Thursday, March 20, 2014

The dreaded bamboo tries to sneak back...

Bamboo ninja: This guy looks so small, only about 10 inches up, leaves not unfurled, smaller partner in crime lurking 4 inches tall right next to it. Hopefully he's the last of the bamboo stragglers stranded on this side of the concrete. I'm usually into organic gardening, using vinegar and handpulling to deal with weeds, but with this stuff I have some RoundUp ready once it uses it's energy to put out it's leaves. Then I'll dig as far as I can go and lay hard dry stones on top. Luckily it popped up night near a fence doorway/walkway area, so I can also avoid watering anywhere around it (if I can't poison it or chop it up, I'll starve it out!!)

In happier news..

Ruby the Wyandotte chicken as I move her from the tractor to her coop. She's mellowed, which I hope means she's grown to like me, not that she's sick or anything..

The boys on the new lounge chairs, with the fire bowl now assembled. I'm waiting for the weekend and an evening at least under 60 degrees to have a little fire.

Wide angle view..

The front of the house still has a good amount of grass, but I'm glad that I've been carving out xeriscape beds steadily. The sloping bed was done about 6 years ago, and the rosemary exploded from a 4 inch pot to crowding out everything in a 5 foot radius. The Mexican feathergrass self seeds and moves around, and is interspersed with bearded irises rescued when the lot across the street was going to be bulldozed for a new house. 
The retaining wall was done about two years ago and I'm still tinkering with plants (it's shady on the far edge so I have a competition between cedar sage, Turks cap and mistflower to see which one will do the best. The Turks cap has performed the best so far.. 
The gopher plant has great flowers and seems pretty happy in mixed sun/shade..

The brief bloom of the rescued irises. I moved them around a bunch looking for the right spot (that they wouldn't get trampled on) and they are tough plants, growing well pretty much everywhere..

The coral honeysuckle is about to burst into bloom..

My redbud never blooms very profusely (I have to get a close up to see much)- at some point I'll research why some trees in the area practically tip over with flowers and others (like mine) have better foliage than flowers..

One more day until another busy weekend.. I'm looking forward to an inaugural fire in the fire bowl, soccer games, and trying to let the chickens free range for a while (with the cat in the house and us supervising, and not during the fire!).

Monday, March 17, 2014


Never underestimate the Zen power of weeding for an hour after work.. I came home with a sinus headache and grumpy mood, then spent an hour piling luscious piles of henbit, annual bluegrass, a couple of broadleaf plantains and dreaded bermuda grass while the boys chased each other with sticks. At dusk, voila: I went inside happy after tucking the chickens back into their coop...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Old Garden Pics

From fertile Menlo Park, where I could throw a seed at the ground and it would grow!

This is how it started

Then it grew..

and grew (can't find the pictures of the 6 foot tall flowers, but they just shot up!). Alpine strawberries took over, artichoke plants went nuts.. it was beautiful!

Then we moved back to Austin, to moody St Augustine and a weirdly bisected back yard..

That I cheered up with a square foot garden..

Before ripping out the back fence and adding the guestroom/workroom addition!

Damn ditches! Still, someday I'll trade the St Augustine for something more water friendly, since it gets scragglier and sadder by the year!

Intro into the middle

Starting this to catalogue my garden, crafts and life over time. Probably will be mostly garden things, with a few rants or raves about my kids. Who am I? A mostly local gal who's been gardening off and on since 1996 in Austin, doing the xeriscape thing with some veggies thrown in..

Today I'll start with the back garden, which has a new garden space after adding a guest house/ shed area. I'll let you all know if my attempt to quarantine the neighbor's bamboo with a concrete retaining wall works..

It's always fun to have a blank slate, though a mixture of weed grass and lonely wildflower seeds are poking up here and there. My cat Toby (in the upper pic, sniffing the grass) loves the hardwood mulch.. as a cat box. Remind me not to plant veggies there. 
So the challenge is the narrow space that runs north/south. I figure it will get part sun/part shade and am trying to select plants accordingly. The southern corner is much shadier so I've placed some baby Turks Cap to see how they do. Someday I'll get OCD and organize the loose rock into pretty patterns (ala Pinterest), but for now it's a jumble..
There's one sunny corner that I'll try lavender (above) and butterfly weed (below)

My new Mexican plum tree is rocking with flowers and bees right now- thank you Natural Gardener!

Also have lambs ear (shown), Mexican Feathergrass, bulbine and silver ponyfoot in- all in tiny 4 inch pots, but all of those have done well at the front of the house and should fill in well. Ooh, also have a new gopher plant which should provide a "creature from space" geometric element, though I think it's too late to get the gorgeous yellow blooms from this one (my gopher plant up front greets me happily when I drive up).

Here's the tiny Turks cap (1 of 4). Not sure if I'll water them enough to thrive, but we'll see how they'll do with benign neglect.

The mid-garden is the old back yard, now with new chicken coop and chicken tractor in place..

Don't mind the dead swaths of grass from the contractors leaving huge ditches open all last summer- I was tempted to replace it with something more drought proof but the boys still run/leap and frolic back here so I'll keep the St Augustine for a little bit longer. I got the chickens to eat the grubs that decimate it in late summer and to fertilize it- we'll see how that goes.
I'll post more pics when the Texas wisteria blooms off the back porch!

Plants that always seem to come back for me in the mid-garden include:
Mint in pots, devoured regularly by my boys.

Oregano (top), that inevitably tries to invade it's neighbors (that's a blue salvia below that valiantly fights back every year)

My enormous coral honeysuckle which lost it's fence with the renovation last year but is happy enough with the various stakes/trellises that I rigged up to keep it from flopping

My random salad burnet, which happily self seeds just enough so that when one plant gets old, another pops up to form a bright green edible mound for me..
Borage is a spring herb that self seeds, apparently has a cucumber flavor (but feels a bit prickly!) and has pretty blue flower. It usually fades by summer.

These little volunteer chives are in dire need of a transplant to somewhere respectable (they found their way into an old succulent planter)

The oregano, again

Thyme is funny in my garden- it spreads like mad for 1-2 years, then collapses and dies. It's pretty while it lasts

Newbie plants include
Some catnip and marigolds to watch over the square foot seedlings (that I forgot to take pics of, but imagine carrots, chard, lettuce and volunteer pumpkin seedlings with two tomato transplants in the middle)

Some culinary sage fighting for space with the creeping thyme and asparagus plant next to it

A token ?pansy? that my son Noah picked out

last year's fennel seedling that has decided to grow this year

Numerous volunteer red poppies (all you need is one to start!)

A Home Depot "why not!" daffodil impulse buy about to unfurl

And my asparagus shooting up for the second time this spring (it's new growth was frozen a couple of weeks ago and I was glad to see it staging a comeback today!)