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, September 16, 2014

Drawn out

I absolutely can't help myself.  When I see swaths of pink in the morning skies I am simply pulled outside to dawdle and gawk a while.  As my gaze was directed upwards today I was similarly struck by a starkly lit moon.  Without intervening atmosphere or trees, the morning sun can be harsh indeed.
Of course once I was outside, I realized there was a bit of early morning detective work to do, and potentially some clean up as well.
I knew "snails" as an abstraction were putting holes in the leaves of coneflower plants I'd recently brought home from the nursery, but whenever I checked the leaves during the day, they were persistently unpopulated.  Not so this morning.

I gathered up and tossed at least half a dozen snails in specificity, rudely interrupting the morning meet up at the coneflower bar.  Including one especially cheeky snail who apparently thought it could get away with nibbling on that nursery trip's impulse buy, a deep pink coneflower.  Sorry Mr. Snail, the bar is closed.  You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.
On that same trip to the nursery, I made a planned purchase in the form of a handful of tropical milkweed plants.  I have eventual hopes of luring migrating monarchs into our spaces.  I say eventual, because the plants haven't bloomed quite yet, and there isn't anything currently for the butterflies to feed on. That hasn't stopped a small colony of yellow aphids or the ladybug I saw drawn to them yesterday.  They were all busy feeding in turn.

This morning the ladybug had moved on, so I took my garden paintbrush and carefully brushed as many of the rest of the aphids off into a soap bath as I could reach.  The milkweed cafe is temporarily closed, hopefully to reopen under new floral management.  With any luck there will be monarchs nectaring at this neighborhood eatery very soon.


Tina said...

I hope the monarchs find your lovely all-you-can-eat bar. I know the aphids have, boo-hiss! I squish as many as possible from the milkweed, but there always seem to be a few. Happy ladybug and maybe there will be a passel of nymphs soon the gobble up the rest of the aphids. Those photos, btw, magnificent!!

TexasDeb said...

Tina: From your lips to the monarch's ears (I hope). There are blossoms just about to happen on several of the milkweed plants. A few more hours in the sun and I'm hopeful there will be flowers to attract some queen if not monarch action.

I went back to double check for residual aphids and predictably enough found a few. But the ladybug was back too so I left her to it. She gets first crack at 'em and I'll provide clean up after as needed.

debra said...

Your moon looks a bit like an enormous dew drop. I don't know why but my milkweed always attracts those yellow milkweed aphids. I used to wipe them off religiously but over time I've come to see that they don't seem to harm the plant so now I leave them be. It didn't seem to matter how diligent I was those aphids kept returning. I have a theory that they are mutualists: as the aphids suck out the juices the milkweed produces a stronger toxin. That's just a hunch.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: I was quite taken with the moon there. It often looks fairly delicate when it is high in the sky but it was rather concrete looking, literally and figuratively.

Oh those aphids. I'll keep trying to brush them off to keep their numbers down as the plants are getting established. I don't think I've ever managed to eradicate aphids on a plant. These probably won't be any different but I'll try until the milkweed bloom at least.

Toni W said...

Go lady bug! The close-ups are beautiful!

TexasDeb said...

THG: That lady bug was back the next day ready for more. Best help a gardener can have.