Speechless

Nothing to say today. Just can’t. Here, enjoy cute li’l animals and pretty flowers, courtesy of our ranch.

Fuzzy
Fearless
Funny
Fancy
Fabulous.

Everyone Says I Was Happy

I guess the family isn’t used to me really, really enjoying myself. But I did this weekend. I didn’t have to worry about work issues, people issues, or world issues. I just hung out with nature and relaxed. I recommend that.

Camphor-weed. I got that right!

I’m a taxonomists at heart. I like labeling things. That’s why I feel such satisfaction identifying things successfully on iNaturalist. It tells me where things belong (when I get it right).

Couldn’t figure this one out. Had to upload it as unknown! All the suggested flowers had five petals.

I also enjoy helping research on what grows in Texas, especially places that hadn’t had much coverage. While Jacob’s Well had lots of observations, since Master Naturalists volunteer there often, the place we stayed at had only three that weren’t by me, all from 2018! I did science! No wonder I was happy.

You can see where I walked!

Plus, I got to “spontane.” I could go wherever I wanted, as long as I wanted. No one told me to stop taking pictures, walk faster, or stop talking to the birds and cows.

This one had five petals. It’s a bluebowl or Giliastrum rigidulum. It’s only found in the part of Texas where I was.

And there was something new around every corner. Yes. I WAS happy. I still am. I got to see my animals tonight, including the chicken that just doesn’t seem to lay eggs, ever.

Suna, that’s not a hen in that henhouse.

Before I get back to thinking about Kanban cards (and yes, I dreamed I was trying to capture my weekend activities in Agile stories), I’ll leave you with a few more interesting plants I saw. I can’t believe I made over 100 observations this weekend. All fun.

I say to you, go find your fun. Now more than ever, we need to balance our lives and bring in some fun. Have a good work week!

Switchgrass. I even got a GRASS right! This was in a beautiful prairie restoration with many blue stems, gramas, and other native grasses.

I Avoided Falling into Jacob’s Well

We were planning to explore Wimberley this afternoon, but we quickly realized it was Market Day. It looked really fun, with hundreds of vendors. However, there were also many hundreds of attendees. As wild as we were being by going out of town, we were NOT going to hang out with huge crowds!

So we kept going and instead had a nice drive, punctuated by a stop at Buc-Ees.

I didn’t touch that dirty beaver.

After that we drove around the Canyon Lake area, where I’d never been. We ate at a nice Italian restaurant, then drive around a while more. It was so relaxing looking at all the scenery.

When we got back to where we are staying we decided to go visit a rum distillery. It would have been more fun if they were allowed to serve drinks, but I did get a bottle of craft rum.

The distillery was right near Jacob’s Well, which is a 140-foot deep artesian well on a river.

Jacob’s Well.

These are fairly common around here, with all the limestone aquifers. Of course, there are caves down there. Lots of people get lost in there. Thankfully, swimming season ended October 1. While it was slippery getting down to the well, I managed not to fall in.

Looking down the river.

There were beautiful gardens nearby and a nice playground.

Visitor center (closed)

I was happy to see a sign thanking Master Naturalists for their help. I also enjoy talking to a couple of young park volunteers. So fun.

Nice sign!

I amused the family by taking even more photos of plants. But they said it was nice to see me so happy.

Visiting a natural wonder was just what I wanted. It brought much more joy than buying a bunch of stuff would.

Looking the other way down the river.

We had a nice day!

Horticultural Haven

Apparently, it’s well known that I like to have plants in my immediate vicinity. A coworker started a Slack channel to share our plants, because they miss the plants I used to have at my desk (which are now moved to the part of the office farthest from any natural light). But, the coworker was right. I do better with some plants around me. It’s one reason I found working in nothing but basements so hard. Only plastic plants thrive there.

The Pope Residence office does have one window that lets in natural light (yes, the Plant Lady managed to pick the office with the fewest views of the outdoors). That’s where most of my little collection lives.

Motley plant collection in weird lighting.

I’m sure the peace lily is fine in its corner, as long as I water it to death.

Peace lily crawling with scarecrows.

And I do try to supplement the ridiculous amount of fake roses with some real flowers. This tiny vase is perfect for things I find on my walk.

Oxblood lilies, Mexican hats, salvia and come Carolina snailseed.

Today I added what I hope will be a nice addition to the plant collection. I got a kit (yet another buy off The Grommet website, which has way too many Suna-esque products) to grow herbs in wine bottles. The seeds and stuff even came in a box so pretty I can’t throw it away!

The idea is they will grow in the potting medium that appears to be topped with spaghum moss or something, then the roots go down into the water.

Hmm, fascinating.

After planting the seeds, I put the little stickers they provided on the mouth of the bottle, to create a moist environment for germination. We’ll see what happens.

The germination sticker in extreme close-up.

I may not have enough light in this window, since it’s pretty shady in the mornings to mid afternoon. But, it should be a fun project to watch. I’m just happy to have any plants at all.

I have stuff for a third bottle, but I brought a clear one, then saw the instructions called for a dark bottle. I have a whole bunch at home, so that won’t be an issue.

Maybe when there is glass in my internal window rather than the rustic wood covering, I can put something low light on the hypothetical shelves that will be there.

The lamp, fake candles and real candle still don’t make it very bright over there.

Do you have plants in your environment, or would you prefer them outside? I’d like something outside my work window, too, but there’s not much space. At least I see a nice cedar tree!

Prairie Patrol

The front pasture at our house hasn’t had herbicide applied to it, so it’s full of wildflowers, grasses, and riparian plants (by the arroyo). Since our internet tower got messed up and I can’t use the computer to write, I thought I’d share some images from walking around the pasture after a rain. It’s really windy, so the grasses are blowing around.

Lemon bee balm by the pond.
Meadow pinks and grass-leaved rush
Black-eyed Susan or something.
Grass arrangement
By the back fence.

Willows and Wildflowers

Wandering around the ranch this evening a theme for a photo essay came to me. We have so many river willow trees and so many wildflowers, why not showcase them in a photo essay! Enjoy.

Willow, thistle, and Mexican hats.
Pink evening primrose, stream, willow.
Thistle, willow
Indian blankets, willows, pond
My favorite. Vetch and old bent willow.

The Little Garden That Could

It’s been so much fun checking out what’s growing in my tiny garden outside my office. Every day, there’s a little bit more to see in and around it. This little space supports so much life!

This morning, I found the Inca doves poking around in the area where there’s dirt. I wondered where they were living, and then they were kind enough to show me! They have a nest right above our carport light! I love these birds, because they are calm, busy, and beautiful when they fly. The underside of their wings is a russet red, which makes them easy to identify, and looks beautiful.

Hello from the Casa de Inca

I looked a little closer before I went into the office, and saw even more life, on a tiny scale. I saw something yellow on the milkweed plant and was all excited that it might be monarch eggs or something, but when I got closer, the yellow dots moved. They are very bright aphids with little black legs. Turns out they are oleander aphids, which are also, conveniently enough, known as milkweed aphids. Well, the plants are supporting their tiny life, so I let them keep sucking away.

MMMMMilkweed! (I don’t know what the black aphids are)

Over to the left, something moved on a common lantana flower (which Linda Jo, my iNaturalist identifier, called “not one of the good ones”). There was a tiny, tiny fly. It has stripes that make it look like a bee or wasp, but it’s one of the little flies that lives on nectar from flowers, a calligrapher fly. I guess it does look like it has writing on it!

I can’t write calligraphy, but I am pretty.

And finally, when I stood up, I saw one little dayflower that did not look like all its beautiful blue friends. It’s a white sport! I love it when I find the oddballs of nature smiling up at me.

I’m a standout

What a great way to start one’s day, just noticing the bounty of life around me. This really is a little garden that could…be full of life!

What about me? I’m living in the little garden, too!

One More

I have to share, because it’s so pretty, this black swallowtail caterpillar on my bronze fennel plant at the ranch (one of two herbs that didn’t die in my planter). I’m so happy to support future beautiful butterflies!

I’m pretty even before metamorphosis! And this fennel is delish!

I Have a Little Garden

Now for some cheerful nature fun. I’ve mentioned that I spent a lot of time weeding the space right next to the back entrance to the Hermit Haus building, with the goal of making it a wildflower garden.

My little wildflower garden

I’m really happy with how it’s turned out now that the plants I want have a chance to shine and the ones I don’t want are mostly gone. The happy little lantana plants are growing bigger by the day and blooming away. All we had to do is stop mowing!

Maybe they’re a weed, and maybe they’re poisonous, but they are pretty.

The day flowers are also blooming, um, daily. But the best thing is that this tiny corner of land supports so much life.

This is a duskywing moth. You can see some straggler daisies in the back, and the grass-like leaves are the dayflowers.

Every day I see butterflies and moths stopping by, and there’s a family of spotted whiptail lizards that lives in the hole next to the garden.

This is the biggest of the whiptail lizards. Note that the lizard is shedding its skin.
Mockingbird on the lookout

I see mockingbirds every day, probably looking for the many insects that fly and crawl around, and there are also house finches and and the Inca doves.

I’m going to find another couple of native perennials to put in, and maybe one of the fancy verbenas as a contrast. The success of the little Hermit Haus garden makes me smile every day. And I’m really happy, not faking it.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Weeds (la la la)

The need to focus on things that aren’t related to pandemics and other stress-causing circumstances has continued to this morning, so I took a break and checked out what’s going on around the Hermit Haus offices. My main focus was my “wildflower garden,” but I branched out. That got me lots more entries in iNaturalist, too!

The “wildflower garden” next to the stairs. It is about to get pretty.
The seeds are shiny in the sun.

I have to say that I find it fascinating how varied the plants are in what looks from a distance like a lawn. Actually, there’s very little turfgrass, just a few sprigs of our nemesis the coastal Bermuda. The one other grass is what they call nutgrass around here, but is actually purple nutsedge, a nonnative plant that sure likes to grow here. I have pulled up many, many sprouts of it in the “wildflower garden,” and there are still more. However, I think the seed heads are quite beautiful.

The lantana bud is pretty in its own right. Nutsedge is coming up behind it.

The area I am using as a showcase for the “weeds” that grow up around our building has lots and lots of lantana in it. I noticed those trying to bloom last year before the weedeater got them, so I decided to ask that this one area be left alone. The lantana are now getting nice and big, and are just about ready to start their late spring blooming festival.

Continue reading “These Are a Few of My Favorite Weeds (la la la)”

Mellow Yellow Overload

Now, for something completely different. I did a fun (to me) project yesterday that didn’t require any human contact nor leaving the property where our office is. I decided to see how many different yellow flowers I could find in the weed/wildflower collection known as our empty lot. As you can see, I managed to fill a whole screen in iNaturalist!

Most of the field LOOKS purple, because there is so much storks-bill growing in it, but when you look closer and closer, the yellows dominate (purple is in second place, with field madder and a little patch of grape hyacinth that must be left over from when there was a house here – I plan to replant them in the “flower bed” I’m making).

What have we got? Let’s take a look. Many of these flowers look really similar, but are different sizes or have other subtle differences.

Common Dandelion. Taraxacum officinale. Delicious and nutritious. Bees love them.

False Dandelion.
Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus. Plus a tiny wasp and tinier beetle.

Prickly Sowthistle Sonchus asper. It’s everywhere. And very prickly. Note that there are aphids or something on it.

Smooth Cat’s Ear. Hypochaeris glabra. Looks like a teeny dandelion on a very long stem. Compare to the first dandelion and you’ll see how small it is.

Cutleaf Evening Primrose. Oenothera laciniata. Smaller than most evening primrose, but a beautiful buttery yellow.

Crete Weed. Hedypnois cretica. I thought it was a dandelion, but look at the leaf and the cool petal shape.

Woodsorrels. Genus Oxalis. I’m not sure which one it is, but it’s certainly oxalis. Sour tasty leaves!

Bur Clover. Medicago polymorpha. It’s about finished blooming and starting to make burs. Yellow is a hard color for my camera, and I couldn’t get a good shot of these.


Straggler Daisy
. Calyptocarpus vialis. Lots of leaves, tiny flowers. They are pretty up close, though.

I got a lot of bugs and other things, but I’m just going to leave this parade of yellow-ness alone, in all their glory. I’ll see what other themes I can come up with over the next few weeks as all the flowers bloom away.