Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Show and Tell

It is busy out in the garden beds this time of year.

If I want to uncover ant activity, all I have to do is move a stepping stone to one side. Generally some enterprising colony has taken advantage of the protective cover and they'll have a nest going underneath. It is apparently very exciting to have this revealed judging by the frenetic activity that results.I moved the stepping stones out of necessity, not just to screw with the ants, but I was pleased in a kind of shuddery, "ugh" sort of way to note several different species of what I hope are native ants apparent. When fire ants become prevalent in our area they often out compete native varieties.

This is roughly akin to what happens at rush hour on MoPac. Great numbers of folks who have moved to Austin are all trying to get to work or back home at the same time along the same route. This results in gridlock. Only in ant terms, they don't sit in traffic and wait to get home, they apparently duke it out and the natives tend to lose out, territory wise.

So I am happy to have found other types of non-fire ants making themselves at home on our property. [Cue Disney singers to hum "Circle of Life']

Then there are the leaf foots and stink bugs. They are congregating morning and afternoons both, mostly on the shasta daisies although I found a few on a butterfly plant yesterday. I promptly doused them in soapy water. I was glad I didn't get so distracted that I missed the butterfly plant's seed pod that had opened to reveal these beauties.I'll scatter some and let the wind do the rest.

The butterflies are kicking into high gear lately. I completely suck at properly identifying these, but I always try at least to figure out what it is I've been admiring. I did see one white sulphur I couldn't get a shot of - camera shy I guess. These others were sunning, perhaps newly emerged?

It is always fun for me to try and catch them when they open and close their wings repeatedly. A sort of butterfly hide and seek game. I think these are Gulf Fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae) but I'll bow to anyone with more experience and confidence in identification.This shot isn't the wonder I'd envisioned, but I wanted to share how pretty it is down inside the throat of the trumpet vine flowers. Most of their blooms occur way way up in the tree tops here so it was fun to have some low enough I could get a good look inside. Sort of a hummingbird's-eye-view. We have had storms in the area lately, but nothing in the way of real rain here. Thank goodness for sprinkler systems. The skies have darkened, the lightning has flashed, thunder has been heard but all sound and fury signifying no useful rainfall.While all this sky hooraw is happening I've noted the grackles tend to light somewhere and call incessantly when there is rain close by. Their version of a rain song perhaps? I wish it worked more reliably. We really need some sky wet.

Last but not least, a bit of waiting finally paying off. These cone flowers are finally heading into their own. This plant takes two seasons to bloom and I am a lot of things but patient isn't even on my backup list of qualities. I'd all but written these off, had to sort of "forget" I was hoping they'd take hold so I didn't fret myself silly and so this year, when the bloom heads are showing up here there and yonder,it is hard not to get all grinny and smug to realize the waiting has paid off. So will I learn anything from the experience? Like how being more patient can really pay off? ???............ Naaaaah.

That's it from here for today. Hope the slightly cooler at least dampish weather is the boon for your garden that it has been for mine.


  1. Great photos--really love the trumpet vine and butterfly photos! We got thunder this morning and 2 drops of rain. That was it--aargh.

    Congratulations on your prize in the Gardening Gone Wild photo contest. Your photo is just fantastic!

  2. Aargh indeed - I cancelled my walk convinced we'd get a storm. I should have postponed but tried to make up for that by getting some garden chores done. Not so aerobic but.....

    You are too sweet about the photo for the contest. Don't think I actually won anything other than the mention but I'll take it. Quite an honor really - very encouraging! Thanks!


About Me

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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.