Pink Turk’s Cap Experiment Update

by Carolyn Henderson

Success with growing Pink Turk’s Caps from seed is looking more possible every day. I now have seven growing from seeds that wintered in the refrigerator. Then I was surprised to find that the one whole seed pod I planted in the ground last November had come up. I had flagged the site, so I could remember exactly where I put it. 

So, they will come up from a baby plant planted in the fall, seeds that have been removed from the red pod covering, cleaned, dried, and refrigerated over the winter, and a whole pod placed in a flower bed in the fall. The only version that didn’t produce plants were the cleaned and dried seeds planted in the fall in containers and left outside. 

Now, I’m waiting to get them a little larger, so I can transplant them to the mostly shaded flower bed. 

Henbit is a Hit!

by Sue Ann Kendall

It pays to pay attention to your Facebook groups, because you never know what treasures you will find hiding in there. Yesterday, I saw a post In Milam County Veggie and Plant Exchange by one of our group, Larry Kocian, that talked about one of the predominant blooming plants around my ranch this time of year, henbit deadnettle Lamium amplexicaule. I have to admit I knew little about this little purple bloomer, other than the fact that I can ID it on iNaturalist. Now, thanks to the fascinating article Larry linked to, I know a lot more, and think you should, too!

What a beauty!

This plant can be so abundant in fields that it turns them purple with its tiny orchid-like blooms. I was surprised to learn that it’s not a native plant but was brought over by European settlers as food for, you guessed it, hens (and roosters). Now you’ll never forget the name of this plant! I have taken lots of pictures of it, as you can see here, because there’s little to take pictures of this time of year.

Henbit festival

That’s right, it’s edible. The article told me it was quite good in salads and with eggs, so after feeding my hens some henbit, I picked some for myself and ate it with a fresh scrambled egg. It was quite good, as you’d expect from most members of the mint family (Lamiaceae). How did I know it was a mint? I felt its stem, which is quite square, like a member of its family.

Square stem

Although henbit is originally a plant from the Mediterranean and North Africa, it’s useful here, since it provides nectar to the honeybees and early butterflies at a time when little else is flowering (here at my house, its fellow bloomers are mostly dandelions and crow poison). My horses like it, too, judging from the lack of it in the pastures, and sure enough, the hens gobble it down.

Early spring field near my henhouse.

From what I read, it’s not dangerously invasive. Mowing can keep it under control, though I find it too pretty to mow and have noticed that when it’s done, the other plants have no trouble taking it over (sadly, that includes bur clover).

Here’s a pretty pale one.

As for me, I thought it tasted pretty good, for a green. It’s sort of like a peppery celery. It perked up my scrambled eggs quite well.

MMM, lunch.

So, go out and harvest yourself some free greens. You can cook them, too! Just be sure to harvest them in a place where it hasn’t had chemicals on it. I avoided my septic field, though I’m not sure that would have been a problem.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

by Catherine Johnson

When? Every Saturday in November from 9-noon.   

Where? Milam Wildscape Project – Bird and Bee Farm – 1369 County Road 334, Milano, Texas. 

What? Nature Days

Come see blooming tall purple asters, red and pink Turk’s cap, white fragrant mist flower, Mexican bush sage, Mexican honeysuckle, forsythia sage, Gulf muhly, and more. 

View this video for a sample of the thousands of pollinators.  We will be giving away free native plants, goody bags for all, bee houses, plus refreshments.

Come tour the garden and share YOUR nature stories with us.

Our garden is never finished, beautiful, and always WILD.

Wildscape WOW Factors!

by Carolyn Henderson

Abundant flowers attracting many pollinators leave one in awe at the El Camino Real Texas Master Naturalist Wildscape out at the Bird and Bee Farm. I read Catherine Johnson’s blog and noticed the severely overgrown Malabar Spinach awning that is being overtaken by Cypress Vines. I went out to try to tame it.


It took electric pruners to get it under control. It draped over the entrances and spread out to the picket fence and flower bed behind it. And the Cypress vine had overgrown it and was attaching itself to cannas and other bushes nearby. I have made the awning walkthrough accessible. If you want to grow either of those at your place, it’s prime time to take cuttings or pick the berries. Or take some to eat – the Malabar. I don’t know that the Cypress vine is edible by humans, but hummingbirds were sure enjoying the nectar in the flowers. 


It was hard to stay focused on the vines while several species of butterflies and bees were all over the wildscape. Many Gulf Fritillaries, Common Buckeyes, Grey Hairstreaks and Pipevine Swallowtails were there. The Zinnias and Turk’s Caps were the favorite food of the butterflies. Carpenter bees and honeybees were also abundant. Cindy Rek said she has seen a few Monarchs and they laid eggs which have developed into caterpillars already. She has photos to prove it. 

If you are participating in the the iNaturalist Pollinators BioBlitz beginning Oct. 7, the wildscape has plenty to photograph. If you don’t do bioblitzes, you can just sit among the many blooming flowers and all the pollinators buzzing around them. Pull a weed or two while you’re there. 

It’s Pretty Over at the Wildscape

by Catherine Johnson

There are many plants in full bloom in the Milam Wildscape Project. 

One cool morning Kim Summers and I began preparing the Garden for Nature Days in November.   

Kim is invisible!

We saw many butterflies and the last of hummingbirds for the year. 

Enjoy the pictures or better yet take a ride over to Bird and Bee Farm, conveniently located between Rockdale and Milano, and take home a beautiful bouquet.