Last year we had iris plants growing up under the sycamore tree in the driveway island. There were no blooms though. Maybe there was too much water last year. In any case, this year the irises bloomed. We’ve got three varieties so far: a gold one…
…a purple and white one…
…and an unusually colored chocolate one (milk chocolate, that is).
I also came across a native from the Iris family. This is Dotted Blue-eyed Grass, one of two blue-eyed grass species with the yellow center. I lucked out getting this photo, because I couldn’t find the plant the next evening.
Having grown up in the moist forests of Southern Canada, I’m familiar with the richness and variety of native fern species. They were frequently encountered, and eaten (fiddleheads, yum). I guess it didn’t really occur to me to look for a fern in the dry, sandy, prairie soils of Oklahoma, but there it was: Winter Grape Fern. The name describes it well.
The sterile fronds are prostrate, only millimeters above the ground, and hard to find as a result. The fronds are green over the winter months, which makes sense since those are generally the wetter months. The fronds do look ferny, but it was the fertile frond that caught my searching eye.
The fertile frond is about 4 inches tall and looks like a bunch of grapes. Earlier in it’s growing season, the frond stays curled up and straightens out in February to ripen. The sporangia, the little balls on the frond, are just starting to mature, the darker balls.
Now I know to look for the moisture loving plants during the cooler moister months of late Fall and Winter. Windhaven has been a wealth of fascinating, unexpected discoveries.
It is indeed a moth. To be exact, a Sphinx moth called the White-lined Sphinx Moth. It was hard to get a good shot of the wing patterns, because like a hummingbird, this moth hovers to feed on nectar. It even makes the low droning sound heard when hummingbirds buzz by, similar to a big bumblebee. Like butterflies, many Sphinx moths are diurnal, which allowed me to get this photograph.
The Spring storm season is upon us and with it lots of rain. This picturesque storm missed us, but we had a doozy a couple of weeks before that dumped 4 inches of rain in 24 hours. I’m pleased to announce that, although we had a couple of breaches from undermining by gophers, the swales I dug worked! We had no flooding in the house. I’m still trying to figure out how to keep the gophers from digging under the swale without preventing the water from soaking into the soil.
With the storms came the water refilling the pond and of course frogs and toads. I found these big balls of frog eggs, baseball size, while inspecting the pond. I believe they’re chorus frog eggs since they were the first frogs to sing in the Spring. Now the pond is murky from silt but has a lot more amphibious residents.