Quest for a Painted Bunting

This morning I headed south to join a group of birders at the Wildflower Center. Since I don’t have a dedicated set of binoculars (yet), I can’t officially call myself a “real” birder, based on my personal definition, but given that I got up at 6am to drive across town to trek along trails and into woods to find our avian friends, I guess I might as well stop fooling myself. Our guide Travis loaned me a set of binoculars, though — thank goodness, because my zoom lens only goes so far. Note to self: Add birding binoculars to my wish list. Might as well add a bigger zoom to that list, too.


Western Scrub-Jay

Today we hoped to see the Painted Buntings that have arrived at the Wildflower Center, but of course we took a full walk around to see as many birds as possible. The key to finding a bird on a wildlife walk among trees and shrubs is to keep a keen eye watching for movement and a careful ear listening and distinguishing bird calls. Even then, there’s no guarantee you’ll see what the person next to you caught a mere glimpse of, and there were several birds we never saw at all but only heard. There’s a whole trick to finding birds through binoculars, too.

Northern Cardinals and Northern Mockingbirds greeted us the most with song, though I suspect it had far less to do with us and far more to do with their mates.


Among the 30 species of birds we caught glimpses of or recognized the sounds of were White-Eyed Vireo, Bewick’s Wren, Downy and Ladder-Backed Woodpeckers, Brown-Headed Cowbird, Lesser Goldfinch, Cooper’s Hawk, Estern Phoebe, Bobwhite Quail, and oh so many more.

As hard as it was to find the birds, even with binoculars, it was even harder to get a picture with the camera. Here is the only evidence I have of the Black-Throated Green Warbler we saw — it moved just as I got into position to get a photo:


This next pitiful picture hides a Yellow Warbler. See it?

Alas. At least the nearby flowers cooperated. You know me, I couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty of the flowers while I listened to the birds.


Above, the ever-beautiful Purple Coneflowers commanded attention from their blue backdrop of Mealy Blue Sage, and below, a bee took a pollen bath in a Winecup. 


A Carpenter Bee took a rest on Antelope Horn Milkweed.

carpenterbee04-28-11.jpgBut I digress.

The Great Horned Owlets continue to do well, and we took a few moments to visit them, being cautious not to linger too long.

GHowletsc04-28-11.jpgThere are three of them, but the prime hiding spot is behind the sotol, so capturing a picture of all three at once was a challenge. I felt lucky to get “the eye” of the third.

GHowlets04-29-11.jpgI’m cheating here — the above images and the one below I actually took two days ago during another visit to the Center — look how big the owls are growing. I think the one standing tall in the image below might actually be the youngest baby — see how the others are farther developed in their plumage? The Center’s staff is keeping an extra watch on it.

GHowletsb04-28-11.jpgNow take a look at the owls this morning. With the cooler temperature, they were fluffed up, but what a difference in plumage two days can make.


We didn’t see Mama Owl (or Papa Owl, for that matter), but I’m sure she was watching us from afar. She no longer stays in the nest with her babies — they are so big! — but she continues to feed them during off hours.

 As for Painted Buntings, we heard several but only saw a couple from quite far away. They just didn’t care to let us get close. This very-zoomed-in photo, my friends, is the best I have to show you.

paintedbunting04-28-11.jpgBut we saw them — that’s what counts!

Easter Rocks… And I Mean That Literally

This year my kids got rocks for Easter.

easterrocksb04-24-11.jpgLots and lots of rocks.

easterrocksj04-24-11.jpgAnd furthermore, we made our kids work to get them. They had to help paint said rocks. And that’s why our Easter rocks didn’t always look so Easter-y.

easterrocksl04-24-11.jpgNonetheless, we painted our Easter rocks with gusto. See, the problem with traditional egg hunting is that it only happens once a year, unless you play “find the stinky rotten egg” in the summer after you couldn’t find all the hardboiled eggs in the spring. That’s why we decided to paint rocks instead, so that we could enjoy year-round colorful-object hunting. I know, I know — pure genius, right? Our friends brought their daughters over to join the fun.


The steps were simple: Get river rocks. Wash river rocks and let them dry. Paint a base color using acrylic paint, then let dry. Paint details using more acrylic paint, letting stages dry. Coat rocks with a sealant that provides some UV protection. As you might guess, this is a multi-day project.

easterrocksi04-24-11.jpgBetween our two families, we painted 77 rocks. That’s only a mere bucketful, mind you! 

Here are some of our friends’ rocks. Note Stepan’s eyeball rock in the upper corner. Or rather, note that his rock is noting YOU.


easterrocksm04-24-11.jpgJennifer’s nose rock always had to stop to smell the flowers.


Young Magda was inspired by their resident cardinal fledglings to paint one.


My husband Michael’s rock was completely uncooperative, ducking out for a cool bath.


Don’t even get me started on all the tasteless jokes Michael’s beaver rock inspired.  ><

easterrocksn04-24-11.jpgIt turns out that rocks can’t climb trees, but kids can.

easterrocksq04-24-11.jpgHere’s what we learned:

  • Painting rocks is fun for the whole family, even for men who claim that they only sat back at the computer to “let a rock dry.”
  • Rocks have character — you won’t find any of them being conformists, like all those eggs out there.
  • Boys are less interested in painting traditional Easter art, like bunnies, chicks, and “pastels” — but ask for a dragon or camouflaged rock, and they are all over it! You might even get a couple of Pokemon balls.
  • Easter Rock Hunting is just as fun as Easter Egg Hunting, except that you can’t eat rocks or they’ll break your teeth.
  • Rocks make baskets very heavy or even useless. Thus, we invented Easter Rock Piles.
  • Kids don’t appreciate the humor of hiding an Easter Treasure Hunt clue in the dishwasher, making them empty the dishwasher to find it. But parents might appreciate the brilliance of it (for the record, my husband was the mean Easter Bunny clue-writer for that one!).
  • Rocks don’t melt like chocolate does. They also don’t taste as good.
  • Unlike eggs, rocks don’t break if they fall out of your basket — at least ours didn’t.
  • All our Easter rocks rock, but not all of them roll. That’s actually a really nice thing — you can hide rocks in more places than you can eggs, which all roll but not necessarily rock.
  • Easter Rock Hunting is fun to do with your kids, but it’s even more special with friends, too. Thank you for being a part of our holiday, S, J, M, S, P, E, J, K, and C!

easterrockso04-24-11.jpgOne of the girls at our Easter gathering was concerned that the Easter Bunny really hadn’t come to our house. But we showed her proof, as E.B. left a note at our house:


As it turns out, the simplest of clues can completely confuse our too-smart-for-their-own-good children, who apparently read far too much into things. But eventually they found their baskets and were then prepared to participate in the real fun — hunting ROCKS.


Hope everyone had a weekend that rocked!

Austin Art Yards Keep This City Weird

artyards04-17-11.jpgLast weekend was the 2011 Austin Art Yards Tour, and of course I had to attend. I offered my sons a chance to escape weekend chores and join me, and they found much to interest them, entertain them, and even creep them out. Yes, Austin is weird, and I have proof.

artyardt04-17-11.jpgAnd I’ll add this — it was hot and bright. So in addition to thanking all the kind folks who opened their yards (and sometimes even homes) to visitors, I’d like to thank Vince of the Cathedral of Junk for the lemonade and the others who offered water to my kids. Very kind and much appreciated!

artyardzc04-17-11.jpgThis is a compilation of the 2011 tour — a scattering of images throughout the fun and funky weekend, from wheelbarrow altars and art…


to servings of Justice-League heroes…

artyardd04-17-11.jpgto bottle-lined labyrinths that weave you through a peaceful veggie garden.

artyardb04-17-11.jpgSeveral art yards touted the classic yard art, the flamingo, typically pink but not always.

artyardc04-17-11.jpgOthers offered variations, including the rare tire flamingo…


And the elusive mosaic flamingo:


Barbie-eating monsters,


a samurai warrior…


and a rather menacing cat statue added to the interest of the day.

artyardzg04-17-11.jpgIf none of this appeals to you yet, how about a banana phone-toting gorilla?


A giant praying mantis, perhaps?

artyardzh04-17-11.jpgSeveral houses had bottle-lined garden beds and pathways, while others used bowling balls to create a colorful edge. I’m pretty sure that I saw enough bowling balls over the weekend to fill three bowling alleys.


And we mustn’t forget the ever-popular bottle trees and bottle… flowers?


Doll heads and body parts were another popular theme, and this is where the creepy comes in.

artyardq04-17-11.jpgOne or two doll heads, not so creepy.

artyardzn04-17-11.jpgBut a yard full of them = creeeeeeeepy.

artyardr04-17-11.jpgEven my teenager got a little weirded out, saying “I do not want to be in the garden of someone who could think this up.” My youngest son instead says, “It is awesome.”

artyardm04-17-11.jpgOne of my favorite artistic creations was a chimney-displayed cicada, made of an old ironing board, lamp fixtures, iron plates, and other reused metal parts.

artyardi04-17-11.jpgAt the Museum of Ephemerata, we enjoyed bathtub ponds and waterfalls, along with a tour of curios and oddities held in collection by the home-based museum, including hair from Elvis Presley, a gigantic bean pod, a Marilyn Monroe ciggie butt, and… err… animals in different states of preservation. Definitely a fun place to visit, and their museum helps bring the weird to our weird city.

artyardj04-17-11.jpgAt the Faist Plaist, a sloping firepit under a giant, open disco-ball adorned bamboo teepee really shows a spark of genius, if you will.


Happily our Austin icon, the Cathedral of Junk, is open again, having made structural changes and gone through legal who-knows-what to appease city code officials and neighbors. Here’s the new sign at the backyard entrance:


The Cathedral still has much of its flavor and appeal, minus some of the sheer mass it once bore.artyardo04-17-11.jpg
artyardza04-17-11.jpgFor a look back at the Cathedral at its zenith, as the sign says, please visit my previous Cathedral post.


Several professional artists invited tour-goers to their yard art/galleries.


One mosaic artist has taken on the task of beautifying Austin streets, starting with the bridge beside her home.

artyardzi04-17-11.jpgIn another neighborhood, this impressive wall at Sparky Park hides a less-attractive electrical sub-station.

artyardzd04-17-11.jpgA few other images from throughout the day:


artyardzo04-17-11.jpgI think one of the best things about this tour was how you really had to sharpen your observation skills or you’d miss some of the best art and fun. Unless of course, you’re looking at a giant chicken. That one’s hard to miss!


Thanks, Austin!

Envy Me My Earth Day Hat

Today at school, in honor of Earth Week, the kids donned hats made of reused/recycled materials/trash and had a full-school parade. Well, I just had to have one for the occasion, too. Meet my flowered pillbox hat.


Here are the supplies I used:

  • Newspaper
  • Milk jug
  • Aluminum can
  • Paints (I happened to have acrylic on hand for another project we’re working on)
  • Paintbrush (I found a use for a foam brush that we’ve had in our garage for 10+ years)
  • Scissors
  • Glue (I used hot glue to speed up the process)
  • Items to use as circle templates

First, I painted the newspaper and let it dry. I painted the papers pretty thin to conserve paint and because I wanted to show the newspaper print underneath — this aided in a nice, quick drying time.

earthdayhatb04-20-2011.jpgWhile the paint was drying, I washed the milk jug and cut the lower part off for the hat base (in fact, my son used the upper part for his hat, which I should point out was NOT flowered).


Then I grabbed nearby glasses and paint bottles of various sizes to use as circle templates. I opted for three sizes of circles, the smallest being about the size of a half-dollar coin.

Once I had lots of circles cut out, I arranged them into groups of three, varying the color combinations but always having a large, medium, and small circle in a set.

earthdayhatd04-20-2011.jpgNext, I crumpled up each set of circles into balls then opened them back up. This gave them the flower effect. I stacked and hot-glued each set, then immediately glued each flower to the milk jug. In all, I made 28 flowers, which might sound like a lot but it went fairly quickly.

Finally, I decided to give each flower a center — my son cut little circles out of an aluminum can for me, then I glued them onto the flowers. And that was that!

earthdayhatf04-20-2011.jpgAnd there’s my Earth Day hat. You, too, can have one for the low, low, price of nothing! I wish I could show you all the amazing hats the kids wore at school — everything from decorated lamp shades to piƱata heads to incredible contraptions of aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cereal boxes, plastic grocery bags, and more. So creative!

Great Horned Owl Family

While enjoying the Austin Yard Art Tour this weekend, the boys and I zipped down to the Wildflower Center to see the nesting Great Horned Owl mama and her babies.


Mama was dozing lightly, staying cautious of the visitors snapping pictures below.

GSgreathornedowlb04-17-11.jpgAfter a few minutes, we caught a glimpse of a white fuzzball making an appearance.


GSgreathornedowlsd04-17-11.jpgMake that an adorable white fuzzball. There are three owlets with mama, but the other ones stayed asleep during our visit.

Thanks, Mama Owl, for letting us visit your babies!

Edit: Pam of Digging got pictures of the babies during her recent visit — apparently mama owl was out hunting. So cute!

GSgreathornedowlsf04-17-11.jpgDespite the short post today, it took me a little while to put it together. I decided to put on the Eagle Cam while I was working and kept getting distracted with eaglets getting their breakfast from mom.

Pictures coming soon of some Yard Art favorites from the tour! Austin is definitely weird, and I have proof. 

Sustainable for My Family, for Wildlife, for Earth

I love participating in the Gardeners’ Sustainable Living Project, because it’s a project I wholeheartedly believe in. So Jan of Thanks for Today — and all folks working on living sustainably — thank you for all you have been doing to encourage thoughtful, earth-friendly actions. I’m posting down to the wire this year — the deadline is tomorrow, April 15 — but I have good reason. My whole life seems to be one big sustainable living project, and I’ve been rather busy doing Earth things lately!

GSbluebeeb03-17-11.jpgAs many know, native plants and wildlife gardening are my passion. But I do more than garden — I lead multiple environmental projects, I volunteer often, and I speak about wildlife habitats and native flora to groups of all ages. I do this because I believe that we can make things better for Earth and protect its threatened species. Education is the first step, and actions are the next. That’s why I share what I can, because believe it or not, it’s easy to live sustainably and protect the environment — it just takes awareness and a desire.

purplemartin04-14-11.jpgI’m excited today because this morning I found our first Purple Martins setting up house in the new gourds at school. My school-habitat ally informed me as well that our 5,000-gallon rain tank is full and actually overflowing a bit — it turns out it’s been collecting dew off the metal roof at school, which thrills me as we’ve really only had one good rainstorm since fall. Dew! Back at home, I discovered that our native Buffalo Grass has spread greatly across the back of our property, and it means that nature is working WITH me to get rid of the remaining Bermuda. Happy wildlife, conservation of resources, beautiful gardens, kids learning about nature, all so good.

I live in a place where drought is a matter of fact, not an occasional occurrence. And as such, I try to take care about what I plant and the effect it will have on water resources and on wildlife. This is always on my mind, always. And along those lines, I protect the soil by following nature’s example — letting organic matter become a part of the soil again to let the cycle of nutrients and life flow the way it should.  

At our home, we reduce first, then reuse, and only then do we recycle — because reduction is far better than recycling in terms of impact on the planet, with the worst of course being sending things to the landfill. We sometimes actually collect items from others to prevent them from adding to a landfill — our wonderful pond was once someone else’s broken hot tub, we have a flower planter that was once someone’s rusty wheelbarrow — creative projects like these are fun, rewarding, and immensely satisfying.


Inside the house, we’re trying to reduce “stuff” — living more simply without useless things that collect dust. But it takes time to sort items and get them to those who could use them. So it’s a work in progress. A worthy goal.

You know what would make me happy? Besides more people gardening and living sustainably, I mean? I’d love for junk mail to go away. I cannot stand being forced to have to recycle/sort/shred/toss things I didn’t ask to receive. It’s not like I can give junk mail to anyone. But if I can’t have that, then I’d love for all those wildlife and nature organizations that my very heart wants to support to stop sending me address labels, animal stickers, plastic fake membership cards, note cards, magnets, calendars, subscription requests, membership requests, stuffed animals, and so forth. Because doesn’t it say the wrong thing for those truly wanting to help the environment to continue to put so much waste into it? I donate when I can, but I’ve had to become selective. Because waste hurts my heart and the environment. Yes, I support what these organizations are doing, but I want them to stop wasting such precious resources and money on junk and instead maximize the help they can give the environment.

heartofTXleaves.jpgNext week on April 22, we celebrate Earth Day. At school, we’re making it a week-long celebration, and every class is choosing projects related to environmental stewardship and green practices. But it’s not our goal to only encourage environmental stewardship once a year or one week a year, but as a lifetime habit. Our kids are learning all about protecting and valuing nature, and, with hope, as adults they will continue practicing and sharing these values.

But it’s not just up to them. It takes all of us, and it’s okay to start with baby steps. Do what you can. One change makes a difference. But the more you work toward, the better. It doesn’t take much to live sustainably, just awareness and a desire.

Bathing Bird Flocks, Owls, and No-Longer-Cute Squirrels

It’s been an emotional time in the bird world of our habitat. First we were concerned we’d accidentally startled away our Screech Owl resident during a well-meant daytime branch pruning. But happily the owl returned and is once again watching over all backyard activity.

I’m hopeful that the owl being so quick to flush might actually indicate that there are babies in there, but really I’m just looking for any sort of sign at all that we might get to see baby owls at some point soon. For all we know, we’ve just got one extremely comfortable bachelor hanging out in his awesome pad.


The other owl house has become occupied by a squirrel and most likely its family, and well, that’s not such a good thing, as you’ll find out shortly.

Very exciting is that we recently enjoyed a flock of migrating birds all taking baths together in the waterfall of our pond. They arrived together and left together — I invited them to stay but they clearly had places to go after they got all clean. They wouldn’t let me get too close for pictures, but as long as I was a safe distance away, they splashed about eagerly.

bathingflockh04-11.jpgWe had Chipping Sparrows, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, one Ruby-Crowned Kinglet– I’m still working on IDing the rest. There’s another sparrow in there, and that yellow bird looks like something other than a finch — possibly another kind of warbler and one Nashville Warbler (this yellow bird is new to me — Audubon gurus Jane T. and Laurie F. identified it for me — thank you both!). Even Carolina Chickadees (not pictured) and White-Winged Doves (also not pictured) flew down to join in. Safety in numbers, I suppose — plenty of birds to look out for danger while the rest splash about. 



Some bathed in the waterfall plants, while others went straight to the waterfall.

bathingflocke04-11.jpgThe flock was only here but briefly, but those few minutes made us so happy that we had a waterfall to offer them.

bathingflockg04-11.jpgBut today we feel sad, because yesterday afternoon our young Carolina Wren babies were snatched away. We are blaming the squirrel seen in the vicinity during the hour when it must have happened, as we had just prior checked on the babies and they were all there. I had no idea that squirrels would eat baby birds until that happened. It’s upsetting, but it’s nature. Plants provide food for animals, who in turn become food for larger animals, and so forth. That’s why I don’t hang out with saltwater crocodiles. 

But even though it’s all the circle of life, I’m not thinking squirrels are so “cute” anymore. They were clearly setting me up, doing all their silly antics and making those innocent faces! Then they go and eat the baby birds I’d been daily protecting and documenting the growth of. But while my habitat is songbird-friendly and apparently a squirrel’s delight, it’s also owl-friendly. Squirrels might be on the larger side of a Screech Owl’s diet, but they are definitely on the menu. So those squirrels better realize they are in prime viewing range of that which might eat THEM. 

Speaking of owls, if you have a chance to visit the Wildflower Center, be sure to take your camera. There’s a Great Horned Owl nesting right where visitors can stop and say hello.


Apparently her big-eyed owlet is peeking out now, too — if I can, I’m going to head down there to get a picture! I’m going to venture a guess that this baby is safe from squirrels….

Cute Squirrel Overload

Guest photos from my friend Christopher Denton! Talk about the perfect tree hollow and squirrel playground. This family of five will have me smiling all day long and then some. 


Wait a minute, I see only four. Where’s number five?

Not here.


Or here.


Aha, here it is, sharing the hollow.



Wait a minute, is that guy getting closer?

What, is he nuts?!!

CDsquirrelsj04-10-11.jpgChris and many other friends have converged from both coasts to visit us here in little ol’ Austin, and we’ve been having days and days of fun. Thank you so much for letting me share your photos, Chris!

Itty Bitty Wren Babies

We have wren babies! Mama Carolina Wren has five little young’ns of which she is taking most excellent care.


True to a wren’s nature, she picked a most annoying spot to build her nest. In the past we’ve had nests in the garage, where we had to remove a pane of glass to give the mama access in and out. We’ve had them in the shed, where we just couldn’t get anything out without sending mama into a flurry. This time, Mrs. Wren chose my “garden bar” — shelves on which I like to grow seedlings for my garden. We’d moved it behind the shed temporarily while working on the patio, and she claimed it for nest construction before we could move it back. So my little seedlings are nervously attempting to grow in potential peril of canine catastrophes, way too close to trampling paws. When those baby birds fledge, I’m reclaiming my garden shelves!

GScarolinawreneggs04-11.jpgThe eggs were quite small and speckled with brown. We waited with anticipation for those eggs to hatch, and all 5 hatched within 24 hours of each other. This happened from April 2 to 3.

GScarolinawrenbabies04-11.jpgTiny little almost-naked things, but not featherless. It’s hard to see it from the pictures, but the little fuzz on their heads make them look like they have Mohawk hairstyles.


Below are the birds at about 5 days old. You can see they have a good covering of downy feathers at this point. They sleep with their heads stacked neatly upon another, little mouths conveniently located near the nest entrance.


And in the photo below they are about 6 days old. You can see that their eyes are beginning to open. Take a closer look at the baby bird on the right, in front — you’ll see that Mohawk look I was talking about.


While I miss my garden bar, I’m glad for the opportunity to watch the growth of these little cuties. Mama Wren has been most tolerant of my momentary visits, and I’m grateful to her. She’s a good mama. More pictures as the babies get bigger!

Around the Garden

The garden is shaping up nicely. You know you’ve been doing a good job when all your fingernails and toenails are caked with dirt and compost (at least, that’s my theory). Oh, I have gloves. But they are too bulky for some of the tasks in the garden, like feeling for the sneaky roots and little nuts of the annoyingly invasive nutsedge, or transplanting a tender young seedling of a desired plant. And so I often garden whole-heartily with all my uncovered digits, running my fingers and toes through the earth just the way nature intended. Keep in mind that my husband is the complete opposite — he won’t step foot into the garden without his gloves and mud shoes on! Heaven forbid dirt smear his leg or something. And he calls me a delicate flower? 

 GScoralhoneysuckle04-11.jpgThe vines are all abloom, and those that aren’t yet are at least exhibiting major growth spurts. The Coral Honeysuckle is becoming a bit of an octopus — I keep trying to train it to go over the fence, and it keeps sending out more arms to reach for the pathway instead.

And though most of the Crossvine blooms have already come and gone for the season, the vines are taller than ever.

GScrossvineb04-11.jpgGScrossvinea04-11.jpgEven though it’s considered a hummingbird vine, I have yet to see one of our hummingbirds visit a crossvine bloom — they go to other plants or the feeders instead. But the bees sure went crazy for the Crossvine this year, so it must have plenty of nectar! Those finicky hummingbirds…

GSblack-chinned04-11.jpgSo far we’ve had male black-chinned hummingbirds this year — I’m sure they are awaiting the arrival of the females even more than we are. I wonder why I haven’t seen any Ruby-Throats yet — they are our usual visitors.

Each year I’m amazed at the differences between the Crossvine “Tangerine Beauty,” seen in the images above, and the wild one below, which is opposite in color, having yellow petal lips and a red throat. I really need to start collecting seeds or making cuttings from this native beauty.


The poppies have arrived, the first I’ve ever grown. Given that all I did was sprinkle seeds on the ground some unknown time last fall, I’m pleased that they did their thing without any help from me. A couple of blooms so far…

GSpoppy04-08-11.jpgwith more on the way…

GSpoppyb04-08-11.jpgWe’ve got a ton of caterpillars — countless Gulf Fritillaries on Passionvine, with many already to chrysalis stage. Giant Swallowtail caterpillars are on the Wafer Ash. Here’s a grown-up taking a rest on the Coral Honeysuckle after puddling on damp ground below.

GSgiantswallowtail04-11.jpgAnd we’ve seen a new caterpillar — Henry’s Elfin — on one of the Mexican Redbuds, shown in the picture below. Now I just need to see the butterfly…


This frog keeps staring at me whenever I walk by. Actually, we have at least 3 in the backyard pond, likely more based on the number of splashes when we approach. And the male toads have been croaking at night on the pond rocks. I still haven’t figured out whether the toads and frogs play nicely together. Hopefully the frogs are not eating the toads, but I have my concerns. The one in this picture is getting awfully big…


Don’t stare too long — it’s hypnotic.

The artichoke is about waist-high now and growing. I’m rather embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve never eaten an artichoke in my life. I’m growing them A) to actually see what they taste like, B) because this plant is so awesomely prehistoric in appearance, and C) because it’s actually a perennial veggie, which means I don’t have to do much. I’d thought I’d be trying to eat an artichoke last year, but the plant stayed small.


The Goldenball Leadtree is covered with little puffballs-to-be. I keep watching and waiting, as they are going to be amazing. Wow, I love this airy Central Texas native. I’m seriously considering getting a second one (in fact, I think I just decided for sure). Then today I discovered a sneaky golden puffball that had already opened. You can see that the little buds just go “poof” and get huge. Ohhh, I can’t wait. This is going to be the year of the Goldenballs!


Speaking of puffballs, the Fragrant Mimosa, also a Texas native, is putting on puffball displays daily. It turns out that Fragrant Mimosa is, in fact, quite fragrant. I carefully take a sniff each time I walk by, being quite cautious not to get a pointy prickle up my nose.

GSfragrantmimosa04-11.jpgNearby, the native White Honeysuckle has officially become a shrub, and it has more blooms than ever. The scent is divine.


We have wren babies and nesting squirrels and a screech owl hermit, too… but those posts will come another day. Loving being out in the garden again!