Welcome!

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.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Down but not drought

Even the most casual news follower is likely aware of the serious storms that have been moving through Central Texas the past few days.  There has been significant damage caused, much loss of life as well as property.  I feel quite fortunate that so far, family and friends living in the path of the storm systems have reported in they are soggy, but safe.  That is and has not been anything to take for granted recently.

Yesterday I went out prior to the arrival of the heaviest rains to see what was blooming despite the rain, and who was making their rounds besides the happy happy snails.

Jewels of Opar, Althea, Polk Salad plant and Cannas are not waiting for the sun to shine.





I caught a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar just as it had attached to a branch and was preparing to form a chrysalis.
Three minutes later it seemed to be slightly less colorful, and had assumed a "J" shape.
Not quite twenty-four hours later, after weathering some hail and over four inches of wind driven rain, the protective casing seems complete.  Great camouflage job don't you agree? Now it looks like nothing more than a withered leaf.
On the fennel, waterlogged and leaning over to touch the ground, several swallowtail caterpillars continue to work the fronds, albeit with a lot more company than is usual.
I passed on taking a picture, but ease of access has opened up the banquet table to all sorts of less ambitious climbers.  Two kinds of snails and a host of pillbugs of varying sizes were all joining the cats in nibbling on the well washed fennel fronds.
Finally, a shot of some Mammatus clouds that appeared yesterday evening as the sun was setting.  As striking as these clouds are in combination with weirdly colored skies, they are harbingers of significantly severe weather.  No kidding mammatus clouds, we were already copied on that memo.
For the moment our immediate area is in the clear weather wise, though the death, injury and property damage tolls are still climbing as the storm systems continue moving to the north and east.  Population areas towards the low end of all runoff lines are flooding and can expect that to continue for days, if not weeks to come.

Area lakes are now half full, moving our area from what might be considered an agricultural drought more towards a hydrological drought, still affecting future municipal water supplies.  People living around Lake Travis reported a heavy layer of debris accumulating, as the runoff after heavy rains acted like a wildly inconsiderate power washer, moving small docks, jet skis and all manner of loosely anchored material into the water.

I am deeply grateful for the safety of friends and loved ones, relieved to have escaped significant property damage, and on a much smaller scale, happy to note that despite winds, a bit more hail and torrential rains, the smallest inhabitants of our garden seem to be staying calm and carrying on.

13 comments:

Cat said...

Sadly, we have a brother in law that lost everything in the Blanco flood. Fortunately, he was able to get out safely with his two dogs and laptop. So sad to hear the missing persons tally rising. It's heartbreaking knowing that the filling of Lake Travis is often accompanied by flooding. Our backyard is still holding standing water and the dg is washed completely away...there was a raging creek back there yesterday during the height of the storm. We've been here 16 years and have never seen water coming off the hill quite like that. It was impressive. Thankfully, none is in the house or garage. I went for a walk around the perimeter of the beds this morning and am at a loss as to how to begin cleaning up with the water still standing and knowing that there is the potential for more rain. Many plants are drowning but there are just as many that are loving it. What's a gardener to do? Wait patiently, I guess. Patience. I'm working on it. Glad you and yours are safe and dry too.

Kris Peterson said...

I'm glad to hear that you, your family and friends are safe. I heard one tragic story after another as I listened to the news this morning. Mother Nature can be incredibly cruel, giving and taking at the same time. We're already hearing warnings here that the floods you're experiencing are the front edge of a strong El Nino that's likely to impact SoCal this winter (without ending our drought, which has less to do with rain than with the absence of snow in NorCal). Still, the fact that a caterpillar can manage to survive under horrific stress offers a degree of comfort. Stay safe Deb!

Travis Heights Garden Mama said...

Great chrysallis picture and the canna is gorgeous! It's been a wild few days- I'm hoping the next week is calmer and brings better news for those affected by the floods.

TexasDeb said...

Cat: I am very sorry to hear about your brother in law but relieved no loss of life was involved. Things will be replaced... It is going to be really interesting to see how various plants handle this run of days with their feet staying wet. It will be yet another adjustment to a lot of our garden lineups, similar to what happened during the drought only in reverse. Going even one day without rain has made a positive difference here and I hope it has for your spaces as well.

TexasDeb said...

Kris: I am seeing predictions we will be cooler than usual this summer, which won't mean it doesn't get hot here, but perhaps we won't have extended periods of triple digits to contend with. I was happy to see a couple of ground bees out working the flowers once the sun came out yesterday afternoon. I don't know how their burrows fare in flooding such as we've had, but it seems some adults have survived. The resilience of life is quite something!

TexasDeb said...

THGarden Mama: The canna was a Mother's Day gift. I was thrilled with the colors in the foliage, but with the pop of orange flowers up top it is one of the most striking plants around at the moment. Of course the fact cannas take standing in water in stride doesn't hurt. They haven't minded all the rain one bit.

I was relieved not to have more rain here in Central Texas yesterday, and hope that holds true today as well. For all those working to dig out from floods (and even for those anticipating rising waters yet to come) every day we go without rain for the next bit will be some help. Climate disruption theories may be debated, but it certainly feels we are being required to garden through some pretty wild extremes, doesn't it?

Laurin Lindsey said...

I am glad you are okay. Thank you for the pictures of all the caterpillars hanging in there. Great photo of the Jewels of Opar buds, I have been trying to photograph mine but it is very difficult. We made it out of Austin Monday just as it started to pour. This has been a very wet spring and I am grateful for the lakes and aquifers to fill up and the ground to get a really deep soak...but hard to be truly grateful knowing that people lost their lives.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

I am glad you are safe and will keep good thoughts for a turn around...and I am glad the butterflies are hanging on...none spotted here and we are hot and dry again.

TexasDeb said...

Laurin: I've been trying to get a good shot of those "Jewels" for quite a while. They are so tiny and yet so gorgeous I think. I'm willing to put up with their aggressive reseeding where I've got them now. I learned that lesson the hard way, like most of my gardening lessons...

I'm relieved you made it back home Monday and hope you remain safe - I know your area remains under the gun weather wise as all the flood waters make their way to the coast. This is a spring season we will not soon forget...

TexasDeb said...

Donna: At least a few butterflies and moths are managing to carry on despite the weather. Local pollinators could certainly use some hours of sun shine, which are few and far in between. I have no doubts their numbers will be affected, though some other insects, mosquitoes in particular, are experiencing population explosions, taking advantage of all the standing water. I am grateful to still be here, and to still have a garden to worry over. I'm going to try to take mosquitoes swarming, along with all the ants and snails and other pests appearing, in stride.

Rock rose said...

I am amazed at how your J of O is flowering already. Mine has only just started to grow-in a zillion places. Plants seem to be having a hard time flowering this year. They need some SUNSHINE! I have only seen a few bees and just one caterpillar on my parsley. SO glad you get to keep an eye on the chrysalis. How long before nature's miracle arrives? By the way the plumerias are on the way. I am trying to keep them dry along with my cactus. Keep pulling them undercover.

Rebecca Newcomb said...

I loved those mammatus clouds - I saw them as well on Memorial day and snapped a couple pics that will be put up on the blog soon. Yesterday, my husband and I dropped off some supplies in Wimberley to the volunteers that are working on the flood clean-ups. I'd seen many pictures on the news or posted by friends of the area, but the pictures don't do reality justice. The devastation of the area is unbelievable. I can't imagine how fast the waters were moving to knock down and uproot hundred year-old cypress trees and carry buildings off their foundations. I continue to think about all those impacted by the floods, and am grateful to those helping to clean up and restore the communities that were hit.

Debra said...

Beautiful photos. Love the last especially. They say that we are finally seeing the results of the el nino noticed awhile ago. Super sized with climate change. Yipes. It seems to be that we are going to have a pretty wild summer.