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.  


Tina said...

Well, that's just a big ole sigh, looking at your photos. I can't even point to one that is a favorite--all are just fabulous. Love the bums-up wasp, I've also seen those around recently, though not in quite so interesting a configuration. Bee shots--all gorgeous and the Texas spiny lizard posed handsomely. Isn't is a treat to have the Tropical Sage all blooming with spring flowers--I'm enjoying mine so much.

Shirley/Rock-Oak-Deer said...

How pretty, everything is going along well in your garden.

Love all the busy pollinators! Bristly mallow is a new one, it's probably around here somewhere. Too bad it's so aggressive since it's pretty.

Happy Spring!

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Thank you - I do appreciate it! The tropical salvia are so nice mixed in with the earlier wildflowers - I'm liking the new colors they add into the usual mix here. And honestly - more flowers equals more better.

TexasDeb said...

Shirley: Happy Spring right back! Bristly mallow was bird planted here. I find the flowers enchanting, and keep falling prey to an impulse to enjoy it for short spurts with the idea afterwards I'll pull it all out. (I never get it all out) I was thinking it will look so pretty in flower along with winecup. And it would, but I'm not sure they'll flower at the same time. Meanwhile, the mallow is already drawing pollinators. By the time I see winecups in bloom the mallow will have dropped seed. And so it goes...

Kris Peterson said...

Your garden is full of life! I'm sorry that comes with troublesome pollen as well. I love all the lupine and those beautiful tropical salvias. Your eye - and your camera - are more adept at catching sight of your insect visitors than I am in my own garden but we've also got bees and lizards aplenty, plus a smattering of sulphur butterflies and ladybugs.

TexasDeb said...

Kris: A garden filled with bees, lizards, butterflies and ladybugs is reward enough, photographs aside. Your spaces are lovely and serve as ongoing reminder that water wise gardening is not barren or sparse or devoid of life. In fact, quite the opposite as your blog illustrates time and time again.

The pollen problems are a thorn, no question. Temporary though -pollen issues are all temporary, and the sooner begun the sooner ended I say. Onwards!

Kathleen Scott said...

Your front border is magnificent--a Texas take on a cottage garden and a wonderful tangle of life.The bee on the bluebonnet has to be my favorite on a small scale. And I love that you name the bees--I know next to nothing about them so it's a treat to get that info so effortlessly.

Keep good spirits. Oak pollen season will be over soon...

Thanks for your encouragement at Hill Country Mysteries!

TexasDeb said...

Kat: High praise - thank you so much! You neatly summarized what was a mostly unconscious attempt to emulate the casual interplay of blooming natives found in most cottage gardens. As to those bees - it was not that long ago I first learned of the myriad of native bees we Texans can call our own - previously I thought only in terms of honeybee or bumblebees as predominate pollinators. My ID stumbles are ongoing but I do (mostly) enjoy the attempt.

"Oak pollen season will be over soon..." - gosh I hope you're right! In the meantime, stocking up on tissues and sticking inside as much as I can stand. Thanks for dropping in!

Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

Fabulous flowers...I love the salvias and I don't think I have ever seen an aloe blooming.

TexasDeb said...

Donna: I'd only seen aloe flower stalks in other people's gardens and pots previously, then one of the aloes here started to bloom a couple of years ago. Since that time, we've had different plants blooming each year in numbers dependent upon some feature or combination of biology or climate too subtle for me to suss out. The flowers aren't flashy certainly, but perhaps that enhances my appreciation of them a bit. Thanks for dropping by!

Michael - Plano Prairie Garden said...

Nice to have the red tropical sage mixed in with the bluebonnets if you can't grow indian paintbrush. Your golden goundsel looks a little different from mine, but I agree on the ID. Hope you get more. They make a cheerful display in the spring. I like mine more each year as their footprint expands. Great bee pictures!

TexasDeb said...

Michael: My golden groundsel looks a little different from everybody's I think. It is bird planted or wind blown, in a path close to a bed and not in an optimal spot. I'm thinking I'll try to transplant it soon and hope it can re-establish before the weather turns brutally hot. Failing that I'm certainly going to be on the lookout for more at my favorite natives nursery.

Thanks for dropping by. I was happy to see your plants weren't completely demolished by the recent hailstorms in your area. Gardening in Texas is a series of challenges punctuated by brief periods of nice weather. I hope you get some of your fair share of that soon!

Debra said...

Great eye candy as always. ty. Loved the little lizard with the bubble gum throat. And the idea of planting a garden to be seen from inside. Hope you are feeling better.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Thank you. After the latest rains things are looking up. I was able to be out in the garden again for short spurts the past two days without paying too high a price. The end of the oak season is nigh, and not one day too soon. My "to-do" list is deeper than the piles of oak catkins everywhere! If we get the predicted rains again this weekend I'll be in pretty good shape. Onwards!