Water & Weed Girl 

The title “Legends & Lore of Texas Wildflowers” was written by Elizabeth Silverthorne and published in 2002 by Texas A&M University Press. Silverthorne is a gifted storyteller who sets out to inspire others to appreciate plant life. Each of the 45 plant profiles are brimming with diverse details.  I forget where I first came across the book but I have it in print and digital.  So I think it is a keeper.  I admit I am drawn to the book by its beautiful cover and sketches of some of the native flowers. Some natives included are Agarita, Agave, Bluebonnet, Daisy, Milkweed, Passionflower, and Sunflower.  Silverthorne did me a favor in the Preface by telling a bit about her story and how she put the research for the book together.  She goes on in the introduction to discuss the history of Texas plant collections.  Silverthorne writes “this book has given me the opportunity to combine...a deep interest of flowers and mythology, folklore and history.”  In the last few lines of the Afterward a Shoshone legend is referenced saying, “Wild blooms are the footprints of little children...”


“The vision of the Sibley Youth & Family Garden is to engage youth and adults in the natural habitats of our region through horticultural education and interaction with nature.”  

Our Committee Members 

  • Alison Peeler, Chair & Board Member
  • Jim Alsup, Board Member

Tiptoe Through the Garden in July

 

2021 Family Garden Class Journal

  • Our first classes for the semester running into October were preceded with a bit of rain that brought out the tarantula, scorpion, variegated fritillary butterflies, hummers and other critters. 
  • These bright and joyful families are taking on their own section of the garden this year.  
  • We took a look at the moisture content for individual plants along with the sweet and sour of soil - or the pH.  


  • Our second classes are off to a great start this week.  Some of the plants are struggling with the recent triple digit temperature.  So we talked about ways to help them out.
  • Many of these participants really know their insects.  The tiny yellow aphids on the milkweed attract the lady bug which in turn pollinates our plants.  It is great fun to learn how things in your garden work so well together.
  • The families have certainly taken ownership of there gardens and are working together to get a lot done
  • Some things will take over in the garden if you let them and frogfruit is no exception.  Pulling vines can be very therapeutic with an immediate gratification.  Many times we find the garden teaches us patience - or at least tries.
  • We have swallowtail and gulf fritillary caterpillars.  The young people really showed their talents by finding eggs and keeping an eye out for the butterflies.
  • We learned to identify plants from the mallow family like rock rose and okra.  And of course, there was some harvesting of beautiful red tomatoes.
  • While trying to keep up with what plant attracts which butterfly we also gathered around to talk about a bit of passionflower legend.  
  • There were some great questions this week.  Folks are starting to think about why some plants are in the same family.  
  • The lupine and the vitex may look very similar during the flowering process but they are from differing families. The vitex is Lamiaceae so take a look at the number of plants in that family.  It may surprise you.
  • The lupine is a part of the legume family and can thrive in poor soil.  Lupus is Latin for wolf as in ancient times the lupine was believed to harm the soil.  The Texas State Flower is a lupine - the Bluebonnet.
  • Another question was are sunflower petals edible?  While they are not reported to be poisonous, they are bitter.
  • Kudos to the the family who took the "garden journal" and the 3 way meter home and made some excellent use of it.  Thank you for sharing the plants you are trying to grow at home.  A real inspiration to your children by sectioning off 400 square foot for a family garden.  Wonderful discussion about how to prep the soil and make a water plan prior to any planting.  Also, an excellent job this morning in the garden.  Love that you planted red seed potatoes with the natives.  
  • Everyone did a outstanding job during the second session of classes these past 2 weeks.  Y'all Rock!!!!
  • Well who would have believed it but we have temperatures in the 80's during the month of July and more rain than we could have hoped for to water our garden.  
  • Classes our finding that more rain means more plant growth and the more there is to do in the garden.  
  • We are planting all kinds of potatoes in the garden and bags to take home.  Take a look at how it is done with seed potatoes. 
  • Growing Potatoes from Planting to Harvest
  • And still more rain...the classes are busy and a kudos to the family who kept at it even when a tap root was not about to give in so easily. "So satisfying"  Even more their mad skills of plant id led to "it looks like a fig" only to find it was a voluntary mulberry bush from the same family moraceae.  Without realizing it you have already made plans for your next class.  All the potatoes are now planted and you have a handle on overgrowth - or what some might call "weeds".  Great questions on what is the difference between a "native and a weed". 
  • Michael Nickell, Sibley's well respected artist and scientist shared his wisdom and talents with the classes about the basics of journaling.  Thank you for the inspiration of showing sections of your personal pages!  Some of the main takeaways are that journaling can be done by using different mediums such as writing, drawing, photos, painting, pressed flowers or leaves.  It is a way to get lost in the moments and use things that invoke the senses to create memories. Journaling is a process of experiences, learning and observations.  Questions to ask are what is noticed, what it reminds us of, and I wonder...?

We are a Monarch Waystation!   

"Native Milkweed Species for South Central Region - antelope horn milkweed, green antelope horn milkweed, zizotes milkweed...Each fall, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies migrate from the United States and Canada to mountains in central Mexico where they wait out the winter until conditions favor a return flight in the spring. The monarch migration is truly one of the world's greatest natural wonders yet it is threatened by habitat loss at overwintering grounds in Mexico and throughout breeding areas in the United States and Canada."

Want to learn more go to https://monarchwatch.org/waystations/

FROM THE DESK OF MICHAEL NICKELL

Tachinid Flies

  Tachinid flies (Family Tachinidae) comprise a large and diverse family of true flies with at least 1300 species in North America alone.  Tachinids are almost exclusively protelean parsitoids as larvae, internally consuming their hosts while avoiding the host’s vital organs until the last stage of their own development and emerging as free-living adult flies.

  There is much diversity in the reproductive strategies of tachinid flies, but they tend to be generalists rather than specialists.  Most tachinid larvae are internal parasitoids of butterfly and moth caterpillars or of the caterpillar-like larvae of stingless wasps known as sawflies.  Some species of tachinids attack adult beetles, and some the larvae of beetles.  Other tachinids attack hemipterans (true bugs), while others prefer grasshoppers.

  Most female tachinids lay white, ovoid eggs with a flat undersurface directly onto the exoskeleton of a host insect.  The eggs are so firmly stuck that they cannot be removed by the host.  Some species of tachinids inject an egg into the host’s body.  There are some tachinid genera that deposit a larva onto the host which immediately bores into the host’s body.  There are some tachinids which lay eggs on the food plants of the host species to be ingested as the host feeds.  Then there are some tachinids which hatch into flattened larvae on the host’s food plant and actively stalk or wait to latch onto an appropriate passing host.

  Adult tachinids are not parasitic, but rather are commonly seen on flowers feeding on nectar and pollen; some species feed on decaying matter or on the honeydew secretions of aphids and scale insects, and some species do not feed as adults.  Some tachinids are pollinators, especially in higher elevations where bees are few.

  Adult tachinid flies vary greatly in their appearance---some are brightly colored, and some are wasp and bee mimics.  But most species of tachinids are rather drab and resemble house flies.  Commonly, tachinids are robust and bristly flies, but there are some key characteristics of the antennae and wing venation which distinguish them from other flies.  Arguably, the most conspicuous field characteristic is the presence of a well-developed mesothoracic structure called the postscutellum.

  Many tachinid species are the natural enemies of some major insect pests, and at least 16 species have been introduced into the United States as biological control agents, but this tactic has not been free of unintended consequences because tachinids are generalists and not specialists and will parasitize virtually any caterpillar of moth or butterfly.

Art to the Science 

Families in the Garden

  • Flame Acanthaceae - Flame Acanthus, 
  • Aizoaceae – Hardy Ice Plant
  • Amaryllidaceae – Daffodil
  • Apiaceae - Parsley, Dill, Fennel, Celery
  • Apocynaceae - (Milkweed) Zizotes, Talayote
  • Asparagaceae - Hyacinthus, Nolina, Breaklight, Hesperaloe
  • Asteraceae - Aster, Common Sunflower, Maximillian Sunflower, Gregg’s Mistflower, Coreopsis, Chocolate Daisies, Golden Yarrow, Huisache Daisy, Broomweed, Thistle, Damianita, Horseweed, Purple Coneflower, Mexican Hat, Indian Blanketflower, Dandelion, Marsh Fleabane, Camphor Daisy, Paperflower, Black-eyed Susan, Four-nerve Daisy, Cowpen Daisy, Wedelia Trilobata, Zinnia Grandiflora, Mexican Mint Marigold, Shasta Daisy, Brazilian Zinnia, Lettuce, 
  • Begoniaceae – Esperanza, Crossvine Tangerine Beauty, Bubba Desert Willow
  • Boraginaceae - Mexican Olive
  • Brassicaceae - Tansymustard, Peppergrass, Bladder-pod, Cabbage, Collard Greens, Broccoli
  • Caprifoliaceae- Coralberry
  • Cactaceae - Claret Cup Cactus , Eagle Claw Cactus  
  • Crassulaceae - Mustead Red Stonecrop
  • Cucurbitaceae - Pumpkin, Cucumber 
  • Cupressaceae – Mint Julep Juniper
  • Ebenaceae – Texas Persimmon 
  • Euphorbiaceae – Gopher Plant
  • Fabaceae – Beans, Mesquite, Texas Redbud, Texas Mountain Laurel, Texas Kidneywood, Yellow Pride of Barbados, Goldenball Lead Tree, Retama
  • Lamiaceae - Vitex Trees, Tropical Red Scarlet Salvia, Rosemary, Basil, Texas Betony, Lavender, Blackberry, Russian Sage, Peppermint, Chocolate Mint, Sage
  • Liliaceae – Onion, Tulip
  • Malvaceae - Okra, Texas Rockrose, Texas Star Hybiscus, Turks Cap, Rose of Sharon
  • Moraceae – Brown Turkey Fig, Mulberry Tree
  • Myopoaceae – Texas Heavenly Cloud Sage
  • Myrtaceae – Woodlanders Hardy Bottlebrush
  • Nyctaginacea- Devil’s Bouquet
  • Oleaceae - Arbequina Olive, Lilac Bush
  • Onagraceae - Pink Guara
  • Passifloriaceae - Purple Passionflower
  • Poaceae - Pine Muhly, Big Muhly, Hairy Grama, Blonde Ambition, Buffalo, Broomsedge Bluestem, Feather, Giant Cane, Windmill, Witch Grass, Indian, Eastern Gamagrass, Love Sandgrass
  • Rosaceae – Mexican Plum
  • Rubiaceae – Button Bush
  • Rutaceae - Mexican Lime Bush
  • Solanaceae - Silver Leaf Nightshade, Cayennne Pepper, Potato, Tomato
  • Sapinadaceae - Western Soapberry
  • Tropaeolaceae - Nasturtium
  • Ulmaceae - Lace Bark Elm, Hackberry
  • Verbenaceae - Golden and Texas Lantanas, Texas Frog-fruit, Bee Brush, White Trailing Lantana

Search for Native Plants

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Explore Plants database 

https://www.wildflower.org/plants-main

Texas Native Shrubs Database 

https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/nativeshrubs/indexscientific.htm

Plants Database 

www.plants.usda