Close up photography of what we might see every day in our gardens can give us a better understanding of our home gardens and help us hone our observation skills to know what our gardens need to thrive to generously give back to us and to nature in so many ways.
Need a vine for a fence in your Brazos Valley garden? Want something that delights with yellow blooms and gives seed pods that can be used in arrangements or crafts? Consider planting Butterfly Vine, also called Orchid Vine, Mascagnia macroptera, because it has seed pods that resemble butterflies and blooms that look similar to orchids. Although it may freeze back in winter, it tends to come back from the roots. It is easy to grow and tolerated being in a large pot for several years at my house till I decided on a location, a community garden where it attracts beneficial insects like bees. It is not native. If you do want a hardy, blooming vine that is native, think about coral honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sempervirins, which has red tubular flowers hummingbirds like, or plant both vines in different locations on your fence. Do you have vine growing tips or memories to share?
A Seed Is a Promise is a title that describes the joy and anticipation of planting seeds outdoors. With a few steps, you can have a spot of vivid color in your garden while also welcoming butterflies flitting all over your flowers. It’s easy to do to get the best results. Determine the type of flower you want to plant. Some very easy, no fail plants are cosmos and zinnias.
Read the back of the seed packet. It describes the best location and helpful hints.
Sow seeds at the right time. The seed packet will tell you the approximate time, but the weather and soil conditions in your garden will guide you
I always presoakthe spot I’ve chosen as it takes lots of water for our soil to become moist. Make sure the surface looks like fine crumbs.
Scatter seeds on top of the soil. Lightly cover the seeds with a dusting of potting soil. (Check the seed packet to see if the seeds need light to germinate.)
Water with a gentle mist or shower. Don’t let the soil dry out. Depending on our heat, you may have to water morning and late afternoon.
Be sure and label the area you’ve planted.
Once the seedlings appear, water with a ½ diluted solution of water soluble fertilizer.
Continue to water daily until the plants are larger, then water as needed.
This colorful spot of zinnias from my garden were given to me from Norma Jean Stokes who shared her seeds at one of our meetings. As I sit outside now with my glass of tea, I am filled with joy knowing a friend gave me a beautiful ‘gift’.
You know how bats are sometimes referred to as “Flying Mice”? Bet you didn’t know that bats are more closely related to humans than to mice!!! I have seen bat colonies in caves, and flying out over the open countryside in the evenings to hunt for insects to feed their families, but I have never seen any on my property. I plan to rectify that by building some bat houses.
There are many free building plans available on the internet, and they can also be purchased ready-made. A good resource for bat information is Bat Conservation International, https://www.batcon.org.
Contrary to popular opinion, bats are not blind – they have excellent vision, but they also use a biological sonar called echolocation to hunt fast-flying insects in total darkness! Bats groom their fur like cats and kittens, which shows they are not “dirty”. Only three of more than 1,250 bat species are vampire bats that feed on blood, and all of them are in Latin America. Only one targets mammals, and it prefers domestic livestock. So, you’re not likely to encounter any vampire bats this Halloween.
Bats pollinate bananas in the wild. The modern-day banana that we find in our grocery stores are of the Cavendish variety which has no seeds and is propagated by suckers. This sterility makes it difficult to breed new edible varieties. And new ones are needed because commercial bananas, such as the popular Cavendish, are so susceptible to disease that they now require more fungicide spraying than any other crop. Yet diseases are rare among wild bananas, in which the constant mixing of genes has evolved resistance to local pathogens. Bats also pollinate cashews, dates, figs, peaches, avocados, agaves (think Tequila!!) and many other important plants.
Bats are important insect hunters. More than two-thirds of bat species feed on insects. A mother bat can eat up to her body weight in insects every night, and a million bats can eat as much as 10 tons of bugs! The millions of free-tailed bats in Central Texas’ Bracken Cave consume up to 200 tons of insects each summer night!
Thanks to Batcon.org and unknown sources on the internet for much of the above information
Today, Saturday October 21st, A&M Garden Club members partnered with members of the local D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution), Butterflies in the Brazos, City of College Station, Keep Brazos Beautiful, and students from Texas A&M Department of Entomology, to plant seeds of wildflowers springtime pollinators. Richard Carter Park is a historical area park where A&M Garden Club has planted native plants and trees over the years, and performs twice yearly maintenance of the plantings. Between 20 and 40 people from the above organizations came out for coffee and donuts at 9:30 am, and seed sowing started about 10:00 am. The City of College Station has provided Monarch Way Station and No-Mow signs. The sowing was completed before the expected rains came, and it is to be hoped that when the rain does start it won’t be so hard as to wash out all the seeds! This was a great community project, and all participants had fun!!! More photos are posted on our Facebook Page.
And here is the action record of the “Seed Spreaders and Stompers”
This was a great community collaboration, under the leadership of Jane C., which will hopefully produce flowers for pollinators for years to come! We provided coffee and donuts, and everyone had loads of fun!
Clara B. Mounce Public Library Children’s Librarian Elaine P accepts the National Garden Club book “The Saved Seed” from the A&M Garden Club. Members present include Judy S, Deana D, and Sharon B. The book tells the story of a pumpkin seed’s journey and is a great read for the Fall season, or any time of year. Johanna R. used her calligraphy skills to inscribe a message in the front cover commemorating the donation by our club as part of our celebration of this year’s National Garden Club theme “Plant America” and the State Garden Club theme of “Sowing Seeds the Texas Way”. We are sowing the seeds of a love of gardening and reading in our community’s children.
Sadly, our time has come to an end for this visit. The suitcases were loaded into the truck, we loaded into the van, and we set off for Guatemala City and the airport. Goodbyes were said to Jorge and Armando at the entrance to the airport (only travelers are allowed inside!); all the formalities were taken care of very quickly and without any problems, and soon we were shopping (again!) and sitting down to eating lunch. The flight to Houston was clear and uneventful, taking a little over 2 hours, and once in the airport we scattered like cats in all directions heading for home, taking all our many memories with us!