Sunday, May 26, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

Military funerals are a common sight around the Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.  Many times the San Antonio Patriot Guard Riders are there to escort both those who have died on active duty and veterans.

Requiem for a Soldier

Mansions of the Lord

The procession is always a special event like having our local version of Rolling Thunder.


Forming a wall of flags around the family is part of the service.

As you enjoy your Memorial Day holiday and our freedoms take a few moments to remember the service of so many who sacrificed.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

National Wildflower Week 2019

National Wildflower Week (May 5-12) celebrates our native flowering species and I'm thinking about the "wildflowers" in my garden based on a common definition:

"A wildflower is a flower that grows in the wild, meaning it was not intentionally seeded or planted."

With such a narrow definition I wonder if the flowers in my garden qualify as wildflowers.  We'll take a tour while I share my thoughts.

These bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) were intentionally seeded from seeds I collected in an undeveloped area just over my back fence.

We started with a small patch that struggled during our drought years but has been spreading quickly recently.  Some reseed naturally while we help others along to make sure the patch grows where we can enjoy them.

Then they are not wildflowers?  Not so fast, that also would mean bluebonnets at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are not technically wildflowers.  As the Texas state flower bluebonnets are intentionally seeded along highways and public areas throughout the state so I think bluebonnets always qualify as wildflowers no matter where they are or how they arrived.

Purple Prairie Verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida) and bright yellow-orange Greenthreads (Thelesperma filifolum) arrived as volunteers so they qualify as wildflowers.

Or not?  They started out wherever they chose to grow but then I intentionally seed them where I would like more.

The same with Firewheel or Indian Blanket flowers (Gaillardia pulchella).  Here again I intervene by pulling about half of these out each year to keep them under control.

Are these wildflowers or not?

That original narrow definition would indicate this is not a patch of wildflowers even though they are clearly going wild.

Their parents volunteered the garden years ago but then I intentionally seeded them across the path.

Eventually wildflowers will take over the entire back slope with the exception of shady spots.

Wildflowers are filling in the opposite corner where I scattered seeds over the last few years.  Looks like wildflowers to me.

What would I say is not a wildflower?  I'm undecided on larkspur.  While there are a few native larkspur in North America these are likely not.  So even though they grow among my native wildflowers and  Larkspur is a favorite in my garden they don't qualify.  I sure do enjoy them though.

No question about Horsemint (Monarda citriodora), another volunteer and a bee favorite.  No surprise since one of its common names in Bee Balm. 

Bee Balm goes through color stages starting pale then going to deep purple.

Damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana) grows as a wildflower in open areas but these were purchased as landscape plants at a local nursery.  

Texas Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Hinckleyana’) is a native wildflower now growing in a garden bed since it was shared by a friend.

Wildflowers by definition or not, I enjoy them all in my landscape.

Just one note.  To have wildflowers you have to be prepared for the browning state.  Those pretty bluebonnets going to seed turn brown (as seen on the lower right) and are not so pretty for a while.  Fortunately, the golds and oranges take over and help out.  If you want flowers next year, there's no getting around the seedy phase which is why most of my wildflowers are in the back yard.

So enjoy the wildflowers and even try a few in your garden since so many have crossed over into landscape favorites.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Wildlife Wednesday May 2019

It's Wildlife Wednesday and time to share my wildlife sightings from the last month or so.  Wildlife Wednesday is hosted by Tina at "My gardener says...." as a meme to share wildlife sightings from the garden on the first Wednesday of each month.

My monthly gif is a Giant Swallowtail enjoying 360 degrees of a Verberna Bonariensis bloom.

From our golf course correspondent we have mating monarchs in full public view!  A couple weeks ago I spotted a monarch caterpillar racing away from the garden after most of the milkweed had been consumed.  Today I saw a fresh monarch butterfly enjoying my garden.  I'd like to think those two events are connected.  San Antonio is a Monarch Champion City and we are proud to host these beautiful butterflies twice a year.

A softshell turtle on the edge of a creek along the golf course.  I don't know enough about turtles to venture a more specific guess as to whether this is a smooth or spiny softshell.  Looks pretty smooth to me.  I quit researching when turtle soup came up over and over.  These guys eat plenty of insects so carry on.

That's the round up of wildlife from my garden (and the golf course where my husband spends much time) over the last month or so.  Hey, I'm happy he enjoys observing wildlife along with his favorite pastime.  To share wildlife from your garden or see what other bloggers have shared be sure to check out the comments section in Tina's blog.  Tina has a fascinating take on "Lizard Brain" for you today.