Early Days

Firmly ensconced in the early days of spring,  the garden is flush with new foliage and floral growth, birds (and bees!) are building nests, and gardeners are keen for emerging possibilities.  Here in Central Texas, we’ve forgotten that winter was a bust, with only two hard freezes for gardens and gardeners to endure.  Now in March, it’s all flourish and blooming, hope and planning.

Central Texans love to talk weather and this year many are commenting that everything is early!   But in my garden, things are mostly prompt in their materialization and that’s especially true of the native plants I grow.  Evolved along with the capriciousness of Texas weather patterns, these hardy ones are right on schedule. Yes, the Mountain laurels bloomed somewhat early, in Austin anyhow.  Those purple, drooping clusters are fading rapidly, their nectar and pollen contributions to bees and butterflies, and their gift of beauty and fragrance to human admirers, now concluded.  It’s time for other spring flowers to enjoy their time in the sun.

The first  columbines have opened in my garden. This is a hybrid between the native Yellow columbineAquilegia chrysantha and its cousin the Wild red columbineA. canadensis.

When these two columbine kinds are planted in close proximity over a few years and with thanks to pollinators and probably, the wind, yellow flowers with a blush of red, results.

I don’t mind.


Blasts of sunny glee define these clusters of cheery Golden groundselPackera obovata.

My little stand has grown and expanded from two small plants to a nice carpet of evergreen, topped with spring-bright sunshine.

In autumn, I’ll pull some of these up and deliver them to a new home.

A garden is always better for more of these hardy native Texas perennials and the tiny native bees are also enthralled at their bounty.

Possibly a Ceratina sp., a small carpenter bee


Giant spiderwort, Tradescantia giganteapose in a  range of purples.

A prolific bloomer, as well as re-seeder, I cull some of these (okay, lots of these) each spring, as well as gift as many as I can manage to unsuspecting, spiderwort-neophyte gardeners.


Astrud the Cat, seemingly unimpressed with the photographer,  also  contributes to spring color as she wears her lively collared accessory–her Birds be safe collar.

She’s mostly an indoor kitty, but likes to hang out with me and supervise my work in the garden.  The theory behind these silly collars is that cats, who are efficient predators, are better seen by their prey–those birds we want in our gardens–if the cats have a spot of brilliant color to them.  Cats’ fur doesn’t provide that bright coloration, but the patterned collars certainly oblige.  Apparently, birds see colors well, even in dim light, so the collar (which fits easily over a regular bell collar) is an ideal warning that there is something hinky and possibly dangerous in the verge.  We do want to protect the little foraging warblers and  finches, don’t we?  Of course, the best thing to do–for the safety of cats and their potential prey–is to keep cats indoors.  Neither of my cats are birders, though they’ve both been guilty of catching the occasional lizard, for which they are verbally admonished, accompanied with wagging finger.  Naughty kitties!

The collars flash brightness, they seem to work (insofar as the birds are concerned), and it’s also fun to laugh at the kitty wearing the clown collar.

Be it collar color or flower color, enjoy your garden: its birds, bees, and pets–and spring joy!


19 thoughts on “Early Days

  1. Enjoyed seeing the early Spring bloomers. I must get some golden groundsel but I’m not sure if grows here. I’ll need to call some of my Audubon friends that are better versed in the what natives are here and that I don’t remember seeing. Maybe I ca order some seed to be planted in the Fall.


  2. Tina her garden looks lovely and really springy. The flowers are beautiful as are the photos. I love the aquiline, they are one of my flowers preference. The golden cane grass is very pretty and they also love bees. Your cat Astrud is gorgeous, a beauty: he has to take more pictures. I really like cats. I had one for 15 years just like his and I had to sacrifice him two years ago because I had cancer and I could not take it anymore. His name was Pepe. Sorry for my comment out of tune. Long live the spring! It already has nests, what a marvel! Greetings from Margarita.


      • Many thanks, Tina. For me they are my hair brothers. And for my parents, their children. They are one of the family with their acquired rights. Some pampered. They are wonderful the love and the affection that you give. Since I was a baby I grew up with dogs, imagine what I want. Greetings from Margarita.


  3. Love your aquilegia Tina, especially the shape of the immature flowers when their jesters’ tails are tangled. Spring is such an optimistic time. Your cat Astrud is a beauty and can certainly carry off that collar!


    • I like that–‘jester’s tails’–nice call! Astrud is a sweetie-pie. My son named her after the Brazilian samba singer, Astrud Gilberto, because she has such as dulcet little voice. Yes, spring is optimistic!


  4. While I’m hearing those same comments about everything being early, it’s interesting to see that the water birds are keeping to their usual schedule. The coots still are here, although they’re clearly gathering for their migration. The osprey still are here, too, and I’ve only seen one green heron. Everything is clicking along just as it should. Even the mallards, who can become a little enthusiastic in spring, have only started eyeing one another.

    The spider lilies are running amok, though, and urban bluebonnets are beginning to bloom. The groundsel is so pretty: even the name is pretty.


    • Little Astrud keeps in on just fine. My male, Nuri, got into a rumble with a neighboring cat and the collar disappeared, along with its foundation collar, the regular bell collar that most cats wear. Boys!


  5. I love the bird-protecting cat collar, though not sure how Astrud feels. I like your hybrid Columbine, I’ve read that Aquilegia tend to be rather promiscuous when it comes to hybridizing. And your Groundsell is my kind of plant – vigorous and cheerful – I’d grow it if it were native to this region.


    • Haha. Astrud and our other cat, Nuri, haven’t minded the collars at all, which was a surprise, but I’m not complaining. Yes to the wanton ways of the Aquilegia, they do like to mix it up. Goundsel is such a blast of spring-it’s such a great plant.

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