Monday, August 29, 2016

Rainy Day Garden Tour

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.

This post is a short garden tour between the rain drops...

Everything seems to have doubled in size.

The rain lilies are in bloom

The roses bushes are covered with new growth.

Above is the climber 4th of July, and below are the hips and new growth on Gideon Lincecum.

The woolly stemodia ground cover is very thick, 
but I've never seen a single purple flower!

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...

Most of the flowers on the desert willow trees have fallen.

Now the trees are drooping with these long seed pods.

Volunteer crepe myrtle trees are turning up here and there. 
So far, none have the dark leaves of this black diamond variety. 

The low-growing rosemary has filled in this area of the driveway garden.
Unfortunately, the nut grass loves this spot too, so I am constantly trying to weed it out.  It looks so innocent until those large, cruel burrs develop!

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.

The potted plants on the south side look relieved to get a break from the sun.

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.

Such green and healthy grass! 
But in this same spot last August it looked quite dead.

Hopefully the rains will continue. 
If this is climate change, bring it on.

Even a dog who hates water is willing to chase rabbits in the warm August rain!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Local Fauna

These beautiful pinto's live on a ranch that backs up to one of the roads in our subdivision.
Pinto is a generic term referring to any breed of horse that has a white coat splashed with patches of a different color.  Whatever their breed, these pinto's are certainly friendly, curious neighbors.  They trotted right up to the fence when we got off our bikes, and did't mind being petted! 

For a while I painted quite a few equestrian scenes - I wish I had met these willing models then.

There are other animal neighbors nobody tries to pet.  
This black longhorn is handsome, but that curving rack of horns can only mean 'stay away'!

Out on the lake, we sometimes pass cattle cooling off in the water.
Scenes like this really make our dog's day - Kye stands in the prow, fascinated by the sight and scent.

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.

Our little trap did catch two squirrels who had gnawed their way into our attic.
They were resettled in a distant wood.

But our most exciting catch was this big 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, of course, are much prettier to watch, and not destructive.

They have been feasting on the lantana flowers (a perennial in the verbena family).

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 Have Their Day

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.

The smaller crepe myrtle beneath the white one is a 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 terrible 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 is grotesque half the year?
If the goal is flowers at eye level - plant a smaller variety, or choose a different type of plant.

This photo was taken at the Nasher Sculpture Garden in early spring.
Their crepe myrtles are tall and elegant - pruned so beautifully, that the trees are lovely additions to the garden year round.

Once I discovered that crepe myrtles did not have to be attacked like kudzu, I became a fan!
I love the variety of colors.

I love their peeling bark and smooth trunks.
And 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.

The chartreuse flowers are quite eye-catching!

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 revealed 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, we attract a lot of fungal diseases!

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.

It's raining now, just what it's supposed to do in the spring!