11/05/2023 late but clearing for garlic

A series of seven raised beds edged by corrugated stainless steel and connected by three beige plastic trellises. A pile of holly branches in front, and some beds still having tomato cages covered in frost killed cowpea vines. One bed has hoops and plastic over it.
I got probably a total of three beds cleared (two halves and two wholes) for putting our garlic back in. I also moved some yaupon branches into the city compost bins (saving some to try making tea). I put a lot of cowpea seeds behind the yaupon holly in hopes that they’ll take over there next year. The rest of vine waste I set over south of the fourth bed to try to smother the invasive sedges and bermudagrass that keeps creeping in since we haven’t put ground covers there yet. We haven’t got the garlic in yet. But closer. Next year not letting cowpeas bury the raised beds.

06/11/2023 roots

Unless you’re taking a herbarium specimen or moving stuff in the garden, we often don’t see how deep some native plant roots are. Today I helped two friends rescue plants from a remnant prairie that is about to be dozed and built on. (We dug with permission.)

A Winecup had the taproot I’ve read about but it was concentrated near the surface. This seems likely to live.
I figured this big milkweed has a very deep root so we didn’t try it.
Briar sat in the shade of encroaching cedar trees and helped check the reference book.
A cute hopper insect!
Scarlet pea had a very long root. Again we’ll see how it grows!

Spiderworts, native perennial dayflower, an all yellow Gaillardia, fleabane, western horse nettle, and Heterotheca (I think?) all came up easily with a sharpshooter shovel. Little bluestem has very deep roots but I think they are supposed to be okay to divide. Fern acacia (I think??) had a longer root (over a foot for a 6” tall plant) that may have broken.

04/06/2023 Black Mesa Nature Preserve afternoon walk

Briar posed for us as we began our slow walk up the trail.
Here we go! Briar was on her leash and thought we were slow. Especially when I kept stopping to take photos of grama grass.
Mom also does botany photography along the trail!
I’ll look up this grasshopper when we get home.
I like how this photo has a cholla in front of a juniper with grama grass framing it. These were among the dominant plants along the trail.
Framed by the cholla cacti and distant junipers is a stretch of green tinted soil exposed by erosion! you can also see some of the abundant yuccas.
This young yucca by the trail already has a few strings peeling off the leaves.
One of the volcanic rocks that gives Black Mesa its name was down at our level. The trail climbs the Mesa for a round trip of 8.2 miles, but between botany and my arthritis we did a round trip of 1.6 miles in 1 hr and 50 min.
This dried leaf was very firm and had lovely reticulated veins.
Close up of cholla cactus branches and spines, with Black Mesa in the background.
Briar is the picture of patience once again. The packed earth trail is really broad and smooth!

04/05/2023 departure

We managed a short walk for dog business before Briar freaked out about wanting to get in truck. On that walk we saw this nice crustose lichen with orange apothecia (the round speckles) on a walnut tree.
Briar safe in the truck and you can’t take her out!!!

04/04/2023 day two of Boiling Springs State Park

The world’s most cooperative Falcate Orangetip butterfly! Feeding at a dandelion here and we also saw it on henbit and speedwell.
The tree with some green is an elm and the pod tree is a catalpa!
This grass was everywhere. Mom says not coastal Bermuda, but otherwise we’re not sure.
The River Trail was full of old and fallen and standing cottonwood trees. I liked the pattern on this barkless log.
Dad spotted this well-camouflaged Buprestidae beetle! I used my macro Moment lens on the phone camera to admire its nice punctate (the dimples) elytra (the hard wing covers).
There were also quite a few Kentucky Coffee Trees with their distinctive seed pods. Mom hadn’t seen them before so we looked it up and they’re not in Texas much.
Briar dog for scale on a bridge over the small springfed creek with a big, big cottonwood tree in the background.
I liked this tree’s bark!
The Civilian Conservation Core pump house near the spring’s source. Briar hopes it has air conditioning???
We didn’t go in the pump house but continued in the visitor center area (everything here was paved and accessible) to see the very channeled spring creek.
Briar did find the cool flagstones in the shade to be acceptable. the “boiling” sand is in the fenced area. Mom will be blogging it eventually so look at her site for video coming in the next week or so!
Mom spotted our second ever Olympia Marble butterfly! It was fast and flighty. It was mostly feeding on henbit flowers in the lawn area behind the visitor center.
On our walk back we saw this beaver-gnawed tree. The park office person told us the beaver had recently moved and she didn’t know where to, so we showed her yesterday’s beaver den and she agreed that was probably it! We have been listening to a great book about beavers lately called “Eager” by Ben Goldfarb. I recommend it so far!
Briar looks out over more CCC work- the stone edged bridge.
Now this afternoon and evening we’re hunkered down in a big dust storm! Glad we walked this morning and early afternoon when the sky was still blue.

The excavation of a path and that weird berm

12/30/2022. I’ve scraped a bit of soil and leafy debris off the concrete area that extends as far as the rock wall of the garage does. Right now, water drains from here back towards the house. There’s also a foot tall berm along the fence (a few pavers on top of it) visible in the background, which is very inconvenient for walking on. This is the western edge of the “prairie” area but in summer is mostly a tangle of invasive dayflower and a big mulberry stump’s stems.
12/30/2022. Paula and I got a bunch of concrete shards and small rocks out of the pile around the bird house pole from the previous picture. These work ok as a border for front yard raised beds. I have also taken to putting our nicer actual rocks on top of them for better viewing. This pile needs distributing now but I can do that gradually.
01/02/2023. after the previous rock shard excavation, before stump removal.
01/02/2023. Paula axed the mulberry stump. We could have left it, but it is not conducive to water draining away from the house here. She also pulled a lot of rebar up. We think a few owners past probably used them to hold up landscaping timbers.
01/04/2022 Paula has energy and unexpectedly cleared the whole berm.
01/04/2023. She also pulled many old rebars up, again.
01/05/2023. Paula continued to enjoy perfect cool digging weather and nice soft earth to move. She put this rain barrel in its spot and worked on leveling and grading. I need to order pavers so we can put the path in before seeding with our prairie grasses and flowers.
01/07/2023. Briar helps us measure to see how many concrete pavers we need for the fence path.
01/10/2023. The concrete pavers for the path plus concrete block edges arrived. Briar examines.
01/12/2023. Blocks are in place, but need leveled and then filled with soil too. the goal for these blocks is to guide more water flow towards the path and away from the garage.
01/21/2023. Got all the blocks leveled shortly after this photo.
01/21/2023. A start on pavers along the fence. I know a better surface would be created by putting sand and other crushed base under the pavers, but for the next few years I’m going to have this as good enough.
01/23/2023. The pavers don’t quite fill the gap to the fence so for now I’m leaving alternating gaps for drainage.
01/23/2023. A view from the other side. The goal is to get the path three pavers wide everywhere, but the majority of mud is covered now. (Cleaner dog toes.)
01/25/2023. Snow on the path!
02/06/2023. I put the last pavers in the past except a few spots where old rebar stuck up.
02/07/2023. We spread saved up wildflower and grass seeds before a few days of gentle rain.
02/07/2023. This spot is under the eaves so it gets less wet, so I hope it will still be ok for buffalograss.
02/11/2023. Need to sweep, but I moved all the empty pots to the little bamboo shelf.
02/11/2023. Paula and I moved soil from the north side of the house, where it was inexplicably piled up against the wood siding, into the concrete block hollows. the final step tomorrow will be moving some widow sedum, nutall’s sedum, juniper leaf, and fern leaves (in case I missed any spores) into these blocks. That’s all for this project!