WestCave Preserve

Last Friday we headed to Austin for some diverse activities:  a little shopping, some Mexican food, a Gilbert and Sullivan production, and a visit to a grotto.

WestCave is about 40 miles west of Austin in an isolated area.

By the entrance gate is some New Gold Lantana.  I had thought it was a hybrid, but everything growing here is native.

Some Rock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) in front of the main building.

As we head down, we get a glimpse of Pedernales River.  The word means flint stone.  The Spanish explorers named it to denote an area the Indians had used because it was rich with a high quality brown flint or chert.

Ball moss hanging from Live Oaks.

The moss is a Tillandsia or the type of plant that gets its nutrients from the air and is not harmful to the tree host.

Further down, Woodland Fern grows among the rich soil of tree leaf mulch.

Not sure what this plant is – maybe a type of Oakleaf Hydrangea?

The path is rough and steep.  Wish I had taken a picture of the stone stairs, but I was concentrating on staying upright.  The guide constantly reminds the group to stay on the path for our safety and to protect the preserve.

Some American or Canadian Germander (Teucrium canadense) seems to grow out of rocks.

Love the bright red of Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) flower.

At the end of the trail is the grotto area.  It seems that we’ve stepped into a mythical secret place.

What looks like a cave is just a spot under fallen rocks.

Delicate Maidenhair Fern provides more lush growth.

Standing under the large fallen rock, the dripping water forms a thin curtain.

This the actual cave that we climb into.  The rocks are wet and slippery, so I’m thankful for the wire hand holds.

The Cow Creek Limestone forming the ceiling of the cave is covered with ancient sea shells.

The humidity is so high that by the time we leave this area, we’re soaked with sweat.

But I take the time to take photos of these two dragonflies.

I’ve never seen a red-orange one before.  Glad one stopped darting around long enough for a photo to be taken.

Two full days of activities was fun.

Have a blessed day.

“We only know a tiny proportion about the complexity of the natural world.  Wherever you look, there are still things we don’t know and don’t understand.”                          David AttenboroughSave

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Bits & Pieces

Life is never static, although it may seem that way during periods of our lives.  The daily ebb and flow of a routine lulls us into thinking that we’re in control of events.  But daily reports of international news remind us that sudden changes can happen to anyone.

Moving my mother into assisted living this past weekend has brought thoughts of the march of time and how important it is to enjoy each moment of life.

autumnThe beauty of nature is a gift from God that prompts me into appreciating my life as well as loved ones and strangers.

The Jackman Clematis vine (Clematis x jackmanii) has rallied with new flowers after the summer heat has mostly passed.

autumn1A new tropical hibiscus was an impulse buy that I don’t regret.  Pink Lemonade Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Pink Lemonade’ ) with ruffled edges on the petals is a beauty.

Of course, it means another pot has to go into the shed this winter.

autumn5As the petals unfurls, there is a subtle change to the appearance of each flower.

autumn2Even though true autumn has not arrived, cooler nights and mornings have revived some plants while others are beginning to change into the rust colors of fall.  Passion Flower Vine (Passiflora alatocaerulea) is perennial here that is a welcome sight in the spring to me and to the caterpillars of such butterflies as the Zebra and the Gulf Fritillary.  It is the only host plant for them, so they can chomp off every leaf of a vine.  It provides both the larvae and the butterflies protection from predators because they receive a toxic compound from the plant.

autumn3Still love the older tropical Hibiscus that I’ve had for years.  The color of the blossoms are lovely.

autumn4On the same day, the plant had the above orangey flower as well as this one that is more yellow.

autumn6The stillness of this dragon fly conveyed a calm and peaceful feeling.  The copper color is appropriate as the season slowly shifts from summer to fall.

autumn7I spotted this rustic cart on a bare patch of soil in someone’s yard.  I appreciated the artistic look and their attempt to improve the looks of their space.

I urge everyone to take a deep breath and just enjoy what you see around you.  The old saying, “Stop and smell the roses.” is still valid.

“Pride is a steamroller.  It’ll clear the path for a while, but sooner or later it’ll shift into reverse, and then…look out.”  The Sea Glass Sisters by Lisa Wingate

Yellow in the Yard

Whenever I look at photos from the yard, sometimes color jumps out at me.  That’s why I’m doing several posts focusing on a specific flower color.

orangeyellowbKindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) is another great bulb flower.  Its spider like blooms last all day.  I usually avoid plant catalogs from northern climates because we simply can’t grow so many of their plants here.  But I have found one I really like.  Old House Gardens is a family owned bulb company in Michigan.  But many of their bulbs are grown in the south.  They provide specific information about growing conditions for each type of bulb.  Their newsletter advertising specials also has interesting information.

orangeyellow7Square-Bud Primrose (Calylophus berlandieri Spach) is a Texas native and has been a good performing perennial for me.  It tends to flop down in the middle of the summer, but don’t we all.

orangeyellow6Not really sure what this is, but I think it’s Parralena (Dyssodia pentachaeta) or Common Dogweed.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

orangeyellow1New Gold Lantana, Lantana Hybrid, is faithful to return when the weather gets warm, along with the weeds and grass growing in it.

orangeyelloweThis Golden Showers Thryallis (Galphimia glauca) blooms all summer long and is a show stopper.

orangeyellowfAs it stops flowering, seed pods hang from its branches.

orangeyellowgThis Senna (I don’t know which variety) from a friend doesn’t flower all that much, but there are plenty of new plants each spring.  They’re easy to pull when small.

dragonflyOne of the bonuses of working in the yard are the creatures that fly around.  But to be clear, I only like the non-stinging and non-biting kind.  For some reason, mosquitoes love me.  Even when I spray with a Deet product, I come in covered with bites.

dragonfly2The strong wind was blowing this stem around, but the dragonfly hung on.

dragonfly3The outer part of the wings are transparent, so the grass can be seen beneath them.

Isn’t it amazing how many different varieties of plants and insects there are.

“Temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.” Washington Irving