Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spring Anole

I found this brown Green Anole while watering the garden this morning!  Anoles can change from brown to green and back again.  Factors that are attributed to the color change are temperature, camouflage, fright, and, territory disputes.  It's surprising to find reptiles out in February, but it did get up to 80 yesterday.


Isn't she a beauty!  She looks so old basking in the warm sun, but what you can't see from the photo is that she's only about 2 inches long; last year's baby.  An adult female gets to be about 5 inches and a hefty male can reach 8 inches including the tail according to the species profile.  

I've seen several juveniles this spring, but I haven't seen any adults.  I guessing juveniles need to get out earlier to grow faster, larger, and sooner than other sleeping juveniles.  Adults already large, and perhaps fatter since they are more experienced hunters can stay safe and sleep until it really warms up for good.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Beautiful Trees

Over the last few weeks I've collected several photos of beautiful winter trees.  I love to see the striking branches, twigs, and bark during the winter.  What's your favorite tree, and what time of year do you love it the most?

An Elm- tall and slender reaching out of a draw

The fallen arm of a massive mesquite surrounded by young elms

Mrs. Bones, a Texas Persimmon Tree, a great tree to plant if you live in Austin.

Mrs. Bones- silvery and knobby bark

The young wobbly girl meets the old solid oak, Little Eliza and Live Oaks 

A tree in the Wildflower Center's new Arboretum 

Pecan forest

Red-bellied Woodpecker works on a hole in an old dead pecan.

I'd love to hear what you think!  What's your favorite tree?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Weeds or not to Weed

It's Spring in Austin, or so it seems with temps up in the high seventies and lows in the fifties.  For me, the warm weather is coming much too soon, but the plants don't agree.  New sprouts are popping up everyday, but which volunteer plants will turn into fun garden additions and which will turn into evil monsters?  I've learned to recognize several weeds (the hard way) that grow very well in Austin.  Here are some pictures of sprouts that are worth pulling out of your garden beds before they takeover, and a few weeds that I actually enjoy finding in my garden.  

Here's a good mix of weeds some evil, some good.  

A.  Giant Ragweed- Definitely Evil-  I once allowed it to grow because I didn't know what it was- Mistake!  It grew about 12 ft tall!  I waited and waited for the flowers, but of course they don't make flowers just green balls of pollen.  

B. Native Sunflower- Good and Bad-  I love sunflowers!  Check out last year's sunflower forest.  They completely take over my yard (I am happy about it, and the birds love it), but it makes it hard to walk in the yard (it's a very scratchy plant) and it competes with tomatoes and other things I also like to grow.  The birds miss a lot of the seeds so every year there are more and more sprouts.  

C. Woodsorrel (what we all thought as a kid was clover)-  Good Weed-  Who doesn't love lucky clovers?  It's nice to find this weed in the yard.  It makes nice ground-cover that doesn't choke other plants.  I've actually been moving it around so it will grow where I want it.  

D.  Prickly Lettuce- Evil-  This plant starts as a nice fresh green plant (that really looks like lettuce) but it quickly grows tough and scratchy, and makes millions of seeds.  It develops a tap root that can be a pain to remove if left to long.  Pull it up early!

E.  Beggars Tick or Beggars Lice-  Evil (anything named after parasites are bound to be bad.)  Starts out looking like a carrot top, then makes a pretty white Queen Anne's Lace like flower, but then the seeds come.  The seeds are very sticky, tiny, and numerous.  A walk through a field of dry beggar's ticks leads to an hour of picking off seeds (speaking from experience.)  Double the trouble if you have pets!  Don't make a mistake pull this weed even if it looks pretty now!

F.  A plant in the Geranium Family- not evil, not good.   I don't know the name of this plant, but it's a little boring.  I waited and waited for flowers since it appeared to be related to Geraniums, but it was a waste of time. It does have interesting leaves, but they stay pretty small.

G. Bedstraw/Velcro weed- Good  This plant can be great ground cover forming thick mats.  It is said that pioneers used to pile it up and sleep on it.  I love the leaf pattern and bright green color.  You will have to remove it from flower beds if you want wintering plants to come up.

Close up of Prickly Lettuce, Beggar's Lice, and Giant Ragweed sprouts
Sunflowers are on a mission to take over the world!

 Older Bedstraw 

Another weed ground cover, but I do't know it's name, but I love the tiny flowers!
Do you have any weeds to add to the Evil List?  
What mistakes good/bad have you run into?  
I'd love to hear from you!  Thanks for reading!