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.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Happy Spring (or, the Swearin' O' the Green)

It is officially Spring!
I've had no luck with Indian Paintbrush but early appearing Tropical Salvia provide a substitute pop of true red.
In this part of the country, it is also Sneeze Season for anybody with a nose that objects to inhaling air laden with tree pollen.  It can be a true conflict.
With no real winter weather, these Turk's Caps are getting a head start on the season.

Tropical Salvia are usually still establishing rosettes after dying down to the ground over winter.  This year they are playing right along with the Springtime regulars, adding their subtle shades to the palette.
The desire to breathe freely through my nose without sneezing mostly keeps me indoors, but the exuberant show of wildflowers inevitably draws me back out.
Temperatures are all over the place.  90 degree highs one afternoon are followed two days later by highs in the low 70s.
Henry Duelberg salvia wilts in the heat.
From behind closed windows or out in person, it is a lovely time of year.

Our area ducked recent bouts of violent weather but lost out on chances for the rain that accompanied it.  Native wildflowers are stepping up to the plate, doing their best to shine with what little rain they get, at times peeking out over fallen leaves.
Evening Primrose nods over Live Oak leaves, soon to be followed by pollen catkins.
It is dry for March but water wise native plants don't care.  They see their opening, they take their shot.

In response, pollinators are everywhere.
In our area, having bees in your bonnet is a good thing.
Some of them too tiny to see from afar and easy to miss even close up.
This is a no-ID twofer.  Don't know the name of this little flowering plant, and can't positively ID the tiny bee visiting!
UPDATE:  Thanks to Tina (and family!) over at My Gardener Says for an ID boost.  The blooming plant is Golden Groundsel (Packera Obovata) and the tiny bee is likely a Ceratina or Perdita ignota.)
Metallic green sweat bees hover and finally alight to sample aloe vera pollen.

Another tiny bee, a bit less flashy, this one visiting Common Yellow Woodsorrel.

Much larger solitary ground and structure dwelling bees are emerging as well. This one spent hours visiting a Mountain Laurel in full bloom.

Not only bees, but butterflies are appearing.  Painted Lady butterflies, Vanessa cardui, are daily visitors.
This Painted Lady butterfly has seen better days but is clearly a bit of an escape artist.
Iconic Spring in Texas.  Painted Lady Butterfly resting on a fallen Live Oak leaf near Bluebonnets.

Not to be outdone, flower spiders are moving in early, establishing their "gotcha!" launch pads, ready for any fly-bys or sap sippers exhibiting more enthusiasm than experience.

Until I was editing this on my computer, I'd missed the spider hiding just behind unopened milkweed buds. Probably exactly the plan, hiding in plain sight.

Area lizards stake out sunny spots.  Posing for potential mates...
Pole dance anyone?
or stretched out impressively, warming bodies chilled by overnight lows.

Local rock star - a Texas spiny lizard
Nests and nesters abound. It is a busy time and procreation is in the cards for the lucky.
Two Carolina wrens spent days getting this nest tucked up right over our main egress to the back deck.  We've switched to a different door for the duration, hoping to disturb as little as possible..
Paper wasps are building everywhere, requiring constant trips to procure needed pulp.  This bench must seem like a real jackpot resource wise.
Leaning in, wasp style.

Weather assisted or assaulted, the persistence of life is in beautiful evidence everywhere.
I thought I'd gotten all this Bristly Mallow out.  Clearly that was an optimistic assessment, but I'll enjoy the flowers for a few more days before going after this aggressive ground cover.

Happy Spring to you!  May all the blooming, nesting, buzzing, chirping days yet to come be filled with joy and beauty, wherever you are.