Friday, December 11, 2015

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful...

Not really.
I just love that song.

It's been a mild winter here in Central Florida.
No cold fronts to speak of so far.
Most days our highs reach the high 70's.
That suits me just fine.
The skies have been a brilliant blue 
and a smattering of wispy clouds loom overhead.
We're sharing some of the beauties from our fall garden
and a couple of surprises too!

This Mexican sunflower has been blooming non-stop since summer.
It brings a smile to my face every single time I walk past.
The blooms are sometimes cut for kitchen bouquets.

Sunflowers in December?
Whodathunk it?

The thryallis seems exceptionally happy.
The blooms just keep on comin'.

It's a hedge-in-the-making
and makes its home here on the east side of the house.
Sweet potato vines grow underneath and add a vibrant pop of chartreuse.

The native milkweed has been producing seeds like crazy.

The breezes scatter seeds all through the garden.
Some have been saved for sharing.

We are happily inundated with caterpillars.
Here, two (of many) monarchs share some milkweed leaves.
We are proud to be a Certified Monarch Way Station.

Another milkweed lover is the queen caterpillar.
You may notice that the coloring is a bit different,
and queens have 3 sets of tubercles (spikes),
while monarchs have only two.
It's a joy to watch the parade of butterflies 
fluttering through the garden on a sunny, fall day.

The grackles have been visiting more frequently.
We use a bird seed mix to entice blue jays, cardinals, doves, 
Carolina wrens and other species to our yard.
The grackles and blue jays also enjoy the peanuts 
that are sprinkled near the main bird bath twice weekly.

While noticing the abundant blooms on the passionflower vine,
something caught my eye...

In case you're having a hard time spotting him...

time for your close-up!
This lil' guy is a frequent visitor.  
He (or his kin) have been observed many times through the years.

Imagine our surprise a few hours later 
when we spied this duo.
These critters are harmless and we welcome them in our yard.
Big K is not a fan, but we'll just keep this between us, huh?
They really are beneficial to have in the garden,
as they keep the population of rodents and lizards under control.
They also serve as prey for many wild birds,
and are quite fascinating to watch.
Even though we live in suburbia,
we have worked to create a welcoming habitat for God's creatures.

Although I do appreciate a good, solid blast of cooler temperatures,
it's been pleasant enough that more time is being spent outdoors.
After a long, sweltering summer, it's delightful.
I hope you have some interesting developments that lure you outside.
Enjoy your weekend, y'all.

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