Friday, February 27, 2015

Progress in the Corner Garden

Our main focus for the last few months has been the corner garden, a spot at the back of our property that has been used for staging over the last few years.
Here is the view of  that corner, as seen from our neighbors yard, in December of 2011 when our house was under construction.

The large tree in the center is a bumelia (Gum Bumelia, Sideroxylon lanuginosum), a native to Texas, and one that we very much wanted to save because it's big and shady, and birds love the tiny sweet fruits.
In the spring the scissor-tailed flycatchers nest in its branches.

Visible in the right hand corner is the green "Save-Me" ribbon around its trunk.
The tree is growing in a spot below the grade of the house.
And it's the place that ended up being home to the geothermal installation, the pool equipment, the irrigation equipment, and the gas. 

 Here's the garden house going up. 
Poor tree - lots of digging and compacting around its roots!

Next came the decking and the trenching.
Notice how the shady spot under the tree has become a work area?

The photo below was taken in the fall of 2013.
Finally the decking is done and the raised beds for the herb garden are complete.
That's as far as we got on this part of the property until this winter.

Now here is the view from my studio balcony!
My in-house path maker laid a beautiful stone foot way connecting the sidewalk that runs along the seawall to the walk leading to the pool equipment.

Then he built a curved,  raised wall to protect the bumelia tree.  
The tree did not look good this past summer.  I think too much soil accumulated around its roots (along with all the other stresses).  Also, when the gas tank was put in, the builder failed to protect the tree, and a big chunk of bark was scraped from its side (see the white scar?).

I've started planting the raised area with a variety of shrubs in the hopes of creating a dense and woody cover for birds.  And of course, when the shrubs grow up they will create more  privacy and shade for us.

The lower part of the garden will have a small grassy area, and one of these days a garden swing!
I'm using sticks and twigs to hold the mulch and to discourage the dog from dashing through here until the plants take root.

The stones mark where the sprinkler heads are hiding.  It's so easy to lose track of them!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Studio at the Lake

The weather has been cold and wet, which makes it easier to leave the garden alone for a while and retreat back up to my studio.

Up on the second floor, my studio space is a long room with a balcony at one end overlooking the lake.  It's bright and peaceful, with lots of room to move things around and spread out.

This is one of the acrylic paintings I'm working on at the moment - a work in progress. 
The composition isn't right yet. I'm going to break up the horizontal yellow band to find a better pictoral balance.  The final color glazes are not in place, so the under painting colors read as much too strong. And it wants more there's still a lot to do here!

This photo taken down on the beach shows some of the fall and winter colors I'm thinking of as I work. When the wind is hurrying the clouds, the sky can move from almost white to a sharp cold blue.  And the sun can suddenly catch bright yellow in the dry grasses.

There is a lot of gray and silver in the landscape as well.  Additional glazes of these toned down shades over the top of my bright base colors will leave a richer surface than if they had simply been applied as flat color.

The birds are barn swallows  They left in the late fall, abandoning their nests till next year.  But for six months of the year they are a common sight around the lake both morning and evening, swooping through the air in a circus-like display of flying as they catch bugs on the wing.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Yoyo Weather

The weather has been so erratic lately, plunging from highs touching eighty degrees, to lows in the thirties.  On top of that the winds have been roaring, and our irrigation system has been non-responsive since Thanksgiving when the lake levels dropped so low that sand blocked the intakes.  Naturally the repair people do not want to swim out into that too cold water until we can promise them at least sixty degree weather.
But inspite of these challenges, some plants are are looking particularly happy.

The rosemary repens is simply overflowing where ever it's been planted.

And it's in bloom, covered with tiny blue flowers.

The the Italian oregano has doubled up into handsome mounds.

Even the lavender plants (which I despaired of in the St. Fiacre circle bed and finally moved to another part of the herb garden), have suddenly found new energy.  And here I had written them off as probably past hope and hardly worth the effort to transplant.
That bit of fuschia color next to the lavender is a perennial dianthus.

I bought several in the fall, and they have continued to grow and bloom inspite of the yoyo weather.

I love these tiny daisy buds!

The lenten roses are just pushing their way up from under their blanket of leaves.

And the camelia is in full bud and flower.

Can spring be far behind in Texas?