Planting Texas Snowbells
A source of real excitement for us was the recent planting of a dozen Texas Snowbells on the property. Texas Snowbells (styrax texanus), an endangered species, is a shrub with clustered white flowers that dangle upside down – thus its name. They are known from only two dozen populations in three counties, on steep bluffs and cliff faces along creeks, where they find protection from browsing deer and goats.
We are delighted to be part of a Snowbell re-introduction program, the aim of which is to establish numerous additional populations of snowbells within their historic range. Assisted by a grant from the United State Fish and Wildlife Service we have built a deer-proof fence around nine acres of our property, including some excellent Snowbell habitat, and the first plants were put in the ground this winter as part of the re-introduction program spearheaded by David Bamberger. Bamberger has collected seeds from existing wild populations, raised seedlings at his facility at Selah Ranch, then planted the seedlings at several locations with the co-operation of interested landowners. We will be caring for and monitoring the progress of the plants, and over the next four years up to 100 additional plants will be introduced, depending on their success at our location. This should create another viable population, and a seed-source for yet more re-introductions.
The deer-proof fence will also make possible the planting of other species with limited distribution, as well as a comprehensive sampling of the flowers, shrubs and trees native to our part of the hill country. This is an on-going project (it will take the rest of our lives!) and we invite you to wander through “Scottie’s Garden” to see our progress.
Birds & Butterflies Weekend
Noted nature writer Ro Wauer came to Lost Canyon in May to lead a birding & butterfly weekend. We got off to an early start on Saturday morning looking for many of the hill country specialties found at Lost Canyon and along the Nueces river. Many of the group were thrilled by their first good look at a painted bunting and yellow-throated warbler, among many other species. Ro did a great imitation of an eastern screech owl that coaxed the real thing to poke his head out from his nesting box!
In the afternoon the focus shifted to butterflies. Ro presented a slide show introducing the various butterflies we might expect to find here, and a subsequent walk around the gardens produced some of the hoped-for species. Unfortunately, cool temperatures and lots of rain kept butterfly numbers unusually low – a situation that has now improved with a bit of June sunshine! So if you want to see hill country butterflies, now and October are good times to visit.
We are planning to offer a birds & butterflies weekend again next spring (along with another botany weekend, after this year’s had to be cancelled because of floods!).