Sometimes you see something so often that you forget it is interesting. That’s the case for a weird plant I’ve been seeing on our driveway ever since we built it. It always looked like bits of cotton had gotten into one of the usual spurges that line our driveway.
I finally got it into my head to take a photo of it an upload it to iNaturalist, so I could figure out what it was. I took the photo on our cutting board, hoping for better contrast.
Well, that didn’t go well at all. The plant simply does NOT photograph well, and the recognition algorithms couldn’t figure out what the thing was at all. It was guessing owls and such. I tried for a better photo, but didn’t get much further.
This is the time of year when everything is crispy and shriveled. But still, you can see life moving along, if you look carefully.
After talking to Linda Jo Conn last week about how many shriveled images were being uploaded to iNaturalist now, I got curious as to what floral beauty I could find at my place, the Hermits’ Rest Ranch.
So, my dogs and I set out to see what we could find. I looked in a meadow, a woodland border, and a riparian area. The pond still has plenty of marsh marigolds in it, but I can’t safely get to them for photos.
Most of the flowering plants right now seem to have two characteristics: very few or very thin leaves and small blossoms. The two most common examples are the prairie broomweed and yard aster, both of which look practically leafless and have tiny flowers.
In slightly shadier areas I saw a few rather tired looking prairie false foxgloves, a flower I’ve always enjoyed running into. They also have sparsely flowered plants with few leaves. I am guessing all three of these plants are high on drought tolerance lists.
I know the Mexican ruellia that’s still hanging on does well in droughts, because it did well at my Austin house, too, throwing those seeds out all over my xeriscaped garden. They are hard to get rid of, which for the most part is a feature I value a lot in a plant.
Other plants I saw were turkey tangle frogfruit, which has been going strong all year, and a lot of pretty grasses. Since I stink at grass ID, I just look at the fluffy ones, watch the ones that blow in the wind wander around the area, and admire the dignified nodding stalks.
I know others in our Chapter have been out looking for flowers, such as Conni Jo, who found a lot of flowers to photograph for the wilfdlower brochure we’re putting together. Have any of you others seen any stalwart bloomers out there braving the heat and dryness? Let us know. Share some pictures!
The Wildscape garden project is doing great, despite the recent heat. It is nice to be able to irrigate every inch the way we have it set up. We hope you enjoy the photos of some of the flowers in bloom now.
Butterflies and hummingbirds have found the flowers and are arriving in good numbers.
We’re happy to report that more items have been donated to the garden, including some solar water fountains that will provide a soothing sound and the moving water source many insects and birds enjoy.
Thanks to some impressive detective work, a group of folks from the El Camino Real Master Naturalist group, along with some Master Gardeners and friends, got to visit what may be the largest privately-owned collection of purple martin houses in the US.
Who, What, Where?
For years, people had been telling our resident purple martin expert, Donna Lewis, that there was “a guy in Milam County” with a whole lot of purple martin houses. She never could find out where the “guy” was, until the intrepid Cathy Johnson got wind of where he might be. So, they called him up and visited the place recently. It’s probably the highlight of Donna’s birding career.
Well, of course, they knew we’d all want to visit, too, so they arranged for us to visit the beautiful ranch property of Mike McCormick, a ways outside of Buckholts in Milam County.
We headed out this morning and were treated to a drive through some of the most beautiful countryside in this area. Cathy and I were in the lead car, and were really relieved to find the place, since Apple Maps had no idea where it was.
A few weeks ago, I noticed a Swallowtail butterfly flying frantically in my tropical garden, going back and forth. It would land on this volunteer plant that I didn’t know what it was until now. I realized that this Swallowtail was laying its eggs on this plant.
It turns out the volunteer tree is a Prickly Ash. After the egg laying, I noticed five caterpillars a few weeks later. They look like bird poop. They were happily eating each day and staying here.
I would check them daily. Then over time, I noticed one disappeared. Then the next couple of days, two more disappeared. Oops.