Monday, January 30, 2012

More Progress on the Driveway Project

It was a beautiful weekend here in San Antonio so we took the opportunity to work on the driveway project.  You can read about the beginning of the project here.

We added a row of Mexican Feather Grass (Nasella tenuissima) along the driveway and Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)  near the front.

Yes, that sure is a lot of concrete and these plants should help soften it.

In addition to the low maintenance requirement, we have chosen plants that can be easily and inexpensively replaced should they be lost in the inevitable encounters with skateboards, soccer balls, or car tires.

The next step is to remove the grass over to the neighbor's driveway near the street and plant more grasses.

Sometimes it helps to look back at the before photos.

Okay, that does look so much better already and it should improve quickly from here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Garden Visitors - American Redstart

Last spring a flash of orange and unfamiliar song in the trees sent me along the creek in pursuit.  Was it a Baltimore Oriole?  Maybe, but the white underside didn't quite match up to the photos I found.

It took a while, but I found that this was an American Redstart migrating through and confirmed it on a birdwatching forum.

We're busy transplanting and dividing this weekend.  Since it's a bit slow in the garden these days, I've been going through the archives and plan on posting more photos taken before I started blogging.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Propagation Class - The Next Step

Some of the plants from the propagation class had developed very long roots and were ready to move on to the next grade level.

I was concerned the roots would dry out so yesterday I moved 28 of them to 4" pots and the rest will continue growing in the original cell tray for a few more weeks.

All of them will be brought indoors at night until it is consistently warmer.

It's a pain to carry stuff in and out so we have a plan for a screen house to winter over plants in the future.  It should be finished this summer, right after we finish updating the bathrooms and kitchen!

You can read about my trip to pick up the rooted cuttings here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Taking the Two-Lane: Cow's Tongue Cactus

Yesterday I headed up to Hill Country Gardens in New Braunfels to retrieve my cuttings from the propagation class I attended in November.  I took the back way along a series of two-lane roads which is much more interesting than I-35.

A recent post on Cow's Tongue Prickly Pear at Las Adventuras had piqued my interest and I wanted to stop along the way to take photos of some I had previously seen in a pasture.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Got Cactus?

This front yard (yes, FRONT yard) belongs to "Jean the cactus man" in San Antonio.  You may notice that he has a wee bit of a passion for succulents. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Squirrel Appreciation Day - January 21, 2012

Yesterday was Squirrel Appreciation Day!  When I read about it on Facebook a few minutes ago, I knew just what to do.  Better late than never.  It's the perfect time for a sequel to the first jumping Squirrel slideshow!  The (bleep) Picasa wouldn't create a slideshow today so kindly click here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Deary, Deery, Deer!

It's a good thing they're kinda cute because gardening with deer around can be a challenge.  Most of the time I'm okay with it and select plants accordingly.

On Sunday I took this photo of a red shrimp plant for my Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post.

A few hours later I walked through the same spot and noticed all but one of those same blooms missing.

I knew right away what had happened.  The deer, again.  Even though I had been out in the yard much of the time and they don't usually bother shrimp plants.

So I looked around....

I didn't have to look far because these two were over by the creek grazing and watching me.  They even waited while I retrieved the camera and calmly posed for their mug shots.


I was surprised they went for the shrimp plants since one neighbor has a large bed of them right next to a popular deer hang-out by the creek.  Very few plants are completely deer proof.

Later  in the day I found this damage to a Bush Morning Glory in the front yard so it will have to move behind the fence.

We also planted a row of Hesperaloe parviflora along the driveway Sunday afternoon.  The next morning several had been pulled out.  

Deer typically inspect new plants this way so it wasn't a surprise even though hesperaloe are not palatable to deer.  My husband put them back in the ground and there was only a little damage since these are pretty tough plants.

In the last two cases, the "perp" made a clean getaway.  That's a lot of damage in just two days.

It's all part of living with deer in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yeya's Antiques and Oddities

Are you a garden junk junkie?  I sure am.  And I fed my habit today at Yeya’s here in San Antonio.  Mario, the proprietor, runs a first class "antiques and oddities" establishment that has a wide assortment of fun stuff for your garden or home.

Visualize a piece of rusty machinery as a planter?  See an old workbench as a potting bench or old security doors as a trellis in your garden?  Yeya's is the place.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Foliage Follow-Up - January 2012

Succulent foliage is the focus today for Foliage Follow-up hosted by Pam at Digging.  I've got a growing collection of succulents with mottled or spotted foliage.  The most fascinating one is Donkey Ears Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe Gastonis bonnieri).

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - January 2012

It's been typical January weather here in south central Texas with just a few nights just down to freezing and warm, sunny days so many plants are holding on to blooms while some, like the ones I've selected for today, are blooming better than ever.

This Abutilon "Bella Orange" continues to bloom beautifully through the winter.

The white Bacopa in containers on the deck struggled in the heat of the summer.  I cut it back last fall and it is blooming nicely in the colder weather of January.

The red Shrimp Plant loves this weather too.

Join Carol at May Dreams Gardens and other garden bloggers to see what's blooming in our gardens today.  Thank you Carol for hosting this meme which gets me out in the garden to create a record of these blooms.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Garden Visitors - Rock Squirrels

Back in the spring I saw a pair of squirrels out by the shed.

At first I thought they might be black squirrels well outside their territory.  In the northeast and midwest, black squirrels are somewhat rare and are even a tourist attraction.  The photo below is from 2004 when we lived in Virginia.

A friend helped identify these as Rock Squirrels common in this area.  Rock Squirrels burrow in the ground instead of nesting in trees.   That turned out to be a challenge on this rocky site so they were trying to dig under the shed.  No deal.  We shut down that option and they found a place to spend the summer among the rocks on the opposite side of the yard.

They enjoyed water from the bowl out by the creek all summer.  Those dark coats must have been quite hot out there in the high temps and relentless sun.

We enjoyed watching them all summer, though they are quite shy and never came near the house like the fox squirrels.

 They don't seem to be around now, I'd love to see them back next summer.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A New Project for the New Year

In south central Texas ringing in the New Year means we have about six weeks to get going on big spring projects.  We don't have to wait for Groundhog Day to know that by mid-February the weather will be consistently warmer.  Even though we can have a rare freeze into March, we need to get our projects well underway early in the year or it will be too hot all too quickly.  Here in San Antonio, the record high for February is a toasty 100F set in 1997.

Relatively mild winters mean that we have better weather for major gardening projects in the winter than summer.  It's also important to get plants established before the heat sets in.  With that in mind I'm ready to start work on the gardening project list.  Since the list is long we'll focus on projects with maximum impact.

Our first project this year is the driveway hellstrip -- 100' of neglected, rocky clay soil and fill along the concrete driveway.
To preserve the existing trees our house was set on an angle to the street.  Anyone approaching from the south looks straight at the double garage door from several blocks away.  Definitely not the best first impression of the house.  We can't move the house so we'll improve the view.
Low maintenance is the priority for this spot.   The original plan for a row of my favorite Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) was revised when we found the shallow water lines run back about half way along the driveway.  Limited digging depth means no trees.  With all day sun and no irrigation I've chosen Silverado sage (Leucophyllum frutescens), Mexican feather grass (nasella tenuissima), and Red yucca (hesperaloe parviflora).
These plants are existing in the front yard and repeating them will visually unite the sections across the driveway.

We coordinated with the neighbors so the planting bed will go over to their driveway at the street to hide the water access ports.  Plants will be kept low within 15' of the street for safety.  A neighborly path through the bed will be included at a convenient spot.

There is a significant chance of rain Sunday or Monday and no freeze for the next 10 days so we planted the Silverado sage plants on Saturday.

These may look small now, but they will grow fast here and top out around six feet.  We use one gallon plants most of the time since they are easier to plant.  The hesperaloe parviflora will be installed soon and more plants in late February.  The biggest challenge will be fighting the bermuda grass that has taken hold here.

Our neighbors drove up just as we finished and were very pleased to see progress since they've been looking at our boring garage door for 20 years.

There's a lot of work left, but it's so good to see a needed project get started.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top Ten Challenge

This week my blog is celebrating its third birthday--third as in three months!  As a newbie I often follow the lead of other bloggers when it comes to posts like Wordless Wednesday, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, and Foliage Follow up.

The past few days I've been reading excellent posts that look back on 2011.  Writing a retrospective on new blog wouldn't work, but I did find my inspiration in the form of a challenge from Les at A Tidewater Garden by way of Digging.  When Greggo's garden also posted his beautiful favorites, I naturally wondered if I could also find ten favorites in the 34 posts so far in my brief blogging career.

Finding ten I liked was pretty easy and much of the credit goes to the beautiful, photo-op packed city of San Antonio where I live.

Before we get to the photos, there are a few things to say about blogging so far.  I enjoy blogging and the connection it provides to other bloggers around the world.  The best part has been making new friends with common interests.  In sharing this beautiful city of San Antonio with you, I have learned to see it in a different way.

It's been such a fun three months I plan to keep on going and you'll also see some improvements to the look of the blog along the way.  For the first big change I've made my photos larger and what better post to start with than the ten favorites.

Without further ado, here are my selections with a bit of extra commentary:

This swallowtail at The Antique Rose Emporium almost looks photoshopped.  Lots of patience and many more swallowtail photos that didn't make the cut were behind it.

Spot and the Jack-o-Lantern at The Antique Rose Emporium.  Spot needs an agent, he loves cameras and consistently poses on cue.  Perfect, good job Spot.  That's a wrap!

Fish curving around waterlily pads at The Japanese Tea Garden.  I was trying to get fish in the photo and the curve was a bonus.

Another look at those amazing waterlilies in the ponds at the Japanese Tea Garden


Rainbow Gardens #3 on Bandera Road.  I love ornamental grasses and this huge display with perennials was fun to experience

The prehistoric looking Wheel Bug caught my eye

December brought rain and a rare opportunity for rainy day photos.  The leaves above held and released large drops creating the ripples.

A Cardinal makes a fresh start for New Year's Eve.  Bright color against the rocks.

Ft. Sam Houston cemetery is a place I usually drive past, but on this day I stopped to remember and take photos.

The San Antonio River Walk during holiday weeks is festive and full of visitors from around the world.

Those are my ten favorites and I look forward to posting many more photos and stories in 2012!