Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2017
This past Saturday was the first ever Austin Catio Tour put on by the Travis County Audubon Society.  They did an amazing job of showcasing 10 catios that varied in size,  style, and number of contented cat customers served.   One "certified cat lady" had a screened porch built for her herd, but hers wasn't even the largest structure featured.   A stop by the home with that honor came with a side of barbecue and refreshments.
One homeowner added style to her catio by planting a clean, modern border of foxtail ferns along the outer wall.  Her catio was basically a screened-in porch, and its construction included building a wooden deck, exterior paint to match the house, and plenty of cat perches clustered in favored spots to avoid squabbles over the perfect vantage point.


For this inaugural tour, all but one were built by The Cat Carpenter, David Murphy.  David is a cat lover and customizes the structures with the cats' safety and needs in mind.  By noon on Friday, 8…

Three Simple Ways to Garden for Monarch Butterflies

This past weekend I got to enjoy being with a room full of folks who completely understand the value of native plants to native wildlife.  They "get" the concept of co-evolution, the way that native pollinators and native plants have evolved to be mutually dependent.  And, of course, the popular issue of supporting Monarchs eventually came up because we all now know these beautiful icons are also dependent on a specific host plant.  But when the topic of planting milkweed for Monarchs came up, our discussion underscored something I find myself repeating over and over, and repeated yet again to this experienced group.  When several of them were surprised, I decided to repeat it here as well.  Remember, if you hear or see something repeated three times, it's going to be a test question.
As central Texans who find ourselves smack dab in the squeeze point through which all Monarchs east of the Rockies travel during their migration, we really need to focus on providing nectar …

Rain Chains

Why do I always hear Rex Harrison's voice from My Fair Lady when I hear "rain chains"?  We're not in Spain, nor in the plains, but by George I've finally got it, I mean, got one.  It's been sitting in a box at least two years waiting for me to repair the fascia and soffit, then paint, then install a short section of guttering just so it could be deployed.  No doubt you know how that goes.  But it's all completed now and ready for the reveal.

The bottom of the chain is anchored in a large pot full of stones, something I decided to do to further slow the runoff.  Underneath and surrounding the pot are more of the same stones.
After watching it in action through some hard rains, I can report it functions very well.  The water gently cascades down and no longer washes out the bed or the gravel along the side of the driveway, and it's just so darned pretty to watch in action.
However, we have three oaks and a crape myrtle in the front that drop leaves and lit…

Another Dang Opportunity

When we recently had to remove a mature Arizona Ash from our back yard, we went from a shade garden to one passionately caressed by the hot reach of the Death Star.  A couple of plants curled up and died before they could adjust, but the resilience and flexibility of most truly surprised me.  They've merely gotten a bad sunburn and the new foliage seems to be growing in tolerant of the increased sun.  Having plants that are native or well adapted to our area must give them a healthy resilience in extremes.
It wasn't just the plants that needed time to adjust.  Mourning the loss of the tree and considering the changes ahead were a bit overwhelming to me, and I'll admit to being fairly grumpy for about a week.  Finally I could see it as just another dang opportunity.  Here's a peek at the good news that grew out of the bad.

As you may know, my garden is all about supporting pollinators.  A variety of bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and fairly benign wasps honor …