Pretty Things 5/8/2018

This morning I wandered outside with my morning coffee and had to rush back in to grab my phone so I could take pictures of the beautiful things that started to bloom.

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The First green tomatoes of the season have arrived. It’s almost time to devise a bird net so I can keep them to myself. Maybe the birds are still too focused on the peach tree.

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Bi-Colored Iris is showing its stuff.IMG_0926

My little yellow flowers cheering up a shady cornerIMG_0927

The pineapple guava is busting out in full bloom. The mocking birds love eating their petals that taste sort of like tuti-fruity. They end up pollinating the flowers while doing this.IMG_0935The Beautiful Amaryllis is still going strong. I love how the red ones , then the pink ones, then the white ones come to bloom in order.IMG_0938The Echinacea are just starting to bloom.  I love their color.

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Swirly garlic scapes might make their way onto a plate soon.

IMG_0939The Johnny jump ups are one tough flower, still going strong.IMG_0929Figs are on the way. Looking forward to getting a handful or two in a few months.IMG_0924

The pomegranate tree is still going crazy. This is quite a show we’re getting!

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My day lilies are finally blooming for the first time! It was a pleasant surprise.

What a wonderful way to spend a morning.

Early to Mid Spring changes 4/22/2018

I woke up one day and it seemed like a pacific northwest summer. The days are 85 degrees and the nights are in the 60’s. The absolutely perfect weather to be outside enjoying the sunshine. The plants started recognizing it too. All the sudden the air is perfumed with Jasmine for our morning coffee, red is the predominate flower color at the moment. There’s some thing so tropical looking about all the blooms that are currently in season.

IMG_0838pomegranate

IMG_0834bottle brush

IMG_0832pineapple guava

IMG_0633amaryllis

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IMG_0843Jasmine

The garden beds might not be freshly mulched, and I might need to do a lot of weeding, but there is so much beauty that is abundant in the flowers that it’s not hard to sit back and enjoy the wonders of this world that you can capture in your own back yard.

Summer Fruit Promises 4/15/18

Out in the Yard:

This morning with my coffee I walked around the yard taking to see how the fruit trees were progressing. This year looks to be fairly promising. The most of the citrus and the fig don’t show any signs of putting forth effort for fruit quite yet but it is still too early for them. The pear again seems to be resting this year, but some of my steady work horses are showing their stuff along with a few surprises.

IMG_0725Olive tree buds. Maybe I’ll be able to make some olive bread with home-made olives this year.

IMG_0724The peaches on the peach tree continue to swell and grow, they are still too green but they are starting to get soft enough that they are sweet and crunchy rather than rock hard.

IMG_0723Persimmon buds

 

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The first pomegranate flower of the year. There are plenty of swollen buds this year for the first time. Maybe I’ll get a small batch of pomegranates.

IMG_0721The plum tree had a few plums on it which was a nice surprise. It did bloom sparsley this winter if We’ll see if I’m lucky enough to snag these from the birds.

IMG_0720About 5 loquats that I could find survived this winter on the tree. Note to self. This is an UNRIPE color. It is still very sour. Wait until deep yellow/orange to pick the next one??

IMG_0719Little grape buds out on the grape vines. Timing is everything with grape blooms. Right when the flower buds opened we had a rain storm last year. This basically washed all the pollen out of the flower and there was sparse pollination for the grape cluster. The grapes tend to flower right at the beginning of our storm season but it is possible we’ll get lucky.

Out at the Garden Patch:

IMG_0717And finally back at the garden patch I’m still busily harvesting turnips which are likely not my thing. I have yet to find a recipe in which I would want to make again.

 

 

Beautiful Spring 4/1/2018

The whole perimeter of the yard needs to be mulched and weeded but that doesn’t mean I can’t ignore the dandelions and enjoy the flowers.

IMG_0579Honeysuckle Native for the hummingbirdsIMG_0576Dianthus (Sweet William)IMG_0575Culinary Sage flowers IMG_0569Peaches!! Rock hard but growing quickly

IMG_0565Yellow Honeysuckle blooming with a wonderful fragrance

IMG_0570The beginnings of an echinacea flower that decided to self seed in the pathway

IMG_0568The beginnings of baby persimmons

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Last but not least a hardy amaryllis making its debut

 

Weeding Complete 3/3/2018

Out at the garden patch

One last day of pulling the rope like and webbed nets of bermuda grass runners out at the community garden. It’s not 100% finished. There are still plenty of pathways to mulch but I need more cardboard.

IMG_0440All beds are as free of bermuda grass as I can make them at the moment. The grass will continue to be the largest battle. The pathway used to be a weed barrier topped with mulch but became overgrown the bermuda grass. My process is to strip off anything green and growing if possible within the path, put a tight-fitting layer of cardboard over the top wedged between the beds. Then top with a thick 4 inch layer of mulch. Hopefully that works…

A nice person at the garden who had been there a while told me that we are in a frost pocket. A low-lying place where fog and frost collects. He said he had jumped the gun more than one year in a row where planting tomatoes was fine at his house but not in the garden patch. So that’s something to keep in mind before the pepper plants go in.

All of the little seeds have finally sprouted.

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The carrots and dill were the last to come up. Other than weeding and mulch pathways I planted some sunchokes. These are great low maintenance plants that give an option for food in fall/winter.

Today I actually just ran down there and planted the parsnips, hamburg parsley and a few pretty flowers: Lychnis, love-in-a-mist, and verbena bonaiensis. I still have to put some cosmos seeds in also. And I’m trying to figure out what to interplant with the sunchokes. The last thing I did before I left was to put in the trellises where the pole beans will be planted in the next couple of weeks.

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There’s little white markers without any writing on them because I’m trying to figure out the spacing for different bush bean varieties that will be planted in a few weeks.

On the home front

It’s technically still winter but it sure is starting to feel like spring. The peach tree “la feliciana” has nearly finished blooming and has begun sprouting new leaves. the mexican plum is blooming for the first time in three years. The pomegranate is now beginning to leaf out.

Peach:

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Pomegranate tree:

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The loquat has little groups of immature fruit that are still clinging on. I’m not very hopeful that they will mature since the winter was much colder than usual.

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The weather has been generally crap, but I’m happy about the rain because my little seedlings need it. It’s nice to have a reason to like rainy weather. The sun is glorious but the rain is useful.

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Texas Knockout Rose

 

White Christmas in Washington 12/30/2017

Every year we travel to Washington State to visit family. I was super excited to see it snow this year. Its much more of a treat now that we live in Texas. Here are some beautiful pictures from our time in the snow that we enjoyed.

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The entire area looked like a winter wonderland!!

 

Beautiful Fall 12/3/2017

Yesterday I enjoyed some time sitting outside. It was 79 degrees and sunny and just absolutely gorgeous. Especially considering it is now December. Texas sure beats the cold crappy gray weather in the pacific northwest. Sitting outside on our lounge chairs watching the butterflies flitter from flower to flower and listening to the birds chirp and the gentle bubble of the pond was such a calming and needed experience after the crazy holiday.  I enjoyed slowly walking through the yard barefoot checking out the activity of the animals and insects and seeing what is currently in bloom.IMG_0057Fennel and thyme growing next to a pathway ready and waiting to be used.

IMG_0025Lantana showing off for the butterflies.

IMG_0023One last dish of baba ganoush hanging on.

IMG_0055Surprise echinacea that planted itself in our pathway.

IMG_0054The fall long bed appears to be coming along nicely. Right now this little section is planted with elephant garlic, dill, miniature bok choy, nasturtium, calendula, cilantro, & pansies.

IMG_0084Pansies.

IMG_0075Texas knockout rose.

IMG_0064Pretty yellow flowers.

IMG_0090A hint of fall before the leaves are blown away.

IMG_0077Almost naked persimmon tree except for the pre-packaged fruit.

More pretty flowers still in bloom. I almost can’t believe that this is still December!

It’s amazing how finding some time to stop and appreciate the beautiful world around me can completely change my day. I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

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Signs of Fall 11/5/2017

Fall is underway. It’s not quite going strong but it’s getting there. It’s been a joy to go outside with coffee and stand in front of the loquat tree watching all of the little insects flitter about getting their breakfast. Monarch butterflies are migrating and the little beauties are stopping by the yard to get a snack and rest before they continue their journey south.

The cold killing frosts are typically the end of November here and This may be the first year that we don’t have completely bare spots in the landscape. The goal has always been to have a green yard in winter, a primarily edible landscape, and flowers all year round. The edible part wasn’t too hard to figure out with fruit trees and herbs. Last year quite a lot of effort was spent to pull off the green-in-winter part. This year just may be the year where flowers can become the focus (after figuring out and filling in the remaining brown spots).

Most things still look fairly similar in the back yard from summer. The peach and pomegranate tree are starting to turn a little yellow and of course the orange fruit on the persimmons is a dead giveaway fall is here also.

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Little native asters are in the grass covering our lawn. I always leave and encourage the wild flowers in the grass in our back yard. Not only are they beautiful, but the honey bees love them. Sometimes I like to lay on the back deck with a drink and just watch the honeybees fly from one flower cluster to another. They help me with pollinating peppers, so the least I can do is encourage other food sources for them so they have a reason to visit frequently and often.

It was unpleasant to think that this year, the first year the loquat tree bloomed, will likely be a harsh winter and kill all the buds/fruit on our loquat tree. But today, watching all the little insects get a meal, I realized that feeding the bees and the butterflies was enough for me this year. Even if we don’t get one fruit out of the hundreds of flowers on that tree I am enjoying providing for the little animals out here. The joy of watching them this fall can be enough if there is no fruit to be had.

There was an iridescent blue bee (google told me it’s an orchard mason bee) and a hummingbird moth that were too quick for me to snap a photo of but here is what they looked like:

All of the little cute insects and animals that visit beautiful flowers we plant is something that gives me so much pleasure. It’s so nice to watch butterflies and honey bees visiting a fruit tree that you have planted and taken care of. It feels wonderful like being  a steward of nature. Encouraging the wildlife that you love to come a little closer and say “hi” so you can observe it. It feels like being in a butterfly sanctuary standing next to the loquat tree, at any given time there are at least 12 butterflies flying all around you in the air and resting on a cluster of flowers nearby.

Nothing will ever be perfect in a garden. Nature is not perfect. There is always an unfinished spot in the yard, a work in progress, or a failure to be seen. It’s easy to focus on those things. People that truly love nature and gardening have the capacity to find that flower that’s blooming and focus on its beauty even if it’s sitting in a bed that needs to desperately be weeded. To watch bees fly from one dandelion to the next and smile even if it’s in your lawn. If you love nature, you can find beauty everywhere.

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Pretty things 10/9/2017

Milkweed popped up from seed out of nowhere which was a pleasant surprise.

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Society Garlic is blooming again in response to the cooler weather.

IMG_9685Another eggplant is ready to go

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Sunchoke blooms smell amazing and hopefully will produce well this winter

IMG_9674More peppers than we currently know what to do with

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Canna is still going strong.

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Geranium that limped along through the summer

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a caterpillar eating some parsley that went to seed.

IMG_9636The chair lizard that hides in our cushions when they are stacked up for rain

IMG_9635Bean flowers and starting tiny beans!

Loquat flowers that need to be protected from frost

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Garden #1 full of plants grown from seed.IMG_9649

Hooray for the beginning of fall!

Things that made me happy this weekend 9/9/2017

I added an array of bird feeders, bird baths and squirrel feeders on the opposite side of our yard to the garden. This hopefully accomplishes a few things.

  1. Provides entertainment for my beautiful cat Enzo who now has a view consisting of no less than 5 bird/squirrel feeders, a fish pond, and two bird baths from his perch in our master bedroom.
  2. Birds are in my yard anyways so if they are provided with easy & continual access to food and water, the idea is hopefully they will be less incentivized to figure out how to get at my protected vegetables.

Meet Mr. Cat:IMG_8191

Don’t let his adorableness fool you. He is a killing machine. And also very soft. One of the bird feeders is right next to the window so he can surprise animals which he seems to enjoy. I’ve been enjoying it too. There’s something wonderful about having the sun wake you up on a weekend and you peek out the window to see some little birdies munching on the sunflower seeds you left for them, or a hummingbird flittering by to get to the trumpet flowers you planted.

The array of fauna feeders

With that, here are some pretty things that made me happy this weekend:

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Meet the pond fish

The pond I dug right outside our bedroom window so we could hear the trickle of the water from the tiny little waterfall and so that we could all see the fish from inside easily. They serve a purpose other than just entertainment though. They eat mosquito larva that would inevitably fill up the pond. So they eat mosquitos and make fertilizer that I use to water my fruit trees. Plus they are just fun to watch.

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A Cardinal came by to visit. I love watching them. They seem to prefer the sunflower seeds. The male always seems to be the bold one and come down first to make sure the coast is clear for his lady. They frequent the bird feeders further away from the house and the birdbaths. IMG_8980

A squirrel right outside our window saying hi and making use of the closest bird feeder.

Things in Bloom this week

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Texas Knockout Rose
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Crepe Myrtle
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Pink Morning Glory
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Native Rock Rose
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Volunteer sweet potatoes
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Pineapple Guava
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Society Garlic
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Honey Suckle – the smell was intoxicating this morning!
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Echinacea
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Texas Star Hibiscus
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Purple Morning Glories

Thanks for checking this out. It made my day a little brighter. Hopefully did the same for you.

Salutations from Mr. Cat.

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