What is it?

I spent the hot morning today making potting mix and mulching some more bamboos with compost. I got pretty overheated and exhausted, so maybe I'm seeing things, but what the heck is this?

I was walking around this evening with the camera trying to find something interesting to post about, and this guy landed on the climbing rose right in front of me! I snapped a quick (not quite in focus) photo, then he moved on. Does it remind anybody else of Spy vs. Spy?

I was able to get a sharper shot of him from the back after he moved:

And then he was gone again. I suspected it was flying around hunting, so a little guesswork at the what's that bug website and I found it!

It's a hanging thief -- a type of robber fly. They *are* predators, so I was right and it was hunting. I've never heard of robber flies before, so not only did I get lucky and see something I've never seen before, I also got lucky and found out what it's called -- not always an easy task when it comes to insects!

Keeping with this theme of interesting and unexpected garden finds, here's a photo I took today of my mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha):

It's usually got long, thin leaves, but something has caused this one branch to grow differently. I think the botanical term for this is "witch's broom", but that name is usually applied to trees and shrubs. It may also be that something just interfered with this branch's normal growth temporarily (an insect or disease), and the newer leaves may be normal and thin. If the stubbiness continues I may take a cutting from this branch and see if I can get it to root. I could end up with a dwarf form of the plant or something equally interesting.

Another crazy, unexpected thing I found today:

It's a dead mouse inside my air conditioner! I think it probably climbed in somewhere at the bottom, but I have no idea how it got all the way to the top. (It would have been better off staying in the bottom of the unit -- it may have been able to find its way out.) I also have no idea how I'm going to get its carcass out of there as the AC unit's removeable access panel is blocked by a large potted bamboo and several other potted plants.

If you've been reading my posts regularly, you'll know that when I make potting mix I need to get a bulk load of compost, which means I swing by the garden centers to see if there are any too-good-to-pass-up deals or interesting plants that are calling out to me. You may be wondering what sorts of plants I bought this time.

Well, I didn't buy any plants! Instead I bought this cool pot:

I'm always on the lookout for nice pots with reasonable price tags. This one was $16, which I thought was decent. Tip: whenever buying a clay or ceramic pot, pick it up without gripping it too firmly (if it's not too heavy) and give it a good, sharp thwack with your thumb. The pot should ring. If it doesn't, that means it's cracked. Larger pots can be left on the ground and struck with your thumb. For smaller ones it works better if you can grab the pot by the drainage hole and hold it upside down, or balance the pot on the palm of your hand -- don't grab it by the rim or you'll deaden the sound.

Now, what to put in it? Purple fountain grass?

No, that doesn't really work for me. What about some elephant ears?

No, not quite right either, although one of the darker varieties might work.

This bamboo (Sasa tsuboiana) looks great though!

The right plant (or plants) can make a cool pot look even better!

The outward-sloping sides are perfect for bamboo too, as I'll always be able to get the plant out even after the rhizomes run around and around inside the container.

By the way, it looks like this bamboo needs to be repotted or planted:

That's some nice rhizome growth, but means I'll have to destroy the pot to get the plant out, or cut those rhizomes. I'll destroy (then recycle) the pot -- that's too much growth to waste in my opinion.

And speaking of bamboo, tomorrow morning is another trip to Mike's garden to help dig more bamboo. I think we're tackling some smaller plants, so it shouldn't be nearly as exhausting as it was last weekend. Should be fun!

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