Sunday, December 6, 2009

Freeze aftermath

Some plants in our Wildscape fared well after recent freezes. Not so for others.....

The real test will be next spring when we find out what survived!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Agatha's back!

This afternoon, I heard a TERRIBLE commotion in the Meadow. Bluejays, wrens, titmice–they were all screaming at the top of their lungs while I sat in front of my computer, trying to write about beetles. Hmm, snake? Owl? Curiosity got the best of me, and I pushed away from my desk. I trekked outside, peered into the live oaks and scanned the branches. Meanwhile, the uproar continued. Some birds gathered near the owl box. Must be an owl, I thought.

This evening after dusk, James went outside with camera in hand. Sure enough, a little eastern screech owl perched in the box. Agatha! It has to be her! She probably returned a week or so ago when I heard the birds mobbing another time but couldn't find anything in the trees when I went outside to investigate.

Our eastern screech owl couple will roost in our two boxes during the winter. Nesting doesn't start up again until next March or so.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lovely day

Mexican mint marigold

"Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, LOVELY DAY!" Remember that old song by Bill Withers? Give it a listen, then go outside! The day is truly beautiful. And so are our golden flowers in bloom! The Mexican mint marigold's looks wonderful, and so does our copper canyon daisy. Wow, the butterflies are everywhere on it!

P.S. I asked James if he remembered the song, "Lovely Day," and he just gave me a blank look. Even after I "sang" a few bars. So then I played it for him on the Internet. Nothing, nada. "You don't remember THAT?" I asked, astounded. "You've never heard that song before?"

James shook his head. "Did they play it on AM?" he offered. "I never listened to that kind of stuff. It was ROCK for me."

Alas. We may have gone to high school together back when, but we were definitely on different planets musically speaking. (Pssst, I confess. I loved the Carpenters. James, I'm pretty sure, was a Metallica man.)

Lovely day to you!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Serenity and hope

We've had more rains, which is such a blessing. Tiny red columbine seedlings have sprung up everywhere beneath their "parents." I'm not sure if they'll survive frosts and freezes that are just around the corner. But do they do offer a lot of hope for a beautiful spring. Our Wildscape is so lush now, thanks to all the moisture brought by nature. What a difference rain makes! We barely kept our plants alive through the dry summer with faucet water. Then the rains came, and they seemed to rejoice with growth and GREEN GREEN GREEN! God is Good!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Whaz up right now

Walking in our Wildscape is a wonderful experience since the rains have returned. Oh, my, the plants responded almost immediately to the drenches. Beautiful! As you can see, the blue mistflowers are in full bloom, just in time to welcome queens and an occasional monarch. I spotted a Gulf fritillary on the butterfly bush, too.

What's left of our fall aster (the deer munched on it during the summer) is blooming....

And our new white mistflower is blooming, too.

James spotted this interesting fly. Not sure what it is.....

A back view of that fly.

The Gulf muhly is going to seed. So lovely in the sunlight.....

We also found a ladybug, which I photographed and uploaded to the Lost Ladybug Project.

Always pays to look UP

Beautiful weather out there! I just ate my tortilla and cheese on the patio and happened to look up. Butterflies! Lots of them! Fluttering waaaaay up there, over our house, headed north. North? I ran for my binoculars and tried my best to focus on a few. Looks to me like they might be admirals. They're definitely not monarchs.

I e-mailed my entomologist friend, Mike Quinn, to ask (he lives in Austin) what he thinks. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Just for fun...

After I lay down in the horseherb, James kept hold of the camera and insisted that I "pose" in front of the Mexican bush sage and gold lantana. So...........sigh.............I did. Believe me, I am NOT photogenic, but these came out fairly well. For one thing, my eyes are open!! Running these pics small small small.

More gone to seed

Evening rain lily
Cooperia drummondii

Common witchgrass?
(Some grasses are so hard to identify)

Sideoats grama flowering!

Just had to throw in a cool photo of a mushroom....

As high as horseherb

The other day, James said, "Look, sweetheart!" Then he lay down in the horseherb in our front yard... and nearly disappeared. It's gotten THICK. So Wednesday, I asked, "You dare me?" Yes, he explained, then he ran for a camera.

A little rain goes a LONG way when it comes to horseherb!! It grows like crazy!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New-to-me flowers and an OUCH

Alas, James plans to mow later this week. I know, I know. The horseherb (our volunteer native ground cover) needs some discipline. But I always hate to think of all the resident creatures that get run over and chewed up in the process. James said he'd buy me a little flute so I can whistle a warning to everyone before he gets going. Har har.

In the meantime, I thought I'd better get some pictures of plant mysteries I'm trying to solve before...well, you know what....

Purple spiderling
Boerhavia purpurascens
I identified this tiny but pretty bloom per Wildflowers of Texas by Geyata Ajilvsgi.

Mystery #1
A rouge-plant?
I don't think so but that's my best guess so far.

Mystery plant #1 (second photo)

Mystery #2
A species from the pea family?
UPDATE JULY 12, 2012--It's a coastal indigo (Indiogera miniata)!

Mystery #3
I brushed against this little plant in the Meadow the other evening and OUCH!! Stung/burned like crazy but no visible reaction erupted on my skin. I'm guessing a nettle species but haven't figured it out as yet. Click on the photos and you can see the bristly hairs on the leaves and seeds. OUCH again!

UPDATE JULY 12, 2012-- It's a branched noseburn (Tragia ramosa)!!

Mystery #3 (second photo)

Wildscape update

False garlic
Nothoscordum bivalve
(Also called crow poison)
Warning: This plant is poisonous and should not be tasted!

So my wanderings through the Meadow yesterday and across the front yard of our Wildscape today brings more photos. The evening rain lilies have all gone to seed now. In their place are growing false garlic blooms. With our recent rains, the blue mistflowers have rejuvenated, just in time for the arrival of queens and monarchs. We've already spotted three or so monarchs and numerous queens. All the lantanas are back in bloom (look up close and you'll likely find a sneaky spider, lurking). And there's a grass photo for James, my "grass" guy.

Queen on a blue mistflower

Lantana with crab spider
Lantana urticoides

Sideoats grama
State grass of Texas

Monday, September 28, 2009


The eastern fox squirrels in our neighborhood love the corn cobs we put out for them. One squirrel has even learned how to jump on a "squirrel-proof" bird feeder and nab some sunflower seeds. I call her Squirrel Gurl. I'm not sure if this squirrel is her, but thought I'd grab a photo while I could.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Oxalis cousins

Oxalis drummondii

All the recent rains enticed a new-to-me species to spring up in our Wildscape. My neighbor, Monta, noticed some blooming in her yard as well. Naturally, I had to figure it out, and I believe it's an oxalis called Drummond's woodsorrel. Which means it's related to the oxalis we bought and planted in the back yard (violet woodsorrel) and also a yellow woodsorrel (common yellow oxalis) that springs up everywhere.

Just in case you're interested, oxalis is pronounced "ox-alice." Took me FOREVER to remember how to say it, but I finally did!

Windowbox wood sorrel
Oxalis rubra

Oxalis stricta
(My daughter, Lindsey, calls this plant "her clover")

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Through James' lens...

Salvia coccinea

Inland sea oats

More salvia coccinea

Friendly red admiral

Red admiral
Vanessa atalanta
So here's the outgoing red admiral that showed up yesterday evening in our backyard. This one was extra friendly and kept landing on ME. James snapped a few photos. I got one of him, too, with our butterfly friend.

As a teenager YEARS ago, growing up in Corpus Christi, I remember how this same species was friendly like this. I'd stand outside on our patio, hold out my arms, and wait for one to land on me, which they'd usually do. It was cool. From what I've observed then and now, admirals enjoy sunning their wings in bright sunshine in the evening. Even on people!