Sunday, July 5, 2009

I like to watch (everybody eats)

Hope you had a lovely 4th. We are all duly flagged, paraded, hot dogged and fire worked for the year. A bit gratefully we will return now to our regular programming minus that red/white/blue color scheme.

Although we did have an inch of rain over a 36 hour period last week which was as welcome for the cooler temperatures the cloudiness brought as for the moisture, all that is history now. Out in the rough and tumble of our garden beds the plants are strictly in "but what have you done for me lately?' mode.

What we have done for them is to manage to keep things trimmed and watered for the most part, but that is about it.Otherwise, we are mostly hanging in the air conditioned house and watching whatever is happening outside through the window, preferably with a cool drink close by.

As if heat and drought weren't enough, the few hardy plants that have survived so far are now being subject to the damage various herbivores and insects are bringing with their munching parts of all sizes.That's the way it goes out here in the semi-boonies. Life in the hills is considered a fair trade for not being in "town proper", which it mostly is if you do not take the damage caused by the wandering hordes of deer, the digging dillo's, marauding squirrels, birds and insects too personally.

I'm mostly there.

Did CanMonkeyGirl serve as an effective deterrent to keep Bambi and company from nipping the tops off the zinnia starts? Nope. CanMonkeyGirl is still cute despite the loss of one button eye that has her caught in an eternal wink, but she serves now as a slightly weird way to throw a little shade on the subject. The zinnia baby stumps have been apologized to and moved to the back deck where the deer and the antelope don't play.

My morning glory starts are in equally rough shape. One start carefully placed along a section of back fence already gave up the ghost, appallingly cooked in place although I clearly thought I'd watered and shaded it sufficiently. I thought wrong.

The morning glory vine in the front bed planter is off to a better start although it and the surrounding caladiums were all being systematically attacked by a teensy brilliantly colored grasshoppery critter. Correction: make that a teensy brilliantly colored grasshoppery critter with a voracious appetite and a huge mouth.

I did not manage to ID the culprit but speculate it is bird vulnerable because it was quite shadow shy. Whenever I leaned/loomed in for a closer look and/or attempted to capture it, once my shadow hit the plant it flung itself off into parts unknown. Given this heat, it did not take me long to call it even and retreat. The bug then returned to resume methodically gnawing all available leaves off the barely established vine. These hide and seek games went on for three days.

I never managed a photo but I did finally manage to kung fu style grab it with my hand and move it to a far corner of our lot where it can munch on something I'm not so emotionally invested in. The third remaining not so glorious start is still in its little pot where I hope to keep it safe until it reaches a size that seems more suited for the hard knock life here in Central Texas this summer.

Aside: I'd read someplace where a gardener had ripped out all her Poke plants because they came up "everywhere" after a year or so.I get that poke plants are typically considered weeds but I remain a staunch fan. Although I am noting small poke plants in more places as well, probably due in no small part to the freelance gardening effects of mockingbirds "processing" the berries they seem to enjoy, I feel encouraged by their presence rather than threatened.They hold up well even in the extremes of heat and drought, produce berries the birds love, are large and slow growing enough that I feel quite capable of staying ahead of the curve of their spread should they reach threatening proportions. The deer don't seem to like eating them and they provide an interesting silhouette and ongoing color with flowers and berry bracts, so I am sold, frankly.

Otherwise it is as I stated earlier. We are in holding mode, hand watering the pepper and tomato and basil plants, sprinklering the rest of the beds once a week as allowed by the Stage Two Drought Warning issued by Rollingwood.We are leaving the wildflowers gone to seed in place, keeping the feeders filledand trying to assure the munching parts of various hungry visitors don't actually kill anything. Through the window is not so engaging as out and about engagement, but until and unless the triple digits with no rain weather pattern breaks up for more than a day or so, that will simply have to do.


  1. We are in town and still had a lot of dillo damage recently. And deer chomping in the front yard. Ah well.

    I love the pokeberry bushes. I spotted one at Barton Springs Nursery a couple of years ago and oohed and aahed over it. They told me it had self-seeded there. Gotta love those do-it-yourself plants.

  2. DIY plants are about the only ones surviving around here at the moment. Even the toughest stuff is looking grim. Never thought I would find myself wishing for a tropical storm to head our way!

  3. Hi TD.
    I am right there with you, watching the garden from the safety of the indoors. Unfortunately my back door distorts everything visually and we have two tiny windows to peek into the 200 degree heat from to by back garden, but you know what? I am still not venturing out there!
    Great picture of the hummer Deb, I had an "encounter" with one recently, I thought for a split second it was going to attack me over a prized patch of fire cracker plant.

  4. Oooh- firecracker plant is on my wish list. I almost appreciate distorted views of the garden areas at the moment. Seeing what is REALLY going on out there kinda breaks my heart. Thanks for dropping in, ESP!

  5. Love your pictures & your attitude toward wildlife! Hmmm, I may have to try pokesalat.

  6. Welcome Linda. I am too chicken to try poke leaves as an humanly edible component so far, but the birds really like the berries. Every time I look at the ones in my yard I hear in my head "gators got yer granny, chomp, chomp, chomp"....

  7. The weather people are now talking up El Nino as a possible saviour...sometimes wonder if they don't hold out hope like a carrot to keep us all from going over the cliff.

    I had pokeweed along a fence in IL - never even thought about it as a possible bird plant in Texas!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  8. Hi Annie! Wow - I am thinking El Nino would be a great change of pace around here. You know it is bad when the big trees start stressing out.

    Yup - the mockingbirds around here love love love the pokeweed as they do the beauty berries. That's plenty enough reason for me to keep both around - I have a soft spot for those feisty songsters.


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Rollingwood, Central Texas
Family historian by default. Oldest surviving matriarch on my branch of the Family Tree. Story teller, photo taker, gardener, cook, blabbermouth.