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.

highlights

it’s been hot and hazy here lately, with day time highs in the 100’s and lots of pretty clouds building in the skies come afternoon. we got a whopping two tenth’s of an inch of rain yesterday… enough to wash the dust off everything.

storm clouds building

i’ve had yellow on the brain lately, likely due to my last post, but probably because it’s always been one of my favorite colors, even if it is difficult to wear. the garden seems to be highlighting it right now, or, to further the crayon/eraser theme, should i say hi-lighting it?

land of the giant (self-sown) Helianthus (sunflower)

while the vegetable garden doesn’t seem to be producing much in the edible realm for our kitchen, it is producing a giant’s share of sunflowers. the plants shown above came up on their own from last year’s crop of maybe 12 sunflowers… my how they’ve grown. i don’t mind though, as the entire bed now offers a wallop of seed for the birdies and attracts lots of beneficial insects to the yard. i’ve discovered giant wheel bugs, assassin bugs and even midas flies this year. totally cool, because they eat lots of bad bugs.

land of the dwarf Helianthus (sunflower) 'Irish Eyes'

of the sunflower seeds i actually planted this year, these were the most successful. ‘Irish Eyes’ are sweet, topping out at about two feet but attracting their own bevvy of bees and industrious pollinators. they’re especially pretty in the mornings when the sunlight streams through their petals.

anoles & chickadees love yellow too

these garden critters have enjoyed the yellow highlights as well. i’ve relocated many an anole to the safety of the giant’s leaves from dubious kitty demise… and enjoyed watching many bird species dine en plein air.

Hemerocallis (daylily) 'Big Smile'

here’s my favorite daylily in the garden, ‘Big Smile.’ a chartreuse throat surrounded by lemony petals touched with pink. makes me smile, especially when the evening light softens its petals. Tithonia (mexican sunflowers) are now towering over this plant, and will soon transition the garden from yellow to orange.

home made lemon curd vanilla bean ice cream (later swirled with aji chile blackberry sauce). texas sweet corn.

but before we get to orange, here’s a bit more to celebrate about yellow. home made lemon curd vanilla bean ice cream (recipe here) that i swirled in aji chile blackberry sauce into (recipe here). talk about heaven in a bowl, especially when you use key lime juice and blackberries from the garden. but if that sounds to decadent for you, there’s a few ears of texas sweet corn to enjoy.

what color/s are catching your eye these days?