Sunday, December 30, 2007

Birds at Los Ebanos Nature Preserve

This is a common yellow-throat feeding in the reeds next to the resaca.

Here's a long-bill thrasher pushing its way through the leaves for a snack.

This is (my best guess) an orange-crowned warbler.

Here's an ovenbird.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Roseate Spoonbills

Check out the roseate spoonbills on the resaca at Los Ebanos Nature Preserve on Highway 100.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Trip to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin

People are mulling around looking for plants to buy at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on Saturday.

In the front falling over the wall is Gregg dalea (Dalea greggii), to the right and not blooming is Gregg salvia (Salvia greggii), the rosettes on the ground are big red sage (Saliva penstemonoides), the misty like grass behind the Gregg dalea is gulf coast muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and behind that is Lindheimer muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri).

This is a plant that should be listed on the Endangered Species List called Texabama croton (Croton alabamensis var. texensis). It was not discovered until 1989, similar to a variety in Alabama and Tennessee. The botanist I talked to thinks the Texas variety is a new species, not just a variety. The Texas variety has a silvery underside to its leaves and it can come back from being burned to the ground, something the ones in Alabama and Tennessee can't do.

This weekend I went to the annual fall plant sale at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. It is a great native plant sale. I got several wildflowers (and a grass) that I hope do well in my area, including Lindheimer senna, Copper Canyon daisy, Wright's yellowshow, Antelope horn milkweed, Gregg dalea, tree morning glory, skeleton plant, Missouri primrose, blue shrub sage and switch grass. I was hoping to pick up a madrone, but those were all bought during the members' only sale on Friday. I had a good time walking around the wildflower center, talking to an old Austin friend, Dean. If you ever visit Austin (or live there), the wildflower center has a great variety of trails and plants to enjoy and learn about. Being good stewards for nature means we all should fill our gardens up as much as possible with native plants. They are just as beautiful as any plants in the world, but because they are from here, they use fewer resources to keep them thriving, and they are important to the survival of all kinds of wildlife. It would help, however, if we didn't destroy so much of it in the first place. Why can't homebuilders not flatten every square inch. Why does Bermuda grass need to replace little bluestem and prairie flowers or areas of native shrubs and trees?

Trip to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin

Here is a stand of purple coneflower. It appears to be Echinacea purpurea rather than E. angustifolia, which would be the variety native to this part of Texas.

This looks like spread-leaf aster (Aster patens).

This is one of my favorite Central Texas flowers, eryngo (Eryngium leavenworthii).

I'm not sure which critter is on this Maximilian sunflower (Helianths maximiliani), but my wife mentioned longnose in passing.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Parrots ahoy

You know when a flock of parrots are nearby with the racket they make. This guy, who is in our neighbor's pecan tree, is a member of a flock of red-crowned parrots.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Blooming in the garden

You know I love my rain lillies. Ah, there is nothing quite like Zephyranthes sp. 'Grandjax'. It is perhaps the most floriferous rain lilly I've been around.

This wispy plant, called Baja fairy duster or Calliandra californica, grows from California to Texas. I love it.

This is a native volunteer plant we call cowpen daisy, Verbesina encelioides. It is an annual, but it comes back every year. As you can see, it is a star among butterflies.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Yummy in my tummy

This mango comes from my first crop off of one of my trees. I'm not sure I ever thought a mango would taste better from my own tree than from a grocery store. The reason I thought that is many tropical fruits ripen off the tree, including mangoes. With this mango, called 'Carrie,' I waited to harvest it until it literally just fell into my hands after touching it. No mango I've ever bought in a grocery store matched up to the 'Carrie' mango I tried this weekend. It really is just a flavor explosion. The mango is mostly green and light yellow on the outside when it is ripe. Maybe that's why my mango is better than the ones in the grocery store. The grocery stores are looking for varieties they think people associate with being good, the red-skinned types. Well, let me tell: You are missing a great culinary experience if you don't look for the more odd looking fruits. The grocery stores also probably pick the fruits weeks before they are ready to be picked.