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Posts from the ‘Garden’ Category

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.

Turmeric Anyone?

Turmeric or curcurmin is touted as one of those natural occurring substances imbued with certain healing properties. Several years ago while dealing with the effects of Plaquenil, I discovered it seemed to be helpful in alleviating some of my visual changes—but perhaps it was due to time.

However, it is always fun to see exactly WHERE the stuff comes from.

In the McGovern Garden in Houston, I photographed these lovely purple flowers.

Here is a closeup;

While on family reunion last month, my husband became acquainted with a phone app–that identifies flowers from photos—–a fun activity for science/botanical/wildlife interested persons.

This is curcurmin.

And now you know.

Nettles, Rhubarb, and Raspberries

Rhubarb was always the very first fresh fruit to be had in the days before imported fruits from southern climes. It was sometimes paired with strawberries, the next fresh fruit to arrive.

The rhubarb on the farm is a green stalk–not the Ruby Red Jubliee which is sweeter and has thicker stalks. No-one harvested the rhubarb this year and it went to seed–huge tall stalks. Several years ago, I had commented to my dad, I missed rhubarb–it doesn’t seem to grow in this part of Texas. He told me to put a sign up at the bank and by noon, the bed of my truck would be filled to capacity with it.

Below the rhubarb—I may have to ask someone to mow that rhubarb down….is the raspberry patch. It is in part of the garden—usually where we planted the carrots and radishes. Three non-productive grapevines are there, trying hard to smother the raspberries.

Each time I go to Wisconsin–only during the growing season–I clean out the raspberry patch and try to mulch it with cornlage or oat chaff. Gnats interfere with the process—until one year, I put on a bee veil.

The raspberries are mostly on the periphery of the patch–I missed one year cleanout due to Covid—but maybe they will be back.

Lavender and lilacs

There were two lilac bushes between the house and the barn—their fragrance filled the air in late May each year. I don’t think I will see them this year—

But I have lavender blooming in the chimney flue in the front yard. I thought it might not survive our cold freeze this past February—but it is in full bloom. The fragrance is not as pronounced as the gardenia next to it—but still—a lovely scent–every time I brush up against it–while weeding—

Apple Blossoms in Texas

One of the things I miss about Wisconsin is the ability to grow apples; there are a few varieties that can thrive on the Gulf coast–but it seems apples need that freezing weather and dormancy to do well.

However, I do have amaryllis blooming. Starting from one bulb many years ago, we now have three—not my doing—husband has nurtured them along.

They are not scented—but still so pretty

Harry Lauder fruit

Several years ago we planted three citrus trees in addition to the previously planted Meyer’s Lemon. One was a kumquat and the other two were oranges. The kumquat has produced fruit fairly regularly although we have never seen it flower.

the other two died back to their base root stock–some sort of citrus but of the inedible variety.

My mother-in-law had planted something she called Harry Lauder—a very ugly jointed shrub of some sort–I never knew what kind it was–just that it’s variety name was Harry Lauder.

It has huge thorns on it and is covered with blooms. The fruit is green, knobby and with very little flesh–certainly not edible. There isn’t much scent to the flowers—and so it’s only attribute are the flowers.

Citrus provides nectar for our bees but there didn’t seem to be any on Harry.

It is always great to see bees on the hives flying in and out with that front entrance resembling an airport.