Thursday, March 31, 2016

Green lynx lady!

Look what I found, living in our bronze fennel–a fully mature green lynx! I was shocked to find her because this species typically dies after laying an egg sac in late summer. So I guess she survived our extra mild winter. That's the only thing I can think of. Plus, I haven't seen one with such yellow legs. So interesting. I've posted a question in to see anyone responds.

Here they come!

This afternoon, I saw our first tent caterpillar parachute down from a back yard live oak to the ground. James quickly eradicated it after I got a shot of it. A past blog post of mine identified these as forest tent (Malacosoma disstria). Hope we don't have too bad of a year with these messy guys. 

Birthday gift

Thank you, Lindsey (my daughter), for the birthday plant! It's a plumbago 'Imperial Blue.' Pretty!

Let's move, coralbean

We planted a coralbean in a front bed back in April 2011. Some time later, we planted Maximilian sunflowers in the same bed. Uh, oh. Bad decision. Not only did the deer eat on the coralbean, but the Maximilians crowded it out, too. So we finally did it–we moved the coralbean to the back yard this afternoon. James even extended a bed especially for the coralbean. Here's hoping it makes it!

We're gonna be on Central Texas Gardener!

Producer Linda Lehmusvirta has sent us a schedule (below) for the segment of "Central Texas Gardener" (Austin PBS) that will feature James and me next month. Just in time for our 10th anniversary on May 2! 

Be sure and listen for thunder during our sit-down interview. We had to come inside because of a thunderstorm AND TORNADO WARNING!  The tornado hit just south of Blanco. Linda won't ever forget THAT film day!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lost Ladybug Project

 Seven-spotted ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata), submitted to the Lost Ladybug Project. European species introduced in 1956.

What's blooming

You go, bluebonnet!
Mealy sage
Blue wild indigo
Gray globe mallow
Red columbine
Gerber daisies still alive!
Squarebud primrose
Painted lady on prairie verbena
Skipper on prairie verbena
First bearded iris blooming


Thank you, Jerry S., for the name of this plant. I was getting SO frustrated because I could NOT identify what I thought was a dandelion species. Nope. It's cretanweed (Hedypnois cretica), an introduced species from the Mediterranean. I'd noticed it last year in the neighborhood and had secretly hoped we'd get some in the Meadow. Well, we did. And now that I know what it is, I shouldn't have wished for it. But at least it's not listed on the Texas Invasives list. Still, I guess I'd better go pull it up.....

The beetle battle continues

So when I was happily shooting photos on my newfound gaura, I spotted these blasted coreopsis beetles. They were lurking under leaf debris. Which is what they do until they emerge, scatter and attack coreopsis plants. I despise them. We had an infestation of them in 2012.  I hate to kill things, but I WILL kill coreopsis beetles. 

Likewise, I decimate most (non-native) milk snails that I find because I do NOT want an infestation of them in our gardens. I've seen photos of infestations. I do not want our gardens to look like photos I've seen of infested gardens and yards. 

High five GAURA!

Last Friday, I took some pecan rolls to a neighbor. On the way home, I noticed that the gaura was blooming on the city easement on Greenlawn Parkway. Hmmmm. Could it possibly be? Oh, could it be? Well, I had to go check and see!
Oh HAPPY HAPPY DAY! We officially have scarlet gaura (Gaura coccinea) growing and about to bloom in the Meadow! Last summer, I gathered seeds from the ones blooming along the easement and then dropped them around the Meadow. Several germinated!
I'm happy because one of my goals is to re-establish species that grow native in our neighborhood in the Meadow. You know, to preserve them. In the vacant field across the street, I want to re-find a Texas snoutbean and get it over here while I can.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wildflowers of Central Texas poster

Isn't this poster pretty and helpful? I recently saw it hanging in the main office at Medina River Natural Area south of San Antonio. I just checked around online, and they're available for sale. Here's a link where you can snag one for $18 plus $5 postage and state tax. 

UPDATE March 31, 2016–Yesterday, I received a comment from Janice Campbell, the talented woman who created this posted: 

"Thank you for featuring my 'Wildflowers of Central Texas' poster in your March 26 blog post, and for your positive comments about it—really appreciate the mention.While visiting your site, I enjoyed reading about your evolution from bird-bath-to-certified-Texas-Wildscape—inspiring!"

I asked if she could send me her bio and/or background on how she came to create this poster. She did!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Time to clean the stock tank

It'd been nearly two years since we last cleaned out our stock tank pond so I had it on my mental to-do list. James had a funeral to work today. Why not tackle it myself? The day was beautiful, and I had the energy. I was going along just fine until I tried to lift out one of the limestone rocks. Uh, nope. A little too heavy for me. So I called our neighbors across the street because I happened to know that their son and his family were in town for Easter. Matt gladly came over and lifted out the rock for me. The cinder blocks, too. I was a happy girl. Thank you, Matt!

Here are some "before" shots of the stock tank before I got to work this afternoon.
  Last week, I cut back the lemon barcopa so that was done.

  The horsetail rush desperately needed some cutting back!

  I hope my dwarf water lily (bottom) comes back.
 LOOK WHAT I FOUND AT THE BOTTOM OF THE TANK! AN HONEST-TO-GOODNESS REAL LIVE EARTHWORM! I couldn't believe my eyes! I didn't know earthworms could live and survive in water. I let it go in a flower bed. 
 This time, I didn't dump out all the water. Instead, I used a fish net and mucked out the bottom and sides. I only accidentally caught minnows twice (and let them go). They did a good job at staying out of my way. 

  Nearly done!
 After an hour and a half, I was ready to start putting everything back in. 
As a reward for a job well done, I gave the minnows some goldfish flakes. They were quite elated.  

Milkweed rooting experiment UPDATED

Two days ago, I found one of the two new branches on my Texas milkweed (Asclepias texana) broken and lying on the ground. Oh, no! That was my first reaction. Then I looked closer. The damage appeared to be recent so I trimmed off the end and stuck it in a glass of water. As you see above, it perked up!

I just now dipped the stem in a root stimulator and potted it. Then I wrapped some plastic around it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed! I'd love to have another Texas milkweed, but I wouldn't have wanted to get one at the expense of a young one.

APRIL 4, 2016 UPDATE See photo below. The top growth appears to be somewhat hanging in there.

 APRIL 9, 2016 UPDATE–Top growth looking good! 
(Photo below)

APRIL16, 2016–I'm taking off the greenhouse effect and letting my Texas milkweed go on its own. BECAUSE IT'S TRYING TO PUT ON A BLOOM! (Photos below)