost. We’ll discuss the status of one of the less healthy myrtles and consider replacing it with a cherry laurel. Finally, we’ll take out a couple of hawthorn shrubs to make way for a the beginning of a small kitchen garden and start planning the next phase — giving structure to the overall landscape.
Besides the lesson on beneficial insects, the most important thing I learned about garden design was that it has to begin with a backdrop, something to anchor and define the garden site. My approach to gardening has been to clear away a site and plant flowers. No backdrop. Hmmm. That would explain why my little perennial garden reminds me of the island of misfit toys.
I predict a makeover!
Thank you for stopping by and reading.