Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving !

It`s that time again, my favorite holiday. May all of you who read this blog have the best day possible.I give thanks for all that we have and for all the great friends I have met through the blogosphere. May all you efforts at gardening and otherwise be successful!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Peak of Fall

   I know the peak of the Fall has come when my Sweetgum blazes with it`s reds , purples and yellows. The Elms, also, are really bright this year from the ,earlier than usual, freeze. We have recovered , to an extent, from the flood damage that occured on October 30-31. The road is repaired, the pool cleaned up,  the fence dismantled, the sink hole filled with scores of wheelbarrows of soil and sakrete. The posts reset, the fence reassembled and more fill. Though I still have more planting soil to add, with winter approaching , I think I have an opportunity to create some plantings that I will like even more than what was lost. Today, the 19th ,is a beautiful 68 degree day and I`ve seen more butterflies on the place than I have all season. I have a huge Eleagnus that is now a screen resulting from the joining of three shrubs I planted years ago. It is in bloom and the sweet smell of its flowers fills the air everywhere and the pollinators of every type are swarming it. Here are a few photos and a video to illustrate what I`m talking about.



Back in one piece.

Grasses are maturing, in order, Brushy Bluestem, Splitbeard Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Pine Muhly.

Eleagnus under siege.

The Ajania pacifica are beginning to put on their flower buds. The butterflies will love them.


Saturday, November 2, 2013


   On Wednesday , October 30th, this small town, Teague , Texas, in which we live, received upwards of 15 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. We live along Turtle Creek, fortunately for us, our house sits on a higher side of the creek about 20 yards from the bank. The flood locally made the national news and houses just a few hundred yards downstream from us were inundated by 3 feet of water.My business also had water inside the building. Our private road that runs about 300 yards to our house ,that crosses a small feeder creek bridge near our home, was heavily damaged and the bridge practically washed out. The worst damage at home was to the fence surrounding our pool. Water coursed deeply toward the creek gullying along one fence row exposing the concrete supports and twisting and warping the fence. Planting beds located there were, for all intents and purposes, destroyed. One saving grace was that the liquified sand  that erupted from the hill above the pool , though flowing like liquid, stopped a couple of feet short of the pool itself, though covering much of the surrounding deck. If it had reached the pool I would have been forced to drain the pool to try and remove it. Below are a few snaps I took this evening, though they in no way show accurately the carnage. However I am still not going to complain about the rain. I don`t think I ever will after the  last 3 years of drought. According to some folks here locally we have received in Teague close to 32 inches of rain since early September with more predicted for early next week. I know many did not receive nearly as much from this system as we did and here is hoping that your personal drought ends also. Nature always shows us who is boss, huh?

Note the piping under the sidewalk and the concrete pineapples and plants dropped 18 inches or so.

Anchors exposed and the gate closure reveals the movement.

Monday, October 21, 2013

October Color

   The weather has been WONDERFUL ! The colors are really responding. I know all of your gardens are too, but let me share a few of my current performers.

Fall Aster-Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
 Mexican Bush Sage-Salvia leucantha

   Every time I go to a favorite , out of the way nursery in Waco, Bonnie`s Greenhouse, the owner usually gives me a small plant as a freebie. I ask what a particular, small 4 inch pot was and she told me it was African Blue basil. She said I would love it, so I took it home and popped it into an out of the way small nook near the pool. It has rewarded me with rapid growth and constant blooms since April. The bees love it. Here are a couple of shots with the pollinators busy.

Ocimum kilimandscharicum

   The cacti are even putting on color.

Nipple Cactus-Coryphantha sulcata

 Wavy leaf Cactus-Opuntia?

   Scarlet sage is scattered all around my landscape but most of it is past it`s prime ,as I have failed to cut it back for it`s third round of bloom. There is one volunteer clump that arose in one of the places the chicken tractor was parked and it`s growth is large  and lush as one might expect, given the extra nitrogen.

Salvia coccinea

Dorothy Borders of Gardening With Nature turned me on to Chili Pequin in one of her posts. I planted it in the worst of the heat wave and gave a it a little extra shade for few weeks. It has settled in quickly and is a fun plant to grow and to look at. I haven`t seen the birds on it yet, but Dorothy says they love it.

  Another all summer long-into -the-Fall performer has been the Narrowleaf Zinnia that I got from two packages of seed I bought at Great Outdoors in Austin, It can`t be found up here in local nurseries and I`m hoping that the seed heads will work for next year. I`ve really enjoyed it. I think Shirley`s Rock-Oak-Deer is the first place  I saw it. Thanks ,Shirley !

   There are a lot more great plants showing well in the gardens now, these are only a few of my favorites now. I`ll be back soon for a look at the grasses in the wild patches and in the gardens. They are beginning to make their own show. It`s easy to smile now that the weather has cooled and the rains have come in abundance. Let`s keep praying that nature is finally going to end this years long drought .

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Maximilian Sunflower !

   After waiting practically all year for my, transpanted from the wild Maximilian sunflower, to mature, the time is finally here. Hevy rains only eight days apart(THANK GOD !) has brought fresh growth to most of my landscape and prairie patches. I found a huge patch of Max in Mclennan County last fall( Expedition to the Real Prairie) and last February dug several clumps for placement in my prairies and beds. One clump has respnded particularly well due to supplemental watering, which on further research, Max loves. The tallest stalks have now reached 9 feet! I`m really hoping the Monarchs are attracted to it like I saw them last fall on the wild examples, in the hundreds.

   The rain laid some of them over  and the green background hides it a bit, but I still think you can see it reaching high.

There are hundreds of flower buds like this one covering the plant

   I was also really pleased to see that it would transplant into this sandy soil of mine. Often the blackland prairie plants don`t transition very well.

Max sunflower , of course is not the only thing in bloom now.Two plants that appeared in the wild patches caught my attentiona and after a little research was able to ID them as Sand Palafox and Small Palafox. I bought a Texas-Oklahoma seed mix from NAS last fall and though they are not listed in the mix, I suspect they came from that. Either way, volunteer or seed mix, they are interesting.

First, Sand Palafox, followed by Small Palafox and then the two side by side. Note the larger leaves on the Sand Palafox at left.

   The yellows are in full swing now to go along with Max sunflower.

Camphor Weed in the front pocket prairie along with the still blooming Snake Cotton.

Cowpen Daisy, more this year than last.

Esperanza followed by the fast growing bloom of Soft leaf Yucca . The Zexmenia is still blooming strong and crowding the Color Guard Yucca in the foreground . I`m thrilled to see the Soft leaf bloom for the first time. I planted both yuccas ,summer`12, and both have grown tremendously. I`ll try to move the Color Guards further apart this winter . I can`t seem to help myself from crowding plants. So I like full beds, OK?  :)

I have one American Beauty Berry that turned out well this year. The drought  really stressed the rest of my wild growing ones.

Mexican Bush Sage and last ,but not least, Liatris finally beginning to bloom. Happy October everyone, I know all down here are as glad as I am for it to be here at least.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Monarch- Finally !

   I`ve been patiently(well maybe impatiently) waiting for the butterflies to reappear in numbers. I have , at last , been seeing more and this morning the first Monarch appeared and really took a liking to the Fall Obedient plant. They say a squeaky wheel gets the grease, so I`m crying for rain and cooler weather again today! It has taken a lot of water to keep this plant going and it still has a few burned leaves. The drought has caused all of us in Texas to really think about our plants. However, I keep thinking that as soon as I go completely xeric, it will start with normal rainfall again !

Monday, September 9, 2013

September Dawn

  The temperature was 69 degrees, the air was crisp, the humidity, low. Fall?  No, but it did feel different than the 79-80 degree, thick mornings we have been experiencing for weeks. As you can see, the sprinkler is going full out. The rains have yet to appear, but with August behind us, we have to know that those sweet days of fall can`t be too far away. The Inland Sea Oats and the Scarlet Sage are in full glory and the prairie patch in the far background is shining with Snake-Cotton, Gayfeather(about to bloom), Camphor weed, Saw-leaf daisy, and Bushy Bluestem to name a few. I know the picture can`t completely convey the view that greeted me when I walked around the side of the house to the front, but I always stop and tell Him thank you for letting me see it.
 I hope Fall comes for all of you soon, especially you long suffering, fellow Texans!