Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My little Lamb

When I was little, I used to carry around a stuffed lamb lovingly (and cleverly) named Lamby.  Received upon my birth, he was bigger than me for many years and protected me from boogie men under my bed by always sleeping back to back with me.  Although still with me, Lamby and I haven't shared a bed in many years...but my love for him is still strong! And that's what my lamb's ear plant reminds me of: my sweet Lamby.

When taken out of context, it really looks as though this could be the ear of a little lamb. A green lamb, but still.  I don't think I've ever encountered a plant so soft. And willing to be touched!

Monday, June 21, 2010

...and it was all yellow

at different times of day
with different natural lighting

these wilted petals aren't quite as vibrant as the others

This particular stalk is growing fat from the bottom.

Makes an interesting specimen

But I should try to fix it.

This pic is a few days old, & this newbie bloom was wilting as of today. Sad.

I wonder if anyone notices that nearly all my blog titles are related to songs, poetry, etc. Maybe one day I'll start linking them as well. Either way, now you know.

[I said nearly all. Don't try to find a song named 'crabgrass killer']

Crabgrass killer

This stuff actually works! This AgraLawn Crabgrass Killer is an organic weed killer safe enough to sprinkle into your good grass...and IT WORKS! I bought mine at Barton Springs Nursery, but it's the same price online. (minus shipping)

Results: No explanation needed

It is pricey, since this bottle of powder covers about 200 sq. ft.  I bet spot treatments would be worth it though. 

Be aware, this treatment is a post-emergent, meaning after the weeds have emerged.  Each season, in order to be successful, requires both a pre and post emergent coupled with raising your mower blade to 2" or higher.  I am starting late, with this post emergent, so we'll see.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What's in a name? Information.

Where I come from, this would be called a stink bug.

Here in Austin, however, I always hear them referred to as 'leaf footed bugs'.
Technically both are correct. 
Although it's not a true "stink bug", these leaf-footed fellows can emit a foul odor when handled. In other words, they can stink. Yuck. Why on earth wouldn't you keep that information in the name? Selling this thing as leaf-footed really doesn't give one the heebie-jeebies it should.

I watched this particular one crawl around on one of my newly planted succulent pots. It was an incredible irritation since I politely removed him 3 or 4 times today alone.

The trouble is I don't see them until my face is just a little too close.  Makes me jump every single time!  At least this time I had my camera. I found myself a little too nervous to put my camera directly in his face so close up...so...sides and backsides it is!  It'll be like a whole new world when[ever] I get a new camera.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Make your own fireworks!

Well, not exactly make...but you can grow your own "Mexican Firecrackers" [echeveria setosa].

I was curious about the name when I acquired this plant, having not seen one bloom before. I get it now, although the name is a tad misleading, as this is about how far the flowers open.  Long lasting and showy though, which this lady likes.

It's a fuzzy type of succulent, which means it's not terribly cold hardy. Probably no lower than the 40s.  It seems most fuzzies are that way. I have a cotyledon that I adore, but the same is true for him.  Gotta love the look [and feel] of the fuzz though, right?

Although on the frost tender side, it does love the warm weather & sunshine.  My plant is on its second round of blooms for the season and I am proud.  They are susceptible to root rot and don't like being watered from above, and I was worried I over watered mine in the beginning...but all seems well in firecracker land.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Heads up

Go here
to see some funny photos on my other blog.

The many benefits of Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)

Common Yarrow, or Achillea Millefolium, is a shrubby like perennial with 1"-2" tall stalks of flat-topped flower clusters in summer.

The plant was first described for science by the great Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in his monumental Species Plantarumin 1753. Millefolium coming from the Latin for 'thousand leaf', and Achillea from stories of Achilles treating the wounds of his soldiers with the plant. It is even mentioned in Homer's Iliad

...and with warm water
wash away the black blood there, then rub on
fine soothing medication, whose use, they say,
Achilles taught you...

Not only are the flowers tall and showy, Yarrow is said to be beneficial to plants simply growing near it.
A few highlights:
  • Drought tolerant
  • Hardy perennial
  • Bright sturdy blooms
  • Nice long-lasting cut flower
  • Blooms in heat of summer
  • Pest resistant

Medicinal highlights as well! (Of course, some remedies require preparation of the plant)

  • Astringent
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Use in cold and flu remedies as well as:
    • eczema
    • asthma
    • hay fever
  • Headaches
  • Skin irritations/rashes
  • Immediate wound treatment - helps stop bleeding
  • Can lower certain fevers
  • Can prevent infection in wounds
After all that...I'll be honest; I only have it for the flowers. The insects love the bright yellow blooms too, so we all win.

Maybe one day I'll get around to using it for cuts & scrapes, but it's hard to tear off pieces of flowering plants!  Plus my yard still needs some serious help and color never hurts. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ending one week begins another

Two of my favorite things started off my weekend:
1. a clearance sale
2. sedum(s) of any variety

so YAY!

Lowe's had little six packs of assorted sedums for sale for $3! They had the same thing up front for around $8, but I always look for ones in need of rescue. So a few hens & chicks, some dragon's blood sedum, and another yet unidentified sedum join my family. I try not to buy plants from "big box stores" but I just can't help myself sometimes. It's a compulsion...obsession of sorts..for which I want no cure.

One day after my sale purchases, I found myself at the award winning nursery (& my favorite), the Natural Gardener. I was there to browse the plants, as always, but also pick up some dirt and decomposed granite for my new succulent plantings. They have the best displays of plants, and this trip had a neat surprise: a blooming artichoke. I haven't seen one in person before, and it was amazing. And taller than me.

Also while there, I also managed to snag a bag of mosquito repellent pellets along with a pheromone trap. The trap is to entice the ones brave enough to stay to lay eggs in something they can't get out of. And the pellets are made out of cedar so they are natural as well. And so far...fingers crossed...it is working!

I also did something a little out of the ordinary this weekend: bought some annuals! They were on sale along with that sedum at Lowe's, so I couldn't resist some color for cheap. I came home with a pink zinnia and yellow gerbera daisy. *LOVE*  At my wedding, our mothers and grandmothers wore wrist corsages of hot pink gerbera daisies.

(I only took photos close-up cuz the plants need a little lovin' before they are show-ready) But hey, they were only $1.

Happy colors and succulents on sale...Yum!  And having no mosquitoes makes it that much more enjoyable.  
Weekend rating: Successful

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hints of pink

It's almost crepe myrtle season!  Today I spotted the first few hot pink blooms in my yard.

The Papier-mâché like flowers are so vivid when in full bloom. My crepe myrtles were trimmed this past winter so I am hoping for FULL treetops this year.

There are so many crepe myrtles around Austin that are blooming far better than mine. It's inspiring and discouraging all at the same time. My big crepe with light pink blooms isn't even showing yet. So goes the wonder of nature... 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chameleon of a different kind

This small crab spider blends in a little too well with the new gold lantana. He raised up his legs in protest of having his photo taken.

Later, he was in a different spot...readying himself a snack. Apparently I'm not the only one he surprised!

Poor Caterpillar! 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

creepy, crawly, buggy, flying menagerie

There is a plethora of life in the yard this time of year and I have been busy snapping away. It is rather hot outside so the (neat) bugs can only be seen in the morning or the evening. Given my night owl nature, I usually don't rise with the sun, so most of my photo shoots are evening occurrences.

My favorite (and most triumphant) photos belong to the dragonflies. I have an old out-of-date camera, so to catch these quick little buggers is quite the challenge! I did three different photo shoots in one day, each time capturing a different color of dragonfly! (after tons of sweat) I don't know anything technical about them. They're just neat. (Note: clicking on images enlarges them)


I have no idea what this next thing is. All I know is that it did not look like this with the naked eye. 

I plucked the tiniest snail from some foliage after a rain. He journeyed down my finger, then across, all the while leaving a slimy trail behind him.

Can't have baby bugs without eggs!

These are Aphid Lion eggs, or green lacewing larvae. I leave them because, as stated, they eat the lion's share of aphids. But they do bite humans! I have proof if needed. The adults grow up to be green lacewings. Beneficial pretty much all around, minus some accidental human nibbling. 

Well, I guess you can't have eggs without, uh.....love?

I caught these two nasty-doers on my car. I wanted to go get sandwiches for me and the Mr. but these two wanted me to wait. 
Notice the total disregard for being caught. Their expressions never even changed.

At least every once in a while, something pretty stops by.

I don't know the name of most critters off-hand. I'm calling all these last pics 'butterflies' completely out of ignorance. I am most certain the last one is a moth, but the research won't do itself. [Not that the two people who actually read this come here to learn :)]

Thursday, June 3, 2010

When it rains it cools

From 90° to 70° with well received rain. Which brings more rain photos:

The redness of new growth on a transplanted rosebush

This trumpet vine is growing in the midst of the wisteria arbor

     Only a few more spineless prickly pear cactus blooms left to open!