Friday, October 20, 2017

Butterflies in Backlight

 A Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), stops to fuel up on, arguably its most preferred nectar source, Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum).

Conoclinium coelestinum

Gulf fritillary
Gulf fritillary, (Agraulis vanilla) - In the Fall, heading to the Rio Grande Valley for the winter.

Agraulis vanilla

Danaus plexippus

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Desert Blues

 There is a certain shade of turquoise that seems to be a favorite for desert plants.  I am guessing the blue color keeps the plants from getting too much sun, I wonder if clothes made of this color would be cooler or if cars and houses painted this color would have less heat gain from the sun.
Agave neomexicana
Agave neomexicana

Foreground - Liatris mucronata (Texas Blazing Star),
Background - Nolina matapensis (Sonoran Nolina)

Euphorbia rigida (Gopher plant)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Texas vs Succulents

Texas (Central Texas at least) is not so nurturing of all succulents.  Here is an example of three species that can only survive in Texas given a protected environment in the shade.   Echeveria runyonii - top, Sempervivum ‘Emerald Empress’ - right, Bitter Root Lewisia rediviva- bottom.  While they may thrive in the winter time here, they die in the summer if not hidden away from the sun and watered consistently.  I would guess its not the intensity of the sun that kills them but rather the length of the exposure and consistency of the heat.

Fire Barrel Cactus

Ferocactus gracilis - Fire Barrel Cactus - Unfortunately Texas is also tough on the Fire Barrel, the winter cold (less than 20 degrees) will mark the ridges as frost will turn the ridges brown and the red of the spines fades rapidly perhaps because of alternating heat, cold and humidity.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Cousins visit the cactus garden

Cinnamon Bunny Ears
Cinnamon Bunny Ears (Opuntia microdasys subsp. Rufida), this cactus is charming from a distance but working in close proximity to it you inevitably bump into the "cinnamon" which will then haunt you like fine fiber glass and is easily transferred from gloves or shirt sleeve weeks later to continue to irritate.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Polanisia dodecandra
Cleome aka Polanisia dodecandra grows well in the cactus garden (here looking like a small tree with white flowers).  This Texas native has interesting flowers that seem to be enjoyed by butterflies and hummingbirds.  It typically grows along sandy creeks in Llano County where I collect sand.
Flowering Senna
Flowering Senna, Cassia corymbosa
Echeveria runyonii

Thelocactus bicolor
Thelocactus bicolor

Astrophytum asterias
Astrophytum asterias

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Treasures from SouthTexas

Astrophytum ornatum var. virens
Astrophytum ornatum var. virens - Maybe the most reliable and prolific bloomer in my cactus garden.  I would say somewhere between 15 to 20 blooms a year.

Astrophytum ornatum var. virens
Astrophytum ornatum var. virens

Lower Rio Grande Valley Barrel Cactus
Lower Rio Grande Valley Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus hamatacanthus var. sinuatus, It shrinks a bit in winter time and changes color from a blue green to rusty red.

Ferocactus hamatacanthus var. sinuatus
Lower Rio Grande Valley Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus hamatacanthus var. sinuatus,

Fitch’s Hedgehog Cactus
Fitch’s Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus fitchii).  On a trip to McAllen, Texas I befriended an interesting lady named Juanita who worked as a grounds keeper.  We talked about the local cactus and the art work she made by mounting them and growing them on driftwood or in some cases cedar stumps.  She gave me this plant from her ranch out of a paint bucket in the back of her pickup truck. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Almost a Rainbow

Scientist say cactus flowers can be almost any color except blue.  I have always wondered if purple is the combination of red and blue, and if flower color shades are based on percentage combination of the primary colors, then why can't a purple cactus flower be slight less red and therefore appear blue...?