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Posts from the ‘Garden’ Category

Spring is Here

Our weather here on the Gulf coast has always been a bit–or maybe a lot quixotic at best. I can remember Halloweens in which we needed to wear jackets and Christmas mornings in shorts and T-shirts. We’ve had some cold snaps recently and we seem to have lost–once again–a Meyer’s lemon tree AND two of our gardenias. I think they had been stressed from last year’s cold, and although this year’s was not nearly as long or as cold—it was just too much.

Looking at the sad dead branches makes life seem a bit hopeless—but then, what a surpirse! Here are the azaleas bursting out in bloom—at least a month earlier than other years—I keep a photo log by month of what is blooming around our yard,

The jonquils and snowbells are also blooming–and each year we promise ourselves we will dig them up and split them so as to have more blooms, Our two dogs seem to be fairly oblivious to them and wander through them carelsessly—but then I think they add a bit of fertilizer now and again.

So it is spring and a time for flowers and renewal.

Waiting for Spring to Sprung

This part of Texas is not designed for cold weather. Our houses let heat out–a plus for our summers of 100-degree weather but not so great when we have below freezing temps. Christmas week was chilly; the tops of our spring bulbs all frosted, our Meyer’s Lemon tree–third one we’ve replanted since the big freeze two years ago dropped its leaves. The gardenia and rosemary are brown sticks.

But looks at these joyful jonquils! One year they had budded out and the blooms were covered with ice—that ice melted and we had these gorgious blooms.

The redibud is not quite so dramatic—just the flowers—but see that honeybee up on the top? Those of us who keep bees—or rather have beehives on our property are always anxious to see if our hives survived the winter—-and here is one little bee going about her business.

We have more drizzly and chilly days ahead—I want to plant lettuce and more radishes and it is time for peas to go in too.

I am lucky that here in this part of Texas, I can garden year round—and not just look at seed catalogs and dream.

Carrots and Radishes

There is just something about vegetables and food you have grown yourself.

I pulled the carrots several weeks ago.

I did not realize there were so many varieties of carrots. Here mine are next to the commercial ones.

My intended project that day was carrot cake.

And then there are radishes.

I pulled these last weeks. Radishes are not my favorite vegetable but I grown them every year. One of my brothers liked them and so does my husband. They are easy to grow and don’t mind our cool fall weather.

Hoping I will see lettuce sprouting up soon.

Spider lilies

My grandmother had day lilies along side her house in ‘town’. She also had a huge hydrangea bush near the driveway, ground cherries under a mulberry tree in the back yard and a huge garden, the front half being a standard vegetable garden for the table and the back a huge cucumber patch. Elderberries were on the fence row separating her house from the neighbor’s.

Those day lilies were always so pretty…so different from what my mother grew on the farm. Mom’s favorite flowering shrub was a peony—pronounced ‘piney’.

When we were a young married couple—with not much money, we were given a book by Euell Gibbons–a master at foraging from the wilds.

We discovered day lily buds could be lightly steamed as a vegetable. Later we learned they could be pickled and made an excellent accompaniment to fish.

My dear husband planted these spider lilies along the garage on the farm. When I toured the St. Feriole gardens, I was amazed at the spectrum of day lily color.

I harvested buds and pickled them—those spots made for a deep cranberry red juice.

aren’t they pretty?

That background of the rusting sheet metal on the side of the garage is perfect. Husband wanted to change it out—but I insisted it stay—just for these perfect photo shots.

and here is a ‘plain’ day lily flower.

These were in the gardens on St, Feriole Island


Sometimes it is nice just to see some pretty flowers.

These are growing in a chimney flue in my front yard. I just tossed a packet of seed over some potting mix and now they are in full bloom.

I’ve cut a handful of them to put on our breakfast room table—so bright and cheery—and reminds me of home where every Wisconsin farmer’s wife–and the city wives’ too—planted a row of zinnias in their vegetable garden.

Zinnias in my front yard

Sometimes ordinary common place flowers have a special place in our hearts.

My mother along with nearly every other farmer’s wife=-and the in-town wives planted a row of zinnias in their vegetable garden. They grew readily and produced abundant blooms. But then in Wisconsin it was hard NOT to grow things like walnut trees in the middle or the yard and ragweed so tall it looked like trees and required a saw to cut.

This part of Texas has its own unique flowers, azaleas, crepe myrtles, gardenias, snow bells and daffodils. This year I scattered a ‘free’ packet of zinnia seed in a front flowerpot and the chimney flue in front.

The front pot does not get enough sun—but the ones in the chimney flue are blooming gloriously. Colors such as deep purple, lavender, salmon in addition to the traditional red, orange and yellow are a bright spot and make me smile every time I walk or drive past them on my way to work.

Common place flowers but not everything needs to be exotic. They say ‘home’ to me.

Zinnias and Honeysuckle

Growing up in Wisconsin it was so easy to grow some things. Those long summer days, cool nights with dew made everything flourish. Everyone I knew had a garden and it always included a row of zinnias and marigolds—to keep away the rabbits and deer—or so we thought.

Tomatoes were particularly easy and every table featured sliced tomatoes from late July through August when the first tinges of frost appeared.

Here in this part of Texas I have year round gardening–but tomatoes are not so easy. They like cool nights—we don’t get many of those.

But I was successful in growing a few zinnias in a front chimney flue.

That greenery to the right is a huge rosemary shrub. Some people here grow it as a hedge—smells so nice as you brush across it on your way into a building.

And then there is the honeysuckle.

I didn’t plant it but with all of our recent rain—rain every day for nearly two weeks, it is abundant. The air is redolent but those vines are choking out the shrubbery and trees I wish to keep.

And it is far too late in the year to harvest the honey from these blossoms—the bees will need it for the coming winter months—we do have some blooms but not enough to sustain.

Grapevines and the Raspberry Patch

Some years ago, I think my mother planted some grape vines in the garden, thinking she would be able to harvest them for her jelly making. And instead of going to the woods to pick blackberries—that was always one of the tasks for me and my siblings, she planted raspberries near the farm house.

They were not well tended.

Wild grapes are also in abundance but produce very little in terms of usable fruit—I think the birds enjoyed them—and widely distributed them around the farm buildings.

So each year I weed the patch.

The first year was huge ragweed–and so dense, a brown thrasher had made her nest there. I weeded around her; left her nest until the fall when I weeded the remaining section.

I’ve put down chaff from the grainery in an attempt to combat weeds–but I think I planted nettles as the following years there were a lot of nettles—much harder to pull than ragweed—although some of the ragweed reaches ‘tree’ stature and trunk thickness.

I’ve cut back those grape vines to the ground–as that is how they are supposed to be cultivated—but no fruit!

So it was time to deal with those grapevines.

Here is what it looked like when I arrived in Late July.

After considerable work–and surprisingly no gnats this year—I’ve worn a bee veil when the the gnats are bad—but this year there was enough of a breeze to keep them away.

So here is what it looks like after weeding. I put done sheet rock to discourage weeds and pile corn fodder on top—fifteen wheel barrow loads.

I was very pleased to see so many raspberry canes; they bear the second year. My first weeding the end of May had only three canes on the periphery—I was thrilled to see this many throughout the patch.

And so I decided it was time for those grapevines to go.

I sprayed them daily for five days. And finally they looked near gone.

My husband was not happy with this—but I will plant grapes elsewhere—and much further apart and in a place there they can flourish without compromising those raspberries.

The ragweed and burdock didn’t seem to mind the brush spray….drat!

I’ll have to dig out that burdock.

Just some pretty flowers

Wisconsin summers are always abundant with flowers and things that grow magically overnight—including the weeds.

Here is the corner of my friend’s house.

that tall green thing behind the purple flowers was a tree sapling—and I nipped it off with some big clippers.

These flowers had a delicate scent–a few bees buzzing around.

Take a few moments to just enjoy.

Scattered flurries predicted in June

Snow is not something we see very often in Southeast Texas. Being from the Midwest, the first snowfall was always greeted with some enthusiasm especially if school was canceled.

With temperatures in the high nineties, heat warnings on the news every half hour and most of us–if we are lucky–hanging out in our nice air conditioned homes—I spend a lot of time looking out my windows. It is startling to see tiny objects floating past my window—and I think snow—

But it is purple and pink.

The hundred year old crepe myrtle trees are in full bloom around my house—and littering the grass and pavement with their blooms.

and around the crinum lilies:

If that was truly snow, I would be running around outside trying to catch a snowflake or two on my tongue.

Now I know you wanted to see those trees in bloom;

And here is a view of the elephant garlic blossom;

We have been watering the front pots, the Meyers lemon we planted, the gardenia we started during the February 21 deep freeze—we hope they survive–but rain is not forecast until next week—a repeating promise by the weatherman—but just that.