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.
Monday, June 30, 2014
I'm indulging myself a bit and limiting shots to the back beds this month. The front is fairly static at the moment and I have this fantasy that if I continue to expose the very weedy paths out back it will keep me extra motivated. I despair I'll never get completely on top of the weed situation here. If I continue laboring for an hour or more in the early mornings before the sun gets high along with the temperatures, I hope to knock the weeds down to the bare minimum. And I can live with that.
I toyed with the idea of allowing succulents to grow in the front of that triangular bed behind the bench but the weeds showed up in force instead. That triangle will have to be cleared back down to the gravel mulch soon.
And there you have it. Some whining, a few victories, and a lot of work left to do. Thanks again to Heather at Xericstyle for hosting the monthly wide shot meme. It'll be back to closely cropped shots again tomorrow. Trowels crossed by the end of next month I'll be back to display some well cleared pathways with my head held high.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
|OK so technically these aren't burnt orange flowers, but close enough. Go, Horns!|
You probably knew caladiums originally come from South and Central America. But did you know they've been in cultivation in Europe since the late 18th century? Take that, tulips! And did you also know that most of them found in these parts are bred in Lake Placid Florida? I had no idea.
Caladiums work in Texas in the summer. They are very heat tolerant, the newer types will handle at least some summer sunshine, and though caladiums aren't politically correct (not native! don't support pollinators!) or au courant in the least? Though along with crepe myrtles, mimosa trees, monkey grass and St. Augustine lawns they represent a mostly abandoned version of how Austin landscapes used to look?
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
And you'd think it being summertime would fix that, because this is the time of year when experienced gardeners in Central Texas know it is time to hunker down and wait out the heat before attempting to plant anything. And mostly, that is just what I do. Other than scattering a little wildflower seed here and there, this is a planning rather than planting season for me. Except...
Monday, June 16, 2014
But, keeping in mind snails also feed birds and snakes and the occasional raccoon, I mostly leave them alone until and unless I see them in sufficient numbers to alarm. Given our ongoing run of droughty hot summers, this has not happened for quite a while.
Speaking of heat and drought, legend has it snails protected Buddha's head from the sun as he meditated during a particularly hot dry spell. Can you imagine the powers of concentration it would take to
This is not to say I am hosting any rare or new or previously undiscovered snails. This is to say I spent a lot longer than I intended online, searching out snail information and images. Most of what I found was centered around eradicating rather than identifying them. Understandable, but not helpful.
So for what it is worth, here goes my highly unscientific taking-a-wild-stab-at-what-they-are lineup of usual suspects. FIrst up? Several examples of some type of scrubsnails.
They are a lot more acrobatic than I imagined.
That smaller, slightly globose shelled snail to the top right side of the photo above, is a common brown garden snail (Cornu aspersum). They like verbena and penstemon among other flowering plants. The one on the far left? It could be a color variant of the common brown or it might be something else. Honestly it beats the heck out of me.
They feed on other snails as well as plants and I ran across a couple of sites that reported the mature snails break the tip off their shell purposefully.
Score another mystery for the snails.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Identification Woes Continue: I was pretty sure before I looked anything up that this was a Katydid. Turns out there are Greater Angle Wing Katydids and Lesser Angle Wing Katydids and even, catch this, False Katydids.
Then I began my online investigations only to discover that no matter what type of Katydid this is, it is most definitely of the adult female persuasion. That impressive bug penis? It is a characteristic "sword shaped egg laying structure". Seriously, some days I wonder why I even try.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Even as I rue their ongoing determination to reduce some of my plants to ground level nubbins, I cannot help but admit to and even admire the appeal of their young ones.
Reminder: Watch this blog and many others, perhaps even yours? for the inaugural Wildlife Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 hosted by Tina at My Gardener Says.
Monday, June 9, 2014
It is also, not so incidentally, close to the door way of the garage, a spot where The Hub routinely stands to puff on a cigar and survey his domain. The effect of the various bromeliads in proximity this way is delightful, and one of the few examples of any sort of massed "plantings" in our spaces. After coming back from our trip last year The Hub and I agreed. We liked them much better "Out" of the greenhouse. This year I couldn't wait to see them lifted from obscurity and back on full display.
|Reblooming Bromeliads, Spath plants and Acuba "Gold Dust".|
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Thursday, June 5, 2014
I had not wanted to post my photographic auto-indictment, but I knew if I did it would help motivate me out into the garden to begin the work needed to reclaim those beds. Any job no matter how large or how small begins simply by getting started. So start I did.
Here you have it, another look down from above with at least a slightly improved version of my vision. Better, yes? Yes! That is my "start". Now, for the startling... As I was pulling out primrose by the hands full, I began to notice a few of these.
Altica litigata, and like me, they love them some primrose. Fortunately they don't bite or sting and frankly I think the way their metallic black backs glisten in the sun is handsome. Unfortunately in addition to their tasties for primrose they are reportedly inclined to move over to crepe myrtle trees to support their colonies. Which we have three of, fairly near by. Crepe myrtles, I mean.
No, Altica litigata, no thank you. No crepe myrtles for you!
I'm optimistic I can handle the beetles non-chemically, with a combination of removing the host plants (including leaf litter underneath) and spending as long as it takes knocking the remaining beetles into soapy water. These little fellas fly, but not far, and at this point I'm finding it fairly easy to knock them into a deadly soap bath to reduce their numbers. I don't like stepping into the beds and compressing the soil but at the moment it is a fair trade and what I must do to gain access.
There are several lessons to be learned from this, but one chief lesson here is to avoid letting anything this close to a monoculture get established, no matter how much I like weeks of pink blossoms in my gardens. Monocultures naturally encourage infestations, and my garden beds are currently proof of that.