Monday, May 31, 2010

Cute Critters

 This isn't a complaint about they tear up man made yard accoutrements and dig in my potted plants...this is just a blog on how cute they can be. They young ones that play in my yard aren't very scared of me...could be a problem in the future but provides great photographing opportunities for now.

    This one actually froze in place and "barked" at me a while

      I often catch them laying on fence posts with legs hanging off

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fascinating Haworthia Fasciata

Not a new one to my collection, this Haworthia Fasciata (commonly called "zebra plant") is finally blooming! Oddly enough it only started to perform when moved into a sunnier part of the yard. Most experts recommend part shade/shade or indoors for zebra haworthias...and although it does great indoors in a window sill, mine is loving the attention of the actual sun out in the yard.  All the tips that were dried/dying are full and vibrant. It gets great shots of soft to harsh sun but receives nice filtered shade and then shade by early afternoon. And to be clear, it started shooting up its stalk back in April, and took about two weeks for the first flower to bloom..which I believe was around May 10.

The bloom stalk started as nearly non-impressive. In fact, this is the first shot of it I got. Who knows how long it was actually out without being noticed.

While the stem grew, it left behind little bumps that would eventually become its flowers. And they bloom in proper order, oldest to newest; one a day.

  I wasn't sure what to expect and was astounded when it grew to a final length of over a foot! And to my surprise the petals of the flowers are striped too!  

I love love love this plant. Its bumpy white "stripes" are fascinating to me. I admire this one from afar in my yard, and it makes me happy to be able to see it close up and in bloom. (It's also a favorite of the Mr. so I'll keep it around as long as I can)

Friday, May 28, 2010

I love tiny things

tiny grasshopper on a mini echeveria

Karma Chameleon

I spend a lot of time on the porch. Especially if the weather is manageable. So this year I finally added a few small plants to the area to make it feel more cozy. Everything is always under construction or at least a work in progress around our place, so it'll be nice to see some life amidst the mess!

About a week after planting a sun-shy succulent, I noticed it already had a visitor - a cute little lizard! (Technically a chameleon but somehow 'lizard' just always comes out first.) He walks around in the shade of the porch often, and now has a place to rest out of the already summer time heat. I couldn't resist snapping away...and it didn't hurt that he's on my favorite pot either. Now to come up with a name...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My yard has a few trapdoors, apparently

During some recent digging, this fella turned up.  Although he didn't move a muscle upon his excavation, I moved several! What a sight! He is nearly the size of the palm of my hand. He definitely gave a creepy vibe, but the lack of movement was puzzling. Upon further investigation, I discovered it was a trapdoor spider. Pretty cool after all.  And our hunch was right, he is nocturnal. Hence the no daytime movement...we awoke him from his slumber!

Since we had allowed him to be our excuse to stop for the day, we returned boldly the next day with shovels in hand and sweat-bands in place.  And to our delight, only one more spider was found, and he was a fraction of the size of the previous one. With a quick flick of my spade shovel, I relocated him under the shed. This one moved quite a bit to be so sleepy!  No matter...decking is being built over that spot so we won't have to dig and see if anything else could be happily sleeping away the day in the dirt.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Zilker, anyone?

I am a sucker for a good cactus and/or succulent, so the semi-annual sale at Zilker Botanical Gardens is on my calendar. It's put on by the Austin Cactus and Succulent Society, or ACSS, once in the spring and once in the fall. I love to go and browse plants for sale, but really my heart belongs walking around the gardens there. They offer a garden of each imaginable type and offer lots of inspiration to the amateur gardener in desperate need of free help. Plus, if not a lot of people are around, it's quite serene.

Rain, rain, don't go away

I love photographing raindrops on my plants after a rain, and today we had a nice one.

Spineless Prickly Pear finally in bloom

This snail loves the slick leaves of the Agapanthus lily, or Lily of the Nile

Confederate Jasmine leaves

A sweet burro's tail sedum is holding a few drops on its tips

Purple Ice Plant opened in spite of the sun

Pyracantha is a problem

Pyracantha or Firethorn was one of the first things I noticed when we were buying this house. I didn't know anything about its invasive tendencies or its horrible "fire" laced thorns...I just thought the berries were pretty. All the wildlife seems to enjoy this plant immensely too, so upon move in, my worries were non existent.(Upon further reading, I have learned it is an invasive plant that should be avoided at all costs, and builders haven't used them in probably twenty years or so for that reason. Awesome.)

Flash forward just a couple of months. We realize the fence along the sidewalk is falling down...what we didn't know initially is that the entire fence is being supported by the pyracantha. That's right, they're all tied together with ropes. Being the diligent hard working woman I am, I was undaunted by this. "What's twenty foot tall firethorn tied to the fence gonna do to me?" And I set out to prune/hack/cut that firethorn away from the fence. It's quite difficult to cut once the base is the size of a small tree, as mine is. Plus not letting any part of it touch you for fear of horrific thorns is challenging. I ended up with a pretty bad stick from a thorn about an hour into cutting, and it wound up hurting for two whole days!

Ever since it drew blood from me, I have been trimming it on a need-only basis. It does tend to hit people in the face when they walk down the sidewalk, so I do my part...when I get around to it. But this brings me to my biggest and baddest pyracantha task to date: REMOVING ABSOLUTELY ALL OF IT so we can put up a new fence. Every last bit of it. There are 5-6 mature plants with a ton of filler in between that. ALL of it has thorns. I have learned that trimming it and letting it die completely does take the sting out of the thorns. They feel more like pricks from a rose bush when they're dry.

Since last fall's trim, the new growth is nearly unstoppable. I say nearly cuz a chainsaw can stop just about anything. Between that and a sawsall, look out fence line! I hope to have it all nice and clear, pending termite inspections, soon. Come on new privacy know I need you!!


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