Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gardening Stubborn

This is not a good time of year for me to be outdoors.  While I'm not sensitized to cedar, I am reduced to a sodden dripping mess once live oak pollen season arrives. And according to the accumulating carpet of fallen leaves all around our house, that time is right now.

That doesn't mean I don't take measures.  I so do.  We load up pristine filters to our air intake grids for the season.  We keep doors and windows closed no matter how pleasant the temperatures.  I stock up on tissues. I take daily over-the-counter tablets designed to tamp down my pollen response without rendering me unconscious.  I stay indoors.


Every year around October I attempt to seed in a patch of bluebonnets of sufficient dimensions to be safely viewed from indoors the following March. This visual satisfaction is meant to be garnered from the house, through closed windows, where the air is not industriously ferrying prodigious amounts of pollen to assist in the attempts to make oak tree babies. Not to mention the collateral damage done to my breathing bits.

And every year, there comes a bright and breezy March afternoon when I can no longer resist.  I decide consequences be damned, I simply MUST get out close enough to watch the bees at work in the blooms.  So I do.

And I did.  Naturally I took my camera with me, hopeful I could grab a few shots to display on my computer that would help keep me safely, happily indoors, as the pollen counts continue to climb.  That said, me being me, I couldn't just rush over to the winner's circle.  First I had to check out the also rans.

Coral honeysuckle and oxalis are true color work horses in a Central Texas garden, but their persistence into the summer months means I take them just the littlest bit for granted.  So unfair, I know.
Coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens.  I trimmed away overhanging branches recently to encourage more blooms.
Oxalis dillenii - slender yellow woodsorrel - is considered a weed by many, but I welcome it as a native ground cover.

I didn't catch bees at work on either.  Like me, the pollinator's current attention seems captivated by the appearance of our shorter term natives.   And why not.  According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Bluebonnets, aka Lupinus texensis, are "recognized by pollen ecologists as attracting large numbers of native bees."

While I'm already in bee nerd territory, may I mention that the orange colored saddlebags prominently displayed on the bee above?  Those are tibial pollen baskets called corbicula.  But maybe you knew that.  

Tibial trivia aside, I have no idea if the bees in these photos are natives.  I listened as long as I could and never once heard any trace of a drawl, so the jury is still out on that question.

Native or not, they were quite good company while I stubbornly ignored my seasonal allergies in favor of indulging some seasonal viewing.  Happy bluebonnet season, y'all!


Cat said...

For the first time this season I saw a big stand of bluebonnets this morning. Doesn't matter how long you live here, it's always exciting, right?! Sorry you suffer so...it's really just not fair. Didn't know what those little saddlebags are called and have already promptly forgot the "correct" term! Happy spring to you, friend. It is going to be glorious indeed after that horrid winter. My garden is tired, tired, tired. Hoping is perks up here soon.

TexasDeb said...

That is so true - those deep blue flowers never fail to quicken my pulse.

Thanks for the sympathy Cat, I deeply appreciate it. Runny nose or not, I'll celebrate Spring right along with you, rejoicing with each plant as it shakes off winter's insults.

Tina said...

And the darker yellow stuff in the hive and honey is called acropolis--used to seal the hive. Ha! And you thought you were the only bee nerd out there. :) So sorry that you suffer this time of year, but I'm glad you braved the elements for those photos! Down with oak pollen!! (Literally--the sooner, the better.)

Tina said...

I'm having so much trouble paying attention today, 'acropolis' is a place. 'propolis' is bee stuff.

Debra said...

=/ So sorry to hear your are suffering with the pollen.

I love the sorrel. I think the flowers are pretty. It grows just under my dryer vent. It could probably grow on Mars.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Ha! I love the accidental conflation of bee hive sealing substances with ancient Greece. Remembering one will always help me remember the other now. Bee nerdery is fun - hope they're able to make a comeback now that scientists seem to be getting a grip on what elements are behind their decline.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Welcome! And thanks for that - I honestly have to watch out or I do start feeling REALLY SORRY for myself for being mostly stuck indoors this time of year.

I'm pretty sure if that Mars rover investigates long enough it will find sorrel somewhere. And Bermuda grass too. At least the sorrel has delicate yellow flowers and lovely lobed leaves. Much as I've tried I never manage to find anything to like about Bermuda grass!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great pics of your area's floral gems, especially the bluebonnets. And for braving your alergies to get out there and enjoy, in spite.

Bees - I was clueless about their pollen-saddlebags, or much about bees, except I've always liked and respected them!

Drawls - hilarious, I had a friend talk to my former live oaks and dwarf palmettos in his native Florida dialect years ago!

Oxalis - I'm with you on taking tough natives that are too small, too common, but not too aggressive, and retaining them.

Thanks for posting...good stuff!

TexasDeb said...

David/Dry Heat - Thanks for dropping by! Reading your comment I just realized, that though I'm not so small, I am yet a tough, common native that is not too aggressive myself. Guess my appreciation falls into the "it takes one to know one" territory.