Monday, December 10, 2018

Cathedral Park Meditation Walk: A Calm Walk in the City

I recently enjoyed an evening walk at Cathedral Park just off busy Broadway Street north of downtown San Antonio. Cathedral Park is home to the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas and they welcome the public to enjoy their serene spaces.  In a town with one of the most famous "Walks" in the world, it's nice to also enjoy some of our less famous and quieter walking trails.  The steep walk up from the parking lot gets you started and your reward is this pretty rose arbor to start the trail.

Trinity Fountain gently bubbles to one side.   Details of the walk, including a plant list, are on their website.

Volunteers maintain the planters and much of the other areas of the park.

At the top of the hill a potted "Hollywood Juniper" is very sculptural against the pretty pink chapel wall.  I was here one day when the tiny chapel was open and it's as pretty inside as out.

Benches for pausing are positioned along the way.

Very San Antonio arch and gate at the side of the chapel.

Circular benches for a circular trail around the lawn in front of the chapel.

Baptismal Fount for outdoor ceremonies.

This enormous Live Oak tree is estimated at 200 years old.  The main tree trunk is on the right and you see and branches hug the ground, supported by rocks.

Walking under the old Live Oak the pink chapel comes into view so we're about to go full circle.

Beautiful to just stand under this giant tree.

The balcony is a "sunrise overlook" which appears to be under repair.

After exploring the more formal parts of the garden there are steps leading downhill to wooded areas and natural trails.

Nice detail on this iron railing.

A "Great Lawn" is just around that bend and several neighbors were ending their evening with a quiet walk.

From the parking lot you can also turn right down the hill to follow a natural trail through the woods.

One of several fountains in the park.

Birdbath cut from a limestone rock is going in my idea file.

Our destination was an event at the pavilion.

The treehouse/screened room is a beautiful space for a small gathering of garden-minded folks.

Views from the bridge show masses of purple heart, a favorite and easily grown plant in San Antonio.

Tiled inset on a nearby wall.

The theme continues with butterflies on this cross inside the treehouse pavilion.

The bird feeder arm swings in for filling.

More details in the copper sconces.

Walking back to the parking lot we encounter a rustic bridge.

It's fun to enjoy different relaxing, yet challenging walking trails in our city.

Find more information Cathedral Park website.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday December 2018

It's the first Wednesday of December and time for a late fall look at wildlife in the garden hosted by Tina at "My Gardener Says..."  This is all about caterpillars (mostly).  When we lived in colder climates it was common to hear predictions for the coming winter based on the width of woolly caterpillar stripes.  Woolly Bear caterpillars are typically black front and back with a belted orange stripe around the middle.  As the folklore goes, the wider the orange stripe the milder the winter and conversely, a narrower stripe means a colder winter.  With that in mind, let us consult our fuzzy friends about the coming winter's forecast.

So what does it mean if the caterpillar is all black with no orange stripe?  Hmmmm, not an auspicious start....

This one?  Black with a touch of orange.  Hedging our bets, are we?

And this one?  Equally ambivalent.

Or one that is almost entirely orange?  I like it a lot, but it seems like the caterpillar equivalent of a member of the Optimist's Society.

What if the orange and black stripes run lengthwise instead of around?  More orange than black?

Or more black than orange?

What about this gray one with black stripe?

Maybe they are trying to cover all the weather bases.  This is Texas after all so we can predict deep freezes with ice and possibly snow followed closely by hot weather before another freeze sets in.  Hot days will give way to 40-50 degree drops and blanket us with three days of below freezing weather before going back up just as fast as it dropped.  We will have an early freeze (check that one off already) and probably a late freeze in early April.  There will be whole weeks where we need no heat or air conditioning.  So the caterpillars are all correct!

Fact is none of those shown above are the famous woolly caterpillar which always has an orange belt stripe of varying dimension.  Another interesting fact is most common caterpillar ID sites don't feature fuzzy caterpillars.  The best I could do is figure out all of the above are moth caterpillars and you should not pick them up unless you are sure which one.  While the Woolly Bear is safe, others may carry venom which would be a nasty surprise.  A friend recently felt a sharp sting while gardening and later determined she had been stung by an Asp caterpillar.  Her description of long-lasting nerve pain was similar to a scorpion sting.  Ouch!

A few more sightings from last month are this White-striped longtail moth.  A fairly descriptive name.

Shadows on a Gulf Fritillary

A checkered butterfly enjoying the last wildflowers of the season.

Nice pose but I don't remember.....What are you looking at???

White-tailed bucks are feeling frisky and running all over the neighborhood in such a way that we must be careful when driving or walking.  Most of the year the bucks are cautious animals hiding in the woods until the fall season when their hormones go nuts and they take surprising risks of being seen by hunters or hit by a car.  A deer can cause as much damage as another vehicle or worse.

His attention is directed at this lady who will play hard-to-get until she is ready.  He will circle for as long as it takes.

That's the wildlife wrap for 2018.

Check out Tina's post at "My Gardener Says..." for more wildlife in the garden.