Monday, November 11, 2019

Stock tank prep

Disclaimer: This post is mainly for my own records. I never can remember what I do for winter prepping our stock tank. I know I lower most of the plants to the bottom. But this time, I also cut them back (hence the pile of cut foliage at the bottom of the photo above)–the lemon bacopa, parrotfeather and horsetail rush. I set the rush midway down in the pond on a cement block. 

My poor dwarf waterlily is struggling to survive. Something kept digging into it during the summer. Likely those darn leopard frogs. Sigh....I'm getting to be outnumbered. Between them, the fire ants that keep moving into my potted plants and the deer that have figured out how to jump our backyard fence, I think I'm doomed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Crag lily

Our first blooms on a crag lily (Echeandia flavenscens). Aren't they pretty?

Monday, October 21, 2019

My crestrib morning-glory presentation

This past weekend, I presented my new program, "From Trash to Treasure: The Saga of an Uncommon Morning-glory" at the 2019 Texas Master Naturalist state conference in Rockwall. Patrick and Gabby, who will bless us with our first grandchild (boy) in December, came to hear me speak. I was honored. (Patrick hasn't heard me speak in public since middle school. LOL!) 

Thank you, Celia E., for taking photos!

2019 Texas Master Naturalist state conference

Dr. Brooke Best, botanist, Botanical Research Institute of Texas
This past weekend, I attended my eighth Texas Master Naturalist state conference, this year held in Rockwall. I wish I could share everything I learned at all the sessions I attended, but that's just IMPOSSIBLE. But I'll give you some samples. How's that?

Dr. Brooke Best gave interesting insights on Latin grammar and how to translate the botanical names of plants. We played like detectives and looked up names in the Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners.
Christopher Ebling, a Black Prairie chapter member, taught us about basic dentrology and tree identification techniques.

At our Friday night dinner, eight-grader Calvin Carpenter gave a brief speech. He's studied white-nose syndrome in bats since FOURTH grade. He should have been our keynote speaker! Here's a 2016 article that gives some details on his work.
Ryan Blackenship, wildlife biologist, Cox McLain Environmental Consulting Inc., introduced me to the amazing world of Texas mussels. I'm going to post some photos separately of some shells he brought to show us.

Nearly everyone has a passion, and fireflies are what light up Ben Pfeiffer, who founded Firefly Conservation & Research. Here are some slides from his presentation.


Christine Gurley, a masters student at University of North Texas, educated us about painted buntings and her research on them. Did you know that young painted buntings are BOTH green? Males do not grow their rainbow pluamge until their second year. That reminded me of male purple martins, which do not turn purply black until their second year.

Alison Northup, a PhD candidate in Ecology at UT Austin, and Cliff Tyllick with Keep Walnut Creek Wild shared information from a research project on tree girdling that they're working on. For more information, click here for an article, "Invaders of Texas Citizen Scientist and UT Graduate Student Study Techniques for Girdling Ligustrum."

My weekend grand finale was attending "How iNaturalist Guides Policy," a session hosted by TPWD biologist Sam Kieschnick. He's always informative AND highly entertaining.

Texas mussels

I know NOTHING about Texas freshwater mussels or their biology. So I especially enjoyed attending "Livers of the Rivers" presented by biologist Ryan Blankenship at last weekend's Texas Master Naturalist state conference. 

I took some photos of specimens Ryan brought so you can see the diversity in size and shape. Each specimen photo is followed by a photo of its name printed inside the shell. There's also a photo of basic mussel regulations and two resources on the subject.  

Here's a checklist of Texas freshwater mussels on iNaturalist.  And here's a great resource from Texas A&M about freshwater mussels in Texas.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Spider presentation

Someone let me talk about spiders again! Yes, I gave my program, "Spiders of Central Texas," to a nice group that met Thursday at the Kingsland Library. It was part of the Green Thumb program hosted by the Highland Lakes Master Gardener chapter.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Hostplant database

I just stumbled upon an awesome database! Check out HOSTS-a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants. You can search by family, genus and/or species of butterflies and moths AND/OR by family, genus and/or species of plants along with a location. 

This database is hosted by the Natural History Museum in London.

I ran a search of milkweeds (Asclepias sp.) in the USA and came up with 53 results. So cool!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Pretty little blooms

Talayote (Cynanchum racemosum), a milkweed
Birdwing passionflower (Passiflora tenuiloba)