Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Meadow mowed

I was gone over the weekend to a writing conference. James took advantage of the situation and mowed the Meadow. When the neighbors got back from a long trip, upon seeing the mowed Meadow, one asked the other, "Does Sheryl KNOW?"

Seems I have acquired a reputation in these parts. :-) 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tiny robber fly

I'm so glad I didn't trim all ALL the dead salvia stems today! After supper, I was in the back yard, enjoying the cooler temperatures (not much rain to speak of, alas) and trimming dead foliage. A tiny something caught my eye, perched at the tip of a salvia stem. I pulled out my iPhone and snapped an iNaturalist observation. A robber fly, I asked other observers. 

"Wish you could have made it larger for more detail," commented ericisley, "but we have at least two small robber flies like this in Texas, Hadrokolos texanus and Holopogon snowi. The snowi has more hair than this one looks to have so most likely this is a Hadrokolos texanus."

One of only two kinds in Texas, and ONE'S in our Wildscape? Well, needless to say, I grabbed my digital DSLR camera and headed outside. Sure enough, I found my tiny friend, lurking on another salvia stem, but it took off when I tried to hold the stem still. I returned later and found it again on another stem. This time, I was more cautious with my picture taking. Out of 94 images, I snagged a few good ones. Pretty darn cool, eh?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Spreading seeds

Yellow flax
With rain in our forecast today and tomorrow, I decided this morning would be as good as time as any to spread seeds that I've been collecting this year. My stash included antelope horn, bluebonnet, yellow flax, standing cypress, skeleton-plant, and probably a few others that I can't remember. Fingers crossed for a spectacular spring 2019 wildflower show in the Meadow! (Thanks for the photos, James! And a video, too?)

Bluebonnet seeds

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Madrone update

Take a look at our Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis), gifted to us March 2017 by Mike Prochoroff at The Madrone Way. Doesn't she look GREAT?

Yesterday, I took a closer look and was amazed to discover, that at just a little over one year old, our madrone has already begun to peel her bark. I'll have to ask Mike about that.

Mike's reply: "She is doing superb. Yes, they can exfoliate very young when they get the water and are healthy. Otherwise they just grit their teeth and try to get through it all, like this drought. You are doing fine and are an inspiration."

My favorite beetle

Okay, I actually have two favorite beetles. But I digress. I first observed an ironclad beetle (Zopherus nodulosus haldemani) years ago at my former home in Blanco State Park. I was amazed and thought it was BEAUTIFUL. I still do. I've since discovered that this species has some interesting attributes, namely that it can play dead. Check out this 2015 post of mine, "You're never going to believe this," about one that came back to life.

ANYWAY, an ironclad beetle has been hanging out by the "pool" (birdbath) in our back yard. Last night, I picked it up so it wouldn't be swept off the beach when I added water to the birdbath. It immediately "died." I laughed. 

I went back later and checked on it. Sure enough, it was back up and walking around. I laughed some more.
This morning, I went back outside and checked so I could add an update to this blog post (photo below). You got it––our ironclad beetle friend is still hanging out around the pool!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Fluff everywhere!

We drove by the Meadow today, and I noted that the pods on our antelope horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula) have begun to bust open. So after supper, I went outside with a glass jar and collected as many seeds as I could.

Instead of standing in the hot sun, trying to separate the fluff from each seed, I sat down on a rock ledge under our big live oak in the front yard (James caught me on camera, above). Robins chortled in nearby trees, and chimney swifts twittered overhead as I let the breeze carry off the white fluff. I felt myself relax as I worked. If possible, I'll try and collect some more seeds as more pods open. Then later on, I'll spread the seeds in the Meadow in hopes of upping our antelope horn numbers.

Milkweed finally bloomed

This milkweed finally bloomed! We bought it in April 2016. I labeled it as a bract milkweed (Asclepias brachystephana), but the flowers don't match. Maybe a showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)? Nope. Flowers aren't right. Maybe another butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)? Rats. Appears so. We already have that species in our Wildscape. Unless you have some other ideas?