Thursday, February 11, 2010

More Snow on the Prairie

I awoke this morning to find snow on the Prairie. It was a light, fluffy, wet snow. The kind of snow that makes a pretty picture for Christmas cards. It was so nice, that I decided I needed a snow day so I took the day off work. I may take another one tomorrow because the snow has not let up and it is expected to fall until the early hours on Friday morning. So far, DFW Airport – the official weather station for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex – has recorded 9.4 inches of snow for today. That's a record one-day total for this area.

I took a couple of pictures of the snow on the Prairie – the fourth time this winter – and decided to go on a field trip to the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve for a change of scenery. Arbor Hills is a 200-acre park in the City of Plano with trails through upland forest, riparian forest, and blackland prairie features. Arbor Hills is an natural jewel in a city often maligned for its suburban sameness and manicured lawns.

Welcome signs describe the three primary landscape characteristics at Arbor Hills

A pavilion at the entrance to Arbor Hills

A flock of Cedar Waxwings enjoyed the snow from the top of this group of trees.

A close up of the Cedar Waxwings

A snowy pathway

Approaching the Observation Tower

One of the views from the Observation Tower

Leaving the Observation Tower

Lichen and snow on a tree trunk

The bright red berries of Possumhaw Holly, Ilex decidua

The snow is pretty, but bring on Spring!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Freeze Damage

The Prairie experienced about 36 consecutive hours of temperatures below freezing in early January. The freezing temperatures did some damage to my agaves and a few other plants. I think everything will pull through, but here is a look at some of the damage.

Above is an Agave americana that a neighbor gave me a couple of years ago. It looked so healthy and blue at Christmas. I need to take a walk and see how the mother plant handled the cold.

I received this agave as a door prize at a Native Plant Society meeting. It is supposed to be a cross between Agave americana and Agave scabra. I can't tell. It looks like Agave americana to me, however it seems to have a little more freeze damage than the Agave americana. The pups to the left are completely burned.

Poor little Agave parryi v. Truncata. Its roots were infested with fire ants all summer and then the winter cold damaged the leaves.
Note the Four Nerve Daisy, Hymenoxys scaposa, and Prairie Verbena, Verbena bipinnatifida, seedlings in the decomposed granite. DG seems to be a great medium for sprouting seeds. I use DG as a mulch around all of my agaves. 

This is an Opuntia prickly pear of some sort. The pads were all upright before the freeze. Now they are flopped over.

Finally, my toughest agave. This Agave neomexicana does not have a bit of freeze damage on its leaves.
I will know in a few months if any of the agaves will need to be replaced. If they do, I have a couple of Pale-Leaf Yucca, Yucca pallida, that are waiting to be planted.