Pickle Springs Natural Area

A few weekends back we were having some decent temperatures, cooler than normal and breezy, so we decided to take a hike. Technically a drive followed by a hike. One of the regular customers at the pie shop had told us earlier in the week about this place, and after seeing her photos we just had to visit!

It's Pickle Springs Natural Area, and was a little over an hour from our house. There is no water access here, no river, no camping, although there may have been a picnic table or two next to the small parking area -- if you don't want to hike, you've come to the wrong place!


Lazy Assist

You know I didn't get around to deadheading the hibiscus yet, but guess what? Mother Nature decided to help me out a little...

...and close those split seed pods back up!


Notice and Focus

I don't know about you, but with me most gardening tasks don't happen on a schedule. Instead, they rely on me noticing something: "the grass is so long", "there are a lot of weeds in that bed", "that plant is dead", "there's a bamboo shoot coming up in my neighbor's yard", etc.

"Those blooms are done so I should deadhead before seed production starts" is one I say in my head a lot, especially with these rose mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos) along the front walkway. Yesterday I noticed that they're just about ready to spill those seeds!


It's Maypop Season

Maypop, Passiflora incarnata, is a native Missouri vine that is lush, vigorous, and looks oh so tropical.

It's a slow starter in my garden, not even emerging until the first week of June, but by mid-to-late August it's pretty much threatening to take the place over.


The best verbena!

I have grown Verbena bonariensis for at least 10 years, if not more. Mind you, I only planted it once -- grown from seed -- but it has been a regular volunteer in my garden ever since. A welcome one at that!

Still, this is not typically a focal plant for me, more like a filler. Until this year that is, when a volunteer showed up in a planter on the deck and has shown me what a magnificent plant this can be!


Stream rebuild part 2

The stream rebuild project is coming along slowly. Lots of days where it was either way too hot, raining, or I was just too busy meant that I didn't do much on it until this past weekend.

Sunday morning I took advantage of cooler temperatures -- albeit in 90%+ humidity -- and got some work done.


Onondaga Cave

Missouri is home to many caves (and there will be a map at the end of this post to prove it), and there are several that are open to the public. A few summers back my wife and I visited Meramec Caverns, and last month we went to another that's just an hour or so from home: Onondaga.

There's not too much narrative to this post, although we did learn a few interesting things about the cave that I'll add here and there. (This post took forever to write!)



This is the deer that wanders around our neighborhood during the day, almost fearlessly.

She is either quite bold, or has very poor eyesight -- worse than other deer. Or perhaps she's just soooo hungry? I've been able to get within 10' (3m) of her, although these photos were taken from indoors.


Totem Pole Cactus

My totem pole cactus (Lophocereus schottii) is doing great! Well, fine at least. It didn't put on much growth last year...

...but it seems to be healthy. It might need a little more fertilizer, and maybe a few hours more sun a day? I don't know if I have a better spot than the deck stairs though.


Midsummer replacement

The walkway garden has been quite nice this year with a couple of summer additions. There are a few plants that are spent though, and it's time for a refresh.

If you can ignore the white-hot spot of sunlight on the wonderfully silver foliage of the Artemesia ludoviciana, you can see the tired green of the cleome surrounding it. Blech.


Tadpole update

Remember how the stream rebuild unexpectedly turned into a tadpole rescue? Well, it's time for an update on these metamorphosing amphibians.

I thought these tadpoles looked different, not the American Toad tadpoles that I'm used to seeing.


Milkweed, why?

I've given the milkweed patch in my garden a few years to start attracting swarms of monarch butterflies, and because this is common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) which spreads from its roots...

...it has taken over the entire "prairie" portion of my garden. I let it because it's easier for the butterflies to spot a large patch, right?



I think "ootheca" is the perfect word for... well, I'll tell you in a minute if you don't already know.

This is one of my Fargesia sp. 'Rufa' (possibly no longer the correct name as it seems to change every couple of years):

I need to clean out dead culms and also take a division of it, but doing it in the summer is dangerous -- wasps make nests in it every year. So I did clean out quite a bit in early spring, but there were still some visible dead culms poking out and a week or so ago I decided to remove them.


What the peck?

The other day I noticed this downy woodpecker on the yucca flower stalk:

Hmmm -- what's he doing there?


Summer is cool!

That's something we don't say too often in St. Louis, where we usually have hot and humid summers that end up being quite dry much of the time. For the last four or five days it's been unusually cool though, with highs in the 70-80ºF (21-27ºC) range, and we've had quite a bit of rain.

The humidity has been relatively low too, with a nice breeze. In other words, pretty awesome weather! This means windows open, no watering for several days, all the plants perking up -- and even a little bit of garden work. (Nothing on the stream project though -- too wet!)


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