Saturday, December 31, 2011

Seeds for the new year

This afternoon, I took lunch out to James, who's working on our land northwest of town. After our peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, I ventured off alone and hiked some deer trails. Along the way, I picked three species of grass seed. I would LOVE to establish some native stands in our Wildscape. I also picked up some possumhaw berries in hopes of planting some of those, too. I tried last year with no luck. So I'm just gonna try again!

I've got my copy of Grasses of the Texas Hill Country in my lap (by Brian and Shirley Loflin), trying to ID the three species. I'm guessing the two "sideways" seedheads are a grama species (blue or tall). The long single seedhead may be Lindheimer muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri). Hope so! The delicate, wispy seedheads came from seep muhly (Muhlenbergia reverchonii). 

On that note, last weekend I clipped a newspaper article, "150,000 seed balls bound for Bastrop," written by reporter Claire Osborn with the Austin American-Statesman.

"The seeds are from more than 50 varieties of plants found in the Bastrop area, such as little bluestem, black-eyed Susan and Indian blanket. Each ball has nine or 10 seeds and should grow with a little water," the article states. "They will be available to Bastrop residents whose land was damaged by the fires."

Members of the Capital Area Master Naturalists sponsored the project. According to the Statesman, "150,000 marble-size balls of clay, compost and native plant seeds were put together by about 300 groups of children at schools, churches and youth groups in Williamson, Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Milam and Bell counties."

The group raised $1,800 to buy compost, clay and a special seed mix from my friends, Bill and Jan Neiman, at the Native American Seed Co. in Junction. What a wonderful project!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 2011 in our Wildscape

I'm a bit late this month in posting a December visit around our Wildscape. As you can see, the yard is MUCH greener! Thanks to recent rains, the horseherb, assorted dandelion species and other volunteer natives have sprouted everywhere! We are VERY grateful for the moisture. Of course, many of the natives we planted on purpose are starting to freeze back and go dormant. I can't wait for spring!

I couldn't resist snapping a photo of some dandelions and henbit.   

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Even after a freeze....

......there's still life to be found in our Wildscape!

Our inland sea oats barely went to seed this season....  

Most of the purple hearts have frozen back but this shoot survived...

A recent hard freeze didn't faze our 'Purple' spiderwort.....

The coralberry has put on a little fruit....

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ferdinand Lindheimer

Framed specimens collected by Ferdinand Lindheimer, housed at the Sophienburg Museum
Last month, my friend Shena and I visited New Braunfels while on a magazine assignment. I'd never seen the home of naturalist Ferdinand Lindheimer–the "father of Texas botany"–so it was a treat to stop by. We didn't have an appointment to tour inside the 1852 house, but we did walk through the gardens, which are maintained by the Comal Master Gardeners. Beautiful!
Native plants abound in the gardens
This was my favorite native there–a new one to me.
The rustic garden gate adds a homey feel.
Woolly ironweed, a native I frequently see around the Hill Country.
They love to use rocks as much as we do in our Wildscape.
Bricks make a nice accent border.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bees back

 Our fragrant mistflower is blooming in the front yard right now. Beautiful!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Drought Survival Kit

Folks, this press release from TPW just hit our news desk here at the Pink House:

In an effort to help, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department this week converted its main water resource website to feature an online Drought Survive Kit. The new online resource comes in three sets of web pages.

The Help Wildlife section explains how Texas critters handle drought and advises when and whether to intervene with Mother Nature. For example, it tells how to help birds and butterflies with native plants, and why people should never feed wildlife such as raccoons, deer and opossums.

The Save Your Yard web section recognizes that trying to keep St. Augustine grass and other non-native “water hogs” alive during the drought can be expensive and frustrating. It suggests how, as weather conditions improve, it’s time to think about replacing drought-stricken yards with native “Wildscapes” that are better suited for surviving Texas weather. These are colorful, require little water or care, and attract birds, butterflies and other native wildlife.

The Cut Your Water Bill section covers a few simple ways to save water and money, and links to more information on the Texas Water Development Board’s Water IQ website.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Transplants for next spring

Yesterday, we got busy and transplanted some volunteer natives into plastic pots. On the right are turk's caps. In the right bin are salvias, one lantana, rock roses and a longwood blue. We've also got two baby mountain laurels (in the pink pot) that a friend of my son's gave us last year. I hope to dig up more volunteers before it gets too cold.