Giving Plants, an Orb-Weaver and one Swift Predator

Wild Happenings Near Home

As I do every morning, I walk the grounds and garden to greet the plants, an important task for any gardener. As gardeners would attest, plants express their needs or even contentment. Yellowing of leaves may mean a lack of nitrogen or other nutrient, curling of leaves, dehydration, etc. and so my make the rounds to “hear” what they have to say. On my way to checking on the tomatoes, peppers and other plants, I greet the ladybug, who has been living in a small basil plant for a few days now. 

Native plants still flourish in the surrounding areas in the yard. These are my favorite, they require nothing from me, except perhaps appreciation. The Evening Primroses are still very active. In the mornings their blooms are just beginning to close for the day. I noticed some aphids on a young pepper plant and asked the ladybug if she’d like to move there to eat them. I placed her near the plant and she climbed onto a leaf and seemed to settle in. 

There is an area in the yard where a small patch of wildflowers thrive. I always like to visit this  wild community (as you have been so fortunate to see, with my feet, in previous posts). While there, I noticed a seed head of the Indian Blanket flowers and wanted to get a closer look. An noticed a very small caterpillar on one of the flowers, which I only realized was there after reviewing the photo. 

Then I wandered over to one of my favorite wild plants nearby: mullein. Mullein grows in many places throughout the U.S. and is actually an introduced species from European, African and Asian countries. Mullein has since become naturalized. Rather than some invasives, this plant actually isn’t very destructive to native plant communities. I love seeing one grow near the patch of wild flowers. In fact, it is actually a quite useful plant.  Because of it’s soft woolly broad leaves, it is often deemed as “nature’s toilet paper”.  I’ve made use of it’s leaves as TP on longer backpacking adventures. It is also something I commonly brew before sleep in the woods. It’s leaves and yellow flowers make a delicate, soothing tea. It’s “nervine” properties are quite relaxing. It’s worked well for me, for both of these uses, though for some the fuzzy hairs on leaves can cause an irritation. 

Mullein tea has been brewed as traditional medicine to soothe respiratory ailments and cough. The traditional uses of this woolly plant are many. Some research has show mullein to have anti-flammatory and even anti-viral properties. There are many more uses I won’t go into, but it is a favorite plant to have around. I am happy to see this individual find a home in my yard. 

Near the corner of the camper I spotted a new critter! A stunning spider, sitting in the center of its web. Here she is: a Cat-faced Orb Weaver.

Later, we sat out front as we often do, to talk, stretch or just relax. When suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I caught glimpse of a kestrel, swoop into the tree, fly up and out of the tree towards the electric pole, as the squawking sounds of a distressed sparrow, a repeating “Aah-Aah-Aah-Aah!” filled the otherwise natural quietness. It all happened so fast, I don’t know how I even managed to grab my camera. The squawking continued for another moment or two, even as I peered through the lens. I admit, it was hard to watch, and to know, what was happening. But then it soon ended. The kestrel carried off his catch out of view. With deep understanding and respect for the natural world still intact, I was filled with amazement. So much {nature} happens right in our own yards. It’s incredible. 

Nature is unfolding, everywhere. Even amongst human populations. We are at the mercy of this unfolding. It can be brutal and it can also be beautiful. 

What does the wild look like around you?

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