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A goatweed leafwing chrysalis on Croton lindheimeri. 

The Seasons Continue Onward

When I last sent a newsletter we were just recovering from Winter Storm Uri which coated Texas and other adjacent regions in snow and ice and plunged us into a single digit temperatures. Since then, spring came and went and summer is almost on its way out. I am no further along in many of the garden project goals I had hoped to accomplish earlier this year, and I wonder if I (we) will ever make progress on any of them.  

Instead, I have turned inward quite a bit to think about our gardens in relation to the natural world. This is an on-going escapade of mine that has evolved over the years. It has become harder for me to see value in growing things that don't offer some kind of benefit to our insect and wildlife friends (well, except maybe the deer---I am not spoon feeding them hibiscus!). I haven't completely abandoned non-native plants and probably never will but value to wildlife inched higher on my priority list when adding plants into the garden now. It's harder to wander a nursery without thinking about them, what it would feed as an adult or in larval form. This spring I gathered sedges from around our yard and slowly added them into the garden. I'm letting some native grasses fill in gaps as well and trying whatever native flowers I can get to grow that the deer will leave alone. All of this is coming along nicely, at least in the one bed I've dedicated to this particular feat. I'm still enjoying my non-native plants and many of them still provide nectar for hummingbirds and bees. But it's the defoliation of leaves that draw me in, especially when I'm on a hike. It instantly leads me to be curious and wonder what has been feeding on that particular plant. Sometimes I'm able to see evidence of caterpillars or another equally interesting insect. 
There's so much to know that I can't possibly learn it all and sometimes I get into a fit of despair knowing that I will never be able to see all of the plants and animals in the world. But I can certainly appreciate the encounters I've gotten to experience so far. 

One of the big projects we were supposed to start tackling this spring was to rebuild our edible garden beds. They were installed in 2013-2014 and despite being made of long lasting juniper/eastern red cedar, time and weather have broken the boards down. We could eke out a few more seasons but we knew it was time to call it and move on. So we decided to install concrete beds, except that we never got to it! Spring started opening up more for us once we received our COVID-19 vaccinations and our family and friends did the same, so weekends at home turned into weekends away to catch up on time lost with them. Early summer did the same but then we found ourselves back home again and this time our Texas summer heat caught up to us. Autumn is knocking on the door and hopefully cooler weather means that we can start installing beds and perhaps I can get a winter crop or two grown. It's been a disaster out there most of the season but the plants we are keeping, mostly flowers and herbs, have thrived and the golden rudbeckia has kept the place cheerful.

The podcast will be returning after this summer hiatus in September. I have a back log of interviews I need to conduct from garden books I've read plus I have a whole host of solo episodes that I've brainstormed and want to share. It's funny how I had lost so much inspiration for this podcast in the winter of 2019 only to have the inspiration come back in full-force a few months later when the pandemic began. And so far that momentum continued, even this summer on this hiatus. Lots of ideas swirling about in my head!

I can't wait to share what's coming up for the next season of the podcast! I hope your summer gardening has been lovely and some interesting adventures were had.

Elsewhere in the Natural World...
+Florida Native Plant Society YouTube - I have been bingeing some of these lectures and seminars that the FNPS has been putting on over the last year and they are so illuminating. It made me branch out and see what other state's native plant societies have YouTube channels and I hope to listen to some of their lectures, too.

+Growing Native with Petey Mesquitey - I came across Petey Mesquitey via Spadefoot Nursery (who also have a couple of podcast episodes on their website) and these short 5 minute botanical oriented episodes are just a delight to hear! Petey reminds me a lot of John Dromgoole, the owner of The Natural Gardener in Austin, who also hosted a radio show until handing it over to someone else a few years ago.
Finally, as always, if you enjoyed this newsletter and would like your fellow gardeners to know about it, forward it on and encourage them to subscribe!
Previously on the Podcast

Coming Up on the Podcast
+A couple of solo episodes and then I hope to launch into some interviews this fall, too!
Goatweed Leafwing Chrysalis and Caterpillars
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