Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine Blossoms for BloomDay

Soooo, it's been 3 months since I've blogged...oh well. I've been busy birding, camping, reading, making things, hanging out with some of the coolest people I've ever met, planting and planning. Plus, I went back to full-time work briefly this fall, teaching art...but I'm back to making things and wondering what I'll be when I'm grown up. Such is the life of a drinker and dreamer, or as my friends say "free-spirit" and what my family probably calls a "lost soul." This winter has been strange...unusually wet after the drought of the summer and unusually warm...which just confuses the plants to no end. My yard is actually looking pretty good considering...well, my low maintenance plan of dumping 16 cubic yards of mulch last spring and trying to rid the place of almost all traces of the dreaded...lawn. The mulch was an excellent idea but I have to share with you the horrors that followed. See, we got 8 cubic yards of fresh, beautiful smelling cedar one day from Davey Tree's and it took me about a week to distribute the mini mountain in my driveway. I took a well deserved rest, then called them up again. This time I got random stuff, along with a really cool bench but I also got something infestation of the dreaded Palmetto Bug. For those of you who don't live in Texas, that's a fancy way of calling the biggest friggin' cockroach you have ever seen! One or more of the trees must have been harboring a nursery! It took us months to get rid of them...because we don't pour poison around or in our home, or on the land...ever...even when invaded by roaches. So...we got those sticky strips and lined the doors every night and woke up to a terrifying nightmare. "NO MORE MULCH" says loving spouse...and this time, I agree. He has agreed to buying the fabulous Sylvan Mulch from the Natural Gardener, and it's my favorite, it's just beaucoup bucks. So much for gardening on the cheap. The good thing is that I'd piled it up so deep (trying for 8-12 inches as suggested in Gaia's Garden) that I really don't need much more.

Getting back into the Garden Blogger Bloom Day regime, above is my first and only success at getting an orchid to bloom the second year. Last year I gave up on trying to grow my favorite flower and gave ALL of them to my neighbor Aimee who, although seemed lost in her own yard, has a green thumb when it comes to Orchids. Since assuming this, Aimee has taken off in her yard and lost almost all her orchids this year, due to leaving them outside too long...funny how things flip-flop like that. I'm chalking my success up to...neglect. When I was "trying" to grow orchids, I was reading books, buying the food, misting them daily...and when my lovely daughter surprised me with yet another orchid after I'd given all mine away, I just sighed and decided to watch it die in peace. Clearly I was mothering the poor things to death! This is Austin, of the most humid places in the state! Why was I adding mist to the mist? Beats me, except I did my research and that's what the book said! Shnizbit. Trial and error is the best teacher.

The oxalis this year is huge. Mine didn't die off at all so the little mounds now look like shrubs. The pink flowers are just the simplest expression of spring and for the first time my purple oxalis looks strong...maybe even strong enough to split and transplant a wee bit!

Purple oxalis blooming alongside heart leaf skullcap, which is not blooming.

Here are 3 more bloomin' beauties that never lost their sheen over the winter:

Shrimp plant

Trailing purple Lantana

and fern leaf Verbena.

The usual prune date for roses in Texas is in fact, Valentine's Day...but the new growth is profuse and several of my ladies are already in their finest:

Knock Out!

Old Blush on the front pergola is covered in blooms...the most on any of my roses right now.

Martha Gonzales never stopped blooming...always having at least one blossom...through the winter. Cecile Bruenner, Peggy Martin and Lady Banksia are waiting for longer days I suppose.

In the food department...the kale is so pretty I hate to eat it!

just kiddin' this is ornamental kale, you can eat it...but we don't.

This is our wedding tree, a Mountain Laurel that was knee high when we planted it nearly 11 years ago. It's been covered in buds before, but it seems to have exhaled in width over the winter.

Standing under it brings back memories of the playground and eating purple sweet-tarts...because that's exactly what they smell like.

Now, my peach tree out back doesn't even have buds...but the one I planted directly across the street from me is showing off! And oooooh are her peaches delicious!

Just as delicious as these eggs and butter plant, a pass along gift from my neighbor Regine. Again, kidding...they're not edible, but they do look like eggs and butter.

I have to show case my favorite hell-strip plant Hymenoxis, or four nerve daisy...because she keeps on bloomin' and she comes up in different spots each year!

I thought my germander was pooping out, but I gave her a haircut and she came back with a powerful bloom that had the bees buzzing for days...but they seem to have moved onto the many rosemary mounds now.

I think this photo is two bees kissing!

This last shot is not the last of the blossoms but it's one of my favorite winter staples...the arugula flower.

I sure do appreciate ya'll reading this...I know it's been awhile but I'm hoping to post at least once a month from here on out...just for my own documentation purposes.

Some upcoming events for Crestview folks are:
It's MY Park Day for Brentwood Park on March 3rd from 9-1
and this Saturday the Grasshoppers of East Dartmouth Ave. are crossing the street to gussy up our rose garden and PROPERLY trim the trees at the Baptist Church.

Other things blooming in my garden are:

Mexican Honeysuckle
Autumn Sage
Purple Ruellia

and as I went back one more time to check my list, I noticed that the Lady Banksia out back had one cluster of butter popcorn colored blossoms! So, she's on her way after all!

A big thank you, as always to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for organizing Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, where folks all over the world can go for their monthly blooming interests!

Happy Gardening!


bookworm said...

Roses in February! Sigh! It's been an almost snowless winter for us here in upstate NY-some years we've had 3 or more feet of snow on the ground at this time of year. Still, very little is blooming outside. I loved your ornamental kale picture. Happy GBBD.

ConsciousGardener said...

Thanks Bookworm...I'm off to check out yer blog :) I'm reading Small Island right now...I can smell the flowers in Jamaica!

Amy said...

So many beautiful colors in your garden, and familiar floral faces (lots of oxalis popped up in my yard this year). I can't believe mountain laurels are already blooming! And on a different note, my family and I went on the Skimmer Christmas day (here). I've been painting whooping cranes ever since...pretty amazing experience.

Kathy Sturr said...

So nice to see BLOOMS! My orchids are suffering horribly! They loved their little spot in Maine so much and since we moved here they have just been withering away BUT I have plans very soon for a new spot for them. I just saw some beautiful orchid blooms in the window of the boat museum down the road. They are all signs! I better get at it. Good to see a post from you!

ConsciousGardener said...

Kathy! It's so nice to know your name. I have to tell you that there is some such weirdness that doesn't allow me to post on Violet Fern?? I didn't know you were an artist to boot! I looked at your blog yesterday and when I went to post, the entire page is covered with code. This has been happening for some time, I think it's the "atom" thing because I have the same issue with other blogs that use that format as well. Anyway, know that I'm checking it...well, as delinquent as I am at my own blogging I'm equally absent when reading...but when I'm on, I'M ON IT! Good to hear from you!

Julie and Luke said...

I have a knee-high mountain laurel in Midland, Texas. It has grown a bit throughout the year we've had it, but the dry, dry summer and wet winter have confused it and it's turning yellow. We're about to kill the bed it's in so we can start fresh. Any suggestions for its dwindling health and for transplanting while the bed is "under construction"? Thanks! Love your blog :) Thanks!

ConsciousGardener said...

Turning yellow? Wow, I've never heard of that with a Mountain Laurel...I lived in Odessa for a few years when I was a kid...and I'm trying to remember if I'd ever seen one there...not that they wouldn't sell them anyway but it's more of a hill country plant. I'd think if it turned yellow it wasn't getting enough water? I'm really not sure what to say, not seeing it. I can pass this on though...even natives need extra care the first two years they are in the ground, especially with nasty weather like we've been having. You might try putting it in a large pot with some good soil while you re-do your bed. If I lived out there now, I'd yank it out and put in severe drought tolerant stuff. Extra care means regular watering through the drought until it's established...every week or every other...a good deep watering. Good Luck!

Lancashire rose said...

What a terrible tale on the palmetto bugs. I have to admit that whenever I dig in some of the NG compost termites show up. They are the subterranean ones and I know they are out there but they just home in on that compost. Just stay away from my house! It has happened too many times for it to be a coincidence. I can hardly believe it is February with all your blooms. EVerones seems to have the pink oxalis aplenty. me, I have one tiny clump. I do love its pretty little flowers. Are you finding it hard to cut back those roses? I am, but must do it.

ConsciousGardener said...

Yeah, I'm having a hard time cutting the roses...I'm doing the deed tomorrow, in my yard...and across the street!

scottweberpdx said...

OMG...that Mountain Laurel is AMAZING!

Reed said...

That is a truly beautiful Mountain Laurel. Really enjoyed the pictures.

Thanks and keep up with your good work!

Garden Sheds said...

LOVEly blooms! I really adore all of them. Great job!

Roberta said...

You've got an owl! So far I haven't seen one in our neck of the woods but it may just be that I'm not good at spotting them. Sometimes I'm just sure they're out there watching me.

Margaret said...

Your pictures are beautiful! That peach tree looks so good!!
Your newest follower and fellow Texan!
Two in the Nest