Patterns in old wood

We are always on the lookout for interesting patterns in old wood.

Patterns in old wood; Photo by D.Burrows, June 2013
Patterns in old wood; Photo by D.Burrows, June 2013

Can you see it?

A Wonderful & Versatile Native Shrub

Buttonbush_DBurrows_June2013

We planted this wonderful native down on our dry weather creek for bank stability.  This plant likes/needs wet feet, and is perfect for the task.  This is the Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis.  It can grow to 18′ tall and 10′ wide in full sun.  The blossom looks like a button, as you can see and attracts all the pollinators; look for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to come to it once established.  It is particularly favored by our native bees.  The plant is deciduous, but in my experience, some stems freeze back to the ground. The plant recovers each year to bloom in the summer.  I found that used in a pond environment, any submerged portion will provide habitat for amphibians, reptiles, ducks, and fish.  Some 25 species of birds eat the seeds.  A native worth planting by our creeks and ponds.

Common Buttonbush down at the creek; Photo by D.Burrows, June 2013
Buttonbush down at the creek; Photo by D.Burrows, June 2013

This picture shows the “button” later in the season, about to go to seed.

Plant Your Own Butterfly Garden

Butterfly Garden at Still Waters Ranch-Oakridge; May 2013
Butterfly Garden at Still Waters Ranch-Oakridge; May 2013

Many native plants as well as drought tolerant ones are available to use when planting your own butterfly garden or just to have a small blooming area of joy right outside your window.  We planted several colors of Cosmos and Zinnia. In addition, we now have native wildflowers growing up in among the planted seeds, none of which have been disturbed by the deer.  This little garden has been blooming for a couple of months now and has been enjoyed by the butterflies, bees and humans alike.  Why don’t you give it a try and see what you can grow, too!

Finding Native Vines

Spurred Butterfly Pea; Photo by Gr.Lambert, June 2013
Spurred Butterfly Pea; Photo by Gr.Lambert, June 2013

Spurred Butterfly pea Centrosema virginianum, part of the bean (legume) family.  We can find this sprawling vine from about April to September. It is vining, with no tendrils. The flower is a great nectar source and the plant is larval food plant for Long-tailed Skipper Butterfly, Urbanus proteus.  It’s great for the organic butterfly garden. Thankfully, it tolerates dry conditions well.  Thank you, Grady, for another great picture.

Flowers Blooming Now

Purple Pleat-Leaf Grady Lambert found blooming May 2013
Purple Pleat-Leaf Grady Lambert found blooming May 2013

Wonderful picture from Grady of one of our native wildflowers, the Purple Pleat-Leaf Alophia drummondii.   Sometimes called Pinewood Lily.  This flower loves our sandy soil, and can be found blooming from April – June, in part shade.  Since it doesn’t make a great cut flower, best to enjoy them where you see them; flowers remain open a very short time. In fact, they tend to wither by the noon heat.    If you should want to move them into your garden, you need to sow seed in the fall.

Bee Fly

This cute little honeybee sized guy is among the many species of Robber Flies, but this Bee Fly  Diptera: Bombyliidae is another family of flies.  When he is not on cameras, he can be found checking out the pollen of the flowers, and on the ground.  This species lays its eggs in soil and takes a year to complete the life cycle.  The larvae are parasitic on immature stages of other insects and therefore is considered beneficial.

Bee Fly visiting Oakridge; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013
Bee Fly visiting Oakridge; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

Reviewing pictures we have taken, I found a shot of the bee fly building his burrow in the ground.   I did not realize until recently, what the identity of the insect was.

Found the bee fly burrow, May 2012
Found the bee fly burrow, May 2012

 

 

 

Water Lilies in the Rain

If you’re driving Miller Creek Loop, you will find these water lilies as we did last Saturday in the rain.

Water Lilies; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013
Water Lilies; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

White Water Lily, Fragrant Water LilyNymphaea odorata.    These perennial lilies are native to Texas and only become a problem if they become too thick within their environment .  Then there is a risk they will start to shade out other plants.  These lilies are found in our ponds, lakes, slow streams and ditches.  The plant parts and seeds benefit waterbirds and small mammals.

Water Lilies on Miller Creek Loop, Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013
Water Lilies on Miller Creek Loop, Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

 

 

Plant Quiz

Sent in by Donna Burrows, ORWMA Habitat Chairperson:

Do you know what I am?   Photo by Donna Burrows_May2013
Do you know what I am? Photo by Donna Burrows_May2013

Can you identify this plant?

Hint:   This is the spring time look — it is much different looking later on in the fall/winter.

We will post the answer, along with the picture of its fall look later.  Reply with your answers by sending in a “Comment” on this post.

Changed in an Instant

New Hatched Monarch Butterfly; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013
Newly Hatched Monarch Butterfly; Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

“This male Monarch butterly emerged from his chrysalis this morning about 9 AM.  I caught his picture immediately after his first flight.  He is gorgeous!” – quote from Donna Burrows

Please be sure to leave plenty of host plants on your property for this beautiful creature.  One source of information to learn more about “hosting” the Monarch is www.texasbutterflyranch.com.   Thanks to Donna Burrows, ORWMA Habitat Chairperson, for the wonderful picture above.  Another good place to learn about the Monarch is www.monarchwatch.org.  Check it out and have fun!