Diggin’ In

The little honeybee was all in as she worked the center of the Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua.  Surrounded by glorious orange walls, with an extended garden of grey-green, she exhibited single-mindedness toward her important pollination work.

As I watched, she crawled around the pollen-laden center of the bloom, oblivious to me and anything else that might disrupt her concentrated efforts.  Her movements were frenzied, focused solely on the pistils of the flower.

Eventually, she worked her way out of her orange office, flew to another bloom, pollen grains speckled on her various parts.

Celebrating her dedication to task, I’m joining in with Anna and her Wednesday Vignette.  Check out her beautiful Flutter and Hum for musings of various sorts.

The Wall

A couple of nights ago, I attended a showing of Ay Mariposa.  It’s a lovely film which tells the story of a Mexican immigrant, Zulema Hernandez, who crossed the Rio Grand to live, work, and raise her family in the southernmost valley of Texas.   It’s also the story of the National Butterfly Center and its director, Marianna Treviño Wright, and her battle against the building of the wall along the southern border between the United States and Mexico.

The film focuses on how expansion of the wall is obliterating the remaining natural habitat of one of the most diverse ecological regions in all of North America, while also reminding viewers of the humanity of the people who cross the border seeking only a better life and adding their gifts to our culture and economy.

Another award winning film that I saw some time ago is The River and the Wall.  This gorgeous film profiles a group of scientists and adventurers who travel–by bicycle, on horseback, by foot, and in canoes–from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico which is the entire 1200 miles of the Texas/Mexico border.   The viewer travels with the team observing stunning landscapes and meeting wonderful people.  Through that experience, one appreciates the absurdity of building a wall alongside this beautiful, demanding river border.

If you want to see either or both films, or learn more about the people involved, the history of the wall, or how you can help prevent the destruction of long-standing communities and rare, remarkable habitat, check out these links:

https://www.aymariposafilm.com/

https://theriverandthewall.com/

Both websites have a short summary of their respective films and instructions on purchasing a DVD or download, or viewing a screening near you.

Male Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) nectaring on Frostweed (Verbesina virginica)

Shoreacres of The Task at Hand and Lagniappe, graciously posted in her comment this pertinent and sweet song from Texas “Environmental Troubadour” Bill Oliverhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2osbIZyaPg&feature=youtu.be

In working for change, I’m joining in with Anna and her Wednesday Vignette.  Check out her beautiful Flutter and Hum for musings of various sorts.

 

Doing Its Job

As is typical for December here in Central Texas, our roller-coaster weather has delivered a couple of light freezes, but also record warm temperatures.   Native plants and their companion critters have evolved to roll with that coaster, continuing the blooming and the pollinating actions well into late autumn.

On a windy afternoon, I watched this tiny Common Checkered Skipper, Pyrgus communis, flit near to the ground while visiting the remaining open blue blossoms of Gregg’s MistflowerConoclinium greggii, and sometimes alighting on the driveway, wings spread to catch the rays of the sun.

This particular mistflower is a relatively new addition to my garden.  Gregg’s has grown in my back garden and there are still sprigs which pop up, but with increasing shade,  those individual mistflower stems are growing less and blooming only sporadically with each passing season.  I was determined to find a place in my shady garden to grow Gregg’s Mistflower and with some rearrangement of the garden furniture, I opened a spot in my front garden for the perennial groundcover, alongside the driveway and adjacent to the street, where full sun and reflective heat will be a boon to this tough, lovely native Texas plant.

Gregg’s Mistflower is a powerhouse pollinator plant.  All sorts of butterflies, big and small, colorful and plain, love this sweet-nectared pretty.  The original Gregg’s in my back garden–a passalong plant from a friend–blooms a paler blue flower and with brighter green foliage.  This new plant–purchased from my favorite local nursery–sports deeper blue-purple blooms and a richer green foliage. I bought a new plant because I didn’t want to transplant the sprigs, with their bits of root, from the back garden so close to winter and possible killing frosts.  Those stems of plant-with-roots might have survived winter, but I didn’t want to take the chance on their succumbing to a freeze, delaying growing Gregg’s in the front garden.  The gallon pot of Gregg’s Mistflower will go dormant with a hard freeze, but its full, lush root system will allow the perennial to reemerge with strength in spring, ready for a new year of blossoms and food for bees and butterflies.

Despite the strong breezes, the Common Checkered-Skipper seemed besotted with its choice of meal.  The host plants of this skipper species are several in the Malvaceae family, but adults nectar from a wider variety of blooms, including many in the Asteraceae family–like Gregg’s Mistflower.

The mistflower produces gorgeous blue-purple blooms. Spent blooms are a warm, toasty color.

The skipper’s blue-tinged hairy topside suggests a male; female Common Checkered Skippers’ hairy parts are black. This fella spent a minute or two on the fuzzy blooms it visited, working each in full before moving on.   I was pleased (and surprised!) with these shots, as the wind was challenging to catching the skipper in something other than a blur.

Native plants and their critter companions are vital for a healthy environment.  In this garden vignette, both the bloom and the butterfly were hard at work, doing their jobs:  the blooms, providing nutrients and sustenance for the insect; the insect, partaking from a food source for its own benefit, but also, providing the impetus for the production of more mistflower by the action of pollination.  The plant and its insect continue a time-honored cycle and add beauty to the world.

And isn’t that what gardening is all about?