Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Overnight guest

This evening, I just happened to spot this pretty moth, resting on our front porch light. Not sure about the species. I also took some shots of one of its feathery antennae. Cool, eh?

Mandarin tree update

Look at my Texas satsuma tree (Citrus unshiu 'Miho')!! It's covered right now with blooms, and the aroma is intoxicating. A little like honeysuckle.

My favorite son, Patrick, gave me this tree as a Mother's Day gift (2004). At first, I just knew I'd kill it. But miraculously, it survived! I was even more amazed when it put on fruit for the first time in 2006 and a second time in 2008. Looks like 2010's gonna be a banner year for mandarins!

UPDATE ON CARE JANUARY 15, 2011–Garden writer Kathy Huber with the Houston Chronicle wrote about fruit trees today. Here's what she says about citrus trees:

"Containers are a popular option, especially for tender limes and lemons. Use a citrus mix for containers or a good rose soil mix. Apply a citrus fertilizer, and water in a handful of Epsom salt per pot in March and September.

"A plant sold in a 3- or 5-gallon pot can be moved to a 7-gallon container when needed and eventually up to a 15-gallon pot–at which point you'll root prune every other year, says Master Gardener Angela Chandler. Lay the plant and pot on a tarp. Use a sharp shooter to ease the plant out. Use a reciprocating saw to cut 2 inches off bottom of the root ball and 1 to 2 inches around. Refresh the soil and repot. Or skip the root pruning, and bump the plant up to a 20- or 30-gallon container if you have space."

Read more:

UPDATE ON CARE MARCH 19, 2012– David Rodriguez, a horticulturalist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, said in Saturday's newspaper: "Patio-grown citrus plants that are flowering and producing spring growth should be fertilized every three to four months with an 18-6-12 container fertilizer. Also supplement with a liquid 6-12-6 analysis every third week."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A cool find...

Look what I discovered in the Meadow....a tiny bluebonnet! Needless to say, I was very excited and marked it with a small live oak branch.

We also have some volunteer prairie verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida var. bipinnatifida). I think that's the correct species.

Here's a photo of our neighbor's bluebonnets across the street. They're so beautiful to see!

James to the rescue

I got home yesterday from my Aunt Saza's 70th birthday celebration and found this little guy–a Texas spiny lizard–resting in a Tupperware container lined with a bit of grass. James found "it" (gender unknown) in the garage. No cats around. No puncture wounds. But very sluggish. After supper, I held it for some up-close portraits by James.

I gave it some back rubs and head scratches, which it seemed to like (or tolerate). Then I released it in the Meadow on a live oak. Off it went!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Paintbrushes in the Meadow

What a cool surprise! When we were strolling through the Meadow the other day, James spotted these....Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja inidivisa)! It's the first time I remember them ever blooming there. They're beautiful and just getting started.

A month or so ago, we threw out some seeds that we bought from the Wildseed Farm near Stonewall. I saved the packets: moss verbena (uh oh, not a true native), tickseed, wine cup, Maximilian sunflower, standing cypress and rocket larkspur. We'll see!

And oh my goodness, the red columbine has taken over a front bed! They just started blooming this past week....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Buttercups? Or not!

These beautiful yellow flowers that resemble pink evening primroses have been blooming profusely this past week. I've got my Wildflowers of Texas book and the website up... I believe they're stemless evening primroses (Oenothera triloba), which are part of the evening-primrose family, Onagraceae.

So they're not buttercups!

P.S. James shot the photo...that's me and the bat house on the photo's right side.

UPDATE – MARCH 25, 2010 – I have an old copy of Roadside Flowers of Texas by Howard S. Irwin (1961), and this species once upon a time was/were called buttercups!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lost Ladybug Project

Here's another submission from our Wildscape for the Lost Ladybug Project...I'm guessing a Harmonia axyridis, a nonnative nine-spotted ladybug. I spotted her in a bush of Mexican oregano in the back yard. We'll see if I guess right.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tree ducks return

Hark! The shrill call of black-bellied whistling tree duck outside! I dash to our front door. I open it. Then I open our screen door. I lean outside, I look around. There...above our mighty live oaks in our front yard (their favorite roost)....I spy five in flight, circling over Ninth Street! I look around some more. There's a sixth, perched atop the branches of an oak across the street. They're back, our neighborhood tree ducks!

End of story.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

They're here!!

Just sighted: a male black-chinned hummingbird at our kitchen feeder!

Let the season begin!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Martin sighting!

We were unlidding the entrances on our six-room house awhile ago, and TWO PURPLE MARTINS flew over head! Oh, yeah, I did the Happy Dance! Lots of them!

I thought I'd heard one earlier in the day while we were outside. But I didn't see anything. It was so cool to glimpse them when we did. Awesome! Here's hoping we get our first tenants this spring!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Couldn't resist

I'm holed up at my desk today, writing about a man who pioneered the use of Texas native plants. (Care to guess, anyone?) For a break, I walked outside awhile and checked on the Wildscape. So many anemones!!! Everywhere! I figured a few wouldn't be missed so I picked some, stuck them in a little container of water and set them on my desk. So pretty.

C'mon inside, spring!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crow poison upclose

Meet crow poison. False garlic. Nothoscordum bivalve. Pretty but deadly if eaten, as its common name implies. These two blooms, side by side, caught my attention. So I thought I'd photograph the pair from different points of view....

Walking through the Wildscape

Beautiful, beautiful day today! Sunshine and some warmth. Our neighborhood birds starting singing right off the bat this morning, mostly cardinals. They were definitely happy, too.

I caught sight of a moth, perched at the tip of a small century plant.

Not quite sure what this little yellow flower is. Another mystery...

A little wolf spider happened by after I shot the moth on the century plant....

And a wren was checking out the nesting box I nailed to the house last summer....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pretty volunteer flowers


These pretty flowers–some white, others purplish–are blooming all over our Wildscape right now. I believe they're Carolina anemones, not ten-petal anemones. According to Geyata Ajilvsgi's Wildflowers of Texas, "the easiest way to distinguish the ten-petal anemone from the Carolina anemone, which is also very common, is by the very long–3/4 to 3 inches–fruiting head, which begins expanding even before the petals fall. The fruiting head of the Carolina anemone is much shorter." But I could be wrong. Maybe they are ten-petal anemones...

A tiny little mystery flower...

And another I'm trying to figure out...
Another sunny, warmish day. Yesterday, I worked in the Wildscape for two hours, cutting back dead foliage and pulling dandelions. This afternoon, I walked around for a little whle and snapped photos of new growth peeking up through the mulch....

Inland sea oats
Chasmanthium latifolium

Mexican bush sage
Salvia leucantha

'Indigo Spires'
Salvia farinacea

Blue mistflower
Conoclinium coelestinum

And get a load of the red columbines! Nearly as tall as a rabbit's ears! Well, at least the ears of a little pink ceramic bunny I set in the bed. The red columbines have really taken off this spring. They reseeded like NUTS. I can't wait to see what happens next...

Red columbine
Aquilegia canadensis

Belated snow photos from Feb. 23

In case you didn't hear (ha!), snow fell on the Texas Hill Country last week. I'm WAY behind on posting a few of the photos that James shot to document the event. Better late than never, I guess.

I'm bad.