Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Snapshots

I so enjoy looking at  Bloom Day posts on other gardener's blogs.  Every month I am determined I will get organized and submit my own set of photos by the 15th.  And every month I get distracted or busy or both and simply fail to get out there and just do it.  

Not to say the Bloom Day round up is missing all that much for my lack of participation.  No false modesty here, truly.  Austin is already very well represented in that mix.

But I do like the idea of getting a sampling of what is going on at a certain point so today I decided to quit hair shirting about missing a particular date and simply got out to play with my camera a bit in the morning light.  

Here it is.  A sampling of my favorite images from the end of August, 2010 - the Summer of the Epic Ankle Injury:
Plumeria - these are the Hub's babies.

Althea gifted from my Dad's old place, long since sold.
The intricacy of Ruellia blossoms fascinates me.

I use Garlic Chives as landscape plants.  I love their long lasting blooms and spiky leaves.  

Bees capture my imagination every time.  I can't seem to resist trying to get a shot when I see them at work.

Oh!  As usual, a reminder to click on any particular image for an enlarged view.  I can't claim to have anything nearly as spectacular as the close up work of Philip at ESP but bigger can be better....

Meanwhile, back to our programmed cavalcade of Sunday photos....
My Verbena gets leggy but I love its lacy leaves almost as much as I like the delicate purple blooms.
Gaillardia are so cheery. I'm hoping these are reseeding themselves.
I yank out most of the invasive sharp pod Morning Glory but leave a couple in place to enjoy their profuse blooms since nectar feeders like it so much.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I planted this one
I generally don't buy plants I don't like.  I mean, who would do that?  Spend money on something they didn't at least like?  Not me!  So of all the plants in our various spaces around here, I can truthfully say to varying degrees I like them all.

Occasionally my emotional response to a plant will move past appreciated, rush through admired, hustle past adored and go straight to obsession.  Some plants occupy the obsession shelf for a season, some only until their invasive nature or their failure to thrive becomes manifest.  Rarely, a plant acquires obsession status that only seems to get deeper with every passing year.

Such is the case with the Beautyberry.  Callicarpa americana, sometimes called French Mulberry, first caught my eye in the piney woods of East Texas.

The birds planted this one
And this one, too
I was happy to plant one here in our Central Texas space, and happier still when it became obvious the birds were going to help out by planting a few more specimens over the years.

This one had been planted by birds in the nursery container of a yew tree we bought that promptly died after we planted it.  The beautyberry bush (which we originally overlooked) is not so picky.
I initially appreciated how these plants take cold, heat, drought and even the rare year with record rainfall all in stride.

I admired that they grow well in shade though seemingly tolerate a fair amount of sun if watered regularly.  I came to adore that they survive the occasional trim by the deer in our neighborhood (or the "keeping it out of my way" trimming of the the Dear, here at Gardenista).

But I became captivated, totally obsessed, with these plants, for their berries.

Every year I get caught up all over again, staring at the pale first berries in wonder, watching them ripen past pink through to deep purply magenta.

I stand and gaze, watching them through my windows in wonder, until the birds have eaten every last one.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

At long last

I have been variously amused and frustrated lately reading about local gardener's efforts to coax their tomato plants into extending their productive efforts.  (check the comments section for the 8/8/10 post here)

Some are trimming back plants and hoping for a second crop.  Others have actually put new plants into the ground counting upon our extended warm weather to give them time for tomatoes before frost is even a prospect.

On the other hand, around the Gardenista we have been babying along what are surely the slowest growing, most extended adolescent type tomato plants I've ever personally witnessed.  I don't know what the problem has been.  The plants were all started indoors from seed way back in February.  They were not transplanted out into unprotected beds until well after the evening lows had hiked up into the 50's.  The baby plants went into beds prepped with compost and manure and the plants were mulched to help protect against moisture loss.

Providing supplemental water from the rain barrels gave us plenty of chances to keep an eye on their progress (or lack of it).  Nothing much happened.  Weeks turned into months. I racked what passes for my brain.  Why so little growth for so long and no tomatoes from these guys?  (Whyyyyyyyyyy!!!???)

Two little too late?
I had no clue and once my ankle injury sidelined my active participation I decided I no longer really cared enough to even ask the Hub how the plants were doing.  It was just too discouraging.

Cue upwelling of inspirational music.

Then it happened.  Two days ago, lo and behold, at least on the Roma plants, I spotted actual fruit.  The other varieties are blooming fairly regularly at long last and I have my trowels crossed that if we baby them through this final burst of high temperatures, we might just get an actual tomato or two.

Even one hand full of tomatoes (should they make it to harvest) would be just enough to entice me into trying to grow tomatoes all over again next year. [Disclaimer: With the obligatory annual alterations designed to overcome various mistakes and obstacles of course.]

I suppose that is always the way with an amateur like moi self.  I accidentally get it right juuust enough of the time to keep me from getting totally fed up.

As an optimist over all, in my outdoor attempts especially I minimize or outright ignore my (many) failures and maximize my successes.  I focus on what works and blithely jettison what either never worked at all or mysteriously has stopped working. Sun/shade conditions changed? I didn't hold my lips right when planting this year?  Wrong phase of the moon?  Soil pH?  Star alignment?  I rarely ever really know.

Samuel Johnson purportedly labeled remarriage as "the triumph of hope over experience".  I think he may as well have been talking about gardeners.   Gardeners and one stubborn blue bonnet plant perhaps.

The plant pictured below self seeded and decided to grow off-off season.  It is blooming in August because I guess it wants to?  Given the circumstances of my somewhat dismal fruit and vegetable crop results, I could not be happier.  I will take a tick mark for the "Win" column in any form.  In or out of season.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


We are stardust.
We are golden.
And we've got to get ourselves, back to the garden....
At long last I am able to put weight upon The Ankle.  I am not stepping out confidently for unlimited stretches of time, no, but I am able now to safely wander out and see, up close, first hand, what is going on outside my windows.
It is a bit of a mixed blessing.

There is beauty out there, no question.  There are also clear signs of a bill come due after weeks of involuntary neglect.
Bermuda grass seed heads abound, nodding gracefully in the breeze, happily broadcasting the promise of hours of weeding in the seasons to come.
Morning glory vines have crept up and over as far as they could reach.  They at least, are easily grabbed, wrapped about and wrenched out, although bringing along with them whatever they climbed up if care is not taken.  But that is hardly the point.
There will be stronger days yet to come, cooler days as well, when the work of reordering can be rejoined.  The real work possible now is to prevent the joy of being an active observer again from being extinguished in any way by the heavy blanket of a to-do list.
It is enough, for now, to simply enjoy what has thrived in these less tended to spaces. It is enough, for now, to watch birds and bees and ants and butterflies work the garden in their own way.  When all is said and done, these spaces, the ones I call "my garden" do belong to them.  They, the real gardeners here, enter and exit, harvest and work at will while I am in fact the visitor.  To call these spaces "mine" is a conceit of time and I will do well to hold that idea foremost as I begin to make choices for my re-entry into the activity.

About Me

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