Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Hike and Laguna Lake

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Just returned home from 3 weeks in Maryland. Went on first hike this morning. The hills are covered with grasses and wildflowers. While I was on the top of South Street Hill, I noticed Laguna Lake is filled with water. Unfortunately, the filled lake does not mean the drought and water restrictions are over.

Laguna Lake

Laguna Lakebed

Photo of Laguna lakebed taken September 1, 2014
by Sam Larkin

SLO Rainfall

University of California Cooperation Extension, San Luis Obispo County


It is Not a Pod…

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

I am currently staying with my sister’s family in an old farm house in Maryland. When I took my morning walk, I noticed something odd. The fir trees at the edge of the property had what appeared on first glance, some type of pods.

Fir Trees

When I took a closer look it became clear that the “pods” were made by insects.

Bagworm Pods

Bagworm Pods

Bagworm Pods

So, who made them?

According to the Penn State Dept of Entomology it is the work of the bagworm moth,Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis (Haworth).

“This insect is most easily recognized by the case or bag that the caterpillar forms and suspends from ornamental plants on which it feeds. The bag is made of silk and bits of host foliage. These materials are interwoven to disguise and add strength to the case.”


It is unfortunate that the bagworm is destructive. The structures that they build are so beautiful. Apparently, it would be a good idea to remove them from the trees to prevent an infestation.

The description of the bag incorporating the surrounding material brings to mind Tinea pellionella, commonly known as casemaking moths.

Casemaking moths are very small. If you are not looking for them or not aware that they even exist. They can be mistaken for a bit of lint.

They are definitely not something I want in my home and studio since I am using natural fiber in my work.

Casemaking Moth Damage

Casemaking moths ate a large portion of the fiber stitchwork of a work in progress.

Casemaking Moth

The photo was taken with my iPad. It is difficult to capture something that is so small,
but it is an example of a red case.

Casemaking Moth

Casemaking moth that was found inside one of my garden clogs.


New Addition to My Terrarium

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

My niece made a terrarium for my birthday. I have cared for several gardens, but this was my first garden in a jar.

The end of January I moved the terrarium to a new location for a bit more light. When I opened the terrarium Friday morning I discovered a new addition.

Terrarium Interior

Terrarium Interior

Fungus Detail Interior

First glance I thought it was mineral deposits.

Fungus Detail Interior

Sent a couple of images to a friend who works at a botanic garden. Best guess from the images was a fungus.

Removed Ferns

I removed the ferns, cleaned their roots, and potted them up.

Terrarium Interior

Terrarium Interior After the Removal of the Ferns

Curious how the fungus growth will evolve. It brings to mind textural, lichen-like glazes I used when I was working in clay.


Unknown Plant Update and New Planting

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Seeds

Unknown Seeds

Seedlings

Unexpectedly, within 5 days there were seedlings.

Plant Update

The plant looked like this 31 October 2016.

Then so much went wrong. The plant was eaten by a furry one, and then it had bugs, it was eaten again…

Eaten Plant

and then it began to die.

Dying Plant

The plant currently looks like this.

New Planting

Sensing that the plant is sure to die, I planted another pot of seeds 4 February 2017.

Now I wait.


Rescued Cactus Update

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

I rescued some cactus bits that had fallen from this plant in June of 2016. The plant was confined by the fence.

Cactus

Shortly before the plant was confined by the fence, it had several large and lovey white flowers.

I potted up the bits–

Cactus

And now it has loads of new growth–

Cactus

Actually, I recently removed a few starts to make more plants.

A couple of detail images of new additions to its growth. I like that they look sharp and pointy.

Cactus Detail

Cactus Detail

I suspect that the sharp pointy growth is for self propagation.


Seedlings and Growth

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

I planted Hard-shelled Birdhouse Gourds (Cucurbita lagenaria) on November 6th. Four gourd plants emerged December 14th.

Gourds

Since I am still dealing with the squirrel and the weather has been cold and at times rainy, the plants are living in the bathroom. It is the room with the best daily light.

Gourds

The tendrils needed something to grasp onto so I attached some cotton twine to a wallpiece above the gourds. When the time comes for the plants to be moved to the garden, I can snip the twine and use it to attach the gourds to the garden fence.

Will the artist care that I am attaching something to their piece? Nope, it is one of my See a Penny… pieces.

Gourds


Western Peonies (Paeonia brownii) grow on the mountains on the California Central Coast. For some reason the plants are not readily available for purchase in the community nurseries.

I have attempted to grow them from collected seed, but never had success. That was until today. Well, apparently the plants were growing, but I did not realize the growth until this morning.

In early November I placed 10 seeds in a plastic bag with damp vermiculite. I also placed a few seeds in a pot of soil. The seeds in vermiculite have not shown any growth activity.

Peonies

Since I had not anticipated growth in the pot, I wasn’t paying attention. Unfortunately, the pot was in my studio, not very much light, so the seedlings are leggy. I moved the pot to a location with more light.


I found this little something in one of my garden beds in late December. Couldn’t identify it, thinking that it is probably a lily. I planted it.

Unknown Bulb

This is what it looks like today.

Unknown Plant


Squirrel Damage Update

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

We still have not completed work on renovating our garden because we have at least one squirrel who has taken up residence.

Squirrel Hole

I could not move the tape further in. Not sure if the tunnel goes down or makes an abrupt turn. And the tape did not bump into the squirrel.

Squirrel Hole

The squirrel may not be using this hole. I suspect that the two holes are connected by an underground tunnel.

We attempted making a bird feeder that would prevent the squirrel access.

Squirrel in Birdfeeder


Growth Then and Now

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Mushroom

Wednesday

Mushroom

Thursday

Mushroom

Friday

Mushroom

Saturday After a Night of Rain

Mushroom

Detail


Happy New Year

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

2017 January 1

We have one holiday tradition. Go to the beach on the first day of the new year. Often it is so warm, we are pealing off layers. Not today. It was overcast and chilly.
Weather

Screenshot from Weather.com

It was also high tide so it was necessary to stay close to the rocks. While I was waiting for the tide I noticed the juxtaposition of manmade rocks and naturally occurring rocks.

manmade rock

The left side is manmade and the right nature at its best.

On closer inspection I found areas where the manmade rock was eroded and the underlying rebar was as well.

rebar erosion

rebar erosion

I was able to find a single holey rock. Will it bring me good luck in 2017?

holey rock


White Flowers, Roots, and the Squirrel

Friday, December 16th, 2016

This is one of the plants that survived being nearly totally consumed by a squirrel. I watched the squirrel sit in the pot, pull the plant stems over, and eat all of its leaves.

Mum

I popped the plant in the greenhouse until it leafed out and the buds of the tips bloomed. It has been blooming for several weeks.

Got to thinking that it would be a great plant to put in several locations in my gardens. Seems to need little care and not a lot of water.

I checked with the local greenhouses and online, but I could not find additional plants.

This little bit broke off, so I placed it in some water to wait for the bloom to fade.

Mum

The flower lasted nearly as long as the flowers still attached to the plant. This afternoon I notice that it looked a bit spent. When I removed the flower from the glass I was surprised to find root growth. Don’t know how I missed the roots when I changed its water.

Mum

I popped the plant in a pot of soil.

Mum

Then lopped off the flower.

Mum

Since the small broken bit rooted and I had planned to prune the plant, taking cuttings to make more plants is even better.

There is one problem. The squirrel still lives in the garden and loves the plant. He also loves lobelia, violas, and the greens I am growing for my bunnies.

Squirrel

We have postponed completing the garden renovation because every time I plant this area he digs it up. I have tried hellebores, columbines, cyclamen, bromeliads, and ferns.

This is one of his favorite locations in the garden for digging.
Squirrel Hole

After removing the plants and filling all of the holes we had two containers of soil and rock left. The rock is coming from the area around the foundation of the house. So, not a good thing.

Squirrel Rock and Soil

We keep filling his holes and he keeps digging them out. Hardware cloth and rocks do not seem to be a deterrent.

Filled Squirrel Hole

We really did not want to do it, but pretty sure we are going to dig up the entire area and prepare it properly. Digging it up will be made difficult with the root structure of the tree. We probably will find a maze of tunnels and an enormous stash of seeds.

We also tried putting a deterrent over the bird feeder. Did a test. Placed an inverted metal mesh basket over the ceramic tray we are using for offering bird seed. Weren’t sure if the birds would be afraid of it. They liked it fine and so did the squirrel.

Squirrel New Feeder

Since the test was a success, we attached the the basket to some cedar and hung it from the tree.

Squirrel Bird Feeder

The amount of seed on the ground has been greatly reduced since the squirrel isn’t able to lounge in the bird feeder and fling seed all over when he dashes away.

Squirrel Bird Feeder

This is the little guy attempting to hide from me in a drainage pipe at the corner of the courtyard. Unfortunately for him, his cheeks were too full. He had to empty them out so he could make his way safely into the pipe.

Squirrel Drainage Pipe
There is a little pile of seed in front of him.

Why haven’t we relocated him? In September we bought a humane trap. And it worked, the little squirrel wandered in. I talked to him. He stood up on his back feet, clasping one of his front paws in the other. He looked really scared. And it was a very hot day.

I had thoughts of him being relocated and there would not be a water supply, food, or a place for him to safely sleep. And what about hawks and snakes and other predators? I opened the trap and watched him run off. And he has been with us ever since.