i’ve been a bad garden blogger

if it weren’t for my insistent friend ms. slotharium, i’d probably never get this post up. i know, i’ve been a really bad garden blogger lately, but i just haven’t been able to spendĀ  (i.e. distract myself) for a minute longer at the computer as this is the time of year to be outside in texas! surely you understand, so i won’t waste anymore time giving excuses. besides, it’s the bloom day before the garden bloggers meetup in asheville, so i really need to post something or else the powers that be might not let me participate.

here’s the prettiest blooming thing in the garden, bespeckled with the day’s constant drizzle. it sure makes me smile.

Hemerocallis ‘Big Smile’ (daylily)

no time to post photos of each individual blooming plant right now, so here’s the larger view what the front yarden is looking like. a little wild, yes, but over the past couple of months it’s been host to dozens of metamorphosing butterflies, color shifting anoles and even a few molting snakes seeking refuge.

driveway garden view
garden view to left of driveway
right side garden view
view from the top of the driveway

moving along towards the back yarden, here’s a little project mr. grwhryrpltd put together to support our enthusiastic grapevine.

new grape trellis over the garden gate. concrete footers and enlarging the gravel threshold are all that’s left to do (until i overhaul the gate itself ).
one bountiful cluster of Vitis labrusca ‘Black Spanish’ (grape). this is its first year of fruit production.

speaking of bounty, we’ve been harvesting plums the past few mornings from the front garden. they’re so tasty. i’m going to attempt to make plum jam this evening.

Prunus ‘Methley’ (plum)
beautiful and delicious!

oh right… we were heading to the back garden. here’s what it looks like with somewhat frequent rains (every 10 days or so).

a chair full of drying coriander, now probably lost to the rains it just sat through. oh well, i bet cilantro will be growing here come fall.
a nice place to sit with a glass of wine in the evening, particularly when the cushions are dry
while the vegetables haven’t been too productive this spring, the “native” sunflowers sure have shot up like a rocket. they’re everywhere, but i don’t mind too much. it gives the neighbors something to look at over the garden fence.

i’ve limbed up the sunflower’s leaves as they grow to support the tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers growing underneath them. the upper leaves should provide a bit of shade to get the veg through the heat of the day as well. the patch of sunflowers in front of the raised bed was a little experiment to see how big they’d get under competition from bermuda and st. augustine grass. they doubled in height after the last rain.

did i mention we’ve been visited by critters lately? here’s a few of the highlights.

a handsome anole on Pennisetum ‘Princess Caroline’ and Fig
a non-venomous yellow bellied racer or yellow bellied water snake (i think? snake id is not my forte), unfortunately found dead in the garden. i buried him/her and s/he’s now growing a hearty patch of zinnias.

scare ya? ha! only a gardener would pull a (confirmed dead) snake out of sedges to see just how long it was – 10 wine bottle width’s worth. i wonder how many more might be sneaking around.

now, onto the critters for more gentle souls…

Danaus plexippus (monarch) caterpillars denuded this Asclepias (butterfly weed). it’s since recovered and ready for the next batch of larvae.
a freshly spun monarch chrysalis. you can still distinguish the caterpillar stripes on it.
another monarch chrysalis. safely located under the fence stringer for protection from weather, with lots of room for wing development available underneath.
a monarch chrysalis ready to break open…
she’s free!
even the kitties got to see the butterflies hatching. creaker johnny max (our +1 kitty) didn’t even bat a paw.
first year we’ve had Polygonia interrogationis (Question Mark) butterflies. guess it takes having a few Buddleia (butterfly bush) on hand, but somehow i don’t think these shrubs will survive the texas summer heat.
the Buddleia also attracted these Junonia coepia (common buckeye) butterflies. they may be “common,” but i find them stunning.

on the domestic critter front, the kitties have been, well, kitties. i’ve been playing nurse to puma for the past several weeks as she got into an altercation requiring surgery. while healing from that (with plastic cone collar on, of course) she went downhill fast due to another mysterious reason (stroke? aneurysm? tumor?), to the point we thought we were going to lose her. it’s a looong story, but she’s doing fine now and we’re so glad she’s still with us! dude and max did their best to avoid her, lest they catch what she had.

ms. pretty paws (puma) and mr. fence jumper (dude)

how’s that for an update? i could go on, but i’ve got some things to tend to before taking off for asheville. looking forward to catching up with the garden blogging community while there; and for those of you not going, oh how i wish you were! i probably won’t blog from there, but check out my twitter/instagram feed for pictorial updates enroute.

ttfn.

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the prettiest poppies

i was delighted to see this raspberry pink poppy blooming for the first time in our garden a few mornings ago:

i’m glad i got a few shots of it then, because this evening’s deluge of rain has certainly stripped all the petals off by now. i’m not sure what variety it is as it was a passalong plant, either from my master gardener friends elmer or ginny. and i’m guessing if it was from ginny, then there’s a good chance it was from elmer! here’s to you dear friend… may your healing unfurl as effortlessly as the blooms after a spring rain. xox.

who’s got the best bluebonnets in town?

the brazos county master gardeners, of course! i just went out to check on the DIG (our demonstration idea garden) and this is who greeted me there:

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just in time for our upcoming plant sale… not this weekend, but NEXT WEEKEND, saturday, march 24th. be there or be square. maybe more of the aggie bonnets will be in bloom by then. what’s an aggie bonnet you say…? don’t you know everything in this town is maroon…?

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(almost) spring garden view

spring doesn’t officially land on the astronomical calendar until march 20th, but the garden, in response to the seemingly warmer than typical temperatures of late, is telling me otherwise this year.

front yard garden view of Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum' (bronze fennel), Salvia gregii 'Raspberry' (sage), Pyrrhopappus multicaulis (texas dandelion) and friends...
a few steps closer to Rosa 'Knock Out' (rose), Punica 'Red Silk' (pomegranate), Salvia x fruticosa 'Newe Ya'ar' (sage) and Prunus 'Methley' (plum) ... and some slime mold on the leaf mulch, yay!
a close up of pretty Prunus 'Methley' (plum) blooms that burst into flower this morning. even mr. grwhryrpltd stopped to enjoy them before heading to work this morning

isn’t it all so pretty? you should see it from the other direction, when the late afternoon sun and early evening sunset light up the newly emerging foliage like rubies.

talk about a knock out... Rosa 'Knockout' against Punica 'Red Silk' (pomegranate)
newly emerging pomegranate leaves... little rubies they are...
especially when back lit. this is what i call the ruby glow...

and i’ve got a little extra glow because i was awarded this the other night:

2011 brazos county master gardener of the year

gardening is a labor of love, no matter where you’re able to do it… happy march everyone.

here chickie, chickie

okay, i admit it. i want to join the throes of gardeners out there with chickens running around their yards. i’ve posted about it before, having gone on two of two local pulletpalooza tours here in the bryan/college station area. i hear austin’s funky chicken coop tour is coming up soon… lord knows they’ll have oodles of inspiring coops and gardens, tractors and critter protection solutions. unfortunately, we don’t have the “required space” for a coop at our humble abode… but thankfully, i have friends and clients who do! so i’ve been reading up on the subject in jessi bloom’s debut book, free-range chicken gardens, recently published by timber press.

jessi's new book!

i got to meet jessi when i was in seattle last summer for the garden blogger’s fling, and i gotta say, she’s a pretty cool gal. not only because she free-ranges chickens in her garden, but for her skills as a landscape designer AND installer, her positive outlook on life and family, and her no-holds-barred attitude when it comes to roller derby. yep, you should ask to see her tattoos…! her visually inspiring book covers all one might want to know about keeping such avian friends in the garden. you might just find yourself dreaming of feathers and wire mesh fabric.

to encourage all us chicken wannabe’s to take the next step toward poultry rearing, timber press is hosting an exciting giveaway, but you only have until friday february 17th to enter…! that’s in two days, people.

the goods include:

  • a copy of jessi’s book
  • a $50 gift card for chicken feed or supplies from McMurray Hatchery
  • one chicken coop plan from The Garden Coop (a $20 value), and
  • 1 lb. of organic chicken forage blend and seeds for chicken-friendly plants from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (a $20 value)

so whatcha waiting for? get on over to the timber press contest website for all the details and enter away!

for full blog disclosure, i did not receive a free media-sponsored book from timber press, as i beat them to the punch and pre-ordered it before i found out about this contest. jessi is an acquaintance of mine, and i wish her all the best!

who needs to buy flowers…

when you can grow your own?

Rosa 'Spice' and 'Belinda's Dream'

while i did support the floral industry for yesterday’s big event, i had to supplement the arrangement that arrived on our doorstep with a few of these fresh beauties from the garden. there… that’s better.

alstros, roses & panicum arrangement, finished sweater & cheddar beer mustard bread.

my sweetie was particularly lucky. not only did i make him cheddar-beer-mustard pull apart bread (which was good even for someone who can’t stand mustard…), but the sweater i’ve been knitting him on/off for the past three years is finally DONE!

i hope cupid was good to you. happy belated valentine’s day everyone, and happy bloom day.