Plant of the Moment: Viola odorata (Sweet Violet). Native to Europe, Africa, and Asia, this violet’s bright and delicate flowers helped ensure its popularity as it spread far and wide. Said to be one of Avis Bixby’s favorites, it is now scattered throughout the RLC backyard. Its deep purple flowers stand above the foliage and have a catch-me-if you-can fragrance. What does that mean? When you first approach one of our Sweet Violets, you will smell its sweet perfume. But as your olfactory senses begin to shut down the receptors that recognize its fragrance, you will no longer smell the aroma. Then, as your receptors relax, you may catch the enticing perfume once again.
Bird of the Month: Winter means that birds are starting to pair up! As they select mates and nesting sites – and sometimes just territory – competition often ensues. Such competition was on display in the pecan tree during January’s Birding Opportunity. Participants were able to observe a Red-Shouldered Hawk dominating a smaller Cooper’s Hawk, not only by size but also by volume. The following day, as a Red-Tailed Hawk perched in the middle of the tree, several Red-Shouldered Hawks were back in force (pictured below). Though smaller than the Red-Tailed, the Red-Shouldered Hawks perched high above him, shifting position each time he looked to escape the din. They effectively trapped him for about three hours, keeping up a near continuous harangue that was audible across the site!
We’re solarizing! Those of you who have visited the backyard recently may have noticed the black plastic tarp that is covering a section of the flower bed against the back wall, adjacent to the trypot. This is an earth-friendly way to eradicate unwanted weeds. The plastic tarp traps the heat and raises the temperature in the soil, with plentiful moisture provided by the drip system. The tarp-covered weeds, roots, and seeds are basically steamed out of existence, thus reducing the need for repeated weeding without introducing additional chemicals.