El Camino Real Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists Holds Event for Girl Scouts

by Carolyn Henderson, with additional photos from Linda Jo Conn

Young girls with boundless curiosity swarmed the Birds and Bees Wildscape Saturday, July 17, to perform public service in honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Girl Scouts of the USA. The El Camino Real chapter of Texas Master Naturalists hosted the event.

Girl Scout finds a monarch butterfly caterpillar

Approximately 40 scouts and their leaders and parents attended the event.  It started with talks given by Catherine Johnson, Donna Lewis and Alan Rudd. An additional 15 ECRMN members helped the girls.

Donna Lewis spoke to them about planting milkweed to help promote the continuation of monarch butterflies. Alan Rudd spoke about the control of mosquitos with a totally natural method.  Many adults were particularly interested in controlling mosquitos.  The scouts then put that information into practice by planting milkweed in several sections of the wildscape.

Scouts plant milkweed

The girls and members were also excited to watch the release of many Bob-white quail into the pasture at the Bird and Bee Farm. The pasture is in the process of being returned to its natural state, and the quail were released to try to repopulate the area with a native bird that once was abundant in the area. They are rarely found east of I-35 now.     

A scout shows off the goodies she’s taking home.

The girls also found stray eggs laid by other birds on the farm [guinea fowl], and monarch caterpillars that were already on the Milkweed plants that were to be planted Saturday. It was an informative and entertaining day for everyone and the scouts left with bags full of goodies and some native Texas plants to grow at home.

Two scouts explore and come back with some treasures – a large egg and some feathers.

So much went on! Enjoy more photos, as well as some taken by Linda Jo Conn. What a fun day! Click a photo to see it enlarged.

Shades of Purple

by Carolyn Henderson

Colorful blooms are bursting out all over at the Bird and Bee Farm Wildscape. Whatever your favorite color might be, it’s in there. 

Passionflower

Shades of purple are particularly abundant. They range from the bright Mock Vervain purple to the pale bluish-lavender of  Palmleaf Mists. There is a specimen of just about everything in between. I’ve included seven different flowers that are classified as “purple”. And all of them are native to Texas. They can grow in sand and blackland and most of them don’t need much rain. 

Garden cosmos

If purple is not your shade, reds, oranges, yellows, and whites are also broadly represented.  I encourage you to come and see all the colors. There are plenty of butterflies and bees to watch, too. They are particularly fond of most of these flowers. 

You can plot next year’s garden from here. And often times there are free samples to take home. Our chapter will be hosting Girl Scouts on July 17 in the morning, at the Wildscape. It’s a good time to go check out the place for yourself. 

Rainy Days at the Wildscape

by Catherine Johnson

The recent rains have delayed work at the Wildscape including planting free milkweed from Monarch Watch. 

Mason bee in nest!

Natives waiting to go in include new Side Oats Grama, Shenendoah and Heavy Metal Switchgrass, Maiden, Karl Forester, and Little Bunny grasses, Dwarf Adagio Miscanthus and Nolina for the Southwest garden.

New natives being tended include Common Bluestar and Wild Quinine (not pictured).

Between stones of the new patio will be Creeping Germander and Texas Sedge.  Soon, there will be more native plants for sharing.

Earth Day at the Wildscape

by Carolyn Henderson

[Better late than never, we’re catching up with contributions!]

Earth Day at the Birds and Bees Wildscape proved to be a banner attendance day for both members and visitors. There were 15 members of the El Camino Real Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist present to visit with the 80+ visitors that came to the site Saturday, April 24. 

Some of our group! Catherine Johnson, Donna Lewis, Donna Dworaczyk, Joyce Connor, Kim Summers, Carolyn Henderson, Scott Berger, Alan Rudd

Members visited with visitors and handed out bags full of goodies. There were pamphlets, booklets, posters, wildflower seeds, vegetable seeds, bird feeders, painted rocks, and snacks to be had. They also got to stroll through the wildscape and the bird farm.

Catherine Johnson, event organizer, shares educational material and seeds with a visitor. 

The wildscape has quite a few blooming plants. I found Zizotes Milkweed and Butterfly Milkweed that are just starting to bud out. Verbena and Blue Sage were big draws for butterflies and bumblebees. The rose bush was in bloom, and the Malabar Spinach is making a strong comeback.

American Lady on verbena.

Alan Rudd and Scott Berger hung Mason Bee nests, and Alan gave several to members. He’s tracking where the most of them get nested in the area to decide the best places to put them. Alan, I, and a cute little blonde-headed girl also discovered a stinging plant hanging out around the flowers. It really stings (see our recent stinging nettle post!). Ask the little blond-headed girl. Painted rocks and chocolate chip cookies couldn’t even stop her fussing. 

Alan Rudd and Scott Berger hand Mason bee nests.

Members got Guinea eggs that had been laid in the wildscape under a plant, and some new native flowers to plant at home. Alan Rudd took many of the eggs to hatch. I hope we’ll get to see pictures here. 

Darlene Rynolds, Donna Lewis, Jackie Thornton, Chapter President Sue Ann Kendall

And a word of caution, wear gloves when cleaning out around the flowers, and don’t leave your phone in your back pocket when you go to the outhouse (that happens to be plumbed). 

Scott Berger, Liz Lewis, Eric Neubauer, Pamela Neeley 
Kim and Donna giving the resident donkey some love.

Exploring with Friends, Safely

Suna wrote about our Earth Day 2021 activity on her blog. Look for more posts from other members, soon!

The Hermits' Rest

Our Master Naturalist chapter is slowly and carefully starting to do some activities that fall under our guidelines for safety. We really wanted to do something for Earth Day, so a few members got all organized and set up some tables over at Bird and Bee Farm, where our Wildscape project is located. I headed over there, since I had some little pins to give out, and since I hadn’t seen most of them since last year.

By the way, check out my hair. It’s SILVER, from Overtone. No more 1-inch roots!

Our members had put together all sorts of stuff to give away for adults and kids, and by the time I left, they’d had nearly 80 visitors! Luckily, they were spread out over 4 hours, so we didn’t have any scary germy crowds. We were all very glad to see each other, which was a nice feeling.

Some…

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