Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday September 2018

It's Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina at "My Gardener Says" and time to see what's been visiting my garden the past month or so.

We'll start things off with a disoriented armadillo.  These nocturnal creatures live near the dry creek behind our house.  Overnight on Tuesday we had 9.25 inches of rain which flooded them out causing this one to become a temporary homeless wanderer in the dark cloudy morning.  An armadillo moves pretty fast, especially when caught out of its element so this slightly blurry photo is the best I could do.

This is most likely a solitary bee I noticed clinging to the white stone wall of the house.  A rare chance to get a closeup on a solid background.  Nice legs!

While visiting friend Paula Stone in Fredericksburg back in June we wondered what this unusual bug was.  I tried unsuccessfully to get a good photo.  Some type of bee or wasp?  We'd just never seen one that looked quite like it before.

Several weeks later Paula sent me the photo below.  It's a Cicada Killer wasp.  She saw it bring a cicada back to the garden.  Cicadas live about five to six weeks and they were quite plentiful this year.  It's cool to see how predators appear when the opportunity is right.

Photo by Paula Stone
Magnificent Mexican Eagles or CaraCara are still here.  They hunt by waiting or walking around on the ground.

September's GIF is a vulture looking for something that must have died in the creek.

A male Cardinal at the feeder.

Although the pair politely take turns we sometimes put a second ration of birdseed on the table so both can feed at the same time.

A male lesser goldfinch on the fence.  The deep black and gold plumage is quite striking and the only thing "lesser" about this beauty is its size.

Whitetail deer have been gathering around the blue water bucket as our hot, dry summer continued.

They are looking at all those yummy plants inside the fence.

They have plenty to eat out there so, nope, no garden plants for them.

We had quite a bit of rain over the weekend after these photos were taken but there are sure to be dry weeks ahead so the bucket will stay filled.

That's the wildlife round-up for my garden as summer draws to a close so be sure to head on over to to Tina's post on Wildlife Wednesday to see what she and other bloggers have from their gardens this month.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A day at Gilbriar Gazebo in Fredericksburg

For those of us who love the Texas Hill Country, Paula Stone's house on 10 acres near Fredericksburg is the dream house we would love to own.  Her 1882 stone house has those iconic lines we envy from car windows during drives in the country.  Paula is a transplanted Oklahoman, and going by the front garden which just says "Texas" all over it, she has embraced the local style.

You wouldn't know looking at it now, but the house was a wreck when Paula purchased it several years ago.  When she first bought the run-down house her friends thought she was nuts and it was in such bad shape the realtor wouldn't even go inside the house with her.  It's gorgeous now and I recently took friends April and Lorraine on a road trip out to see how she had transformed the property.  Paula is a fan of Pam Penick's blog Digging as evidenced by the water garden tank in the front walk.  

Blooming water lilies-gorgeous!

I took the  photo below about two years ago after much of the work had already been done.  Paula, an interior designer with her own shop in San Antonio for years, had already removed an old metal-sided addition and porch that were not part of her classic hill country vision for the house.  She spent about a year to get the house to this point.  Comparing the top photo above you can see she eventually took out the old cement porch slab and created a welcoming garden.  The fireplace was originally part of the ugly addition and she left it as an outdoor fireplace on the new porch.  

We'll be back to the porch after a tour of the gardens.  Paula is active in the Native Plant Society of Texas and self-described "overly enthusiastic organic gardener."

Materials from demolition were recycled as raised beds in the extensive vegetable garden. 

We were there in late June just after our spring garden seasons ends so a lot of these beds were empty.  I still enjoyed seeing how so much of her garden uses re-purposed building materials and fits so well with the local style.

She's added a lot of bottles to the recycled conveyor fencing since I was there two years ago.



Just visible through the garden is a new addition on the back of the house where comfortable bedrooms, baths, laundry and storage update the house for modern living.  The effect is practically seamless and very well done.

About that "Gazebo" in the title and all those bottles on the fence.  Paula has added an event venue to her property.  The impressive Gilbriar Gazebo, complete with chandelier and surrounded by native plant gardens, is available to rent for weddings and events.

Here's what that spot looked like on my first visit two years ago.  She had just installed a 38,500 gallon water catchment system which is now under the gazebo and the garden is enclosed by a fence.

I remember thinking Paula had a rather ambitious plan as she described the gazebo that would go here.  That was just two years ago.  Below is roughly the same view as above.

The old turkey barn has been renovated and is available for indoor events.

The front reception area has a rustic elegant style  Paula has been collecting vintage furniture for a while and she uses it with great effect in her barn.  Tin from the original barn roof was used for walls.

A bar found at an auction house in San Antonio completes the front reception area.

Enjoy your drink in one of the two silos with seating (seen to the left above) and look up at vintage chandeliers.

Inside the large renovated barn which can hold a sizable crowd!  Paula spent about 9 months renovating the barn.  "Good crew, decisive client" she says.  

Here's what it looked like when I first visited two years ago.  A former turkey barn housed goats until it was renovated.  Paula on the right with Linda Higby whose garden I shared a few years ago.  Those ladder-style metal pieces are the same fencing pieces decorated with bottles near the garden.

The goats have since been relocated to a friend's place in San Antonio.  Soil dug from the floor of the barn filled her raised beds in the gardens.  No wonder everything grows so beautifully!

Custom barn doors cover storage space.

The brass horse in the groom's dressing room was found at Fredericksburg Trade Days.  Paula used to breed Arabian horses so she couldn't pass this up.  That's a Murphy bed on the left.  Paula planned ahead to have these dressing rooms double as guest rooms for family and friends.

Lush native plant gardens continue around a rented guest cottage.

More recycled materials in the fence along the walk next to the cottage.

With a parking lot to the right the fence provides privacy for the cottage.

A colorful garden shed was once a treehouse Paula rescued from a friend's property.

An old stone building reminiscent of the jacal homes used by early settlers in Texas sits nearby.  While the original purpose is unknown, its east facing front and north window make me wonder if it was used as a dwelling.  Early Texas buildings like these inform the modern work of local architects like Lake|Flato.

Skulls decorate the screen.

Back around front to the welcoming front porch.  Love the day bed here which looks so relaxing.  It's easy to imagine reading there on nice days.

The original fireplace in the addition was kept and is used on cool evenings.  Views of the surrounding countryside are beautiful but Paula has planted trees along the fence line for the inevitability of housing developments which will eventually surround the property as town moves closer.  The stairs go to a loft apartment above the house.

Want to see inside?  Of course you do!  Hats by the door is so traditional and looks just right here.

Across the way is a cozy corner where the Biedermeier sofa evokes memories of early Texas-German furniture from the 19th century.  Through the door opening on the right above the addition houses bedrooms and amenities needed for the way we live now.

A stylish modern kitchen blends right in on the other end with dining in between.  The huge stone lintel above the kitchen window is original to the house and was left visible when the wall was plastered.

Stone detail and some of Paula's interesting collections artfully arranged.

A view to the front garden from a window.

After a delicious lunch and fun conversation I paused in the driveway to grab this wide shot of the buildings as I headed back to San Antonio.

Thank you Paula for showing us around and sharing your beautiful home and garden.  We thoroughly enjoyed our day in the country and are so impressed with all Paula has done to save this beautiful farm and make it available for weddings and parties.

You can contact Paula through her Gilbriar Gazebo website.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday August 2018

The first Wednesday of the month is Wildlife Wednesday when Tina at My Gardener Says... provides an opportunity to share garden wildlife from July.  A few of these are from June since I missed posting the week of July 4th last month.

Again this year a Whitetail doe has chosen our corner as a base for raising her fawn.

Probably about one day old when it ran to the neighbor's door after being startled.

A snapping camera doesn't seem safe so it's out of there quickly.

Run, run, run

Oh, how sweet!

For just over a week they were likely to turn up whenever I went outside or even just looked out the window as in this photo.  She leaves her fawn for hours at a time to keep it safe but she's never far away and always on watch.  Fawns have no scent to attract predators and they can communicate from quite a distance with a series of sounds.  Deer are highly nomadic moving up and down the creek which runs through the neighborhood so we might not see them again for a few weeks.

A buzzard landing on the roof peak.  There's a small natural area full of typical wildlife like raccoons and possums along a busy road behind us which keeps the buzzards busy.

A Cardinal helping himself to ripe figs as viewed through the kitchen window.  It's always a contest because figs must be picked at the peak of ripeness.  Unripened figs are not tasty and do not improve with age.  We got a few figs this year in spite of the birds.

This month's GIF is a hummingbird on tiny lily-like flowers of an Agave stricta bloom.

I wasn't sure about keeping American Germander in my garden until I saw this Hummingbird enjoying the blooms.

So much work to do it needs a rest on the fence.

Cicadas are a dominant bug in the heat of summer.

I've not really thought of them as pretty but clear wings are interesting.  They chew a hole in soft plant tissue to lay eggs but I don't think this Agave sisalana is the place which is why it moved on quickly.

I noticed this Leaf-Footed bug on the rusty gate while out with my camera.

It wasn't until I downloaded the photo I saw the casing to the right.  I think this might be a newly molted bug leaving its old shell behind.

Bees love this Passiflora Foetida we rescued from an undeveloped commercial property nearby.  The process of collecting cuttings and seeds to get it established took nearly eight years.  Now that the vine has returned three years in a row I think we can say it's found a home here.  We've even successfully transplanted seedlings to other parts of the yard.

Not native but still popular with butterflies is Pride of Barbados which blooms in the hottest part of summer.

Same Swallowtail, different light seconds later.

Wings open reveal bright blue indicating a female Spicebush Swallowtail.

Queen Butterfly defies the heat to enjoy a native Kidneywood tree in dappled sun.  Queen butterflies are here most of the year.

Gulf Fritillaries are here almost as often throughout the year.

After a July thunderstorm the air above the garden filled with flying insects best seen against the shed as a backdrop.  There were hundreds of them.  Flying ants!  I got close to see for sure and just made out the shape of ants against the gray sky.  Mature ants leaving the colony to start a new one is called a nuptial flight.  Only reproductive males and queens do this when they are ready to mate.  The queens are the specks you can see and the males are less visible.  We haven't seen many new ant mounds yet.

Toads emerging immediately after a rain continues to be a mystery to me.  We have little rain in the summer and few sources of water for them.  I even looked it up and they take 7-10 days to hatch.  It's about the size of a thumbnail.  Baby toads and cactus, which of these doesn't belong.  Smart toads find a spot near the hose bib where life is good.

That's the roundup of wildlife in my garden for the last month or so be sure to visit Tina to see the wonderful wildlife her garden attracts and to check out the comments section for more garden wildlife.