Monday, October 8, 2018

Cardinal beauty

Not the kind you're probably thinking of! Meet a cardinal jumping spider (Phidippus cardinalis). I believe she is the first of her species that I've spotted in our wildscape. I think she's beautiful.

As a bonus, here's a photo of another beauty–a crab spider on a damianita bloom....

Monday, October 1, 2018

Stock tank pond photos

 Photos recently requested by reader Judy in California....

Mandarin time

Harvest time! My Texas satsuma mandarin tree (Citrus unshiu 'Miho') has about 25 mandarins on it. I picked our first ones yesterday. They are always sweet and juicy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Toad in a hole for real

Yesterday I saw this hole in the back yard. Darn skunk got back here again, I grumped to myself. I nearly knocked the dirt back into the hole with my foot when I leaned over for a closer look....

When I checked this morning, the toad was gone.

Closer look turns up new species

This evening, we were strolling through the back yard as per our usual after-supper routine. I looked up at the pearl milkweed vine (Matelea reticulata) that's growing around a pole. Near the top, a thick green stem caught my eye. Hmm, I thought, milkweed vine stems aren't THAT fat. I squinted harder at the "stem." Sure enough, its top part moved. It was the head of A CATERPILLAR! I challenged James to find a caterpillar among the green leaves, and it didn't take him long to spot what I'd found. Plus, James found MORE munching away. Lots more!

On two more milkweed vines, we found another nursery of nearly grown caterpillars. One was especially grouchy when James touched it with a twig. It flung its heard around and acted like it was going to "bite" James. Very entertaining! But what I found interesting was their white knobbed heads. I've never seen this sphinx species before. After a bit of nosing around on the Internet, I found the identification–we have a large brood of Lassaux's sphinx (Erinnyis lassauxii) caterpillars. The adults are unremarkable looking.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

American germander tale

I'm a bit late in reporting that last June the Blanco County Master Gardeners had their monthly meeting in our back yard. I need to tell you that now because that's how this American germander (Teucrium canadense) tale starts. Pat (above) brought some cuttings of the species for show-and-tell. They came from a Blanco County property. After the meeting, Pat didn't want them so she offered them to me. Just stick the stems in some root starter, she advised, and put them in dirt. So I did. And darned if the cuttings didn't take root and GROW!
Yesterday I decided it was time to get them out of the pot and into the ground. WOWZER! Those sneaky guys had already sent out rhizomes deluxe (see photo below). I may wish I'd never planted them because I've read that they can spread. But American germanders also require water so that may keep in check. We shall see!

Blanco County Master Gardeners, June 2018