Keep critters outdoors & politics of sunlight

On our recent hops around Central Texas to tell our neighbors’ stories, we’ve run into lots of wildlife.
Monarch butterfly tropical milkweed Central Texas Gardener
butterfly on native aster Central Texas Gardener
We even met a couple of sweet bamboo-eating goats (and the family chickens) for next spring’s segment highlighting the Funky Chicken Coop tour. By the way, the neighbors borrow the goats to keep their bamboo in check.
goat eating bamboo Central Texas Gardener
“Psycho lighting” followed us around, too. In this wildlife habitat, we hustled like crazy, since the light changed every 5 minutes!
diverse lighting garden path wildlife habitat Central Texas Gardener
You bet, it’s a quandary for gardeners when sun and shade hit an area at different times of the day. Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ fits the bill to fasten a bed together.
Mahonia 'Soft Caress' Central Texas Gardener
This week, Daphne highlights this diminutive evergreen shrub. Growing to about only about 3’ tall, Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ is hardy to USDA Zone 7. Plant it in morning sun or in filtered light under a tree’s canopy.
Mahonia 'Soft Caress' diverse light Central Texas Gardener
At the Travis County Extension teaching garden, its wispy leaves neatly contrast shrimp plant, dianella, and ‘Baby Gem’ boxwood. Find out more.
Mahonia 'Soft Caress' under tree canopy Central Texas Gardener
But, many plants are curmudgeons about light, including artichokes, which want full sun. At the Travis Extension teaching garden, they planted artichokes in two spots, one at the edge of an island bed and one near the building.
artichokes in 2 different light Central Texas Gardener
It appeared that the one in front gets lots of sun, but in fact, it’s only until about noon and a little in late afternoon. In home gardens, it’s easy to be deceived, too, if we’re not around all day to observe seasonal nuances.
artichoke in part sun Central Texas Gardener
Anyway, that one is silvery and compact but not as robust as it could be.

Although the building artichoke gets sun, that spot turns to shade very quickly. That one is taller and darker.
artichoke grown in too much shade Central Texas Gardener
Daphne explains: Sun-lovers grown in too much shade grow taller, because they’re stretching to find the light. Plants in shade also need more chlorophyll to perform photosynthesis. Find out more.

When it comes to gloves, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to chores. I’ll plant seeds bare-handed, but our alkaline soil, hidden dog poop, and a few run-ins with sharp Felcos convinced me to cover up.

So, I’ve got gloves for digging that can handle getting wet, others for “serious” pruning, ones for rock hauling, and long rose gloves when working around sharp plants and those that make me itch.

See how John gets a grip on the right gloves to tote!
best garden gloves Central Texas Gardener

As cold weather scoots in, so do the wild things to cozy up with you! Michael Shelley from A Wildlife Pro explains how to critter-proof your house against mice, squirrels, raccoons and other crafty creatures.
Tom Spencer Michael Shelley animals out of house Central Texas Gardener

Last fall and winter, Greg and I had unwelcome guests (mice or roof rats). We thought we had everything sealed up, but Michael revealed their secret trick.

When we chose to live trap them, Michael detailed placement and bait food: peanut butter rocks! Since then, the only critters indoors are house bunnies, Harvey and Bun.
house bunnies Harvey and Bun
We’ve also adopted formerly feral Sally, who got our address from all the rodent action, and decided to stick around as a “vet-certified” pet. She likes sleeping inside but hangs out in our native Texas bluegrass (Poa arachnifera).
cat in native Texas blue grass
Watch now for Michael’s great tips!

On tour, Landscape Architect Tait Moring welcomes wildlife in his habitat garden: as long as they stay outside, where he grounds style with conservation and preservation. Watch now!

Thanks for stopping by! Join us next week to see how to keep those lovely orchids alive. Linda