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Showing posts from 2012

Until the Freeze

For all you Black Crowes fans, sorry to mislead you.  This is a post about my new greenhouse.  For all of my gardening friends who had no idea I knew anything about The Black Crowes, we should probably talk.

In the meantime, here's a slightly tilted view of the new greenhouse after DH helped me move all of the "preciouses" in.  And yes, I did just see The Hobbit.

Israeli Frost Defense System

Back in July, I came home to 5 large cardboard boxes in the driveway - a lavish and much appreciated gift from my husband and mother-in-law.  It was a Rion greenhouse kit - designed and manufactured by those folks who have so much experience coaxing lush, productive vegetation out of harsh conditions.  
The weather was far too hot back then to consider an extended outdoors project, so the boxes sat in the garage until this month.  With the weather dipping into frosty numbers, construction of the greenhouse suddenly went from casual to crisis status.
Thanks to roof raising help from a group of friends, we got the majority of the construction completed just in time.  Over the next week I'll share more details; but for now, I just wanted to publicly celebrate being able to open and close its doors, roof vents, and side louvres, and to share my sincere gratitude for Tom Farley, Sheryl Williams and her husband, Ed, all of whom gave up valuable weekend gardening time to help with the heav…

What Really Matters

April 25, 2012 seems a long, long time ago.  I was posting about the hawks in NYC and thinking this would be the year I posted at least once a month, hopefully more.  Since then I've enjoyed some unforgettable gardens and the company of other garden bloggers at the Asheville SC Fling, said good-bye to two dear gardening friends who died far too soon, and lost two large trees that changed my primarily shady garden to one abundantly blessed with sun!  Caught up in the whirlwind of events, there never seemed to be enough time to post about any of it.
But today I'm planning the memorial for one of those dear friends, Becky Waak.  After constant wrangling of details for the past three days, I wanted to be still and consider some of those things that made her dear to me.  
First, and possibly foremost, was her crystalline honesty.  You always knew where she stood, and you knew just as clearly what you meant to her.  Becky was the only person I've ever known who made me pale by com…

Red-tail Hawk Watching and Cheesecake

This blog leans toward gardening, but it rambles through a world full of wonder on the way.  My post today is the result of meeting some fun, entertaining folks on a similar journey.  If you've seen The Big Year, you've probably formed an opinion of birdwatchers.  No matter.  Having spent waaaaay too much time over the past couple of weeks hanging out with the other people glued to the New York Times hawk nest cam, I can attest to their broad range of interests and sharp wit.  Regardless of our different time zones and backgrounds, it seems that sooner or later the chat turns to the common themes of music and/or food when the objects of our adoration do a face plant and go into food comas after their parents, Rosie and Bobby, have served up a good meal to the little eyases.   (Go on, look it up.  Like poikilothermic, it's a good word to know.  Special thanks to JB for that one.)

This post is for my new nest watching friends.  I promised them my recipe for Ricotta Cheesecake…

Manfredas and Moths

As much as I enjoy watching the changes in my garden this time of year, this week brought a couple of real standouts.  The larkspur thicket is hosting a NectarFest for several White-lined Sphinx Moths, also referred to as hummingbird moths, and the Manfreda 'Chocolate Chips' is competing for attention nearby. 

The White-lined Sphinx Moth is one of three "hummingbird moths" species found in the Austin area.The shot above shows the wing colors, although in flight its wings seem to disappear.   These moths zip and hover just like their namesake bird, and in my garden are often spotted just before dusk rather than at night.  Although I'm not much of a photographer, I somehow managed to capture a close-up showing the long proboscis of this interesting creature.  

My other current garden standout is one of the most interesting pass along plants I've ever received.   A couple of years ago it migrated my way from Eleanor, another Austin garden blogger.  It's a Manf…

The Moment

Every gardener's had one - that moment you see a plant that's irresistible even though there's no room for it, it's probably going to freeze dead its first winter, it's exotic and you now have a native plants only policy, or some other perfectly good argument that is somehow easily dismissed until you get past the check out area and are on your way home with the plant.   Of course, we have the willpower of an addict when presented with our drug of choice.
I experienced such a moment last summer when I stumbled upon some fairly pitiful 6 foot tall trees that were labeled Bauhinia mexicana and priced at a mere $5.  They had seriously outgrown their nursery pots, likely had circling roots, definitely had yellowing leaves, BUT they were only $5 and they were supposed to bloom pink!  How could I not?  My garden is already home to four other Bauhinias, all with fairly small but lovely white flowers.  Needless to say, within an hour my guilty pleasure had been lovingly and…

March Bloomers

How is it possible there are still nay-sayers when it comes to global warming?  They can't possibly be gardeners!    Is there anyone with their hands in the soil who isn't learning to deal with warmer (or much colder) winters, a lot less (or a lot more) rainfall?  In my garden, I'm wondering when to prune back plants that never stopped blooming, where I can replace ever more turf with mulched areas, and how to make the most of the rainwater I manage to capture when it DOES finally rain ... but through it all I'm always so grateful to have a garden.
Who needs yoga?  I have gardening to teach me flexibility!  Here's some of what I was enjoying out there today ...
Hard to see that bumblebee on the Meyer lemon bloom, but he's just one of several dozen that were buzzing around the yard this afternoon.  Didn't see a single honey bee, but the bumbles had the air humming.
'Old Blush' rose providing the backdrop for some pass along Dutch irises from Lucinda'…

Celebrating the Backyard Chicken

This coming Saturday, March 3rd, Edible Austin is launching its new Sustain Center with a day chock full of family friendly activities they're calling the Spring Chicken Fest.  (I'm assured that even though I'm no longer a spring chicken, they're not checking ages at the gate.)  Although we don't keep chickens (another story), it was inevitable that I'd be involved in this event as two of my volunteer "families", the Travis County Master Gardeners and the Wildlife Federation Habitat Stewards, are participating.

Come on out from noon to 6:30pm.  The Sustain Center is located next to Callahan's at 443 South Bastrop Highway (Hwy 183), Austin.  Check out their website for more event details.  How can you go wrong with kids and chickens and food trailers - well, let's not think about that.

As another way to celebrate all things chicken and gardening, Timber Press is giving you a chance to win a copy of their newly published book called "Free Ran…

January Summer Olympics in Texas

No, it isn't a typo - it's just Iris germanica 'Summer Olympics' behaving as though it's already spring rather than January.  With the recent rains and mild temperatures, I'm afraid my entire garden will be seduced into this irrational behavior only to be smacked down by a late freeze or two.  Such is gardening in Central Texas.

The foliage of this gaura has usually frozen to the ground by now. Not this year.  Instead it's putting on a show and feeding the occasional bee. 

Only this single bloom has appeared recently on the coral honeysuckle, but the foliage has remained thick enough to provide a hiding place for anoles, opposum,  and neighborhood cats.  Normally the foliage thins out quite a bit over the winter, sometimes even dying back to the ground.  The local wildlife seem to appreciate the warmth generated by the sun heated water in the rainwater tank underneath it, even if they may not like the company they encounter.

This milkweed (Asclepias) is covere…