Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blooms etc. in the Meadow

Goldeneyes (new!)
Native lantana
Horseherb and sida (orange)
Stiff greenthread
Drummond's woodsorrel
Baby's breath aster (new!)
White evolvulus
Crow poison
Prairie verbena
White heath aster (Can you spot two large flies?)
Common mestra
Water drops on a bluebonnet
Also blooming but not pictured: yellow wood sorrel, false nightshade and Texas vervain

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tarantula child

My thanks to Alyssa, one of my daughter's long-time friends (and I've known her, too, since she was itty bitty) for bringing by this Texas tan (Aphonopelma anax). This was my first time EVER to see a juvenile! She found the tarantula in an upstairs bedroom at home. After our visit, she said she planned to release it outside on her family's property. Thanks much, Alyssa! 

Bryophytes continued

Last October, I learned so much at the Texas Master Naturalist state conference. I especially enjoyed Dale Kruse's "Bryophytes, the Forest Beneath Your Feet." During his sessions, I learned about mosses, liverworts and hornwort (see my Oct. 31, 2012, post, "When a light bulb goes off..."). Later, I added a small patch of moss from our yard to a terrarium that I keep in my office. 

In the photos above and below, you can barely see the moss patch in the right lower quadrant of the glass container. I also stuck in some bird's nest fungus that I couldn't bear to toss away.

Several weeks ago, I rescued several large patches of the same moss from our back yard and relocated them to a new area. Hey, I guess I need to make a name tag for it! Isn't nature just cool? 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bluebonnet sightings!

 We've got bluebonnet seedlings growing in the Meadow, folks!

Friday, October 25, 2013

New moth species

I snapped only one image of this mystery moth. Thanks to Maury Heiman on for identifying it for me: velvetbean caterpillar moth (Anticarsia gemmatalis).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Third egg sac

Yes, our argiope spider mom in the back yard laid her third egg sac! Yesterday, I shot a photo of her web, lit up with sunshine. The strands looked like spun gold. Then I got a close-up of her big abdomen. I knew "her time" was close! This morning, I looked at my office window, and I didn't see her on her web. That meant.....
I walked outside to look. Well, I looked and looked some more, like around the bird bath and under the bird bath. Finally, I looked UP. WAY UP! There she was, guarding her egg sac–which she laid during the night–way up under the roof eaves. So ALL THREE of her egg sacs are attached to the house. Great. Out in plain sight. Good job, mom! :-)  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sick caterpillars....NOT

The other day, I spotted what I thought were "melting" caterpillars on our rue plants. So I contacted a biologist who specializes in insect viruses and wrote him that I had some sick caterpillars to mail him. Imagine my embarrassment yesterday when I returned for a closer look and realized that we have a new species in the garden! These are giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) larvae! Well, don't they look sickish to YOU? Actually, they resemble bird droppings, another one of nature's cool camo defenses. 

Like black swallowtails, giant swallowtails also host on rue.
 Touch a head, and the osmeterium (scent gland) pops out. Neat-o!

A new Phiddipus

Phidippus mystaceus...isn't she pretty? She's related to my favorite spider, the bold jumper (Phidippus audux). Just had to share!

The name says it all

Well, almost. The name Barbados cherry (dwarf) doesn't mention the dainty, beautiful pink blooms that appear before the cherries.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Five new trees

Our native plant friends, Linda and Ron, gave us this baby wafer ash.
We bought this Mexican buckeye at this month's native plant sale at the Wildflower Center.
We love our Lindheimer's senna (not pictured) so we bought this tree senna (de-planted March 2015), which is native to Argentina.
My beloved Blanco crabapple! We made a special trip to Medina to purchase this tree for my birthday last March. I thought I'd kill it, but it sprouted leaves again. Thanks to James, it's finally in the ground!

Ron and Linda also gave us a Texas buckeye that they started in 2011. James and I are hoping and praying to keep all our new tree additions alive and happy!

Blue curls

Last week, our native plant friends Linda and Ron brought us a Texas buckeye and blue curls (Phacelia congesta) seeds. Yesterday, we spread some around the yard and across the Meadow. I can't wait until next spring to see what pops up. I've already spotted more than 10 bluebonnet seedlings in the Meadow. I'm hoping the neighborhood deer don't nibble them away or tromp on them. Darn deer.


 Yesterday, we hiked around our property northwest of town. James has done TONS of work there, like clearing juniper and creating trails. In many areas, the native grasses are returning. Like this beautiful stand of Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans). I LOVE Indiangrass and also Lindheimer muhly, which is blooming in abundance, too.

I couldn't help but enjoy a few moments in a hammock that Matt, a good friend, hung between two trees. Right away, I spotted a spider web in the juniper branches over me. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

New addition (one of many)

In the last week or so, we've planted quite a few new plants (the ones in a previous post that we bought locally and at the native plant sale). This is a black dalea (Dalea frutescens) planted in the front yard and purchased from Blanco Gardens. We have one in the back yard, which I bought and planted for my birthday in March 2011. At first, I didn't think it'd make it. But it's thriving and bloomed away just recently. See?

Mandarin tree update

Look! We're gonna have a bonanza harvest of sweet mandarins soon. This is the Texas satsuma tree (Citrus unshiu 'Miho') that my son, Patrick, gave me for Mother's Day in 2004. It's put on fruit in 2006, 2008, 2010 and now this year. Cool, eh? But more of a miracle is that I'VE KEPT IT ALIVE ALL THESE YEARS! Last week, I gave it some Rose-Glo organic food. Poor thing. Besides some compost on top, that's all it's probably had to eat since 2004.

New-to-me native

A nice colony of gray golden-aster (Heterotheca canescens) is growing on our neighbor's end of The Meadow. This afternoon, I snitched some seeds and dropped them in a few bare areas in The Meadow. Later, our native-plant friends, Linda and Ron, came by and gifted us with a Texas buckeye. I walked them over to see this sunflower, and they told me the name. Which saved me a search through field books. Thanks, y'all! For everything!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Look what I spotted

This afternoon, James was helping some friends in their yard so I took my garden shears outside and set to work. Isn't our Galeana red sage AWESOME?! I was cutting dead stems and admiring the blooms when I happened to see....
...can YOU see her?
Yes, a vigilant green lynx spider mama, guarding her egg sac. I just love finding surprises in the plants that thrive in our Wildscape. Especially those of the eight-legged kind. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

New-to-me native

I spotted these pretty, delicate seed heads and purple flowers on the city easement adjoining our property. My fellow Master Naturalist/plant expert Jerry S. didn't hesitate a second this morning when I e-mailed this "challenging" mystery plant to identify. 

"Pretty sure it's a four o'clock (Mirabilis linearis)," he wrote back. Dang, he nailed it!