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Invasive options, butterfly birth, freeze clean up

Happy Birthday!

Gulf fritillary birth indoors

I hadn’t kept an eye on the chrysalis in the window after all. I thought it was too early. But with Friday’s warmth, I came home that evening to see a butterfly between the windows!

Gulf fritillary birth indoors

It took a little coordination to get him out of his tight spot, but he wasn’t too upset about all the attention.

Butterfly on Greg's finger

Then he joyously flew off into the wind. I wasn’t as joyous. If I’d kept a better eye on it, I could have had some food ready. I sure hope he found something to eat out there.

For more new birth, I ordered five Hymenocallis ‘Sulphur Queen,’ an heirloom from 1830. Last summer they were so beautiful that I’d planned to go to Garden’s this spring for more.

Hymenocallis Sulphur Queen

Alas, that won’t happen. So I ordered from Brent and Becky’s. Most people think of the white “spider lilies” of summer. I like those, too, but this soft yellow won me good, a perfect touch in semi-shady spots. The foliage was lovely, too, until it hit 10º in my garden. I don’t know if they survived, but I’m optimistic my three will return. Now, they’ll have some new friends.

I’m also optimistic about the abutilons.

Patrick abutilon freeze damage

They look a bit ragged, but the stems are green. When I scratched the bark, it showed green, too. I’ll wait at least a month to prune them, though. Who knows what’s still coming?

The bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) wasn’t thrilled about the freeze, either. But it’s a grass, so in a few weeks, I’ll cut it down, along with the other ornamental grasses, and see what happens.

Frozen bamboo muhly

Since questions about freeze damage top CTG’s emails right now, this week Daphne analyzes how to tell if a plant is dead or dormant. And since drought is still on our minds, get her tips for Water Efficient Gardening on February 9, when you can meet her in person at the Lost Pines Garden Club in Bastrop. She’ll be there from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Bastrop Public Library.

This weekend in Austin, she’s also presenting “Gardening 101,” a free workshop on Sat., Jan. 30, from 10 a.m.- noon.

Introducing new plants to a garden is always tricky. It’s easy to spot troubles in a few months. But when things go well for a few years, it can take one like this to find out our plants’ true grit.

It can also take years to recognize that recommended, hardy plants sometimes turn into invasive monsters. This week on CTG, Kelly Bender, Urban Biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, joins Tom to put the finger on a few that are demolishing native diversity. Then, she offers some beautiful alternatives to please us and the wildlife that depend on them.

Also, check out Kelly’s latest book edition: Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife. It even includes a DVD!

Texas Wildscapes, Kelly Bender

The first edition helped set me on the path to gardening for wildlife. I refer to it constantly for wildlife ID and tips, so I’m thrilled for this recent publication to guide new gardeners.

Join Kelly & friends on the invasion of the plant snatchers in Texas Parks and Wildlife’s “When Plants Attack.”  Scary, so get your woobie (or your shovel).

To find out more about gardening for wildlife, mark your calendar for February 13 for the Gardening for Wildlife Workshop, presented by Austin Parks and Recreation and Texas Parks and Wildlife. It’s $10 per person/$15 per couple, with light refreshments provided. Space is limited, so sign up before February 5!

Since weeds are big invaders right now, Sweetpea Hoover is back with products, tools, and techniques to fend them off. Personally, I’m interested in the organic crabgrass killer she brought: Garden Weasel Crabgrass Killer, a fragrant concoction of cinnamon, turmeric, and baking soda (it also kills other weeds).  I spent a lot of time last year digging up crabgrass that sprouted in the side yards between the neighbors’ houses and us. Although I promote the “dig” version of weed control, I wouldn’t mind a little help.

And boy, right now, do I need help!  We’ve got some busy weekends ahead of us.

Until next week, Linda