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.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Becoming a proper hostess

Ladybug, aka Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle
Years ago, when I began gardening in earnest, I found it endlessly fascinating (and impressive) when gardeners could walk around and identify every plant in their spaces (or anybody else's).   Honestly, I could bring home eight 4 inch pots from the nursery and if they weren't labeled I'd be just as likely to forget what two of them were by the time I got around to putting them into the ground.
Reakirt's Blue (Echinargus isola)
Which, come to think of it, probably explains a lot of my early (and a few of my ongoing) failures.

Red Admiral with folded wings (Vanessa atalanta) 
I became obsessed with figuring out what things are.  Courtesy of the internet, I no longer have to remember what every plant is called.  If I forget what something is called, I simply look it up.  I might not be a walking font of recalled plant knowledge but give me time on my computer and I eventually figure things out.  I consider the flora situation handled.
Question Mark Butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis)
Checkered White (Pontia protodice)
Unfortunately, as I've written here before, when it comes to the fauna, the birds and butterflies and bees and moths?  They don't so much hang around to pose for my close inspection or occasional portraits.  Peering at only the underwing, or the blurry feathered thing in the treetop looking away from the camera?  It's not always easy to figure out what it is flitting through our spaces day to day.
Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
That doesn't mean I won't try. This year I've been going out as often as possible with my camera and capturing as many photos as I can of winged and footed visitors to our garden spaces.  After I've gotten the images I do my durnedest to properly identify every one.  Eventually I hope to have a library of images established to help me understand who my regular visitors are.

Sleepy Orange Sulphur (Abaeis nicippe) - I think!
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
I feel it is only hospitable, to be able to greet them all by name.


Debra said...

Polite and I think it is also a kind of literacy with all the gifts of being a literate person: knowledge, a skill and the opportunity to play. Thanks for getting the shots and naming them because they are all new to me.

It helps that they are beautiful. The Reakirt's Blue looks a bit like lace. I actually saw a Checkered White the other day and thought it was a bit like negative image of the forester moth but had no luck trying to look it up. (thanks!) I am really drawn to the color in the Orange Sulphur. Pretty. And of course the lovely ladybug on the yellow is like candy.

(happy sigh) I love coming over here.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Sincere thanks for sharing your happy sigh - yours brought one to me.

Point well made about gifts, I'll happily reframe my pursuits in those terms. It sounds more refined. Ahem! Family: Now hear this - I am NOT obsessed, I am simply pursuing the gifts of literacy.

They are beautiful, aren't they? I can (and do) watch them for hours.

Tina said...

Such a worthy cause! I'm so bad about not spending the time required to identify the flyers and crawlers. I have a good friend who is a botanist and she once told me that she thinks she was interested in botany because the plants just "sit" there and don't move! I think that may describe me as well. I've enjoyed your photos--admire the clarity and your patience in achieving them. I think I need to follow your example, relax and spend time with t he crawlers and flyers--they deserve our attention! Thanks for the inspiration.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: It is that fact of most gardeners knowing so much about their plants that has shoved me over towards trying to know my bugs instead. I might run into plants I don't know anywhere in our area (aka in my own beds), but local bugs are pretty much common to all.

In other words I'm both competitive AND lazy.

Pam/Digging said...

Great idea. I'd love to know their names too. I know -- why don't you create a master page of pictures and IDs for the rest of us? ;-)

TexasDeb said...

Pam: Hmmm - a master page.......

I might, actually. Of course, the host plants I've got differ from the host plants you've got so we'd probably be seeing a different sampling of the usual suspects for Travis County. There are more of those than I thought there'd be. More on that soon!