Saturday, February 23, 2013

More on malta star-thistle

So I've declared war on the invasive species that's appeared in our Wildscape: Malta star-thistle (Centaurea melitensis). This year, I'm trying to spot the rosettes and yank them while they're small. However, as you'll see below, even at a young age, these bad boys put on seed heads!

See? That's a flower about to bloom!

I thought it was interesting and perhaps helpful to see that the roots are purplish at the base. 

This is what an older thistle looks like. But they can grow much bigger, too.
It's important to recognize the difference between a Malta star-thistle rosette and, say, an Engelmann's daisy rosette. You don't want to pull out the good guys! In the above photo, look close and see if you can spot the thistles.
The tap root of a star-thistle grows really long.
The head of the thistle pictured above.
Here's a seedhead already.
When you get good, you can pull Malta star-thistles when they're really tiny.
Here's a thistle that would have crowded out a stiff greenthread.
I really despise these plants.
One more seek-and-find photo. Find the thistles. 
Then get rid of them!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Look out, invasives!

My young hero, Commander Ben, is featured in the March 2013 issue of Texas Co-op Power magazine! Okay,okay, yes, I wrote the profile, "An Invasive's Worst Nightmare," but I'd still pass along the link even if I hadn't. Ben's just the coolest young man, and I've enjoyed getting to know both him and his parents.

Congrats, Ben, for all the hard work you do to educate people about invasive species!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sprucing up the stock tank

 Since we were up near Cedar Park last Saturday, we drove the extra few miles to the Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery. I needed to get some more submerged grass to replace what had died over the winter. Diane, who helped us select plants there last May, helped us again! I purchased four bunches (which is a LOT) and this time tried potting some. I'd rather keep it growing instead of having to buy it now and then. The rest I'm letting free float in the water.

Over all, the stock tank is doing well. The water lilies died back but are re-leafing now. I cut back the lemon barcopa because it'd gotten pretty leggy. And the horsetail rush is fine. So far, so good! Now we're considering a small, in-ground pond, nothing fancy, with a "rock beach" so turtles can walk in if they want. Another project for James!

More blooms

When I was out pruning the mealy sage and 'Indigo Spires' yesterday, I just happened to notice this pretty bloom. A hyacinth, right? I went back in our photos, and James gave it to me in a pot last Valentine's Day (2012). I stuck it in the ground, and it survived! It's so lovely. 
  The 'Indigo Spires' (above) is about to bloom as is the Salvia coccinea (below). Sure seems early! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

First daffodils

Spring's first daffodils bloomed three days ago!
A little four-nerve daisy is flowering, too.

Never know what you'll find

Pruning? Be careful and keep an eye out. You never know what you'll find on the dead foliage. Five days ago, I was cutting back the globe mallow and spotted something intriguing on a short branch.

I pruned around the branch and took some photos later of what I'd found.

At my desk, I did a little snooping and posted my images to 

"Katydid eggs?" I proposed.  

"I'd say so," Kara T. responded.

Then my images were moved to the angle-wing katydid page (Microcentrum). Look at this cool photo of eggs like mine. Here's another photo

When foliage wasn't available, this katydid mama laid her eggs in a VERY unusual place! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lost Ladybug Project

Coccinella septempunctata
While on an assignment in Horseshoe Bay this week, I spent some time at a city park, shooting photos of a father and his two kids at the playground. Keiley, 4, and Bristol, 2, jumped on and off the swings and monkey bars with nonstop energy. After a little coaxing, Keiley finally agreed to go down the slide for a picture or two. Then we walked down to the creek to look for turtles and frogs. "You can take our pictures because we don't have a camera," she told me matter of factly. Then, to my stunned amazement, Keiley talked about monarchs and painted ladies, how she'd kept some but had to let them go. Age four! 

On the way back up to the parking lot, Keiley spotted this ladybug and cupped it in her hands. She dropped it, but I told her that I'd take a picture of it and submit it to the Lost Ladybug Project on her behalf. So here's your ladybug, Keiley. Like I promised, I've submitted it to the project for you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Look what I spotted in Horseshoe Bay yesterday!
A Texas mountain laurel 
just starting to bloom!

Monday, February 4, 2013

I love spiders

Wolf spider
I know. I know. A lot of folks hate abhor despise dislike hate hate HATE spiders. Not me! Instead of running, I always stop and get a closer look when I meet one. The handsome he wolf (above) crossed my path in December, but I never got around to posting his portraits.

The lovely she crab (below) was clinging to our front door a few days ago, and James just happened to spot her. She might be with children because her abdomen is so LARGE.

So, you might ask, how do I know he's a he and she's a she? Well, a spider's pedipalps reveal their destiny in life....whether they'll lay eggs or provide the necessary sperm to create them. 

OK, I hear you. A definition's needed.

Pedipalps: A spider's extra pair of appendages used for feeling and holding prey.

Crab spider
To determine a spider's sex, look at the tip of its pedipalps. A male has club-tipped pedipalps (like a wood golf club), and a female doesn't. Look closely at the top photo, and you'll see the wolf spider's club-tipped palps.

Llano Lawn and Garden Show

I'll be there!!