Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Garden Update

I'm a slow learner in the garden. Moving around my whole life hasn't helped much either, because with each new climate, soil and native plants come a whole new set of 'best practices.' It didn't help that my first experiences with gardening were ideal either...it's made me resistant to amendments here where amendments are essential. For example take the Datura below...nice and purple no? Well, my Chaste Tree and this Datura had virtually gone pale lavender in hue, thanks to the Sylvan mulch (No, I'm not getting paid by the Natural Gardener) the depth of color has returned. To me, that's just amazing.

Datura Metal

Line, pure and simple. There are several lines created by rock, fencing, glass etc. This corner has been struggling along all summer, now it's blooming like crazy and I should cut this stuff back because it's getting a big leggy but I don't have the heart to rob them of their blossoms.
(I know, when will I learn?)
Finally, I have the sound of water in my garden, but just for the photo. I can't wait for Phase II of the water restriction to be lifted! Things are starting to come together for the tour.

The east side of the house has been a dilemma all year, but after one long Saturday and a few months of tossing idea's around we just buckled down and did it. This is a shot of my air conditioning unit...which I think has a cool look to begin with...well, for a box of metal that is. I stained the concrete base and sat some rock down...I like it and think it's a better choice than building a mini-fence to hide it. The side yard is now clear of structures and we get a nice breeze. The original idea was a Japanese Garden theme, but after the old fence posts that I was going to use for a bamboo structure simply fell over, we worked with what our neighbors had...rock... and created some beds with shade loving plants, mostly ferns and cast iron plant.

I still have some lighting, a rain barrel and artwork to add, but for the most part, I think it's quite pleasing to the eye. Okay, back to work...3 weeks 'til the "Inside Austin Gardens Tour" and there's a mess of things left to do!
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Soggy Equinox

Blooming Cenizo, Rosemary, Autumn Sage

Ahhhh rain. It was 75 degrees today at 4pm...they'd predicted the high to reach 81 but Autumn prevailed. The rain gauge read 3 1/2 inches and it seems as though the plants have doubled in size...whew. It could all be a bluff, Indian Summer could be right around the corner but today was simply delicious. There are some strange things happening in my garden, like white fly and leaf miners that seem to be partying in the night determined to turn the lovely foliage into lacework like frantic faeries, invisible during the day. But other than that, everything is bouncing back after the torturous summer. I can't remember having this many blooms and I'm in love with my garden again.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Fun Guy's (fungi) in my Yard

This is Parker, my husbands-cousins-kid...which technically doesn't make him my real relation, but doesn't take away from the fact that he's a fun guy, on one of my painted fungi, yard artworks. I had a few friends over for drinky-winky's Sunday morning and while touring the garden I found a mushroom that looked like my painted Ash stumps but after a few Bloody Mary's, I forgot to get back out and take a picture. Parker's image will have to suffice. When doing a bit of research I realized that the quintessential 'toadstool' red and white polka-dotted wonder (A.muscaria) , which is closely related to conifer growth (I have an Afghan Pine in my yard) favorite of the groovy generation, once hunted by myself with copious other cannery workers in Alaska...another chapter, involving the accidental drugging of my Maine Coon, Geronimo, which incidentally turned him into the coolest, bath taking feline ever...was not exactly what I found. The pattern, height and shape were on target but the color was slightly off...it was a bit orangy. That variety is the Flavivolata...alas, having the same properties, but I missed my chance. Damn.
Isn't he a bit impish?

The defining features of the Amanita muscaria species group are:
The presence of warts on the cap;
The presence of a ring on the upper stem;
Concentric zones of shagginess at the top of the swollen stem base.
I didn't have one...I think, though my memory is a bit...blurry.

Fuligo Septica "dog vomit" slime mold
The lovely breathing super cell organism recently re-coded as a mold vs. fungi appears in my yard regularly. Last year was the first time I found it though and my sister in-law sent me a mini time-lapse image of it breathing...it is wild! It reproduces by spores and feeds on microorganisms in dead plant material. They range from a few centimeters on up...the largest one recorded was 30sq. meters...sounds like a bad B-rated film...The Dog Vomit that ate Austin!
I was unable to hunt that factoid down though, so it could all be just an amarita flight of fancy.
Found this group this morning growing under a Cast Iron leaf in my newly spread Sylvan Mulch beneath the American Elm in the backyard. It's quite lovely and they tend to come up regularly after a rain. Anyone know what they are...and more importantly, can I eat them?

Leucocoprinus birnbaumii
And how about these beauties growing under my Peggy Martin Rose. They've come up before but this morning I had 12. The most common mushroom I find in my yard is tricholoma pardinum the generic squat, whitish mushroom with brown spots, and this tiny skinny brown thing that literally seems to melt by afternoon. Next time I buy compost I'm going to check out that mushroom compost and see what kind of stuff I get growing!

Happy Gardening!