Friday, April 3, 2009

CAMN at the Ladybird Wildflower Center

I remember the first bluebonnet field I saw. It was in Waxahachie, Texas 12 years ago this spring. I have a quintessential picture of my then, 2 year old romping in her state flower and I put that photo out every spring. I never get tired of fields of blue, wildflowers or the beautiful breezy Texas spring, filled with buzzing life.

I've recently become a Facebook addict. Yes, my name is Cheryl and I'm addicted to Facebook.

One of the things I love about it is keeping up with the weather in other parts of the country. I spent 7 years in Alaska... my formative years that is, and this time of year, up there is not lovingly referred to as "break-up," as in the ice is melting and breaking up. It's a muddy mess. I wish we had the stylish rain boots they have today. Anyway, this blog is for my friends up north, especially Scott whose mother retired in Pampa and thinks all of Texas is a flat, stinky desert. I've tried to wooo him into the heart of Texas but stereo-types are hard to break and you would just have to be here to know what those of us who live life in our year-round gardens have come to understand. I am the poster child for the bumper sticker "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could."

But, enough about that. It's dang hard for me to keep focused in the spring, especially on gorgeous day's like this. Which leads me to our CAMN class...which, after driving in through all the flowers, crushed me by making us sit for an entire morning before being able to explore the gardens! Never the less, the class was clean and clear and helped me organize the messy-mess of botanist naming with a great little game and then practical application exercise using Brother Daniel Lynch C.S.C.'s book and the binomial system of classification. The above photo is of my groups classification project. Which, being spring and all...put our minds in the gutter...screws and can imagine.

We were able to do it, amazing through the giggles and straight up (no pun intended) naughty-naming and we had a great time. We played the game after a wonderful lecture from Flo Oxley, PhD. student in Botany and long time employee of the Wildflower Center. If ever you have the chance to take a class with her, get ready to speed through the information...she doesn't miss a beat, you won't doze and you'll walk away empowered. She was a hoot!

Oh yea, I want one of these from my backdoor to the garage:)

Tiniest little wildflower growing up through the wall.

The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is truly a stunning facility and recently joined forced with the University of Texas. Check out their site at:

Right now there is a sculpture sale and show.

Next weekend, April 10-12 is their yearly Spring Plant Sale and Gardening Festival.

If you haven't taken the time to drive out there, you really must. It's charming, has lots of classes and events, shopping and a healthy cafe...not to mention the views.

Mexican Honeysuckle.

Doesn't this just make you want to take it easy? I managed to snap all these shots while my class was diligently working on identifying species using the guide...ho hum, it was much to pretty to look at a book.

One of the several ponds.

Mexican Buckeye seeds.

More plants getting ready to jump into your yard! I've heard told that some stuff sells out on the first morning...

The live Bluebonnet Cam...what a crack up! It's on the website.

Here's Flo Oxley telling us about some farmer who drug this old hollowed out tree in after the bees left...why? He didn't know.

I think this is close enough for you to smell it...mmmm rich burnt honey goodness!

This was one of my favorites of the sculptures! It had a sold sign on it...dagnabbit!

We were told that having just a few Indian Paintbrushes among Bluebonnets will deter the bugs.

That's one healthy field of blue...with just one red spot for safety's sake. I don't know what to say Scott, you're missing out if you pass through life without seeing a Bluebonnet field...Texas ain't Pampa.

The day was great, the class was worthy and if you're interested in being a Capital Area Master Naturalist, get on it! They only take 30 applicants a year and it's a world of knowledge. Tomorrow, we are meeting at the LCRA Redbud Center to learn about Ichthyology, Herpetology, Aquatic Systems Ecology and Management, and Wetland Ecology and Management. I should be ready to put in that pond after this!
Have a great day and Happy Gardening.


Bob said...

It sounds like those classes just get better and better. I wish I didn't live so far off.

Lancashire rose said...

I love your description of Flo. She did the docent class that I was in and what a hoot. Especially when she gave us tests! She certainly made us learn our stuff.

Tom in Austin said...

Must get out to Ladybird Wildlife Center! I enjoyed your commentary and photos. Sounds like a great program with lots of good experiences.

ConsciousGardener said...

Flo is a great teacher...I would love to have taken a class from her when she was still teaching.

Pomona Belvedere said...

What a cool post, as ever. I learned a lot (paintbrush in with bluebonnets is a new one to me). My friend in Louisiana drove to TX to see the bluebonnets one year, and said they were amazing. Now I see your closeup, they look very like our native miniature lupine, Lupinus bicolor (but ours won't come out for another month or so).

Was interested in the Mexican buckeye, I'd love to know more about it.

Thanks for the LadyBJ Wildflower center. I want one of those arbors, too!