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Tag Archives: Wildlife Habitat

A Trip to Sanderson, Texas

Sanderson, West Texas—a beauty and a danger all its own.  Let’s take a walk through a dry stream bed on a large ranch located in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas.

It’s dry now but with heavy rains there are flash floods that race through the stream bed causing the water to quickly rise.   My nephew, Daniel, witnessed one such flash flood and cautioned, “Aunt Ann, if you had to get across you would be killed.”

Ranch property in Sanderson, Texas

In spite of the rugged conditions, unusual desert plants courageously endure. The wildflower, Apache Plume, provides a bit of softness. To see Apache Plume in bloom, click here.

Apache Plume

Texas Sotol finds it’s niche in solid rock.

Green Sotol

And even honey bees find a place to start a hive.

Bee hive in rock above a stream bed

Creosote bush, one of the most drought tolerant plants in North America, survives and even thrives in the region’s adversity. To cope with lack of water, the leaves drop off and the bush can live for two years without a drop of rain.  Creosote leaves have a pungent, oily smell. The oil has been used for centuries to create hand salve. And of course, dry hands and West Texas go hand in hand!

Cresosote Bush

Sanderson was designated the “Cactus Capital of Texas” by the state legislature in 1999 for its abundance and variety of desert dwelling plants such as the claret cup, horse crippler, fish hook, barrel and prickly pear cactus.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Goodbye for now to a land of diverse plants and topography. This Sanderson sunset punctuated by faded Sotol spikes ushers in the night.

Sanderson at sunset

 

Ann Lamb

Pollinator Friendly

August 10, 2019

Pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, bats, birds,   and wasps are the basis of a healthy ecosystem. They allow plants to reproduce and those plants provide us with countless varieties of fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  I have read that one in every three bites of food lands on your plate because of the work of these pollinators.

With that in mind, look at your garden in a new way. How are you providing for the pollinators who make your life happen?

Here are some of the plants we are growing with that purpose.

Above: Zexmenia hispida

Above: Rudibeckia fulgida and Gregg’s Mist Flower

Above: Tithonia rotundifolia or Mexican Sunflower in front of a 5 foot hedge of Lantana ‘Miss Huff’

Above: The delicate blossoms of the Desert Willow provide nectar

Above: Datura-an interesting flower that blooms at night and attracts the sphinx moth

Above: Pink Skullcap

On the right side of the page under Raincatcher’s Resources, take a look at the list of butterfly and hummingbird plants for more information.

Ann Lamb

 

The Bath House Garden is 10 Years Old!

Come celebrate the 10th anniversary of the planting of the Bath House Garden Saturday evening, July 7th, 7-9 pm

This celebration is part of a fun night at the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake with an art gallery opening, live music and refreshments.

All Master Gardeners and members of the public are welcome!


Janet D. Smith, fresh out of the Master Gardener class of 2005, was brave enough to think a partnership between Dallas County Master Gardeners and the City of Dallas Parks and Recreation Department could evolve to build a garden  in front of the bath house at White Rock Lake.

The White Rock Bath House Garden and “Whirl” Sculpture in June 2018.

Janet, having a passion for pollinators, dreamed of a garden that would host and feed all kinds of bees, butterflies, and birds. Carmel Womack,  Dallas County Master Gardener  class of 1997, took up Janet’s mantra and designed the garden around the “Whirl” sculpture. Monies were donated and following the May 2008 art installation the garden was planted in July that year.

Garden funding is so important!

10 years later, let’s look at the changes. Plants have been cut way back, a few have died, and some have been removed. More native plants like autumn sage, cowpen daisy, native milkweeds, four-nerve daisies, rock rose and blue mistflower have been added.

The original irrigation system was inefficient and has been disconnected.  Instead Master Gardeners volunteer to hand water the new plants until they are established and then about once a month in our hottest, most scorching weather.

The current garden tenders include garden coordinator Janet D. Smith and CMG’s Judy Meagher, Ginnie Salter, Barbara Hardin and interns Nancy Griswold and Monica Nagle. They currently meet Tuesday evenings to work when the sunny garden is in the shade. Ginnie also provides TLC for the plants inside the BHCC. 

All the plants are labeled and the Texas natives have Texas-shaped stakes to make them easy to spot.

Native Plants are identified with appropriate signage.

Oh, and a new garden has been started on the other side of the building. It’s a small start with salvias planted around a desert willow,  but look at the view.

The new bath house garden with a view of downtown Dallas.

The team also takes care of a tiny garden surrounding the historical marker at Winfrey Point. Check it out when we have meetings there.

Ann Lamb

For more information and the plant list click here.

A Plea For Our Pollinators!

Susan and others have been working diligently in our butterfly garden. It’s beautiful and has a purpose. As gardeners do, Susan and I had a meaningful visit about the garden as we worked.  Here are my questions and her answers:

Why are you working so hard, selecting certain plants. You seem to be planting with a purpose.

The goal is to attract a wide diversity of pollinators and to that end, we need to cultivate a wide variety of plants all throughout the year.

Pollinators depend on us and it’s our sacred duty to provide for them in all their phases of life. It isn’t that easy, but like many things it’s very worthwhile.

Why as gardeners do we need to plant for pollinators? Isn’t this provided naturally?

Much of nature has been rearranged and habitats destroyed.  Every yard needs to count! Devote at least part of your garden to create a pollinator-friendly habitat.

Joy comes when you see these creatures thrive. If you take the step, I don’t believe you will ever go back to never-ending lawns with seas of begonias.

Keep going. it’s desperately needed and of serious importance for the next generation.

It’s up to us.

Thank you, Susan. You have inspired all of us to garden for the future.

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

Under Raincatcher’s Resources, we have a list of butterfly friendly plants to help you get started.

Pollinator week is a week away.

 

 

 

 

A Winter’s Wonder, Lonicera fragrantissima

Just when you need it the most, Lonicera fragrantissima, also known as Winter Honeysuckle bursts on the scene with its powerful scent and dainty little creamy flowers.

The blooms provide pollen and nectar to bees who are foraging on a winter’s day.

When you plan your garden, get used to including other’s needs, especially our pollinators.  Winter can be a bleak time for overwintering butterflies and bees.

Dr. William Welch suggests planting Winter Honeysuckle by a gate so when you brush by it you can enjoy the scent.  It can be grown in partial shade or full sun.  For a look at it in full sun, click here.

If you arrive early at the next *Texas Discovery Garden sale,  you might be able to take home your own small start of this fast growing fragrant bush.

Ann Lamb

*Texas Discovery Garden Sale-April 6-8, 2018

More info about Lonicera fragrantissima right here on Dallas Garden Buzz!

 

 

Tagging Monarchs at Raincatcher’s

Monarch Butterfly Sipping Milkweed, Note the Tag

With a woosh of her net, Master Naturalist, Ellen Guiling, has captured another Monarch butterfly to be tagged and then sent on its migratory journey.

As per the Monarch Watch website: tagging information helps answer questions about the geographic origins of monarchs, the timing and pace of the migration, mortality during migration, the effects of wind and weather, and changes in geographic distribution of monarchs. Each year the information is collected and can be viewed at www.monarchwatch.org.

You may remember Starla found a tagged Monarch from Kansas who visited our garden in 2015.

We have many butterflies visiting The Raincatcher’s Garden and the reason goes back to the careful planning and planting of host and nectar plants for many different types of butterflies. Review the butterfly plant list in our Raincatcher’s Resources on the right of our front page and enjoy the delights of your own butterfly garden.

Ann Lamb

Pictures and video by Starla Willis

 

 

Purple Martins Have Arrived At The Raincatcher’s Garden

Deirdre starts this utube video saying “so these are the gourds where we’d really like to have a Purple Martin Colony.” She then explains the preparation and that we have been waiting two whole years for Purple Martins. No more waiting!

As of the beginning of May 2017, Purple Martins have landed at The Raincatcher’s Garden.

Purple Martin Close Up

Looking for friendly neighbors? Put up a Purple Martin house. It’s comparable to a miniature neighborhood in your backyard and Purple Martins chirp pleasantly and  perform aerial acrobatics to snap up flying insects.  Unfortunately, Mosquitoes only comprise as low as 3% of their diet.

At the end of the breeding season they gather in big flocks and make their way to South America.

Next year, we should see some of the same Purple Martins again!

Purple Martins At Home!

Video and Pictures by Starla Willis

If you are having trouble watching our Purple Martin Utube video, please click here.

Ann Lamb

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