The signs of spring are everywhere, and with all of the rain we have been getting since fall, this spring promises to be a glorious one.
My next door neighbor, who is very knowledgeable about native Texas plants, spotted a very rare plant on his property recently and invited me over to see it. The plant is a Spiked Crested Coralroot Orchid (Hexalectris spicata). I have never heard of this plant, nor seen it anywhere else. It is very unusual and [...]
Another sure sign of spring is the annual Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour, which is coming up on April 23, 2011. Ron went on the tour last year so we could get ideas for our first chicken coop and to collect information from local experts about what types of chickens do well here. Now, less than a year later, we have our first coop and a nice little family of chickens, two hens and one rooster.
Fall has always been my favorite season, but for different reasons as the years pass by. Many folks celebrate fall because it is harvest time, but I celebrate it here in central Texas because it is the beginning of our second growing season, and it spells relief from the sweltering summer heat for another year.
This spring in Central Texas is the most colorful that we have had in years. Not only are there greater numbers and a larger variety of wildflowers this year, they are also much larger and more deep in color than I have ever seen. Every day brings new discoveries and more brilliant displays. We have [...]
Thanks to the el nino effect, this has been one of the wettest fall and winter seasons that I can remember since I moved to Central Texas over twenty years ago. The results of all this rain on the gardens and wildflowers is remarkable. The late winter, early spring blooming plants, such as the Carolina [...]
Every summer for the past ten or so I have said to myself, surely this summer won’t be as hot and dry as last summer, but unfortunately that just hasn’t turned out to be the case. According to Jim Spencer at KXAN, the summer of 2009 has already been the hottest summer on record so far, with more than 30 days over 100 degrees F. Add to that the fact that we have also had almost no rain for the past six weeks (see the drought map below), we remain in the worst drought that we have seen here for years. All in all, this makes for some terribly challenging growing and gardening conditions.
This native Texas clematis has benefitted from the nice spring rains that we have been having. It has more blooms on it this year than it has had in the past ten years.
As I was pruning the native plants that surround our deck; agarita, evergreen sumac, Texas persimmon, grape vine, Mexican silk tassel, and escarpment cherry, I glimpsed a small flower out of the corner of my eye.
We planted the first plants in the courtyard raised beds late last winter, so this is the first real spring for them. I am watching with great interest to see when each plant begins to bloom as I have tried to group plants according to sun requirements, complimentary color and form characteristics, water needs, and I also want continuous blooming from early spring to late fall. So far I am happy with how the courtyard gardens are progressing. The most prolific bloomer in the courtyard at the moment is the pink Laura Bush petunia, which has been blooming since late February, and is starting to choke out the Texas Sotol cactus. I’m going to have to cut it back soon so as not to lose the cactus.
We finished installing the trees and vines in the beds at the base of the new trellis yesterday, and now I am praying that we don’t have a hard freeze tonight or tomorrow night. That would be unfortunate. We don’t usually get hard freezes here after March 15, so it would be kind of unusual, but the weather has become reliably unpredictable the past few years. I’m thinking about wrapping the vines and small trees in row cover just in case.
I sent Ron to the Natural Gardener and Barton Springs Nursery today to search for the trees and vines that I selected to plant in the upper trellis beds. Much to my delight, he was able to find everything I wanted. We didn’t have time to plant them this evening, but we placed them in [...]
The Copper Canyon daisies in the front courtyard are blooming profusely now. I planted them last spring and was surprised when they started blooming about a month after I planted them. I thought they only bloomed in the fall, but perhaps I was mistaken. There are only three plants, but they have gotten quite large [...]
The most reliable predictor of rain here in Central Texas is the Texas sage, Leucophyllum frutescens. When this plant blooms, rain is on the way. There has been many a time when the local weather forecasters are not predicting rain, but my Texas sages are all blooming like crazy, and within a couple of days we will get rain. It is almost uncanny how reliable these plants are. Anyway, they are all blooming now in anticipation of the rain we are expecting from the tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico.
There has been a morning glory, that I did not plant, growing under the bird feeder in the courtyard. I haven’t been able to identify it up until now because there were no blooms on it, but yesterday I noticed that a couple of very small white blooms were appearing. I did a Goggle search on white morning glory and identified this plant as a White Star morning glory (Ipomoea lacunosa). I was delighted to validate that it is a native species. It is working well as a ground cover in the spot that it is growing, is tolerating full sun and 100+ degree temperatures with very little water being applied. Although the blooms are not large and showy, they are quite beautiful.