A Snowy Wildscape

by Catherine Johnson

Gary drove me to the Milam Wildscape in the storm through back roads, which were safe.  In addition to the snow, the Wildscape had also just recently received 9 inches of rain, but it held!!   

Enjoy some photos of the wintry wildscape!

It’s almost unrecognizable!

In the gallery below, be sure to click the images to see them full size!

See You in the Spring!

Photos by Catherine Johnson

Catherine tells us that the work on the Wildscape has ended for the winter, since Master Naturalists are following our organization’s guidelines, and the Bird and Bee Farm has slowed down for the winter, as well. She wanted to share some photos of the last bits of work our Chapter members did in November.

Macaroni watched all the proceedings.

Click on any of these images to see them full size and uncropped.

We hope to be back at work as soon as possible!

Bye and love from Macaroni

Native Fall bloomers and Catatonic Carpenter Bees

(or another day at the Bees and Birds Wildscape)

By Carolyn Henderson

A sea of color is in bloom at the Milam Wildscape project at Bird and Bee Farm outside of Milano. Most of the blooms are courtesy of native Texas plants. On a follow-up trip on Saturday, October 24, to check on the Malabar Spinach vine I am trying to keep trimmed, I was met with a surprise of different colors and some catatonic bees.

There were many shades of purple, pink, orange, yellow, red and white from a variety of plants still thriving.

The most surprising was a Cypress Vine (below) that had sprung up, wrapped itself around the awning with the spinach, climbed about four feet and proceeded to bloom since I was last at the site. 

Cypress Vine, growing like crazy

There were also Lavender Leaf Sage, American asters, Southwestern Cosmos and some pink flowering vines full of catatonic carpenter bees.

The carpenter bees had attached themselves to a few different flowers but mostly to this plentiful pink flowered vine (Suna says: coral bells Antighonon letopus). They seemed to be in a state of hibernation – probably temporary. They could be touched with almost indiscernible movement from them. (I thought they were bumble bees until I put them on iNaturalist.)

Also in bloom and growing were goldshower, cut-leaf crane’s-bill, Indian blanket, white and pink roses, and a frilly, white shrub-like flower. A pair of Gulf Fritillary were also weathering the cold front on a tropical sage.

If that’s not enough, a great group of volunteers were planting more including a couple of trees.  (Pictured l to r : Carolyn Henderson, Pamela Neeley, Scott Berger, Liz Lewis, Catherine Johnson, and Donna Lewis (kneeling). Most of the foliage is putting out “babies”, and the “babies” are available for adoption to be planted at your place. For information on that, contact Catherine. You also can volunteer to help grow the wildscape by contacting her.

Volunteers, plus that good kitty.

Kim Gets Dirty at the Wildscape

by Catherine Johnson

I went to the Wildscape to care for an ill and loyal garden cat.

Kitty not feeling well

Master Naturalist Kim went too. After caring for the cat, I found Kim at the frog pond which was very dirty and dry and snakey.

Fixing up the frog pond

She got it back in shape.

Kitty inspects Kim’s work!

A lot of plants are blooming.

Email me for hours, plants, or go visit Friday or Saturday morning!

Why I Love the Wildscape (Plus Acorns)

by Carolyn Henderson

If you like to work amid a plethora of flowering native plants while guineas, turkeys, chickens, and kitties hang out with you, the Bird and Bee Farm Milam Wildscape is the place to get some volunteer hours for Texas Master Naturalists. Several members of El Camino Real Master Naturalist started the place, with the help of the property owners. They have planted mostly Texas native flowering plants, and with the help of donations from the birds, it has bloomed galore in the one and half years it’s been going. It has grown so fast (bird poop is effective) that it requires tending and controlling. 

At the invitation of Donna Lewis, I went out a few weeks ago to be introduced to it with a few other chapter members. It was an amazing thing to see. Cathy Johnson is the primary contact person, and she and other chapter members have held some teaching events for kids over the last year. They also staff it some Saturday mornings for anyone from the public who’d like to stroll through it. 

Malabar spinach before

It does need care. I took on an attempted control of a Malabar Spinach vine that is taking over a metal archway. The arch is meant to be walked through, so some pruning is called for regularly. It’s a beautiful plant with dark green leaves and pink flowers. It’s also edible. I haven’t tried it yet. I’ve included some before and after pictures. Other jobs include turning on the sprinklers and turning them off while you get some pictures, or dead heading plants among other jobs.

That plant is way more in control now.

It also is an excellent place to repurpose things. For example, many of the borders around the different beds are old rain gutters. I used an old wicker basket for decorative purposes on the pruning of the spinach vine. The bottom of it was rotted and no longer usable for its original purpose. It’s also a great place to get photos of butterflies and bees.

Doesn’t the basket look nice?

Contact Cathy or Donna if you’re interested in lending a hand and earning volunteer hours. It is located on CR 334, Rockdale, 76567. 

As for Acorns

Holey acorns

On an unrelated topic, I have attached a picture of some acorns with holes. The students and members who attended our last class Thursday, October 1 may appreciate the find after hearing the video by Dr. Doug Tallamy and his love of caterpillars and moths.

I found them in my flower bed. They have been there a year. Every single one had the holes in them that indicate nesting, as Dr. Tallamy explained.