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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(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.

spring beauties

a dear friend of mine notified me that my last post was well, shall we say, less than uplifting? yes. i know, but i can’t really apologize for it. but i can offer up some spring beauties that are catching my attention these days a little closer to home.

a giant swallowtail chrysalis, open after spending the entire winter under the protection of our front porch

the Papilio/Heraclides cresphontes (giant swallowtail), who emerged from the chrysalis, getting to know her wings

a skeletonized leaf of Rudbeckia maxima (bog coneflower), casting beautiful texture of light and shadow

my first Latrodectus hesperus (black widow spider) finding in Stachys 'Helen von Stein' (lambsear). note CobraHead tool for scale.

a closer view of Ms. Latrodectus... and moving on to another part of the garden...

while i can't grow my favoriet giant Alliums here, i can grow this minature one. Allium canadense (native onion)

Verbena bonariensis (butterfly verbena) is coming along nicely. clumps of it were green all winter.

Sisyrinchium (blue-eyed grass) just starting to bloom

full view of Sisyrinchium (blue-eyed grass), with gallon-sized pot in back for scale reference

a full white bloom of the thorny Rubus (blackberry) shrub. the birds patiently await along the fence top above...

dude the sneak-away-cat sips from the water bowl. Prunus 'Sam Houston' (peach) stands over them.

Ipheon (spring beauty) about to bloom for the first time

Ipheon (spring beauty) in bloom

Pyrrhopappus multicaulis (texas dandelion), an adopted weed/wildflower in our garden, in bloom

a molting Papilio polyxenes asterius (swallowtail) caterpillar, on overwintered Petroselinum crispum (parsley)

and finally, here are three views of our spring time garden:

spring time view of the front garden (3.23.11)

back yard view of spring time garden (3.27.11)

patio view of spring time garden (3.27.11)

a gardener’s work is never done, but i think i’ll rest for now. enjoy your weekend everyone!