Austin Garden Blogger Field Trip - San Antonio Botanical Gardens

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Well, hello! 

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, though I did joke with my fellow Austin garden bloggers yesterday that I may be turning into more of an event blogger than a garden blogger.

My busy, hot, dry, depressing summer is over, the Bermuda grass has taken over, and I'm back in the garden, doing my best to conquer it.  More on that frustrating topic in some other entry.  Maybe.

I did the bulk of my photography yesterday at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, and I think I spent most of my time there in the "Piney Woods" section, admiring the reflection of the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) in the small lake.  As I was rushing back to meet the group, I spotted a great egret perched in a cypress across the pond from me and stopped to catch this reflection.

I like the bisection of this photo, but oh how I wished for a longer lens (with better glass) and maybe a tripod to better capture this guy.  I love photographing egrets - comes of growing up (as a kid, and as a photographer) on the gulf coast.

Anyway, fall color.  I spent a lot of time photographing it yesterday.

Fall color...

...fall color...


...fall color...


...fall color.  Here in Central Texas, we have to savor our fall color when we find it.


Agave.  Here's the thing about agave:  It's gorgeous, and incredibly photogenic.   Just the other day, someone remarked on another garden weblog about the imprints on the tender leaves, and I will probably never look at agave the same way again. I like polite plants.  I like plants that won't take over my yard (and agave won't), but I like plants that won't try to eat me, and I can't figure out how to plant agave in my yard so that it won't impale me or poke out my dog's eye.  How does that work exactly?   I have a hard time envisioning it.  (If agave will use its ominous shark teeth to eat my Bermuda grass, though, I'll plant a whole yard of it.)

Fundamentally, I'm a touch gardener, so maybe agave just isn't for me.  Maybe I can get my next-door neighbors to plant agave in their yards, so that I can photograph it. 


I think all of us got exactly the same picture of the sparrows feasting on grass seeds.


I think this is Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris), not Ruby Crystals ( Rhynchelytrum nerviglume), although it's hard to tell in this photograph.  I saw lots of both of these, and they're both gorgeous this time of year.  But Gulf Muhly is native (to Texas, anyway), and Ruby Crystals is not.


Some kind of palm frond.


The monarchs were practically swarming the botanical gardens.  This one was loving the pentas.


This one was loving something else.  Mandevilla, maybe?


Giant insects have invaded San Antonio.


I, for one, welcome our new exoskeletal overlords.




Pam/Digging said:

You're back! It was good to see you again yesterday, Rachel. I like your egret capture and your unique perspective on the Japanese garden fence. I thought it was funny that you said you're not sure if you'd want an agave because you're a touch gardener. I'm a touch gardener too, and I can't keep my hands off agaves. I love to feel their smooth "skin" and sharp spines. But I do so VERY carefully. ;-)

Diana said:

Great fall color photos, Rachel. I love the egret and the composition of your photo. The ant face close-up is so fun and I am glad you got the spiderweb. Not sure my camera would have captured that at all, so it's good we had your experience and camera to get it.

Welcome back! I'm admiring the very same egret and spiderweb captures -- wow! Thank you again for the cactus pads -- I already have an idea where I'm going to plant them.

Hello Rachel,

We'd like to notify you that the Austin School Garden Network website has launched and we've included your blog on our blog roll.
The Austin School Garden Network is a collaboration of groups, agencies and individuals dedicated to reconnecting children and nature. The purpose is connecting Central Texas community resources to promote the social, nutritional, environmental, and academic benefits of school and youth gardening programs. We have included a local gardening blog section to help new gardeners learn more about gardening in our area.

For more information visit our About Us page.

Your blog is linked to from our Gardening Blog page.

If you would like us to remove the link to your blog from our website please contact, Lisa Anhaiser at

Get growing and keep going!

Austin School Garden Network

I'm a tactile gardener too, but I somewhat tolerate the agaves. I have to as someone passed along a variegated Agave americana and I've passed along as many of its children as I can and still have them filling up my yard. I've managed to acquire 4 or 5 other varieties as well but resent them taking up the rare sunny spots in my yard.

The real issue for me is that they DON'T "eat the Bermuda grass" or just as evil, the horseherb. In my garden they are also attacked and smothered by Port St. John's creeper and cypress vine. Trying to disentangle them from these rampant weeds is, literally, a pain. The worst: leaves stuck between their spines--not something they usually contend with in their treeless natural habitats.

Jenny said:

Glad you could join us on Saturday's trip and glad to see you posting again. I was wondering where you had gone. Weren't those fall colors wonderful? and you captured them so well. It was perfect to see that spider in the Pineywoods. I don't recall seeing our bald cypress around Lady Bird lake so colorful. A delicious rust brown color. As to agaves, they are one of my favorites too.

Amy Emerick said:

I hope you have time to do more posts. Your photos are wonderful! You really captured fall. I enjoyed meeting you and carpooling.

Event blogging! Although your posts are great & I'd like you to post more often, Rachel, I can totally understand this idea. It's beginning to sound like a feasible plan for the future! GBBD is already an event, isn't it?

You caught some fine photos - the reflection is exquisite and so is the spangled spiderweb. Isn't it wonderful to see enough water to make reflections?

I admire agaves in other bloggers' gardens and tried to make a few work here. It's not working out that well. Right now I've isolated a couple of agaves and aloes in a border with spiny Chinese hollies. One small agave from YuccaDo is in a container near some pups of Agave americana and African aloes. But the big hailstorm last March wrecked all the larger agaves and aloes and trying to work around the needle ends doesn't thrill me either. There are no wide open spaces around here - everything is near trees and squirrels so they're always full of leaves, berries and remnants of pecan hulls.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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