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 5, 2016

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

May started out on a gentle note but this afternoon's rapid heating reminded me we won't be hanging around with windows open for long.

Meanwhile, this is a favorite photo of the most recent shots.  A Fiery Skipper Butterfly, Hylephila phyleus, resting on a leaf of some common, dare I say, "garden variety" mint.
Feliz Cinco de Mayo, y'all.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Giving April her due

Time for a slightly different approach.
I find this passalong Pavonia consistently charming.
I don't have much to say today.
Didn't see the butterfly that laid the egg for this guy.  Fortunately my observation was not key to the process.
I did want to share a few recent images from the garden.
Cedar waxwings stuck around to fill up on loquats before heading north.
Intermittent rains both watered and kept the heat at bay through the end of April.

Plants and pollinators alike are happy about that.
Pollinators of every stripe have been happy to share the loquat bounty.
So am I.
Question Mark Butterfly, (Polygonia interrogationis) is a fan of the fermenting loquat fruit. 
My oak pollen "problem" is over for another year, though other trees continue their courtship dances in and on the wind.
I am able to enjoy my gardens from the other side of the windows again.
Here's to time spent outside with no more than the usual set of possible consequences.
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) visits Lantana.
Fare thee well, April, here's looking forward to May!

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.  

Sunday, February 28, 2016

I finally heard it - maybe you have too?

I thought I'd become immune.
I thought I'd gotten
 too hardened,
 frustrated to the point of no return.
But I kept being called out, drawn into the garden spaces.
I pretended to see if I needed to trim something a bit...
but then I'd stop to admire while acknowledging nothing needed trimming.

As I ventured out in my garden beds, I began hearing something.  At first it was barely audible.
But it happened again...and again.
A little snatch of tune...a snippet of melody...just the notes at first.  Until finally...the words became
enough...to catch.  I had to actively listen, to hear.
To finally admit and understand.
It was only, ever, going to be a matter of time.
Because when it comes to the great awakening of garden and gardener alike? We silly humans may swear we are done, that this gardening thing, it is all over. We can say we have washed our hands and walked away forever.

But the garden, deep in her heart, she simply knows better.
Time, as always, is on her side.

Sings my garden:
Time is on my side, yes it is
Time is on my side, yes it is

Now you all would say, that you wanna be free
But you'll come running back (Like I said you would, baby)
You'll come running back (Like I told ya so many times before)
You'll come running back to me, yeah

You're searchin' for good times, but just wait and see.
You'll come running back (I said you would, darlin')
You'll come running back 
You'll come running back to me

Go ahead, baby, go ahead. Go ahead and light up the town.
Baby, do anything your heart desires remember, I'll always be around
I know, I know like I told ya so many times before
You're gonna come back, yeah you're gonna come back, baby 

'Cause I got the real love the kind that you need
You'll come running back (I knew you would one day)
You'll come running back (Like I told you before)
You'll come running back to me, yeah

Via Wikipedia: "Time Is on My Side" is a song written by Jerry Ragovoy (under the pseudonym of Norman Meade). First recorded by jazz trombonist Kai Winding and his Orchestra in 1963, it was covered (with additional lyrics by Jimmy Norman) by both soul singer Irma Thomas and the Rolling Stones in 1964.