Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fairwell to Sister Sycamore...hello Green Goddess!

Yesterday was stressful. Today I woke up with a fever blister and a vague memory of the noise and sickening feeling I had dealt with the previous day...throbbing in my lip. We had 2 trees, Redbuds, the stars of my yard in February/March taken out. They have been slowly dieing for years, but while removing the very last stand of Nandina in my yard, we found massive ant damage, that explained what was going on. Both trees leaned dangerously near the house, garage and power lines and had dead wood that creaked when the wind was time.

I posted this photo of one of the Redbud bases....Jacob made several new stumps for the imaginary tea party.

Look how old they are! I've found two saplings and put cages around them so their next generation can live on.

Toadstool tea anyone? I'll let these babies dry out before turning them into Amanita Muscaria.

This is the now bare site of the Redbud that had the worst ant damage, hidden by a 3 ft. tall stand of Nandina that stretched 9 ft. long. Jacob is carefully removing a nest with baby doves.

He was very quiet, and gentle and they were amazingly calm.

He offered to relocate them, but got busy with the other trees. Should you find baby birds out of their nest, do not touch them, or offer them food. If the parents are around, they will usher the little one into a safe area and within a few days, teach them to fly from taking off of the ground. If no one is around, you can try to relocate them (with gloves) to a bushy area, and make sure to keep all pets indoors until rescue plans are made. Austin Animal Rescue is a volunteer run and donation based organization that does not receive any government funding.
5401 East Martin Luther King Blvd. Austin, TX 78721(512) 472-9453

This nest was inside the Sycamore tree, and had two entrances!

Here are the upper and lower holes leading to what appears to be an over 1 foot hollow home. The tree, was pretty hollow, and also had ants throughout.

I hope the ants will stay in the woodpile, a safe distance from the house!
And now for a few shots of the ant damage...warning, these are horrifying when you consider they were looming some 30 feet above my home!

and more....

more!!! They just kept coming!

Here's Salvador's truck with mulcher. What didn't remain as sculpture or firewood, now resides at the base of the other trees for a nice thick, nitrogen enriched (considering all the fresh's nearly green!) mulch!
View from my porch looking up at the dead Sycamore branches.

You can see a little bird at the top. There were two huge dead limbs, that strangely enough, through all the wind, stayed put. It was the huge leaf covered, lower limbs that dropped. It makes me sad to take these limbs down because I've counted up to 17 birds in the upper branches at one time. It must be a fantastic perch for viewing.

And, they're gone.
Check out the woodpecker hole! This side of the limb was hit by lightning several years ago and just missed crashing through the pergola. The limb was huge and heavy but dropped, or rather slid down the tree at an angle and took out a few lower limbs. It was then that I saw the sculpture potential in this beautiful tree!

Can you see her form yet?

Here she is. I've been planing plantings of vines and a circular pattern at her base, which is a secret...if I committed to my ideas, someone might hold me to them!'ll just have to wait. Planting will begin this fall, and there are plans for the face/space between the V shaped top. I need to find a welder (I no longer have the equipment!) She will be a kinetic Green Goddess! Right now she's been called a few unsavory names..."upside down stick-person, unfinished...uh...what?" But you have to be patient...This is only Phase I.

When I stepped outside this morning, the Goddess had two birds on her, circling and surveying the neighborhood. There was a lot of activity, chirping, chip notes and what sounded like alarm calling. I wish I spoke bird...the noise was amazing.
Well, that's it. I'm glad it's over...of course tree work is non-stop, but so worth it! I love, love the sound of the birds in my yard...which is one of the reasons I became a wildlife habitat. If you have an organic yard and provide, water, native plants for nectar, food and shelter check into becoming certified at
And, they are currently seeking funds and volunteers to help with the oil spill!
Get Involved
Happy Gardening!
Also..shout out to Salvador's team of tree-monkeys, they were very professional!
Austin Tree & Lawn Service

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Things of Note

In the days before the crushing heat of summertime bear down and send me indoors sulking over a Margarita...magic happens, and there have been some things that I want to remember for next year.

The first apricot!
Last year my little apricot tree made one fruit, eaten by a squirrel. This year we got over 30! The stinkbugs tried to ruin my joy, but after I bit into this soft, warm, scarred beauty, I realized that I could share. They aren't pretty on the outside, but the taste is unbeatable!

Peruvian Lily
This is becoming one of my favorite flowers. She's been blooming since April and the end doesn't seem near. I can't remember how long she continues to show off, but I'll pay closer attention this year.

The first tomato was the cherry-heirloom Yellow Pear, she was ready for the tasting Monday, May 24. It was delicious. Everything is looking flush and full, though I'm afraid that harvesting the apricots will send the stinkbugs to my tomatoes! Some nasty red spidery thing knocked off 8 squash (not on the three sisters.) I never made it out to get dill for my companion I'll have to worry over the borer...daily. Last year the mum/dill combo did the trick.

The bean is passing up the corn!

I'm 5'3"...hardly "as high as an Elephant's eye" but I'm feeling mighty proud!

The Mexican Petunia is coming back predictably...but this shot has more meaning than that. The Redbud in the center will be down, transformed into yard art by the weekend.

Toadstool tea anyone? There will be one more seat for my new niece/nephew soon. I'm having 3 trees removed on Friday because they are dropping limbs and are infested with carpenter ants. The sycamore out front, the tree that made me fall in love with this old house 14 years ago will be forever transformed, and for that, I am truly sad.

The wild, garish color of the Canna Lily always makes me smile!

The darling of my heart, Dorothy Belle enjoying the lush lawn. I never thought it would come back after October's tour. We did loose our "honeymoon tree" an African Acacia that my husband grew from seed. I guess the honeymoon's over? Nod, nod, wink, wink. So, I've got a little empty spot...what to plant?

I like to get a shot of the window boxes early on because I know by fall the potato vine and sedum will be half-way to the ground and looking wild.

My friend Ila warned me about planting them in the ground..."they'll take over" she said. Well, she was right. Fortunately, like the Heart leaf Skullcap that tries to dominate the same area, they are both easily plucked out of the ground.

Black and Blue Sage, I've been seeing photos of her on nearly every other blog I I thought I'd chime in.

What a tough gal is Buddleia! I put in 5 little ones last fall, because I found them on sale. This year I had to move 3 of them because they got too big for their location and I was afraid I'd done the wrong thing because they were such fainting-ladies after the operation. Now they're blooming like crazy! Their blooms are just magical!

Sago Palm
Check out the size of the heart on this plant. Last year she took up a 5ft. area in my garden. She's coming back for an encore!

The baby fronds are soft enough to run your fingers through!
We're almost to the end of the spring planting/transplanting season and I have just a few things left to do before the girls leave for a month and spouse and I start working on the back fence, the lean-too on the chicken coop and...probably a bunny run. But, before the silence steps in and the workload increases, I'm enjoying the daily miracles in the yard and hope you are too!
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordy Wednesday...

Wanna bunny? I caved at Christmas and let my 15 and 17 year old daughters (see photo of irresponsible, yet angelic looking teens below to the left in bluebonnets) pick a baby bunny tiny enough to fit in their palms with the classic knee bending wails and promises of...I'll take care of them, you won't have to do a thing! Truth is, they are adorable. The fat one (Dasher, or dinner) squints her eyes when I give her a rub down and she is ohhhh so soft. But, they are uncomfortable in their tiny hutch, so we let them have run of the garden for several hours a day...and they're tearing it up. They dig holes everywhere, and eat everything. The only thing that's improved since they've arrived is the state of my compost, which is rapidly breaking down with the added poop. BTW, I can hear your thinking...fool. I know, I'm a fool for saying yes, but they are old enough to understand the word responsibility. figure out a'll be hard to find a home for them, and even harder to eat, here lies the dilemma. I'm open to suggestions.

Bobble and Dasher
(see photo of bunny damage in GBBD post below)

I got several comments about the state of my Pride of Barbados in the Bloom Day tally, but this little guy came as a total surprise. This is the only surviving Philippine Violet out of 6, that I had planted over 2 years ago. I'm chalking up these tropical beauties to my lazy gardening skills. I came down with a horrid spring bug, that lasted over 3 weeks, plus took on a full time job, and am handling the majority of the household/teen drama duties due to loving spouse, who also works full time and is a full time PhD student...who today is taking his orals today, followed by a week of comps and lengthy research papers due...pruning was at the bottom of my list...well, all winter and up until this past weekend. (how's that for a run-on?) I believe that's what saved these plants...the shrub overgrowth around them insulated them from the cold where as the other's got zapped. The violet was completely covered by the neighboring Powess Castle, who provided a blessed fortress...thank you, from Ms. Violet.

Also discovered, while yanking out the aggressive Heart leaf Skullcap, this lone Brugmansia, one of 3 that made it! Oh, the turtle wins this race! Hurray for lazy pruners, say the weenie, faaancy plants and me.

And coming up strong is the Sago Palm! Hurray...nothing there to protect her, but after a long pruning...the first set of fronds is coming up strong. I thought the one out front, on the hell strip was a goner, everything brown so I pruned her down to the poky coconut shaped ball that she is without her hair-doo and thought I'd yank her out, roots and all when I had more energy...she's back too!

This last shot is a progress report on the three sisters, my only spring project. My mother gave me a package of Three Sisters, with, I thought I'd give it a shot. I never knew exactly how the setup worked even though I'd heard about it since Jr. High geography class and I'm assuming a lot of gardeners don't know put 'em all together and see what happens. Well, here's the deal. You first plant the corn, then when it's 4 inches high you plant the bean about 6 inches away. When the bean is up and sprouts, you plant the squash 6 inches away, in a triangle. Now the Indians planted them with a fish, I just used fish emulsion. The idea is that the bean uses the corn as a trellis and the squash keeps their feet cool by providing an umbrella to their feets. Then there's some chemical thing that supports the three of them...that part I still don't have down...but right now I'm just tickled pink about my girls! They're almost as tall as I! I didn't know what would be the best location, so I have one set in a pot, and one on the other side of the culinary garden so when the corn tassels, I'll have to run around like a bee pollinating the three locations...lesson learned, also it was just dumb on my part to put this group (the one in the photo above) on the outside of the gated garden because I've already had to chase chickens and bunnies away!
Wanna bunny?
So, tonight...after the cohort defends their ground, they're coming to my garden to celebrate and imbibe some of spouses Double Chocolate Stout (funny how he finds time to brew but not clean huh?) and BBQ. Knowing this was coming, I made my first trip to the nursery this year...FIRST...can you believe it? I laid down 100$ to replace my hanging baskets and fill my window planters and rock garden out front, picked up some soil and a 20ft. piece of hose for one of my water collection stations and I'm promising myself to keep the dollars to a minimum because we're still trying to recover from all the spending last year before the garden tour...this will be tough...because I've missed several plant exchanges this spring, including Elayne Lansford's exotic plant exchange that happens only once a year! I usually come home with the pick-up truck bed cram packed...but the garden looks pretty good considering my lack of time. 7 more days teaching school...and then WEEEEEEEE, summer vacation and back to my favorite time and place...homestead tv and tending the tenders.
Happy Gardening!

If you want a bunny, or know someone who does pleeeeeease let me know!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

GBBD May Flowers

What a blustery month this May has been. Twice this week we opened the front door to giant Sycamore limbs in the front yard. One just missed my car and took out an 8 ft. Cenzio and 3 Autumn Sages. I've had an idea for sculpting the remaining trunk but am waiting for a returned call from my arborist, I take it he's right busy. Anyway, this month's Garden Blogger Bloom Day finds the Govumpella yard with more fruit than flowers, seems April was the big bloom count.

May means the full revenge of the insects and I tried to catch bees, wasps, ants etc. etc. to help round out the senses. It's a buzzing, windy force outside.

The roses have wound down and most are suffering black spot and leaf drop...oh well.

Desert Rose is doing fine, this is her first blossom of the summer.

10 years ago I bought one of those coffee cans of Texas Wildflowers and raked it in the front space. The only flowers that still return are Indian Blanket and Larkspur.

I tried to capture a long shot of the hell-strip with it's yellow show, but the gray light didn't seem to help. There are poppies, hymenoxix, bulbine, yarrow, Gregg Dahlia, Lavender, Autumn Sage, Russian Sage, blooming Oregano, skullcap and red yucca all in show.

My very first post over two years ago was about the first blossom I'd gotten on my pride of Barbados. This year she's covered, and I never get tired of that spitting-streamer-party-wild face she has.

She's huge now, and has put out two babies near by.


Yarrow, ice plant, lavender, Russian sage and lambs ear.

Heartleaf skullcap has taken over Sabra's lonely swing.

Majestic Sage

Blue Mealy Sage

The first year that Blanco did the Lavender Festival, loving spouse and I drove out and bought 10 plants. The names stayed in the ground for a few years but are now lost. I've got 3 varieties blooming and I don't know their name!

The sweet blossoms of lambs ear.

Pesky rabbits. The beginning of just a little bugly damage!

She's not doing any harm on this larkspur...just a little pollinating.

The swallowtail caterpillars are here!

I put in 3 bronze fennel last year for my butterfly habitat and this year I have 7 volunteers. Last night however, 3 of these guys took out 2!

I caught this guy in the morning light...

And spouse got this shot a few hours later! This spider is a master camoflage artist, Misumena Vatia, on purple coneflower.

Squash alley.

Leave some for us!

The first pepper blossom!

The tomatoes are a coming!

We've got 10 that have survived, there were 13 originally.

The predictable Early Girl.

Tomato blossoms remind me of "Jazz Hands" or "Spirit Fingers!"

Oaxacan Stripe


The first of the Pineapple Guava blossoms, I'm still just stoked that this little shrub made it through the winter!

You can see the buglies if you enlarge this photo. These are the peaches on the island across the street at the CBC, we planted this tree two years ago in November!

Here's the bounty, unless the neighbors or passers by got some first!

First crop of Fuyu Persimmon!

The lone fig. This little guy died to the ground in the freeze so I'm surprised we even got one! My two fig trees are pass alongs from Skip Richter's propagation project of the giant 150 year old fig tree at Boggy Creek Farms.

Blackberries! I'm eating about 5 in the morning and then another 5 or so are ready by the time I get home from work in the afternoon. This year I'm hoping to propagate several more from the mommy plant!

Apricots, a few weeks back...for some reason I had a huge fruit drop, but some still remain.

Kumquat May.
I know...bad pun, and it's a loquat...but this is the last one, and it was delicious...didn't even have to make jam. For more photos of blooming beauties in the month of May, go to Carol's blog May Dreams Gardens and check out the blog roll from around the globe!
Happy Gardening!