When a Four-Year-Old Takes Hold of Your Camera

by Carolyn Henderson

On Sunday, November 21, I discovered that four-year-olds have a natural eye for photographing nature. It started on the Saturday evening before when a friend asked me what I was going to do on Sunday, and I said I was going to go “iNating” at Wilson-Ledbetter Park in Cameron. And she said she and her daughter (the 4-year-old), would like to go with me. 

Vivi and the lady beetle.

Around noon on Sunday, we met at the park. Spring (the friend) had printed a nature scavenger hunt for Vivi (the 4-year-old). The idea was to keep Vivi occupied while learning about nature. It didn’t take Vivi long to find everything pictured except two with the help of Spring. A pinecone was not going to be found at Wilson-Ledbetter, because there is no pine tree there. We didn’t see a squirrel either. 

Wilson-Ledbetter Park bridge

She had been interested in me taking pictures of Birds-eye Speedwells, Straggler Daisies, Santa Maria Feverfew, Docks, and a Black Willow sporting yellow fall leaves. She asked me what each one was, and luckily I knew them – so far. This is when she decided to help me take pictures. Spring tried to divert her by offering her cell phone, but Vivi wanted the camera, and I was willing to share. It’s old and I need a new one, anyway. 

These seeds are not delicious.

After a few times reminding her to keep her fingers from in front of the lens, she had it down. She took a particular interest in holes in the ground, anything that had a “V” shape, because she knows that’s the first letter of her name (and the other letters, too), the blue seeds on an Eastern Cedar (which we had to dissuade her from tasting), Carolina Snailseed, Frostweed (which was still blooming), dandelions, and Lady Beetles, which she could also catch.  She had as difficult a time as I do trying to get some little yellow butterflies to be still for a minute. 

Carolina snailseed

All the pictures shown except for her holding the Seven-spotted Lady Beetle were taken by Vivi. She asked me to tell Santa Claus that she wants a camera for Christmas. I quickly sent the message to Santa. ; )

Donna’s November Garden

by Donna Lewis

Hello everyone,

As promised, I am showing you photos of my pollinator garden through all 12 months of 2021. You can get an idea of what changes take place.   

My garden is 95% native plants and trees. That fact has made it more resilient to temperature and other factors making it easier to manage. Even now I have a few Monarchs, Fritillaries, Swallowtails, Sulphurs, and a host of other butterflies.

It is pretty warm in the garden so many plants like Salvia and Blue Mist Flower still have nectar to provide. Today it is cloudy and windy, not a good day for the butterflies to be out and about. The garden also has more shade now because of the location of the sun. Butterflies need sun to warm their bodies. They cannot regulate their own temperature.

The leaves are starting to cover the open areas and the plants. This provides the needed cover to protect living things from chilly weather. I have tree frogs moving around under the vines.  You can find chrysalis of several butterfly species under branches and along the fencing. Yes, it might look messy, but not for the wild things.

As I like to remind all of us who love nature… you must remember who you are gardening for? Look at the garden from the bird and butterflies’ point of view.

Soon it will be time for the winter nap.

Mystery Flower Revealed

By Carolyn Henderson

The mystery flower at the El Camino Real Texas Master Naturalist Wildscape that we shared a picture of a few days ago revealed itself one week later at the second weekend of club members working very hard to spread native Texas wildflowers. It is a Purple Coneflower

The flower in its mystery state

This particular Purple Coneflower is somewhat unique in that it is a very late bloomer, its bloom is unusually large, and no one knows how it got there. It has several other buds that I hope get to open up before a hard freeze. 

Now it looks familiar!

If you’d like to see the mystery (now revealed) flower, the ERCTMN members will be holding one more weekend of giving free native Texas Wildflowers to anyone who’d like some. Pots to put them in when they are dug up ran out last weekend, so bring something to put them in to take home. The Wildscape is on County Road 334 at the Bird and Bee Farm

Echinacea purpurea

The only plant that doesn’t have extras is the Purple Coneflower. Cultivator Catherine Johnson hopes to collect seeds from it to share next spring. 

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.

Salvia

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.