Donna’s Garden in October

by Donna Lewis

Can you believe it’s October!   A crazy year for sure.

I have not done very much to the garden the last few weeks. I like to let  her go to sleep slowly for the winter months.

My back also needs the rest. Any gardener will know what I mean.


The fall loves salvia. It is everywhere in the garden. 

Salvia up close
Two colors of salvia

The last butterflies are fighting over the best nectar spots, and chasing the hummers out of the garden. It’s every man or woman for themselves.

Then the flame acanthus are on fire with blossoms .The orange Celeste tree is also blooming now.

Cowpen daisies are proliferating as usual, and autumn sage is putting out its last blast of flowers.

Then there is the lovely and dainty coral vine. Bees and butterflies alike love her sweet pink blooms.

I’d say pretty nice for a little stroll through the garden.

The secret garden…

Field Full of Flowers

by Donna Lewis

The pastures at our place did not get mowed during the time we normally do that this spring. I really hate to mow at all.  Too many little things live there.

The rain and strange weather threw our normal twice a year mowing off. So, we have very high grass with dewberries and other various stuff everywhere.  You cannot even walk through it. 

The wildflowers have stopped blooming. So, while we thought we should mow it. But, I looked out and there were morning glories on top of all the grass with hundreds of butterflies everywhere. What a beautiful sight.

So it is always good to consider who is using your pastures.  You might need to wait until they are finished and then mow. Mother Nature never mowed her fields…I like to learn from her.

So just to make my other half happy, I said she could mow just around the edges. So now the butterflies were happy, but something else was not. The toads starting hopping for their lives.  Oh boy!  Most of them were Gulf Coast Toads.

So I walked ahead , caught all I could see and carried them to safety elsewhere. I just couldn’t let them get run over. I rescued about 20 or so.

Another day in the life of a Master Naturalist.

More Flowers from Donna

by Donna Lewis

Here is the next set of wildflowers and other things I saw on July 28, 2021. I will break the blog posts up to include a few each time. Look for more tomorrow!

There are so many amazing plants outside right now.

1. Cowpen Daisy.  This bad boy gets going and likes to spread everywhere. It does not need rain nor help in any way.
2. Coral Honeysuckle. This is the hummers’ favorite plant at our place. So easy to grow, and I have lots of babies to share.
 3. Zinnia. An old-time favorite that every species of butterfly likes, really worth having in your garden.
4. Fire Wheel, native plant that grows in the pastures.
5. Xemia. Sweet little yellow flower, looks great in the garden.
6. Sedum. The flowers attract lots of butterflies.

I bet all of you have these flowers either in the pasture or in your garden. If not, then plant some for the pollinators, and you will enjoy the beauty of butterflies, hummers, and many more beautiful little creatures. 

Things at Donna’s House

To follow up on the post about things Suna has been finding on her property recently, here are a few things Donna Lewis has been seeing!

by Donna Lewis

Just look around there are amazing things outside.

The first photo is a Cypress Vine. It only blooms when it is really hot!  Perfect for us. The hummers love it.  It looks great mixed with other vines.

#2 Photo is a Garden Phlox, an old species that is hard to find now.  A Tiger Swallowtail is getting some nectar from it.

#3 is our Passion Vine that we all love. It’s soo easy to grow and is the host plant for the Gulf Coast Fritillary butterfly.

#4 Turk’s Cap:  The hummers love this plant also. It likes a little shade and appears late in summer.  Very easy to grow. 

#5 Fennel Herb:  The host plant for the Black Swallowtail butterfly. Its roots are edible for humans.  The extreme freeze didn’t phase this guy.

#6 Creeping Cucumber Vine:  This is the first time I have seen this plant on our property. The freeze and early rains have brought in some interesting plants to our pastures.

I’ll send a few more blogs showing things I’ve found here.

Sightings at the Hermits’ Rest Ranch

by Sue Ann Kendall

Becoming a Master Naturalist has truly changed my life for the better. One thing that’s enriched my life is using iNaturalist. I’ve learned so much about the world around me, in particular right where I live. Our property is north of Cameron and has woods, pastures, a creek, springs, and an arroyo. That means there’s lots to see! I thought I’d share some of the summer life from this year.

First off, I’ve learned to look down and look for anything on a leaf that doesn’t look like a leaf. However, this beetle wasn’t hard to spot. It’s teeny tiny, but was so shiny it caught my eye. I think I now have a favorite beetle, and have plenty here for it to eat!

A beautiful jewel

The Mottled Tortoise Beetle is a member of the Leaf Beetle family. It is found on morning glory flowers, leaves, and vines as well as milkweed plants. Their spiny, flat larvae look more like little dark centipedes and they eat these plants while they grow and develop into rounder, shiny adults. Though they may punch holes into the leaves of the plants, they rarely cause enough harm to damage or kill the plant unless it is young or a seedling. They are not considered an agricultural pest or threat.

This week, I’m supposed to have been looking for moths, for this year’s National Moth Week collection. However, I’ve only located two. One is bright and cheery, plus it was on my car, which made it easy to see, while the other is one of those common brown ones that will soon be legion if the chickens don’t eat more of the armyworm moth caterpillars. I spotted it, because it was something that didn’t look like a leaf, but was on one of our tomatoes (which got damaged thanks to herbicide drift from the cotton across the road, grr.)

I’m always on the lookout for things that are blooming, because one of my goals when I retire is to compare when I have uploaded flowers over different years to see if they change. That’s why I keep recording observations on the ranch, even though it doesn’t count for Master Naturalist hours unless it’s part of an approved project (so, the beetle doesn’t count, but the moths do). I’m just curious about my local ecosystem and don’t need awards to motivate me at this point!

Most of the flowers I’ve been finding are in the pink to purple family, except those snake apples. I just learned they can also be called globeberries. Huh.

Of course, there are lots and lots of insects, particularly the differential grasshoppers who are dominating every moment of my outdoor life. Chickens like them a lot, though. The spiders have been interesting this year, though, and I’ve seen some new ones. I’ll also share the deep black beetle and one of the snakes that has been eating the eggs my hens produce. They seem to have gotten smarter and stopped hanging around in the hen house, which makes them easier to find and dispose of.

So, what’s thriving over where you live? Have you seen any of these species? We love it when you share your experiences on our blog! Contact me at ecrmnpresident at gmail.