Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sprucing up a salvia corner

For Mother's Day 2011, James surprised me with a new garden in the back yard. He planted salvias and trailing lantanas and put in a new bird bath. I was stunned. He is SO SWEET! (Still is, too.)

Anyway, I badly neglected the area, which has grown and spread out through the years. I don't recall ever pruning the poor salvias, as you can see below. They'd gotten VERY woody.

Recently, James painted the roof trim and had to get the ladder in the area. Some of the old dead salvia wood became VERY obvious after he was done. This is why you should regularly trim and prune salvias back ... so they don't look like Sheryl's!
Yesterday, I bought two more salvias from Blanco Gardens to join the one we bought at the Johnson City plant sale. Then I got to work. I planted my three new salvias close to the house. I didn't bother the existing salvias too much because I want to leave them thick and jungley for my Texas spiny lizard friend to hide in. I'll work on them later. 

I also marked a volunteer four o'clock (Mirabilis linearis). Sure don't want to lose that one!

Signs of life

 Can you find the mockingbird fledgling? It's flashing its wings.
 A faded painted schinia moth

Saturday, April 29, 2017

One more plant sale

The Blanco County Master Gardeners hosted their spring plant sale this morning in Johnson City. James went with me. I was very restrained again...only one plant (a Salvia greggi).

Another caterpillar tale

You might recall when I tailed a pipevine caterpillar for "miles" in March. At any rate, please go back and look at the photos of the caterpillars devouring our pipevine plants down to the stems. Well, those pipevine vines grew back, then mama pipevine butterflies came back and deposited more eggs. Yep, you got it. The caterpillars have once again devoured all the pipevine vines. Yesterday, I'd seen a couple take off, I guess in hopes of finding more food....

This afternoon, I was making my rounds in the gardens, when I noticed THREE pipevine caterpillars on the snakeroot pipevine. Oh My Goodness! I swear, the snakeroot had previously been untouched because I regularly stop by and check on it. Which means that these three amigos had crawled ALL THE WAY (together??) from the ORIGINAL pipevines in the Meadow to the snakeroot in a far corner of our back yard!

In the photo above, I'm sitting in a little chair that's near the snakeroot. See the wooden chairs and the chain-link fence, then the live oaks way off behind the chairs? That's where the pipevine vines are!
Indeed, the three seemed a bit exhausted and were just resting on the rocks and snakeroot.

 I'm still floored by this.
Isn't nature amazing??!
 UPDATE Sunday, April 30 (the next day): Our snakeroot pipevine is completely GONE! The three amigos ate it ALL UP!

Still hate these two

Knotted hedge parsley
Two years ago, I wrote about my battle against these two pesky species, which are related: knotted hedge parsley and begger's lice. I'm still yanking them. It's a form of relaxation for me, searching and pulling those nasty, noxious WEEDS.

Begger's lice

Friday, April 28, 2017

This and that

Spined soldier bug (Podisus maculiventris) on fennel
 This afternoon, a short walk through our gardens turned up these interesting finds...
 A rather large, unwanted hole dug out beneath the kidneywood
A tiny praying mantid friend on a zinnia seedling

Our singing robin

For the past few weeks, a juvenile robin has been singing his heart out around here. I don't recall one ever singing so much as this one so I took a couple of videos so we'd always remember him.

I took the awful photo below on March 18 through our bedroom window. At the time, I was thrilled to see a juvenile robin already. Perhaps he's our feathered Pavarotti?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A welcome guest

Yesterday, I spent a little time, squashing genistra broom moth caterpillars (Uresiphita reversalis) that are devouring our blue wild indigo. Again. What, you're saying in an aghast tone of voice, YOU of all people are committing mortal mayhem? No way! Yes, way. And every time, I squashed one, I said,  "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" I don't mind a few, but when they completely decimate my pretty blue indigo, then I don't care for that. Am I prejudiced against plain ol' brown moths as opposed to beautiful butterflies? Maybe so. 
At any rate, while I was hunting caterpillars, I was somewhat pleased to spot an assassin bug, lurking among the indigo leaves. I assume that he/she was there, feeding on the larvae. At least, I hope so.
Thank you to the the experts at for identifying my garden guest. This is a wheel bug nymph (Arilus cristatus), a new species to our Wildscape. Cool! I've written about that bug in the past: "Wild Thing: Mighty bite."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sleuthing in the garden

Lately, our jimsonweed (Datura wrightii) has put on several big beautiful white trumpet blooms. But what, I wondered, was eating the leaves and leaving all the holes? Yesterday, I finally spotted the sneaky culprit!
 A tortoise beetle! But which species?
I love tortoise beetles so I was excited last year to find not one but two species on native (volunteer) morning glory in the back yard. If you look the two beetle species up, you'll learn that both golden and mottled tortoise beetles feed on plants in the morning glory family.
To figure out my new species, I Googled tortoise beetle with jimsonweed, then looked at images. Voila! Meet a clavate tortoise beetle (Plagiometriona clavata), which feeds on–you got it– jimsonweed, ground-cherries and other plants in the nightshade family. I just love to sleuth in our Wildscape!

Bordered patch update

 Here's our bordered patch chrysalis five days later. Beautiful, eh?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

New additions

New additions from the plant sale today at the Riverside Nature Center in Kerrville:

Narrow-leaf coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)
Prairie larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum)
Rock penstemon (Penstemon baccharifolius) Replaces one that died