Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Texas Wildflowers

Our weather has been warm and wet and lovely.  The earliest Texas wildflowers are continuing to emerge in unmown fields and uncultivated meadows.  The queen, Lupinus texensis, the Texas Bluebonnet is now a dense blanket of blue along I45.

Texas has five official state flowers and all of them are Bluebonnets!
Bluebonnets prefer well-drained soil which is why they are particularly happy on gently rolling hillsides in full sun. They are easy to grow if the seeds are planted in the fall (September / October), allowing them to germinate while the weather is still warm.  They will be barely visible, but their massive root structures will develop during the cold winter months, ready to support their sudden and robust growth in the spring.

The bright whirligig blossoms of Texas Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) is another Texas native that prefers well-drained soil and lots of sun.  This member of the figwort family is more difficult to cultivate than Bluebonnets - 40% success rate compared to 60%, but worth the effort for anyone who loves Texas native plants.

This collection of wildflowers filled a field just outside of Corsicana.  Along with the Texas Bluebonnets and Texas Paintbrush, I found yellow Tickseed (Coreopsis gigantea) and curling tendrils of Bush Vetchling (Lathyrus eucosmus), a member of the pea family.

It was windy out at the lake on Saturday, kicking up sprays of water along the seawall.  The lake is way up.  A full pool is 315.00 feet, and the level today is 314.21 feet. 

Out at the building site the doors we found last fall have been installed.  My next job is to find appropriate hardware for them.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Calves, Wall Flowers & Crowpoison

Spring is here with it's warmth, rain, nippy wind, budding trees & baby calves.

We spotted "Little Red" in a field near Eureka, and were able to catch this photo before his mother hustled him away. Those are some pretty cute ears...

The first wildflowers have made an appearance in the empty lots around our construction site.
This is a drift of yellow Wall Flowers under a stand of Mesquite trees.  There are myriad types of wallflowers, but I believe this particular one is commonly know as Shy Wallflower (Erysimum inconspicuum). 

Wallflowers are members of the Mustard family along with Sweet Rocket, Watercress, Broccoli & Cauliflower. It's a native biennial, and like all the Mustards it has four petals arranged like an X, and six stamens (4 tall & 2 short). Wallflowers like disturbed soil (of which we have plenty) because it dries out quickly in the sun.

This tiny beauty has the unfortunate name of Crowpoison (Nothoscordum bivalve).  I was unable to find any reason for this name, but I think it's wise to assume it is poisonous.  Since I am particularly fond of crows, I'll think I'll stick with it's other and still not very charming name: False Garlic.  This pretty little bulb is a member of the Lily family.  Note: it does not smell like garlic or onions.  One of the earliest wildflowers, it often blooms again in the fall.

Out at the house, the ClimateMaster Tranquility 27 has been installed with a massive amount of silvery ductwork.

It snakes from the attic area by the studio, across the main house, over the dog trot and into the guest house, promising to provide all our living areas with heat and cooling.

The balcony supports are complete, and we are looking forward to having the railings in place.

The garden house, located next to the garage, is under construction.

The stone masons are still working hard.

And the boat house is finished and ready to go!