Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fall Color in Texas?

There are those folk who move to Texas and then spend a fair amount of their time here complaining about the ways things are.
I get the impulse.  Complaining isn't just ragging about a problem, it is also a form of reverse bragging.  When I talk about the tough situations I am dealing with here, or things I am doing without, I am not so much calling into question my original decision to live here as I am inviting you to admire me for my strength of character.

Fact of the matter, you live in one place you have to worry about hurricanes.  Or earthquakes.  You live in some other place you don't do anything but read about other people's hurricanes and/or earthquakes (though hopefully not both in one place).

One of the major complaints about living in Texas for gardening types, once you get past the season of Death Star Dominance running May through mid September or so, is that there is not a lot of "Fall Color".

The Central Texas tree line is dominated by so many oak and juniper trees with their green all winter status that even though creeper vines, sumac and cedar elm trees do their best to give us a few pops of yellow and orange and occasionally red?  We simply do not get a brilliant display of leaves in Fall colors the way other parts of the country enjoy.

As a native who moved away and then returned, I've seen in other places what others are saying they are missing here every Autumn.  But.

I would propose to you that there IS indeed some Fall Color in Texas.  I will offer to you there is a color I have named specifically for this time of year when cooling temperatures can (though they aren't this year!) bring rain, and all the plants seem to breathe a little easier for having survived another August/September.
The predominant fall color in my yard is.....Gratitude GREEN.  And I am grateful for every bit of it after the heat we had and the drought we are still having.
Other than that?  We Texans can simply aim our eyebeams downwards a bit and thoroughly enjoy the riotous Autumn blooms of Salvia and Cosmos, remaining reddening peppers, yellowing Meyer lemons......
Another way we Texans cope is by taking color provision into our own hands.  Keeping in mind the likelihood our drought/water issues are here to stay, we have created some extra xeric color for year 'round.  
This triangular bed, aside from being a dramatic shape that grabs attention for all its angularity, provides pops of color we especially appreciate in the Fall and Winter months, when the rest of the garden action is a bit more subdued.  The mulch for the bed has been created from shards of our own broken plates, a couple of retired coffee mugs, and any gaps were then filled in using thrift store plates and saucers.

Part art, part family china history lesson.
Occasionally I rearrange the colors.  That can be predictably tedious.  Usually I simply try to recreate a somewhat uniform covering after pulling a weed, say, or after disruption from insects or armadillos or both, without being too tied to any particular design.  The mosaic will tolerate being carefully stepped upon in an emergency, but mostly I try to keep my clodhoppers off and out of this bed as I do in any other.

The shards are laid out on and gently pressed into a bed of gravel so they allow water to percolate through and can be raked up and out of the way if the need arises.  The broken plate mulch mosaic does not fade in the sun (though it can get dusty!) nor does it require any particular temperature ranges or supplemental water for support.  I'll admit, I'm quite smitten.

So.  Fall Color?  Yup.  We've got that covered.

One final note today.  I realized as I pulled the following photo out to post, that I will have little room to criticize a certain political candidate who experienced a 53 second long "human moment" as part of a televised national debate recently.
What IS this????
I must have planted this vine, or at least scattered seeds for it at some point last Spring or early last Summer.  That much I vaguely recall.  The vine has climbed up out on top of a bank of leggy tropical salvia surrounding it on a slope in the front beds. The 2-3 inch wide, delicate ghostly white blooms appear, one at a time, suspended above the salvia tops opening during the morning hours.  

I have no idea what the name of this is unfortunately, can't remember to save my life.  Will it be back next year on its own or if I should try to be harvesting seeds....?  No clue. 
Help a gal out if you know what this is?  It would be mighty neighborly of you.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Landscaping for free

Some people pay to have their property worked over.

They have crews show up with mowers and blowers and trimmers.....

No mowing or blowing here but plenty of trimming going on.  Unfortunately it is of the unscheduled, unsupervised, unplanned variety.
This Hibiscus has been taken back to its main stems.  I should have known better!

Check out my latest "landscaper" at work:

How many leaves and flowers do you suppose it takes to fill that buck's belly?

He certainly didn't move on because he was full.  His meandering down the street was prompted by my getting too close.  This buck has plenty of other yards to pilfer from sans photographers or frustrated gardeners either one.  To which I say "Yessir!  Move right along Bambi!  Nothing good left to eat around here!".

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Reporting in

I have been working through an especially long laundry list of garden to-dos around here.

This is partly a result of the heat and drought keeping me holed up indoors for weeks at a time all summer long, and partly due to the already dicey situation created by last year's long term ankle injury.

By the time I got around to the weeding/soil turning in our two most active garden beds, working to overcome the months of neglect was its own punishment.

Bermuda grass and nut sedge were predictably well established with a network of root systems that were at once tenaciously dominating the top 6-8 inches of soil and at the same time doing their usual "I am SO fragile I will break off before you can dig me out or pull me up!" routine.

I worked and worked and rested and then worked some more.  I wrestled out tip bag after tip bag filled to the brim.   For all that I must actively ignore a gnawing doubt.  It is quite likely all my efforts merely took the pointiest part off that weedy iceberg.

Hopefully next weeding session will find me grateful for what I could get out rather than cursing how much was left behind.  I am fully aware whatever I don't get today will be back to spurt up and stick out green tongues to taunt.

I was at least well supervised at all times.  

 And I did get a last bit of produce out from between the weeds.

Trimming up the Poke Salat "trees" brought them back to the form I appreciate while reminding me to be quietly grateful for how resilient they are.

And I have a fairly clear idea of where next year's bluebonnet patch will establish itself.

I cleared a small patch for a packet of mixed wildflower seeds we got as a promotional "gift".  

And decided not to put the water rooted basil out into the wilds.  I'll pot it up in the greenhouse instead and keep fingers crossed for enough production to spruce up an occasional salad.

There are other projects nearing completion.  Three last bags of mulch will go out tomorrow, weather permitting, and the mosaic mulch bed will be spruced back up for its own photo session soon.

Wherever you are I wish you plenty of time this weekend to get your work done with enough sunshine left over to enjoy your accomplishments.  

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.