Monday, July 23, 2007

Revisiting A Favorite Haunt

We have seen several fledgling birds in our garden in the past few weeks. I was surprised by this fearless young Carolina Wren as he investigated my plant shelf just outside my backdoor. With the help of his doting mother he seemed to give my fertilizer container and gardening clogs the Better Wren and Garden Seal of Approval.

We had the pleasure of a visit from family last week. It was fun to show them around some of the beautiful places we've discovered in the last year here in Austin. One of the first places we took them to was the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum where I found some plants I hadn't seen on our last visit.

The red of the Turk's Cap (drummondii) popped under the shade of the tall live oaks. I've read that this is an excellent plant to attract hummingbirds, so it's on my list to add to my garden.

There were numerous butterflies on what looked like Texas Wisteria, also called Wisteria frutescens (W. macrostachya).

There were dozens of Silver-spotted Skippers (Epargyreus clarus) flitting from flower to flower like ballerinas across a stage.

Charles Umlauf's sculptures are beautiful, especially when surrounded by all the lush plant-life of the garden. This reclining lady is call the Poetess and is one of my favorites.

And this meditation area in front of the panel Come Unto Me brings to mind a peaceful, ancient monastery. It's no wonder the full-sized original stands just over the entrance to a real church in San Antonio.

I was drawn to the wildlife and plants as always. This Neon Skimmer was flying loops around the pond. No doubt he has plenty of mosquitoes to eat with all the rain we've had here in Austin.

There were several turtles in the pond as well. This Red-Eared Slider, (Trachemys scripta elegans) took a moment to bask in the sunlight that peeked through the trees.

We even watched a fat Cottonmouth Water Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorous). We watched him slide between the rocks into the water. I was happy to give him a wide berth since Cottonmouths are poisonous.

After a nice tour we walked past the manmade waterfall...

...and said "Goodbye" to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden once again.

In days to come I'll share the other lovely places we included while giving our guests the Austin Grand Tour.


"All great art ... creates in the beholder not self-satisfaction but wonder and awe. Its great liberation is to lift us out of ourselves." ~Dorothy Thompson


Annie in Austin said...

Hello Dawn,

The Umlauf is one of our favorite places to take visitors, too - but it looks quite different in your photos from the hot & dry place we saw on our last visit and we've never seen turtles and snakes there.

My plants are too young to be dangerous, but Susan South of the River says that Wax Mallow/Turk's Cap/Malvaviscus is really invasive once it gets going. It seems to be used a lot for the landscaping around schools, so it must be tough.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Pam/Digging said...

Dawn, red Turk's cap is a hummer magnet in my garden. And I've had no problems with invasiveness so far, unlike Susan.

I'm not familiar with the Texas wisteria you photographed, but I will certainly look for it. It's quite lovely. I wonder if it thrives in dry conditions as well as its viney namesake?

I like the "Poetess" sculpture too. Did you know she's also at Laguna Gloria? ( The grounds are definitely worth seeing the next time you have visitors and want to show them a beautiful place in Austin.

Andrea's Garden said...

Hello Dawn, I enjoy reading about visits and greatly enjoyed yours. What a beautiful place. One always thinks of TX as hot, dry, not much green. It was nice to see this garden. Andrea

Sanni said...

What a lovely looking place! If we leave the snake out of it. Poisonous snakes are not in my favourite animals-listing :)

Some people have those Red-eared Sliders as pets here in Finland. I dont like it a lot, because they are kept in too small tanks where they dont belong...

Ulla said...

what kind of snake is that?
it looks scary!

Dawn said...

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden has been very lush both times we've visited this year. But then, it's been so rainy here I daresay almost every garden in Austin is rather lush with an almost tropical feel.

Sounds like I may need to be careful where I plant the Turk's Cap. I'll talk with Susan before I put on in.

Glad to hear the hummingbirds love your Turk's Cap. That really makes me want to plant one ASAP...if only I could decide where to put it.

I noticed a vine marked as a Texas Wisteria at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center last week. The vine at the Umlauf Garden looked very similar, so I'm making an assumption they are the same species. The flowers were very pleasant and covered with butterflies. I'd like to add one to my garden after our pool is installed.

Thanks for the link to your Laguna Gloria entry, Pam. Such beautiful photos! I haven't been there yet. It's definitely on my list of places to visit now. :-)

Hope you're feeling well this week. You're right that Texas is usually very hot and dry this time of year. We've had an exceptionally wet and mild summer which makes the gardens seem much more tropical than usual. I must admit I'm enjoying the moist weather since it reminds me of Florida.

It's wise to be careful with poisonous snakes. Luckily most snakes want to avoid humans and rarely bite unless someone is foolish enough to pick them up.

I had to look up the name of the Red-eared Slider. I think we had them in Florida as well. I cannot imagine keeping them in a tank. I'm sure they are happier outside in ponds. They are a lot of fun to watch.

Thank you for dropping by. The snake in the photo is a Cottonmouth; also called a Water Moccasin. They are a type of pit viper, but their venom is not as potent as a rattlesnake. They are not usually aggressive unless someone corners them or picks them up. You can read more about them on Wikipedia here:

Happy Gardening!

Libbys Blog said...

What a beautiful place, thank you for taking us with you on a tour!

MG said...

Dawn... I love reading your blog. The pictures are so stunning, and I get nostalgic for Texas when I read about all what you've been doing in Austin. Hugs to you and Quinn!

Hugs, MG

Dawn said...

Thanks Libby & MG!
I'm glad you stopped by and said, "Hello!" Central Texas is a lovely place, full of beautiful hills, lakes and interesting plants.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,

I loved the visit and my pictures turned out great too. I'm enjoying reading your blog! Talk to you soon.

Dawn said...

Thanks Kristie!
We really enjoyed seeing both of you again! Come back soon and stay longer.