>December 2007 Bloom Day

>It’s that time again already. Spurred on by May Dreams Gardens to post about what is blooming in our garden, a typical year would have me saying “not much”. But this year in Austin has been anything but typical. This week alone has been more than bizarre. Wearing shorts one morning and having it drop 20 degrees in 2 hours. Cloudy and humid one day, sunny and violently windy another. Right now finds me at my computer with a fire roaring downstairs as the temp is dropping below freezing in the next 24 hours, so plants are covered and sprinkler system is drained. This will be the first freeze I have seen if it comes to be.

As far as blooming, I snuck out today while the baby was sleeping to snap a few pictures. My neighbors, out walking, gave me strange looks as they saw me in my slippers dashing around the house, crouching and snapping pictures. I knew I was on borrowed time, so I couldn’t even stop to explain myself.

The first thing that caught my eye today was a camellia on the back porch.

I inherited this potted camellia when I moved into the house and have moved it around quite a bit. I haven’t had much luck with the blooms and I think it probably is time to move it from the pot to the ground. But this year, it has buds all over it. Looks like it just made the cutoff for Bloom Day with the petals just showing.

Next up is my yellow climbing rose. Also inherited, this honey of a rose smells beautiful and just does not stop blooming…ever…even in winter…even in summer. Go baby go, is all I have to say.
My eye was caught by a number of white blooms below my yellow rose. An “iceberg” climber I brought from my old house that has never performed well for me. Seems the crazy weather agrees with it.

In fact, what the heck is going on in my garden. Lo and behold, a beautiful gerbera daisy just won’t quit.

Don’t they know it is winter? I mean, I know the weather is loco but c’mon.

At least the purple coneflower knows when it is time to go to bed. It is just losing the last of it’s color, a lone flower that sprouted up after I had cut back some larger blooms.

Vinca, still going strong since the summer, although this should be the night to do them in, so I send them off with this picture

saying That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”

My mutabilis rose is the only one with a bloom right now.
You can see the beautiful multi-colored bloom already, even not yet open. As it opens it will be yellow then go to orange and then pink. Truly wonderful to see a profusion of blooms in the kaleidescope of colors. But I love the lone bud as well.

And next…ahhhh…nandina. I hate it, I love it, I hate it. OK, really the one time I don’t hate this plant is right now.

It has some beautiful color to it and the berries rock. But otherwise, I hate this invasive SOB with a passion. Can’t stop it from spreading and it is a bear to dig up. But look, so pretty in the picture. But…grrr!

As I dashed around my side yard, I was stopped in my tracks. I normally wouldn’t look in my septic drain field/wildflower garden. But something was out there.

Scarlet sage, coming up in quite a few spots.

And what is this, something else

Not from my original wildflower mix that I seeded. I’m sorry I didn’t get a better picture to study later to ID it, but I was due inside. I think perhaps a type of sunflower that may have gotten there from some seed packets I tossed out there.

Making a quick trip through the front yard, I noticed my verbena and mexican mint marigold still continuing their show from last month.

They make a lovely backdrop for our parade of penguins holiday display.

The beds at the driveway still show some great color.

Buttercream lantana with Gulf Muehly as a backdrop. Man, I love that grass. Then some Mexican bush sage coming back from the cutting I gave it about 6 weeks ago.
and finally mexican oregano, slowly growing and steadily performing with it’s lavender cigar-shaped blooms and wonderful smell.

And finally, a dash into the garden showed my peas, finally flowering and loving their trellis home

Lots to see here, but with tonight’s freeze, I might be saying “so long and thanks for the joy” to many of them.

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>"Fear is the highest fence"

>I’ve been watching the posts at Gardening Gone Wild regarding fences. I am truly amazed at how the difference in a fence can change a yard, an attitude, a planting environment. When we moved into our home about 18 months ago, one of the things that struck us was the fence that wrapped all the way around the lot (1.5 acres) and then an electronic gate that enclosed the driveway. While that was fine for enclosure, it was a bit on the extreme side as far as we were concerned and we felt a bit like we were screaming to our neighbors “don’t bother me!”, which is exactly the opposite of our attitude to our neighbors.

So we slowly took action. First, we removed the gates on the driveway. Since we had a dog and a toddler, we would need an enclosed, secure space so any change to the fencing would mean adding as well as taking away. We removed the fence along the front of our house, but added fencing along the side to complete the enclosure. We removed the privacy wood fence along the back wrapping along the pool in favor of a more open, metal fence that would allow a better view and more yard.

The result has been amazing. A transformation into a more open interaction with our land and our neighbors, more in tune with our attitude with our surroundings.

old fence around pool

new fence around pool

Old privacy fence running behind pool

New area cleared behind old fence line to create children’s play area (fence ran along front of stone wall)

The resulting transformation has been exactly what we wanted. The feeling of openness while in the pool, the more welcoming front exterior of our home, everything seems more in tune with how we want to interact with our land and our neighbors.

>More space for plants! Bed #1

>Wow, I have taken on a big project this fall, transforming some space in a side yard and some perimeter in the back yard into flower beds. All of the areas previously had St. Augustine growing in them. So with cool weather coming into Austin and the kids nursed back to health, I set out on my adventure.

Bed #1
Here is the side area before I started. It was the site of the infamous big match between ladybug and bumblebee.

Nice, healthy grass. And I loved it but it was a P-A-I-N to bring the mower all the way around the house just to mow that little area. And let’s face it, I can always use an excuse to have more planting area. So, out came the round-up. And that grass went belly-up. Actually, the dead grass was quite beautiful in the fall, a golden color among the green of the flowering plants.

Then I put in the call for mulch and compost to be delivered. Like an angel from heaven, a dump truck pulled in and dumped 9 yards of mulch and 3 yards of compost in my driveway. Man, my hubby is going to love this when he pulls in.

Actually, he was a delight, helping me do some of the initial work. You see, even dead St. Augustine has these killer runners that just laugh at you as you till them, winding around your blades until the motor can’t fight them anymore. So our first step was to mow the dead grass as low as we could get it, basically scalping the grass to dirt level to get rid of a a lot of the dead material. We just chucked it over to the side, as I wanted all the wonderful plant material back on the dirt once we had tilled to have them decompose and give nutrients back to the soil.

Then we tilled to get as much of the root structure out as possible and get some air in the soil. After tilling, we piled all the grass material mowed off back onto the surface
and then spread about an inch of compost on top.

My in-laws had kindly given me all of their packing paper from their move down to Texas so I began laying the paper out on top of the compost, about 3-4 sheets thick, spraying with water as I went to keep them from blowing away in the wind. This will help keep weed seeds and grass from sprouting, although it certainly won’t prevent it. But I like it better than landscape cloth as it will decompose and you don’t have to struggle to cut holes every time you want to plant.

Finally, I began piling mulch on top about 3-4 inches thick. Beds always look so beautiful when they get mulch on top.

And then the finished bed sans plants.

Now I can’t wait to get my hands on some ornamental grasses and other joys and start planting. What’s that? I have another bed to create? But my back and wrists hurt from this shoveling-and those itty bitty plants at the nursery are just calling out to me. OK, OK, I know this pile of dirt in the driveway is getting annoying. No pain, no gain, right?

>Oh joy…

>Babysitter coming today from noon to 4pm to give me some ***alone*** time. Pedicure? Massage? Leisurely xmas shopping without the kids? No. I’ll be outside shoveling mulch to finish up my new flower bed that I am creating from old lawn space.

And that sounds like heaven!

>Dinner talk

>Jack finishing up his dinner and looking at the salad…he is reaching across the table to try and get the bowl to serve himself. Last time he did this, he turned the entire table over.

“Jack, what do you need?”

“That bowl, mommy.”

“What’s in that bowl?”

“Ummmmm…garden. Gardening supplies. Can you please put some of the gardening supplies on my plate?”

I guess that’s what I get from having my 3-year old harvest in the vegetable garden with me.