Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guest Room and Garden

My most popular post continues to be the first one I wrote detailing how I made a quilted throw from a collection of vintage hankies (more than 17,000 hits to date!). I never would have guessed so many other people were as taken with these bright, graphic squares.  
Looking back I realized I had not shown any photos of where I use those throws. So for the other vintage hankie aficionados out there, here are a couple of photos of one of our guest rooms.

This is where I use the red and blue hankie throw.

The room has a vintage Texas feel, and the little quilt seems to fit right in.

There's a bit of red outside the guest house, too. The Turk's Cap is still in flower.

This is a perennial that dies back to the ground in cold weather, but comes back larger every year.
It is thriving in this dry and shady spot.

Also in bloom and attracting an amazing number of bumble bees are the blue flowering caryeopteris (left) and the Russian sage (right).

Giant swallowtail butterflies (Papilio cresphontes) love the vinca and the lantana.

So do the Gulf Fritillary butterflies.
Before they got their wings, they stripped the passion flower vines of every leaf.  I've never seen so many caterpillars. They were ravenous!

Two weeks later the vines had completely recovered - although I've yet to see a flower, much less a fruit, on these passion flowers.  But I planted them for the butterflies, so it's just as it should be.

The baby bearded iris that I ordered last spring arrived.
Blues and purples - I can't wait to see the flowers.

This is my mystery plant.  It popped up as a volunteer in a dry spot and has been thriving on its own.  It has pale blue/lavender flowers on ever lengthening wands. Does anybody know what this is?

It's almost October. The mornings are a touch cooler. 
We will be so happy to see the afternoons drop out of the 90's.
Come on Autumn!

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How to Build a Solar Powered Armadillo Fence

As I discussed in my last post, armadillos are hard to discourage!
And their bumbling hunt for grubs and worms can really cause significant garden damage. 
Our local armadillos were not slowed down by repellent sprays or heavy sprinklings of cayenne pepper, and we did not want to take up a new hobby learning to trap and release them.

So, we followed the example set by most of our neighbors and put in an electric armadillo fence.

We had really hoped to avoid outlining our entire yard in wire and bright yellow support posts, but it's that or dead plants! 
 Here is is a small tour of the new defenses...

Above is the front bed which runs the length of the property between the retaining wall and the street.
My husband carefully followed the curve of the garden edging rather than placing the supports out in the lawn. As long as the plants are reasonably well trimmed they will not hinder the current.

These yellow supports for the two wires are held in place by three foot lengths of 3/8 inch re-bar. 

Walking west, we come to the end of the wall and the swale which drains towards the lake.

A different type of wire support is used along the wall.

And again along the wrought iron fence.

At the end of the property, catching full sunlight off the lake, is the small solar panel which powers the armadillo fence (output: .07 joules for up to 3 miles of fencing).

The white lines on the face of the solar panel depict the shape of our fence. It's open across the back where the property is bordered by the lake.

Nearby, the current is grounded by three copper rods, each eight foot in length, and sunk deep in the earth.

Above is a photo of one of the buried copper rods.
Now going back to the front garden and walking toward the driveway, we come to the spring coil.

There is a simple hook at each end of the driveway coil. Unhooking the coil breaks the circuit.

On the other side of the driveway the armadillo fencing continues, following the property line back down to the lake again on the east side of our lot.

As long as humans are wearing shoes, they are grounded and cannot feel anything if they touch the wire when the circuit is running.

Our dog, Kye, is not able to come in contact with the wires at all in our back yard because they are mounted on the outside of our fence. Gates prevent him from getting into the front gardens unless we are with him.

Kye did touch his nose to a neighbors fence once - he jumped about a foot, and then avoided it.

We hook the fence up only at night or when we are away from the lake.
 Armadillos seem to forage from dusk till dawn. We have never spotted one during the day.
So, fingers crossed that we've solved that problem!

The crepe myrtles are blooming, so I think I'll end the fence story with bright pink blossoms!
Happy gardening out there!