Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Do NOT Mess with Texas!

Not only am I a gardener, but I am also a tree-hugger, lover of nature, and HATE litter. I used to volunteer to pick up garbage in the national parks back home in my free time. Littering really ticks me off. People invented garbage cans for a reason. Use them. I have seen people litter in other states and it makes me angry and disgusted, but the AMOUNT of littering I have witnessed since I have been in Texas has me dumbfounded, floored, perplexed.

OK, I don't get it. I really don't. Texans seem so proud of their state, but yet every day I see people throwing garbage out the windows of their cars or leaving trash on tables in the park or just littering in general like it is no big deal. What is up with that? I am seriously outraged. I have never seen so many people with such disregard for their State. I am quite sure most Texans would never think to do such a disgusting thing as to dirty up their state, and that a few bad apples are causing the bulk of the damage, but the disregard for the environment I have seen lately is just plain sickening to me.

A couple days ago - ALL IN THE SAME DAY - I witnessed:

- A mother turn around in her car at a stoplight and apparently instruct her child to throw garbage out the window. The window opened, the child bent down to grab garbage from the floor (as the parent pointed out directions),and proceeded to roll it up into a large wad (fast food bag and its contents, I think), leaned back to get a good angle, and chucked the entire thing out the window WITH the parent watching. UN-Believable.

- A young man man throw a filled super-size plastic soda container out of his moving vehicle into the median full of wildflowers.

- A person in a shiny new BMW pitch an unknown wad of refuse out the window on the highway.

- An AMBULANCE driver throw empty fast food containers out the window while driving. An Ambulance Driver! WTF?!?

- Any number of people throwing cigarettes out the window into the crispy-critters median. We are in a critical drought people! That could start a fire!! Not to mention it takes 25 years for a cigarette butt to decompose. Morons.

- The pre-teen kids that rode their bikes in front of my house throwing construction paper bits every which way. I yelled at them - I am sure I will be receiving an egging in a day or so...

- The neighbor kid who eats Popsicles from the Popsicle man and throws the garbage in the wash. I saw her go for the drain with some garbage one time and told her to go put that in the garbage where it belonged - in the trash, not the drain, and proceeded to explain to her why you should not throw garbage in the drain. I have seen the parents yell at her for throwing garbage in the drain too. So at least there's that...

- Garbage left on a park table with the garbage can at the END OF THE TABLE, not but 3 feet away. How lazy can a person be? I mean seriously!(and yes, of course I threw out the garbage for them)

ALL of the above witnessed in ONE day. ONE. It pissed me off and inspired this blog posting. Have some respect for your neighborhood, city, and country people.

I have begun turning people in. Learn how to turn in a litterer HERE

Just some random facts about approximately how long it takes for ordinary objects to biodegrade/photodegrade(assuming they are not buried in a landfill and are just strewn about):

Biodegradable: capable of decaying through the action of living organisms.
Photodegradable: capable of being broken down by light.

Paper napkins, 1 year
Newspaper, 5 years
Plastic Coated Paper, 5 years
Plastic bags, 10-20 years
Cigarettes, 25 years (butts are made of plastic, NOT of cotton and paper)
Nylon fabric, 40 years
Styrofoam, 50 years
Tin cans, 50 years
Plastic six-pack rings, 100 years
Plastic Cups, 250 years
Aluminum cans, 200-500 years
Glass bottle, 1 million years

It takes a long time for things to decompose. Please do not throw things out your window or into the wash.

Why shouldn't you throw trash out windows of cars or into washes you ask? A number of reasons:

1) Throwing trash and food out the window attracts animals to the roadsides where they may get hit. Also, animals gets their heads stuck in bottles and cans and also in the plastic 6 pack rings used to hold them together.

2) People and animals cut their feet on the broken glass and other garbage.

3) It costs billions of dollars of your tax money to clean it up.

4) Littering brings down the property value of your neighborhood.

5)Discarded cigarettes start wildfires - Smokey the Bear says 'Only You Can prevent Wildfires!'

Read a scanned copy of the 60's Smokey the Bear comic (I really dig this comic by the way)

6) Everything eventually ends up in rivers and streams and from there makes its way to the ocean.

Read about the plastic ocean twice the size of Texas HERE and HERE

7) It is unsightly and disrespectful. Plastic bags DO NOT look pretty hanging from trees and bushes.

8) Do you want to drink water filled with garbage or clouded with chemicals? Walk along park paths filled with garbage? Eat fish filled with plastic particles? Play on a beach full of trash? Risk your house being burned down by a wildfire caused by a flicked cigarette? I didn't think so.

Have pride in your state. Don't Litter! Would you be proud of your home if it were covered in garbage? Of course not! Then why would you be proud to have people visit your state when it is covered in litter? Stop throwing garbage out your window!! Please use garbage cans and always keep a bag for garbage in your vehicle. If you see garbage, pick it up. Texas IS your state, and it IS your problem.

Texas is a beautiful state and I would like to say I am proud to live here - please keep it clean.

As Woodsy the Owl would say "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bloom Day - September 15th

So this week the ginormous Hurricane Ike passed by Austin and pulverized Galveston - my thoughts go out to all those who were affected. I was kinda hoping we would get some rain, but all we got was hot, hot weather and I had to bust out the sprinkler instead. Oh well. But today a cool front has moved in and it is in the 80's and the morning was in the 60's! Fabulous. Autumn is on its way. Here is what is up in my garden on this splendid mid-September day:

Dwarf Mexican Bush Sage:

Oxblood Lilies:


I let the sunflowers go to seed so I can get visitors like this:

Lesser Goldfinches (please excuse the poor photography - I took these through the breakfast room window):

The goldfinches love the sunflower seedheads (I snuck outside very carefully to try and get this photo before he flew away):

Read about and listen to the Lesser Goldfinch HERE.

The Scarlet Runner beans are starting to set beans now that the weather has cooled down a bit:

Lace leaf lavendar and cantaloupe:

Black and Blue Salvia:

Texas Yellow Bells:

Orange Cosmos and Chile Pequin:

Tahoka daisy:

Monday, September 8, 2008

He's Baaackk....

Mr. Armadillo has come right back after being scared off last week. He is diggin' holes all up in my flower bed:

He doesn't seem to bother the flower beds with gravel mulch though. The gravel must be too rough on that soft nose of his.

The oxblood lilies are blooming:

A pink rain lily:

Flush of blossoms on the Texas Sage:

The blossoms are awfully thick:

Our resident Female black-chinned hummingbird preening:

And resting:

Beads of water on a cantaloupe leaf:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nifty Texas Natives

This year has been one of the hottest summers on record in Austin. My plants and trees have been baking all summer and the rain has been ever-so-scarce, but lucky me - I chose to plant my garden with natives and adapted plants that have weathered through the heat like champs. Check out some of the Texas natives in my garden:

The Golden Leadball tree. Funny name, awesome tree! I never ever water this one (too much water will do it in).It digs living in the rocky, limestone soil and gets these nifty yellow powderpuffs on it after it rains:

The seedpod:


Behind the Golden Leadball tree, I planted a Prairie Flameleaf Sumac. In the fall the leaves turn an outstanding red. I almost lost this tree in all the rain last year, but it recovered and took off like gangbusters this year. It is just loving the desert-type heat. It is currently covered in blooms that the bees adore:

I chose to plant a Sumac in my garden because it was one of the natives the developer stripped off the land when they put in our neighborhood and I wanted to put it right back. So I did. This tree can be a bit scruffy - I just trim it up the way I like it. The fall display and all the wildlife it attracts are really what this tree is all about. The people love the fall colors, the birds dig the berries, the bees and butterflies love the blossoms, and it is the larval host to the Red-banded hairstreak butterfly. How can you go wrong with this native? Sumac form:

Eve's Necklace. Another funny name, another nifty Central Texas tree. It is named after the drooping black seed clusters it forms. My tree has yet to flower, I think because I put it in the shade on the North side of the house. I really planted it for it's wonderful drooping form, so if it does start getting flowers one of these days, that will just be an added bonus! This is another one I never-ever water. It does just fine all on it's own:

Then there is the Anacacho orchid tree. I LOVE this tree. It never needs to be watered and it gets these fabulous white flowers on it in the spring and occasionally thereafter whenever it rains throughout the rest of the season. This one has just gotten huge and keeps on getting bigger. I planted it 5 years ago when we first moved in and it was only a twig. Look at it now:

Now on to other interesting things in my garden.

Here is the wild snapdragon vine I grew from seed. It is slowly snaking it's way up the Texas Mtn. Laurel:

The first Oxblood lilies poking up through the earth:

Patio tomato I put in the garden and NOT in a pot on the patio where it would surely have been seared to death by the afternoon sun. Look - tomatoes are setting after the rain last week! Whee-haw!!:

A big Ol' green butterfly on the Hot-lips salvia. I have no idea what kind of butterfly it is - it looks like a big sulpher butterfly, but it is green. Do they come in green?:

This hummingbird has claimed this feeder as hers. She chases away all the other hummingbirds, even if they just look at the feeder wrong. Good thing I have other feeders on other sides of the house:

Last but not least, lately, I have been finding holes dug up by the roots of my plants everywhere in my garden. This morning I caught the culprit trying to make an escape:

An armadillo. They move faster than you would think (Hey Mr. Armadillo! Stop running in circles so I can get your photo!):

Escaping across the neighbor's lawn:

It looks like he was in a tussle with a cat or something at some time in the past - his hindquarters look a bit mangled: