October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came,—
The Ashes, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And every thing was grand;
Miss Weather led the dancing;
Professor Wind, the band….
The sight was like a rainbow
New-fallen from the sky….
~George Cooper (1840–1927), “October’s Party,” c.1887
A ruby-throat arrives at the “October Party” to partake of the party favors-cardinal spear flower nectar.
Learn more about ruby-throated hummingbirds at the following site.
Fall, not spring, is the time in this region to clear away dead leaves and branches, to renovate the borders, to start new gardens…. And even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence, A Southern Garden
While the leaves may be turning in some southern gardens, Mobile gardens still have an abundance of flowers to enjoy. In the photo, the large blue flower is plumbago or Plumbago auriculate, while the smaller one, is pigeon berry or Duranta erecta. Both attract a plethora of pollinators. However, pigeon berry may not be suitable for all gardens as the small yellow fruit is toxic.
Click on the following links to learn more about these perennials.
The air potato vine, Dioscorea bulbifera, is an invasive species, native to Africa and Asia. A member of the yam family, this dense vine can grow 8 inches per day! It can be recognized by its heart shaped leaves and aerial tubers formed in the leaf axils. Vines can grow as long as 70 feet. The aerial tubers can sprout while quite small and the underground tubers can grow to a size of 6 inches. This invasive smothers native plants and trees and should be removed from the landscape. For more information about this plant, click on the following link. Dioscorea bulbifera
The Chinese tallow tree, or Triadica sebifera, is a fast growing, short lived tree brought to the United States in the 1700s to provide oil for the soap industry. It has become a common invasive in the Southern U.S. The green seeds are easily spread by birds and sprout easily. Pull up the sprouts!
To learn more about this invasive species click on the following link.
The common garden spider, Argiope aurantia, is a striking and welcome addition to the garden. This beneficial eats lots of insects. Females build large webs and will bite if harassed. The venom is harmless, but the bite may be painful. Learn more about this beautiful arachnid at the following link. Argiope aurantia
Global climate change has become entangled with the problem of invasive species. A warmer climate could allow some invaders to spread farther, while causing native organisms to go extinct in their traditional habitats and making room for invaders. – Richard Preston
According to the USDA ( United States Department of Agriculture), an invasive species is, “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health” as per Executive Order 13112: Section1. Definitions. There are many invaders on the Gulf Coast, among them, Lygodium japonicum, Japanese climbing fern. At every opportunity, remove this invader from the local landscape.
Learn more about this unwelcome visitor at the following websites.
Why do we send valuable items like aluminium and food waste to landfill when we can turn them into new cans and renewable energy? Why use more resources than we need to in manufacturing? We must now work together to build a zero waste nation – where we reduce the resources we use, reuse and recycle all that we can and only landfill things that have absolutely no other use Hilary Benn
While our ancestors were familiar with the “waste not, want not” ethic, the concept of zero waste is something that current generations must learn how to put into practice. “Dirt under the fingernails” gardeners are already at the head of the class – reuse and recycle are part of the daily gardening routine, with composting, keeping the weeds at bay with cardboard and layers of newspaper, and reusing all sorts of containers for seeds and cuttings common examples. Quirky and creative green thumbs rise to the challenge of putting odd containers to use. The above picture demonstrates how a can of spray paint and a graceful skirt provided by an asparagus fern and volunteer sweet potato vine can transform a leaky swimming pool sand filter into a handsome garden urn.
The United States makes up only 5% of the world’s population, but produces 30% of the world’s waste. Refer to the following sites to learn more about personal ways to build a zero waste nation. Some day, your grandchildren will appreciate your efforts.
The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before ~ Vita Sackville-West, 1892 – 1962
Baccharis halimifolia, known as saltbush, groundsel, or sea myrtle is a common sight along salt marshes and wetlands in Mobile. A long-lived, salt tolerant perennial, this native woody shrub grows in full sun to light shade, reaching heights of 7-15 feet and widths 5 to 7 feet. Plants produce clouds of creamy white flowers in the fall, providing nectar for migrating Monarch butterflies. While not a commonly planted species, specimens can be used to form screens and buffers, and can be pruned to suitable heights. Learn more about this member of the daisy family at the following links.
Wax myrtle, Myrica cerifera, another evergreen, native species that can be used in the landscape, is also known as southern bayberry and southern wax myrtle. Growing to a height of 20 feet and width of 10-15 feet, this native prefers acid soils in full sun or partial shade. Early settlers boiled the berries, extracting the wax to make bayberry candles. Learn more about this fast growing native at the following links.