Monday, August 29, 2016

Rainy Days

This has been a most unusual August in North Texas.
Thanks to week after week of rain, the landscape is green instead of brown, and the air smells fresh instead of dusty.
The rain lilies are in bloom

The roses bushes are covered with new growth.

The woolly stemodia ground cover is very thick, 
although I've yet to see any purple flowers.

Starting to drape the wall at the end of this walk is evergreen wisteria.

Something ate the first flush of flowers, but it's trying again.

There is some volunteer morning glory in there, too...

This Turk's cap is several years old and growing bigger every year.
That's purple shield in front and the wide green leaves of cast iron plant to the right.
This is the north side of the house, but after so many scorching days the ferns planted last fall look like they are sorry to find themselves in Texas.

These chiffon-skirted mushrooms sprouted under the hyacinth vine.

The garlic chive is just coming into bloom.

This is one of my favorite fall flowering plants.

More rain, please!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Local Fauna

In our garden, we have smaller creatures - like this box turtle who got caught in our squirrel trap one afternoon.  We opened the hatch, and he lumbered quietly away. 
I saw him later sleeping under this holly.

We also caught a pair of squirrels who had gnawed their way into our attic. They were resettled in a distant wood.
We also trapped an armadillo.
We are not sure how he overcame the electric armadillo fence, but somehow he got into the front yard and dug quite a deep hole, before blundering into this unbaited trap.
He has since been relocated to a distant field.

They are such strange looking creatures. When the trap opened, he actually leapt in the air!

The butterflies are prettier and not destructive.

They have been feasting on the lantana.

We've seen Giant Swallowtails, Western Swallowtails, Monarchs, Orange Sulphers, and Gulf Fritially butterflies.

The days are steamy and hot, and the lake water is very warm, but we feel cooler just looking at it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Crepe Myrtles

Just when the scorching temperatures of July have bleached the color from the roses, and the garden is starting to look a bit stressed, the crepe myrtles burst into bloom.

We've planted a number of different types.  
The Black Diamond variety, with their purplish leaves, have a very upright, vertical form.

And the blooms are almost day-glow red!

The white type planted in front of our house, have a different shape: their limbs reach out sideways in long wands, and dangle heavy clusters of white blooms at the tips.

Beneath the white crepe myrtle is a smaller, shrub type.  

From a distance, it could be mistaken for a lilac bush.

We planted another if this type in the back yard to screen the cover to the gas tank.

For years I disliked crepe myrtles because I had seen so many ugly pruning jobs. There are still landscapers out there who hack the trees back to ugly stubs every fall.  

Here is an example of 'topping', also called 'crepe murder'.
Who wants a tree that looks grotesque half the year?

This photo was taken at the Nasher Sculpture Garden in early spring.
Their crepe myrtles are tall, elegant and pruned into sculptural forms that add beauty to the garden year round.
Once I learned that crepe myrtles did not have to be attacked like kudzu, I became a fan. 

It's a garden boon that they come in so many different sizes and shapes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Spring Starts in February

It's still mid-February, but the plants think it's time for spring here in north Texas.

The early iris are in bloom.

The camellias have been flowering for several weeks.

The fat saucer magnolia buds are starting to open. 

The evergreen euphorbia has burst into bloom and is sprouting new stems.

I pruned the roses by a third and they are starting to put out leaves as well as flowers.

The profusion of berries on the Burford hollies are as pretty as any flower buds.

I have a swath of about a dozen Guara plants
(Perestroika atriplicifolia), sometimes called Pink Wand Flower, that looked like a tangled thicket of sage brush. 

 Cutting back the long stems reveals the fresh new growth emerging underneath.

The salvia plants and the mums were ready for the same trimming.

Removing all the fungus poxed old leaves on the hellebore brought dozens of flower buds into view. 

This leather-leaf mahonia has been struggling along for two years, but it found the energy to flower. For a hot, usually dry area, this garden attracts a lot of fungal diseases. I think this poor guy is on his last season...

Along the side yard fence, where we are trying to naturalize a dry, weedy area into a woods (large dose of imagination required), we decided to start 'nesting' our trees. These short twig fences are holding shredded leaves in place in an effort to give the young trees some extra help competing for moisture.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Garden House

January's the month for cleaning out and reorganizing. 
It's cold and rainy outside and I just finished reading Marie Kondo's book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up.

The garden house was an obvious target.
Various tools and materials had migrated between the two rooms of the garden house and the garage to the point where it seemed we spent as much time looking for stuff as getting things done.

Like the garage, the walls of the garden house are galvanized metal sheets instead of the usual drywall. It's great - bright, reflective, sturdy and we never have to paint it.

The interior aluminum shutters can be opened to allow ventilation to flow from the workshop room behind which is lined with roll-out windows.

My husband attached a wooden board along the walls. The ripple in the metal siding allows space for an assortment of movable hooks. 

Permanent supports hold up awkward items like rakes and shovels.
We used to store these in a rolling cart, but it was always difficult to find what I wanted and pull it out. Now I can easily see everything!

I feel so organized all of a sudden!

Outside, I still haven't decided what to do about the latest round of wave damage. Once again all the stones and logs where rolled up and over - six feet beyond where they were put.
Hmmm...bigger rocks?

An surprising number of plants are still in bloom, although we have had several small freezes. The lantana, verbena, cilantro and roses are still hanging on as the camellias start to bud.