A few weeks ago my friend Melody invited me over to take photos of her beautiful gardens. Good thing, because an early freeze came soon afterward. Despite our exceptionally hot fall and nearly rainless summer, Melody's garden looked wonderful. Spring rains gave the garden a good start and kept us out of drought restrictions this year.
And the view from her porch. I always enjoy Spanish moss swaying in the gentle breeze. Even though I live nearby there is none on my trees. It's common in Melody's neighborhood with larger lots to leave portions of the original native landscape in place.
Bright red Lycoris were in full bloom that day.
Melody grows a number of vines and I have been inspired to grow more vines after visits to her garden. Blue Skyflower has found a home in her garden.
Through the gate and a view toward the rear of the house.
More vines. Crossvine blooms primarily in spring.
Our garden styles are very different. That one spiky plant in this display was a gift from me. The chair is part of a vintage Brown Jordan set she rescued from the curb.
The rescued chairs nearly are very similar to her original Brown Jordan table set (under the arbor) she has had for years.
Stapelia bloom was out. I think my plant was a cutting from hers.
A ducky bit of humor in the pool spa.
Frostweed blooms attract butterflies and moths.
Contrasted with goldenrod it's a good pairing.
Lots of red with tiny roses in bloom. Melody loves roses though she is growing fewer roses as her garden becomes more shady.
More reds in the Hamelia.
Can't remember this one right off, but I loved the fullness of it.
More of those vines, Morning Glory still out.
Alternanthera which I know as 'Party Time' but it does have other common names.
Vignette with fish nicely coordinates texture and color.
Oh so pretty.
Headed to the woodland walk just under the cedar arbor. A portion of dead tree trunk left in place and surrounded by flowers.
Wine bottles mark the trail.
And back out through the matching arbor on the right draped with more Skyflower.
We have different planting styles, but we both are plant collectors and enjoy adding found objects to our gardens.
The raised bed garden in the former horse corral was a little worse for wear in full sun with temperatures as much as 10 degrees above average. Still pretty though.
Coral vine drapes the stone barn.
The Monarch butterfly migration was in full swing.
And here we are. Special thanks to Neal who came along to help take photos since I sometimes enjoy my visit so much I forget to take enough photos.
Thank you Melody for sharing your beautiful garden with us again.
Designed by Drake White of The Nectar Bar for San Antonio's Hardberger Park it's designed to highlight "mostly" native plants that support butterflies. Drake shared her extensive knowledge of how to support butterflies in our gardens. One of the most important things I learned was that a caterpillar inching along on the ground knows where it is going and it's best not help them out.
It's a teaching garden designed for hosting butterflies. Red flags indicate dormant plants and remind volunteers not to dig in those spots.
So where's the wildlife? Drake holds up a Monarch caterpillar. Monarchs generally make their fall migration without breeding but a few do stop and breed in our area. Love her shirt!
Butterflies need both nectar and host plants. Plants in the garden are labeled with names of the plants and butterflies they host or provide nectar for. I need this false mint in my garden! Pretty purple blooms in the fall and nice, upright foliage.
A butterfly shaped garden but where are the plants?
No plants because it's a puddle garden. "Puddling" is just what it sounds like and provides butterflies with moisture and minerals they need.
Drake checks seeds on a Swallowtail pipevine. It's a difficult plant to spot because it disguises itself as grass. I couldn't even find a definitive botanical name on this one though it grows naturally in Central Texas and I have seen it in my yard from time to time. She has placed a net bag over the flower to collect seeds. The seeds take two years to germinate.
We were mesmerized by the massive Passiflora vine taking over the fences. It's Passiflora incarnata x cincinnata which is not native to San Antonio though it grows beautifully here. Good to know because when the caterpillars are out they can decimate a pretty good supply of vines.
A beautiful host for several butterflies.
The Butterfly Learning Center is open by appointment only. Contact The Nectar Bar for more information.
There are two additional butterfly gardens at Hardberger Park you can visit any time the park is open. One is in front of the main park building off Blanco Road and the other is near the Urban Ecology Center which is where we are headed next.
Maximilian Sunflowers are good for butterflies, bees, and birds. The fence keeps out deer but not people since the gate is unlocked when the park is open.
I was captivated by all the Texas Broomweed (Amphiachyris amoena) in the garden. It's so light and airy and covered with tiny yellow blooms. I found a place to collect seeds in a field near my house. Most of the information out there focuses on how farmers and ranchers can get rid of it so I might think twice before planting. It provides good winter cover for birds among other benefits.
While there were plenty of bees and butterflies in the gardens we visited I found it a challenge to photograph them with a group. That means we've only had one wildlife photo of a caterpillar so far. To finish up I'll borrow a Monarch butterfly photo from a visit to my friend Melody's garden the next day.
There, that's so much better than posting one photo of an anole on a screen which is all I found in my October photos. Maybe I'll save that beauty for another time.