Wildflower: Bluebonnet

Just about everyone in Texas knows the state flower is the bluebonnet. When the bluebonnets are in full bloom (usually March to May), they attract bees and butterflies. This time of year is past the bluebonnet’s prime, but you can still find a few faded flowers out there.
More importantly, though, this is the time of year when the bluebonnets are going to seed. If you let the seeds stay on the flower until they turn brown, they will reseed themselves, almost ensuring you’ll have a bigger patch of bluebonnets the following spring.

Wildflowers: Pink Evening Primrose

This delicate little flower, pink evening primrose, is also known as buttercup or pink buttercup and blooms from April to June. The flowers wither at the end of each day and are replaced by new blossoms in the evening. The bees like these flowers, and when they go to seed, birds will visit them–especially finches.
 
The greens can be eaten in salads or cooked, but the flavor is better if harvested before the flowers bloom. It seems a shame to miss the opportunity of seeing these sweet flowers on a beautiful spring day, though.
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Wildflower: Horsemint

Going by many names, you may know this flower as horsemint or one of its other many names, including spotted beebalm, lemon mint, wild bergamot, or lemon beebalm.
Horsemint attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds and is of special value to native bumble bees in Texas. If you rub or crush the leaves, you will notice they smell like citrus or lemon. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and can also be made into tea.
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Wildflower: Firewheel

Meet the Firewheel. This wildflower is also known as Indian blanket–perhaps in part because the Kiowa considered this flower a symbol of luck. The Firewheel blooms from April to June and attracts butterflies and bees. These plants have traditionally been used for several medicinal purposes, including help with gastroenteritis, skin problems, and for nursing mothers.

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Wildflower: Mexican Hat

These wildflowers are called Mexican hat–and so named because of their resemblance to the Mexican sombrero. Mexican hats will bloom from May to June and attract bees and butterflies. Once they go to seed, they will also attract birds.

The leaves can be made into a tea to help alleviate stomach problems, and the flowers can be made into a tea to help headaches. The boiled stems and leaves have been used as a wash for snakebite and poison ivy rashes–but we recommend you visit the doctor in case of snakebite.

Wildflowers in the Garden (and a little something else)

One of our gardeners suggested we post photos of some of the many wildflowers in bloom at the garden along with a little information about them. What a great idea! Over the next several days, I’ll be posting information about these flowers here and on our Facebook page.

Here’s a little bonus before we begin with the wildflowers. While I was taking photographs of the flowers today, I noticed something trotting along the sidewalk toward the entrance of the walking path. It was a gray fox. It walked leisurely down the walking path toward Williamson Creek and paused for a moment. I didn’t have my telephoto lens, but I got as close as I could to get a picture before it took off. If you look closely at this photo, you might be able to see the fox’s ears, back, and a bit of the tail.

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Earth Day Festivities

We’ve added new photos of our Earth Day Happy Hour under our photo gallery. You can also just follow this link to see them without navigating through the menu. Thanks to everyone who came out last night and helped us celebrate Earth Day. It was wonderful to see so many people enjoying the community portion of our community garden.

Earth Day Happy Hour

Join us at Cherry Creek Community Garden on Sunday, April 22, at 5:00pm to celebrate Earth Day with a community happy hour.

We’ll provide light refreshments. You bring a mug, glass, or smoothie shaker full of your favorite happy hour beverage. If sitting is important to you, be sure to bring a blanket or chair.

Do you play a musical instrument? Bring that, too. We’d love to see what kind of impromptu Cherry Creek Community Garden music festival we can create.

As we have done in the past, we will also be giving back to the greater Austin community by holding a donation drive. Our charity for this event is Austin Youth River Watch. This non-profit teaches high school students about environmental stewardship while also providing them with support and accountability to stay in school. They can use pre-paid credit cards or gift cards that can be used to purchase groceries and gas. They will take monetary donations as well.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Composting in Action

Composting GordonW

Thanks, Gordon, for sharing this photo.

Composting Change

Due to problems with some donated compostables, the garden will no longer be able to accept any household composting items from anyone outside the garden. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.
 
As an alternative, the City of Austin offers an easy, free composting class online and will give you $75 for a home composting system after you take the class.
 
Happy composting!