Category Archives: Demonstration Gardens

Open House this weekend!

We’ve all set!  Covered areas in case the rain falls west of 281, a fire pit to keep us warm, really cool activities, and a grill for the hot dogs. New activities added:  Robert, the reptile guy who’s bringing some of his favorite pets, Craig the “butterfly guy” and Robyn, the bee keeper who’s bringing some tasty treats.   Hope to see you there!

UHLNC flyer Oct 18

An open invitation to Monarchs and Pollinators

With all the rain, it’s been a banner year for mother nature.  We’ve seen the gardens come alive, thanks to all the hard work from our volunteers and from the volunteer plants that have chosen our gardens!  And the cool new news, the Upper Highland Lakes Nature Center has joined the new U.S government program, sponsored by President Obama, to register 1,000,000 pollinator gardens.  250,000 are already registered!

Checkered white butterfly feasting on a volunteer camphor daisy. (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Checkered white butterfly feasting on a volunteer camphor daisy.
(Courtesy of Paula Richards)

Continue reading An open invitation to Monarchs and Pollinators

To bee or not to bee….

Guest author:  Billy Hutson

From apples and blueberries to zucchini, from apricots and broccoli to watermelons, without bees, one-third of the fruits and vegetables would disappear from our grocery stores.

Which vegetables depend on bees, which can be wind-pollinated, and which can produce without a poliinator's help?  (Courtesy of Paula Richads, with thanks to the HEB in Burnet.)
Do you know which vegetables and fruits depend on bees, which can be wind-pollinated, and which can produce without a poliinator’s help? For answer, check out the WIKI link.  (Courtesy of Paula Richards, with thanks to the HEB in Burnet.)

Continue reading To bee or not to bee….

Planning a Nursery for Butterflies

Authors:  Terri Whaley and Minnie Eaton.

Butterflies have long been seen as a symbol of rebirth – their pollination of plants is an essential part of nature’s annual renewal.   The Monarch butterflies are perhaps the most well known.  They are truly a natural wonder, migrating up to three thousand miles from Mexico to Canada and back each year!

Swarm of Monarchs. (Courtesy of Marvin Bloomquist)
Swarm of Monarchs.
(Courtesy of Marvin Bloomquist)

Each species of butterfly has specific needs that we call habitat and must have certain plants in order to survive.  Monarch butterflies lay their eggs only on milkweed plants.  After the eggs hatch, the caterpillar offspring eat the milkweed leaves until growing large enough to form a chrysalis to protect the butterfly as it develops.  After a few weeks, a mature butterfly emerges to dry its wings for several hours before flying away in search of nectar and to continue the migration.

Monarch caterpillar  on a milkweed blossom. (Photo courtesy of Sue Kersey)
Monarch caterpillar on a milkweed blossom.
(Photo courtesy of Sue Kersey)

Unfortunately, according to Monarch Watch (monarchwatch.org), Monarch butterfly populations are declining due to loss of habitat.   Therefore, at the Upper Highland Lakes Nature Center, we are building a Monarch Waystation garden to help the butterflies as they pass through central Texas during both spring and fall migration.  Because loss of habitat means less milkweed is available, our garden will have several species of milkweed to serve as a Monarch “nursery”.   Additionally, we will have many plants with flowers to provide nectar for the adult Monarchs and other species of butterflies, as well as bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

A healthy breakfast for a Monarch. (Courtesy of Terri Whaley)
A healthy breakfast for a Monarch.
(Courtesy of Terri Whaley)

As you visit the Nature Center in the coming months, you will see the garden evolve and learn ideas to take home to create your own habitat for raising Monarchs and other butterflies in your yard.

For example, look for butterflies (usually males) sipping water at mud puddles to get the salts and minerals they need that are not available in flower nectar.  This action is called “puddling” and you can create your own puddler at home by keeping a shallow bowl filled with sand or mud that you keep moist.  It’s a good idea to add a little Epsom salts for minerals and flat stones so the butterflies can sunbathe.  You can do your part to help these lovely creatures, just as we are doing at the nature center.