Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Neighborhood Walk

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.
School has started and my son's first year of high school seems to be going well so far. I'm hoping I'll accomplish a bit more in my garden now that I have a little more free time.

I've tried to walk everyday this past week and take some photos along the way. Here are a few plants and animals that caught my eye...

Yellow trumpet flower, (Tecoma stans).

A water-worn limestone accent.

A cicada's cast skin on a crape myrtle.

An avenue of cypress trees.

This is either a leaf-footed bug or a wheel bug.

Three different vines soften a fence.

There is a field full of this little purple wildflower near my house. If you know what it is, please let me know. The flower reminds me of a Verbena of some sort.

These tangled live oak roots remind me of the legs of an Ent.

Thanks to Annie in Austin for kindly letting me know that these flowers are Physostegia virginiana or Obedient Plant. Annie, as always your plant knowledge is impressive!

"Nature's music is never over; her silences are pauses, not conclusions." ~ Mary Webb, The Spring of Joy

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bloggers for Positive Global Change Award

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

I’d like to say a big "Thank you!" to Wild Flora's Wild Gardening for kindly honoring me with a Bloggers for Positive Global Change Award. This is one of the nicest compliments anyone has given my little blog and the very first award it’s ever received.

The progressive folks at Climate of Our Future created this award as a way to encourage "blogging with a purpose". Those who get the award may bestow it upon 5 other bloggers who they think are helping to “build awareness among their readership in order to create a more sustainable and enlightened future”.

* * * * *

The 5 bloggers I'd love to give a BPGC award to happen to be from 5 different countries...

* From organic veggies to guerrilla gardening, Andrea at
Heavy Petal in British Columbia, Canada is doing her part to change the world for the better. Andrea gives readers fun, realistic ideas that they can implement in their own lives.

* Libby from
Woodlands World has the best of both worlds in Wiltshire, England: flowers for beauty and a veggie patch with chickens for sustenance! I'm always interested in what project she is doing next. If we all would be half as clever as Libby the world really would be a happier, more creative place.

* At
Mary’s View you can see plants and animals both in and outside her gorgeous North Carolina, USA garden. Mary’s bird feeders and koi pond attract many different kinds of wild creatures to her colorful garden.

* Sanni’s
Stories from the Wild Garden blog is rich and full of color. If you’ve ever wanted to see what a wildlife-friendly garden looks like in Finland, go visit the paradise Sanni has created. Thankfully for me, Sanni writes her blog in English as well as Finnish.

Andrea’s garden blog will give you a lovely taste of life in South Germany. Andrea is a thoughtful lady who cares as much about her Environmental Footprint as she does the beauty of her garden.

* * * * *

If you’d like to participate in this meme here are the rules according to Climate of Our Future:

Meme Rules
It’s easy to participate in this meme. At minimum, you can proudly display the BPGC badge (it’s available in two varieties:
Transparent GIF and JPEG with white background) on your blog and bask in the glow of our collective good will. If you are sharing the kudos, however, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging.

1. When you get tagged, write a post with links to up to 5 blogs that you think are trying to change the world in a positive way.
2. In your post, make sure you link back to
this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Leave a comment or message for the bloggers you’re tagging, so they know they’re now part of the meme.
4. Optional: Proudly display the “Bloggers For Positive Global Change” award badge with a link to the post that you write up.


"You must be the change you want to see in the world." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Big Fat Galveston Vacation

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

I'm back! Our vacation was a nice success. I'm in the process of recovering from it as well as getting ready for the new school year which starts next Monday.

We were very happy that my parents were able to join us on our vacation to Galveston Island. The beach house we rented was just the right size for all of us and the views of the Gulf of Mexico from our deck were beautiful.

Below is a photo of the house from the beach gate.

Our rental withstood the winds and rain of Tropical Storm Erin very well. A bit of water blew in through the storm shutters during the worst of the storm. Erin was not as scary as the three 2004 hurricanes that hit us in Florida, but the waves were awesome! There is nothing quite like being in a two-story house on stilts during 40 mile per hour winds. We were rocked to sleep on two evenings. As you can see in this photo, the clouds were already blowing in as we fed the seagulls.

While my son preferred body-boarding on the waves, I enjoyed hiking along the shore.

I saw interesting plants as well as wildlife on my daily walks. This dune grass danced in the wind.

I'm not sure what this yellow-flowering plant was by our fence, but it was in abundance along the dune.

Seagulls and Sandpipers tirelessly combed the waterline for food.

We found a lot of dead blue crabs after the Erin ran its course.

I'm hoping to discover the names of some of these dune plants. The yellow of this flower was so bright it overwhelmed my camera lighting.

I have to admire this little daisy's ability to live with so much sand and salt air.

In addition to our time on the beach we made excursions to local sights including Moody Gardens Aquarium, the Galveston Seawall, The Strand and the seaport at Pier 21. We took a driving tour to view many of Galveston's historic homes and enjoyed an informative tour of Moody Mansion; a beautiful 112 year old house that survived the devastating Hurricane of 1900 that killed more than 6,000 people.

The sago palms outside Moody House rival any I've seen in Florida.

This variegated hibiscus was just begging to be photographed.

So, I happily obliged and now, of course, I want one of my own.

At the end of each day our stalwart resident Gulf Coast Toad (Bufo valliceps) -- along with dozens of his family members -- would be waiting for us under our beach house. A leaky hose created the perfect environment for the little fellows to flourish. We enjoyed watching them catch crickets under the house light at night.

All in all our vacation was a real pleasure. If you ever have a chance to visit the area, a trip to Galveston Island is definitely worth your time.

“A vacation is like love - anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort and remembered with nostalgia." author unknown
Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Pods & Possums

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Just to note to let you know that I'll be computer-free on the beach next week. In the meantime I'll leave you with a few recent photos from my garden.

My son noticed this week that our milkweed (Asclepias) pods have started to open. One of his favorite activities is to 'help' release the seeds from the pods and watch them float away in the wind.

The seed pods are a work of art to me.

Unfortunately we didn't see any monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) caterpillars on the milkweed. But there are plenty of Giant Milkweed Bugs (Sephina gundlachi), as you can see in the photo below. While these bugs feed on the plants they don't seem to be doing too much harm so I'm letting them live.

This little opossum (Didelphimorphia) in the photo below is one of the nightly visitors to our back garden. [Sorry about the poor quality of the image. I had to take the photo from inside the house]. While he might look like a rodent of unusual size the opossum is in fact the only species of marsupials in North America. Every night this little guy searches for food under our birdfeeder, then drops by the patio to look for any other delicious morsels. He really liked the pumpkin seeds I left for him that evening.

Hope all of you have a terrific week. I'll be back after my vacation!

"We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings." ~Erma Bombeck

Copyright © 2007-2009. Suburban Wildlife Garden. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Paradise in a Parking Lot

While they certainly have "paved Paradise and put up a parking lot" in some parts of Austin, I was happy to discover that Manuels on Jollyville Road brought a little bit of Paradise back when they created their outdoor dining room. Walking from the hot parking lot I did not imagine I'd want to eat outdoors. After all, it was 92 degrees that day. But the moment I strolled by their lush courtyard with plants and fountains I felt 15 degrees cooler and infatuated with the place.

Lovely tropical plants were my first hint that this wasn't an average eatery.

After letting the hostess know we preferred an outside table we passed the soothing fountains below. My son watched with glee as a common grackle softened discarded nacho chips by dipping them into the water before flying off with his prize.
The courtyard is covered in a canopy of green wisteria-covered trellis as well as an enormous live oak at its center.

Simple plantings of impatiens and liriope surround the live oak. The wisteria beyond gives the feeling of being pleasantly cocooned in a living breathing sanctuary.

Of course all this beauty would be in vain if the food wasn't great. I'm happy to say Manuels serves one of my favorite dishes, Chile Relleno en Nogada, which tastes like Christmas to me.

You don't have to visit an actual desert oasis to observe first-hand how plants can make a once harsh environment inviting. Just a quick visit to a retreat like this reminds me of the importance of flora to our emotional and physical health. Such experiences certainly inspire me to continue to improve my own little corner of Austin.

"Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts." --John Muir