Category Archives: Texas Wildflowers

Bastard Cabbage Takes Over Texas Wildflowers

 A tsunami of Yellow Bastard Cabbage flowers threatens to overwhelm Texas wildflowers

A tsunami of Yellow Bastard Cabbage flowers threatens to overwhelm Texas wildflowers

What are those tall plants with yellow flowers in your pictures with Texas Bluebonnets? The invasive species Bastard Cabbage is taking over Texas wildflowers, but there is a way we can fight back. Watch my latest Bastard Cabbage Takes Over Texas Wildflowers YouTube video.

The war rages on. The Texas Bluebonnet, Indian Paintbrush, and other Texas wildflowers are still battling it out with the Bastard Cabbage since I created the Native Plant Avengers YouTube video.

Commander Ben invites you to join the fight against the Bastard Cabbage

Commander Ben invites you to join the fight against the Bastard Cabbage

There are still a lot Bastard Cabbage invasive plants out there, but the good news is that more people know that the tall plant with yellow flowers is not native to Texas, and they can take steps to stop the spread of the invasive Bastard Cabbage and plant more native Texas wildflowers.

Your friend,


Filed under Bastard Cabbage, Invasive Species, Texas Wildflowers

How Do You Support the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center?

My family proudly supports the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I first visited the Wildflower Center when I was four years old, and I’ve loved our Texas wildflowers and native ecosystems ever since.

Thanks, Wildflower Center, for featuring my exploits as Commander Ben, The Invasive Hunter, on your Passion for Nature video page.

I’m recovering from surgery from an old sparring injury, but I’ll be back in action again soon, so watch out invasive species!

Your friend,

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Filed under Invasive Hunter, Invasive Species, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Texas Wildflowers, Wildflower Center

“Lights. Camera. Help.” That’s a Wrap!

Commander Ben heading into the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Awards Party.

Yesterday, was the final day for the 4th Annual “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival. And all I can say is WOW! What an experience.

The afternoon started at the Scottish Rite Theater with an address by the festival’s keynote speaker Turk Pipkin, founder of The Nobelity Project. This project focuses on two things:

  1. Doing good thought the world…including our own backyard right here in central Texas, and
  2. Creating documentary films focusing on these acts of good works.

I really enjoyed his talk.

Commander Ben and Turk Pipkin
at the 4th Annual “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival.

Let There Be Sight

One of the Nobelity Project’s films was “Let Their Be Sight”, a joint project with The SEVA Foundation – Compassion in Action, that provides eye care, including eye surgeries, to people living in rural areas of Nepal. Many of the program’s participants were blind and their sight was restored through cataract surgery.  It was amazing to see a Nepali woman, who had to be carried through the mountains to see the eye doctor. After the cataract operation, she was able to see and walk home!

Nepalese children
Photo credit: The Nobelity Project

1000 Books for Hope

Another cause highlighted by the Nobelity Project was 1000 Books for Hope which provides donated books to children in Kenya. This project asks people to donate just one book…their favorite book. So why one book? Well, when they asked folks to simply donate “books”, they received a lot of junk that no one wanted. One example was How to Build a Swimming Pool! Not a much needed topic in Kenya where the luxury of being able to ever build a swimming pool is highly unlikely!

But once the project focused on asking people to donate just one favorite book, lots of wonderful books came pouring in.  What was particularly nice about this project is that all the donated books contain an inscription from the donor to the kids. Mr. Pipkin said that this is the first thing the kids rush to read.

1000 Books for Hope
Photo credit: The Nobelity Project

Replanting Fire Burned Bastrop State Park

And what about our own backyard? Well, the Nobelity Project has partnered with none other than one of my favorite organizations, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, to replant the pine trees in Bastrop State Park that were destroyed in last year’s Texas wildfires. And these aren’t just any ordinary pine trees, these are a species only found in the Bastrop area. Luckily, even though almost all of the trees were destroyed in the fire, there were seeds stored in a seed bank that they are using for replanting.

Bastrop Replant the Park Project
Photo credit: The Nobelity Project.

The Last Day of Films

After the keynote address, we all headed over to the Spirit of Texas Theater at the Bob Bullock State History Museum to watch a number of great uplifting films, including Stay: Migration and poverty in rural Mexico. This was an amazing film benefiting Bread for the World.

Stay: Migration and Poverty in Rural Mexico
Photo credit: Bread for the World

The Awards Party

After the films were over, we all headed back to the Scottish Rite Theater for an Awards Party…my first cocktail party! But oh man…that ginger brew…soda, that is, was strong! 😉 LOL! Mind you, I was the only middle-schooler at the party but luckily there was plenty of soda! And some great food too. I especially enjoyed the sushi from How Do You Roll.

Commander Ben at “Lights. Camera. Help.” Awards Party Buffet Line

Watch out for the Ginger Brew!

Festival Winners

At the party I had the chance to talk with a lot of great film makers who shared some wonderful advice with me about film making and acting. Once everyone had plenty to eat, we all settled into the theater where the winners of the Film Festival were announced.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2012 “Lights. Camera. Help.” Film Festival:

Thanks to all the great festival sponsors, including the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and blackbaud. (Their logos were on the cool “photo wall” that we used as a background for photos!)

Best Ever Film Festival and Many Thanks

Overall, the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival was the best film festival I’ve ever been too…and so far, the only one I’ve ever been too…for now! 😉  But I’m so looking forward to the 2013 5th Annual “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival!   As a matter of fact, I’m already planning my next film.

Once again, I want to extend many thanks to all the great people at “Lights. Camera. Help.” including Rich Vasquez, President and Chairman of the Board, David. J. Neff, CEO, and Aaron Bramley, COO, as well as all the volunteers who helped to make the festival such a great experience for all!

Commander Ben and Rich Vazquez, Co-founder and current Board President
of “Lights. Camera. Help.”

Commander Ben and David J. Neff, Creator, Co-Founder and CEO of “Lights. Camera. Help.”

Commander Ben and Aaron Bramley, Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer
of “Lights. Camera. Help.”

And a huge EXTRA THANK YOU to Mr. Bramley for mentioning me during his “Lights. Camera. Help.” interview on KVUE news!

Native Plant Avengers

I’m so happy that my video, “Native Plant Avengers”, was selected to be shown at the film festival to entertain and help raise awareness about invasive species and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

If you didn’t get a chance to see it at the festival, here’s the video:

For more information, here are additional posts and pages about the film festival and Native Plant Avengers:

And even more (!) posts about Native Plant Avengers:

Thanks Texas Bluebonnet, Bitterweed, Indian Paintbrush…and yes, even Bastard Cabbage…for helping me make this great video to entertain kids of all ages about Texas Wildflowers and invasive species!

Your friend,

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Filed under 1000 Books for Hope, Aaron Bramley, Bastrop State Park, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, David J. Neff, Ford warriors in pink, Ginger brew, How Do You Roll, KOOP 97.1 FM, KVUE, Let There Be Sight, Lights Camera Help Annual Nonprofit Film Festival, Lights. Camera. Help., Native Plant Avengers, Nepal, Nobelity Project, Rich Vazquez, Scottish Rite Theater, Spirit of Texas Theater, Stay: Migration and poverty in rural Mexico, Texas Wildflowers, The SEVA Foundation, Turk Pipkin, Who cares about Kelsey?

Texas Wildflowers Assemble Against Invasive Species at the “Lights Camera Help” Film Festival

Commander Ben leads Texas bluebonnet, Indian Paintbrush, and Bitterweed against Invasive Species in Native Plant Avengers

Just a quick reminder that the 4th Annual “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival begins tonight!  As I shared with you in my post last month, my Native Plant Avengers – Ecosystem’s Mightiest Heroes video was selected to be part of the film festival.  My video, along with other videos focusing on good causes, will be shown on the Big Screen(!) to a live audience tonight beginning at 7:00pm in the Spirit of Texas Theater at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

The winner of the film festival will be announced at 7:30pm on Friday, September 14, 2012, at their awards party at the Scottish Rite Theater.  If I win, I’ve asked to donate my proceeds to one of my favorite organizations whose hard work fighting invasive species everyday keeps native plants going strong in central Texas…The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center!

For more information about the film festival, check out my recent post where I share about my interview by Robert Sims on his radio show Lights, Camera, Austin aired on  KOOP, 97.1 FM.

If you’d like to join me at the “Lights. Camera. Help.” Focus on Good Film Festival, you can view the three day schedule and buy tickets here.  Hope you’ll come out and support a great cause!

Your friend,

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Filed under Bitterweed, Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Indian Paintbrush, Invasive Species, Lights Camera Help Annual Nonprofit Film Festival, Lights. Camera. Help., Native Plant Avengers, Texas Bluebonnets, Texas Wildflowers

Behind the Scenes of the Native Plant Avengers Movie Trailer

The Avenger’s movie opened this weekend, and it was great! I saw it in IMAX 3D and can’t wait to see it again!

I’ve been looking forward to this movie for many months. I like action movies, and this movie had plenty of action, as do my Battles with Invasive Species video series.

After I watched their second movie trailer earlier this year, I thought, why don’t I bring together a group of native plants to fight the battles that we never could against invasives. And thus was born the Native Plant Avengers.

Here’s my movie cast and how they relate to Marvel’s Avengers movie trailer:

  • Texas bluebonnet as Captain America. Both Texas’ state flower and our great American hero wear blue.
  • Bitterweed as the Hulk. The Hulk was a challenge to me. He’s green, but I couldn’t find native plants in my area that have green flowers. I picked Bitterweed because I thought the plant name suited the Hulk so well.
  • Indian Paintbrush as Thor. Both this colorful plant and this Norse god don themselves in red.
  • Bastard Cabbage as Loki (and the alien army invading Texas roadsides and fields). I picked this invasive plant because it was causing a lot of problems with native Texas wildflowers this spring. Bastard Cabbage also has yellow flowers like Loki’s headgear.

Originally, I wanted to include a native plant for Iron Man, but I was already using a red flowering plant for Thor, and I wanted to adapt some of Iron Man’s (and Nick Fury’s) lines from their trailer.

If you haven’t seen my Native Plant Avengers video yet, I hope you enjoy it. And if you’re a Star Wars fan too, don’t miss my In an Ecesis Far, Far Away… video.

Your friend,
Commander Ben

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Filed under Avengers, Bastard Cabbage, Battles with Invasive Species, Bitterweed, Indian Paintbrush, Texas Bluebonnets, Texas Invasives, Texas Wildflowers