Friday, June 10, 2011


So here I am, 6am and waiting for daylight. I have been awake since 4am, the usual awakening time when returning from Europe. Gone from home for 5 weeks and wondering exactly what to expect out there in the garden. I have a feeling it won't be good news. It appears that there has been no rain and temperatures in the 90s for a good part of my absence. Even if things are not looking too bad the problem will be tuning my eye to the arid Texas landscape after the lush gardens of England. For three out of the five weeks we have toured England visiting National Trust properties, particularly those with notable gardens. My head is filled with all those wonderful images and ideas for my own gardens, soon to be dashed, I'm sure, when I see the reality of the five weeks away. I would almost welcome if the foxes had moved into the garden as they did, in my absence, a few years ago. I can see, over my shoulder and through the window against the dawn sky, at least one plant has survived. The American pokeweed. with its panicles of green fruits. That will be one of the first things to go!
The camera is loaded with photographs, the bags are full of washing, and there is nothing in the fridge but an 8oz carton of milk I paid $1.99 for at the airport, just so we could have a cup of tea this morning. Time to put the kettle on and begin the day!

Friday, April 8, 2011

It seems that once again I find myself incapable of keeping a diary. I think it must demand discipline, something which I lack. Most times, by the time I have made dinner and eaten dinner I am too pooped to do anything else. That is after a day of working outside. I rarely sit down except to blog on Rock rose. Somehow that comes much easier maybe because I have the pictures which prompt me about what to write.
I have been reading Monty Don's book, the Ivington Diaries. To begin with i wondered why his posts were so sporadic-maybe once a month rather than every day. He's just like I am-doesn't have enough time for all he does. He is brutally honest and I like him for that. No pretenses about his gardening skills, mistakes successes. I really like an honest report from a garden.
I am probably more honest about my garden than I should be. I grumble a good deal about what is going on out there and I really am way over my head for keeping the garden in hand. especially this year with our unusual spring.
There was a time back in February when I convinced myself that Spring would be very late this year. It was certainly behind after the very cold winter we had. Then, almost overnight the heat started. It has continued almost non stop since then. There was one day last week when there was frost on the roof but that didn't last. Now we are back in the summer pattern and to make things worse we have had no measurable rain in months.
One thing that happens round here, when it is very dry, is the appearance of spider mites. I see them on the bluebonnets but worst of all the cedars. Many of our cedars are grey, all the branches infested with mites. I fear we are going to lose much of our privacy cover. I guess it's all part of nature's cycle.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It really has been a difficult week for the garden. Temperatures in the low teens to single digits every night and some days not even climbing above freezing. I'm afraid the cold will have had a serious effect on many of my garden plants. I tried to cover some but I think it was to no avail. The snow came a little too late to offer any protection. Something that was really important when we lived in Canada. In the front courtyard the sheet protecting the Whale's tongue agave blew across the water feature, where it promptly soaked up all the water and froze. I hope the pump will recover but for now it is off. The little heater ran constantly in the greenhouse but I had to rely on the insulated walls in the potting shed. The second heater failed last week. Things looked OK in there until yesterday when I noticed some freeze damage on some of the leaves. Sometimes it takes time for damage to show up. I thought to start some seeds using my new heat mat but thing are so crowded in there there is no room to work. It will have to wait a while longer as more freezing temperatures are promised for this next week. I think this is the worst prolonged spell of cold weather we have ever had since we arrived here in 1994. I discovered that I had forgotten to take in the little yellow ice plant I bought in the fall. It was frozen solid in its 4" pot. I doubt that will recover.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

It has been a disappointing month for working outside. Part of this has to do with a heavy bridge schedule but mostly to do with the inclement weather. Still, the last few days were good for working outside. A beautiful sunny and warm day on Friday. I ate my lunch under the umbrella in the front courtyard and made my decision I would work out in the front during the afternoon. I broke out a new pair of gloves and the new pruners, both ordered from Gardeners' Supply, using my reward money. It was time to start cutting back the skullcaps. I also trimmed the ficus on the entry gate. I moved a couple of plants from the garage although they will be going back in there this week as temperatures in the low twenties are predicted. We have had too much cold weather this year. I'm beginning to get concerned about how I will protect the plants in the greenhouse while I am gone. I may have to move some of them into the house.
Saturday afternoon was Garden a Go Go at Daphne's house. She needed help with her back garden, which currently is just grass. We had a good turnout and celebrated her little dog's birthday! Afterwards I went along to It's About Thyme. There, I was fortunate enough to meet the owner who gave me a wonderful tour of his greenhouse, showing me how he grows from both seed and cuttings. I was really impressed with the set up. The long tables have a heat mat which circulates warm water through micro tubing. Overhead, a misting system which comes on every few minutes for a few seconds. This all made by the owner. They were also potting up bare root strawberries in another greenhouse and I bought a bag of their potting soil which looked wonderful.
Today, sunny and warm and I will work outside before going to the airpot to pick up David.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Today I was really disappointed to wake up and find cloudy skies and a cold wind blowing from the North West. It wasn't going to be much of a day to do any gardening. Tonight the temperature will dip down below freezing again. I put the heater on in the greenhouse and will plan to cover things again tonight.
I am glad that I managed to spend a couple of hours in the garden yesterday. I cut back all the Salvia leucantha stalks behind the pool, mainly so that I could pull out all the false carrot plants that had germinated.
The rain has brought on a flush of germination. Bluebonnet seeds in thick clumps and weeds too. I'm going to have to move a few of them around.
Tonight I will get stuck into the Burpee seed catalogue and select the seeds which I will buy with the gift certificate Andrew gave me for my birthday.
David has left for his fishing trip to Argentina and I will head to Phoenix for a few days. It looks as thought he weather will be fine there.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Days of rain and cold until yesterday. I finally went out to work in the garden wearing a vest, sweater and jacket. I began by tidying up in the English garden, cutting back the dead stems of the Philippine violet. I can't leave all the pruning until March, there is just too much to do. I also removed two Indian hawthornes which looked as though they were in a decline. I'm sure the yaupon holly will be relieved to spread out. I trimmed some of its lanky branches and prepared the area for another yaupon. After lunch I went to HD and bought a 1gallon replacement which I planted. I also planted several bluebonnet seedlings.
I see the turkeys have been out back, leaving their footprints and droppings all along the granite pathway.
Bluebonnet seedlings are germinating by the tens out there but not on the septic field where I would like to see them. I will try to transplant some of them into more appropriate places.
Today I did more cutting back and pulling out. Too many Mexican marigold mints. I love them but...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Austin had a couple of beautiful days Thursday and Friday, but I had committed to playing in the bridge tournament at the Doubletree hotel. So, that's where I was for 2 days. Today, despite all the pollen in the air I worked outside for a couple of hours. I decided that, in view of the promised cold front this next week, I would remove the two small A. desmettiana from the Spanish oak garden. I potted them up in a large container and put them in the greenhouse. I began pulling out chickweed in the sunken garden. It spreads further and further every year! Then I tackled the poppies growing between the pavers in the vegetable garden. I transplanted a few and hope that we will get the promised rain tonight.
The parcel from Gardeners' Supply arrived yesterday. I am disappointed with the new garden shoes. They are just a little too small. I may have to cut out the toes as people used to do with their childrens' shoes when I was a girl. One good reason not to buy mail order shoes.
Must look for the heater tomorrow. I think we are going to need it this week. Added some apple peelings to the trap. Maybe our rabbit will be tempted!