Friday, November 9, 2018

Veterans Day 2018

On Sunday November 11, 2018 Americans will celebrate Veterans Day while England, France, Belgium and Canada celebrate Armistice Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  If you've seen documentaries or movies on WWI, you know it was a terrible conflict.  We visited the famous Flander's Fields in Belgium during a trip to Europe which just happened to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the end of WWII.  We thoroughly enjoyed touring the nearby WWII site of The Battle of the Bulge with the visiting veterans who fought there.

I have noted BBC presenters are already wearing poppies on air as is their tradition.  Veterans sell poppies here in San Antonio during the weeks leading up to the holiday.

Tomorrow morning the Austin-based PBS program Central Texas Gardener will rebroadcast their tour of the Healing and Therapy Gardens at the Warrior and Family Support Center on Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio where a group of dedicated gardeners volunteer on Tuesdays.  Many of us are family members of veterans and several are themselves veterans.  We're honored that producer and friend Linda Lehmusvirta chose to repeat the show this year for Veterans Day.




Through the magic of YouTube the program is available here.  

I also recommend following Central Texas Gardener on Facebook and subscribing to Linda's wonderful, informative CTG garden blog.

My post on what it's like to have the CTG crew visit is here and posts about my first visit to the gardens in 2013 which inspired me to return as a volunteer start here.


And I'll finish by sharing photos from my five years in the gardens which serve wounded active duty soldiers, veterans and their families.

First, a few of our volunteers at work.  Pat works at local favorite Shades of Green Nursery and generously helps out on her day off.


Cliff Bingham, an Air Force veteran, mows the lawns.


Sandra Woodall, a fixture at gardening events around town, logs a lot of hours in the gardens.


There are so many more of us that I don't have photos of yet so thank you all!  In case you're wondering, I do actually work in between taking photos of the beautiful gardens.

A favorite combination with chartreuse and purple potato vine in raised planters from a few years ago.


Monarchs on the purple coneflowers.





John Fanick Phlox has found a perfect spot in part shade.  I have learned so much about how to plant my own garden from working here.


Everybody's favorite bloomer in the heat of August is Pride of Barbados.


Bright orange Mexican Cosmos adds a cheery touch in late summer too.


Giant Celosia heads are a head turner for our visitors in early fall.  They reseed quite nicely all around the garden.


Hibiscus Mutabilis emerges in cream and brightens to deep pink before fading again.


Like my own garden, Queen Butterflies are there most of the year.


Cheerful Zinnias greeted us all summer this year.



The Helping Hand on the stone is a symbol of volunteers throughout the military community worldwide.


Enjoy your Veterans Day, Armistice Day or Remembrance Day as our freedoms were purchased at great price.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday: All in a day for November

I rarely plan my Wildlife Wednesday posts in advance so this one is an exception.  It just happened that one day in late October the garden was busy with so many different and interesting forms of wildlife I decided to show you just one day, "a day in the wildlife" you could say.  Wildlife Wednesday is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Tina at "My gardener says...."

My day started with observing what appears to be a female black chinned hummingbird on a small branch.  It is fascinating how their head, and entire body for that matter, never stops moving.  This one might be waiting to dive bomb and chase other hummingbirds away from the feeder.  Oddly, the chasers rarely visit the feeders.


A few minutes later I spent about an hour (off and on) convincing two Carolina Wrens to leave the screened porch and that's when it occurred to me I could make "a day in the Wildlife Wednesday".  The two birds had somehow found their way in and were clearly enjoying exploring their own private aviary.  It was time for them to go out before they made a mess of the furniture and plants.


When I tried to get them out they kept flying up to a cubby near the roof.  It's apparently easier to get in than out.  Here's a bit of the excitement:


When they tired of trying to fly up to the roof they dropped to the floor and began exploring so I just shooed them out the open door.

Meanwhile out the garden, fall-blooming White heath asters were fairly buzzing with activity.

Carpenter Bee



Bug eyes!



I think this is a paper wasp.


No idea.  It looks like a giant fly but I couldn't find a single redheaded fly in the images I searched.




While all the stingers and buzzers were busy in one part of the garden, over in the Gregg's mistflower patch butterflies were everywhere because it's a magnet.


Monarchs are migrating through.






Their cousins the Queen butterfly are here much of the year.



They get along well it seems....sometimes.  


And a Gray Hairstreak posed just right on the Augusta Deulberg Salvia.


Bright on bright with a Gulf Fritillary on Gomphrena 'Fireworks'.



A female Whitetail deer dropped by for lunch



and a nap


All in a wildlife day in my garden.

Tina's garden is all aflutter at "My gardener says..." and you'll find more posts from gardeners to follow in the comments sections.

Friday, November 2, 2018

A Daily Fiesta at La Casita Moradita

It's not a "tiny house," it's real!  I'm standing in front of Lucinda Hutson's purple cottage on a bright Sunday morning on the last day of our Austin Garden Blogger's Fling earlier this year.   I've been a fan since reading Pam Penick's posts on Lucinda's garden in Digging.  Lucinda is also a blogger and wrote The Herb Garden Cookbook and Viva Tequila!  According to Lucinda's blog, Día de los Muertos is a favorite event at the little purple cottage, which is why I am featuring it now.  Posting about her garden is the best way I could think of to celebrate this event which runs from Halloween until November 2nd this year.

I'm out by the street to take this photo so you can see it's small but filled with colorful plants like purple Salvia Amistad and an abundance of pink flowers.  I'm reminded of writer Sandra Cisneros' former San Antonio home which garnered national attention when she painted it "periwinkle purple" and created controversy over the meaning of "historic" colors.


No such controversy in the Rosedale neighborhood of Austin where the neighbors also chose bright paint for their cottages.  Lucinda, dressed to match her house and garden, was there to greet us.  Even the hand-outs were printed on purple paper.  That's Jean McWeeney of Dig, Grow, Compost on the right.


I was thrilled to learn the house interior was open and available to tour but first we'll explore the garden.  Looking back to the street from the side garden.  Lucinda describes her gardens on her website if you would like to follow along.



Lucinda's cat Sancho posing in his sharp tuxedo on the herb garden wall built across the former driveway.  Her sense of humor is already showing and I'm still in the front garden.  Sancho is Spanish slang for "lover" and Lucinda enjoys calling "Sancho" much to the amusement of her neighbors.


Lucinda gardens right up to the house next door.


Looking back toward the street.  I feel like I know this garden so well from all the blog posts I've read.


Details like the purple hose to match the house make the garden special and personal.  A gardener always has a few plants in waiting.


Several of us commented that broken pot mulch looked like something we could pull off.


And now to follow the crowd of about 40 bloggers through the gate to the perpetual Fiesta that is Lucinda's garden.  Austinites Jenny Stocker and Fling organizer Diana Kirby pause for a chat with Lucinda.


My favorite gardens are always those which reflect the personality of the owner and Lucinda's garden is filled with personal details and vignettes.  According to her blog, Lucinda's father liked to fish and often spoke of catching a mermaid which inspired her mermaid garden.  Art in the garden was mostly created by friends of Lucinda.


Fish chairs for the sea-themed mermaid garden.  So many details to take in like the mosaic on the face of the step.  


Hand me a Raspa and Elote!  Back home in San Antonio my city is celebrating 300 years and we had just finished our Fiesta season which takes up most of April.


Even though we are definitely in Austin, the phrase "Puro San Antonio" comes to mind for "Our Lady of La Tina," a play on "tina" the Spanish word for bathtub.  Karst rocks evoke European catacombs and the grotto at Mission Concepción in San Antonio.  The heart-shaped rock is a perfect keystone. 


More herbs and flowers in a raised bed.  Mosaic stepping stones in the courtyard.  There are so many ideas in this garden I'll look back at my photos many times.


With all the details to take in, I did my best to keep track of fun ideas like this iron doll bed turned into a planter for marigolds.  


It is interesting how few patterned Talavera pots are in Lucinda's garden.  Most are bright, solid colors with patterned plates used as edging.  Every pot filled with colorful flowers and herbs.


The Enchanted Garden is open and ready to explore.


First, let's admire the artful Stairway to Heaven mosaic which leads to the kitchen.


A view through the window to her extensive and colorful folk art collections displayed on the porch with palapa style awning.  Another idea I would love to try somewhere in my own garden.



Loved the porch door with its Texas star.


A fun vignette with Mexican child's chairs on the wall.


Like a trip to Mexico without the travel.  The dining deck where many a fun dinner or party has been set.


Around the corner to La Lucinda Cantina.


Tequila bottle tree of course from the author of ¡Viva Tequila!"Mexico in a bottle" as she likes to call it.



Republic Tequila in Texas-shaped bottles is a must for local Tequila tastings.  Apparently wine is also popular at Lucinda's parties with plenty of corks for mulch at the base of the bottle tree.



The mermaid lounge with Salty Lady Beer cans.  So much thought goes into everything.



Lucinda's office at the back of her garden is outfitted with more subdued colors and filled with mementos and books.


Around to the front, we'll head inside for a tour.  The garden and the house flow together and I will happily admit to wanting to see the house almost as much as the garden.

Día de los Muertos celebrations are in full swing as I write this at the beginning of November so it's fun to post now.  (As bright as it was outside, the interior was dark so I had to use flash.)



Lucinda turns her tabletops into altars for Día de los Muertos.  She has written about her love for this celebration on her blog.



More mermaids inside.


Every room was open--brave lady!


The colors of Mexico throughout.


Painted chairs work together though each is different.


Lucinda, author of The Herb Garden Cookbook, actually cooks in a tiny kitchen.  Her friend stepped in to help out directing traffic and answer questions with so many visitors at once.


The real deal Tequila bar with not a "mixto" in sight.


I have a fascination with kitchen sink views so I had to catch this shot.  "La Sirena" means mermaid in Spanish.


Agave chandelier is a must for the author who wrote the book on Tequila.


Lucinda poses with her house.  I can't begin to describe how much fun it was to finally see her garden and home in person.


A big Thank You to Lucinda Hutson for opening her garden to the bloggers!