About Tina

I’ve gardened in Austin, Texas (zone 8b) since 1985. I garden with low maintenance, native and well-adapted non-native plants to conserve water and reduce workload. I also choose plants which attract wildlife to my gardens. I’ve completed the Travis County Master Gardener and Grow Green program (through the city of Austin). I’ve volunteered for a number of public and private gardens, as well as consulted and designed for private individuals. Formerly, I managed Shay’s Green Garden at Zilker Botanical Gardens and Howson Library Garden for the City of Austin. My garden is a certified Monarch Waystation and a Wildlife Habitat.I blog about my garden adventures at: https://mygardenersays.com/ I love blooming things and the critters they attract. Tina Huckabee

The Future is Fall

Fall is thought of as a time of endings: the shortening of days, the slowing of seasonal growth, the turning inward for protection from the elements.

This ready-for-dispersal Red yuccaHesperaloe parviflora, seed head impresses me with its open-faced determination for life and its reach into the future.    The seeds will scatter–by wind, or water, or gravity–most likely swept away by rain, or maybe the gardener’s broom, and will carry life–renewing yucca DNA for living in another place and another time.

The native-to-Texas Red yucca is accompanied on this mission by also native-to-Texas Rock rosePavonia lasiopetala, their pink, happy faces full of life.

Celebrating Texas Native Plant Week, and native plants everywhere!  As well, linking to Anna’s fab Wednesday Vignette.

Texas Native Plant Week

The third week of October is Texas Native Plant Week.  School children and their teachers, native plant organizations, and individual gardeners are encouraged to learn about and then plant natives in eagerly awaiting gardens.  Aside from their beauty, native plants are a snap to grow with our capricious Texas weather patterns and difficult soils.  Native plants also provide sustenance and protection for endemic and migrating wildlife; diversity in all forms improves when gardeners go native in their landscapes.  Throughout the year and in every part of Texas, native plants are a key driver for conservation of our unique natural landscapes.

If you don’t live in Texas, celebrate the native plants of your region by growing natives in your garden and encouraging neighborhood and school groups to do the same.

Below are but a few of the native plants that I grow in my garden.  Many are passalong plants, shared with me by keen and generous gardeners.  Some are plants that I started from seeds, testing my gardener’s patience as I’m always excited to see how something fares as it grows and matures.  A couple of these plants appeared–unplanned, but very welcomed–by serendipitous acts of birds or the wind.  Many of these plants were purchased at Austin’s awesome locally owned nurseries.  All of these plants grow with little effort and less water than what a typical lawn demands. Ease of endeavor notwithstanding, my garden is alive with pollinator and bird activity, which is how a garden should exist.

No matter where you live and even if some of your plants’ ancestors hail from far away places, make room in your plot of the Earth for native plants.  You’ll help heal the world substantially, by conserving water and natural habitat, and by increasing local diversity of plants and wildlife.

Native plants are beautiful and belong where you live and garden.

Spring:

Pipevine Swallowtail on a Giant spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea)

Southern Pink Moth on a Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata).

Yellow columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha)

Honeybee working a Gulf coast penstemon (Penstemon tenuis).

White avens (Geum canadense)

 

Late spring, early summer:

Blue curls (Phacelia congesta)

Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

 

Summer:

Big red sage (Salvia pentstemonoides) and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Big red sage, bog plant Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata), with  non-native waterlily, ‘Colorado’.

Rock rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) and Yarrow

Drummond’s ruellia (Ruellia drummondiana) with attendant Carpenter bee.

Henry Duelberg sage (Salvia farenacia) and nectaring Eufala skipper.

White tropical sage (Salvia coccinea)

Red tropical sage (Salvia coccinea)

Pigeonberry (Rivina humilis) bloom spikes

 

Autumn:

Fruits of Pigeonberry

Gregg’s mistflower (Conoclinium greggii)

Texas craglily (Echeandia texensis)

Lindheimer’s muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri)

Inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

Foliage of Texas red oak (Quercus texana).

 

Winter:

Possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua)

Ice formations in the stems of Frostweed (Verbesina virginica).

Seed heads of Frostweed, with bare stems of Red oak tree to the left, and Retama (Parkinsonia aculeata) to the right.

The Anchor of Change: Wildlife Wednesday, October 2018

One thing that Central Texas gardeners can count on during September into October is the termination of the long hot of summer with a very welcomed re-introduction of our second spring.  Compensating for our brutal summers is the reliable flush of new growth, open, exuberant blooming, and gifts of rain–sometimes too much–to gardens and the critters who rely on those gardens.

Typically, we enjoy our first cool fronts at this time, and while the cool is fleeting, it certainly takes the hot edge off of our days and nights.  You’d think wildlife would be appreciative of any small portion of relief, but this past month hasn’t necessarily been packed with wildlife happenings, at least that’s so in my garden.  Nevertheless, here are some offerings for Wildlife Wednesday.

Blooming perennials, reawakened with softening temperatures and gulps of water from the sky, have given pollinators of all stripes, scales, and feathers plenty in their search for pollen and nectar.  This honeybee worked the flowerets of Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum.  The same bee worked the neighboring bloom of Rock rose, Pavonia lasiopetala.   As well, tiny native bees also partake of both kinds of blooms.

 

Typically, September sees the beginning of autumn migration from northern parts of North America to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Early in September, a pair of Yellow warblersSetophaga petechia, spent several days visiting my pond.  I couldn’t get a shot of them together, or a lone shot of the female, but the male sat still long enough for a couple of quick shots.

Each warbler hopped around the limestone rock which borders the pond, with nervous flutters into the oak trees.  I never actually saw any bathing in the bog, or splashing the the waterfall, but both birds were clearly interested in the water feature.

I see this species each spring as they head northward, but don’t recall ever witnessing an autumn visit before.  That said, I haven’t observed any other migratory birds through my garden this past month, which is odd. The autumn migration season spreads out over a longer period and isn’t as intense as the spring migration, but I’m surprised that I haven’t seen other passers-through at my pond or in the garden.  I hope the migrants are finding enough in rural areas to forgo urban gardens.

 

My pond toads, Gulf coast toadBufo valliceps, are croaking their way to the end of their breeding season.  I’ve seen itty bitty, baby toads in the garden, but this grown fella was willing to pose for me at sunup one morning.

 

The neighborhood squirrels are up to their usual antics, like the actions of this female Eastern Fox squirrel, Sciurus niger, who was bound and determined to have the birds’ seeds for lunch.

Balancing.

Vertical tight-rope manuevers.

The big stretch.

Success! Who knew that noshing on the ground is easier?

 

Finally, in a nod to the end-of-October scare, is this gorgeous spider who’s been hanging out at my back patio.  I’ve identified her as a Spotted orbweaverNeoscona crucifera.

I don’t find her scary and in fact, I think she’s quite beautiful.  She’s also large; her abdomen is about an inch in diameter–a big girl!  I’ve only seen her at night and she’s shy, so she scuttles up her web into the ceiling of the patio cover when she notices me.  I was fortunate to catch this shot of her.  I wonder if she was drowsy with digestion?

What’s winging or singing in your garden during this predictable season of change?  Please post about your wildlife happenings and remember to leave a link when you comment here.  Happy wildlife gardening!