Monday, September 21, 2009

Spontaneous woodsorrel my backyard

I woke up about 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, later than usual for my slothlike self; coffee cup in hand, I moseyed on out to the back 40 (feet) to see what was up, and was greeted by an enormous field of wild Oxalis drummondii that'd seemingly popped up overnight.

At 9 a.m., the southeast corner of my yard was a sea of three-leafed clover-like green.

The tiny plants laid in wait, thick as thieves, forming a literal carpet. I'd never seen anything quite like it. (I can't identify the long-stemmed weed with the red flowers that's popping through in spots.

Two hours later, when the sun came out from behind the clouds, the purply-pink five-petaled flowers burst open, faces toward the sun, to wish me a hearty Top O' The Mornin'. I swear, I saw one of their little green eyes a'winkin. (Look closely and you'll see a few blue-eyed Widow's Tears in the mix.)

Keep in mind that my "lawn" in the backyard was a field of death two months earlier -- brown, dry, crispy -- and now, it's a forest wildflower field?? Somehow, I don't think a couple of three-foot tall lime trees qualify as a forest!
The Native Plant Database at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center says that "This little plant likes the higher elevations, growing at altitudes of 4,000–6,000 feet, preferably under oak trees." Well, somebody best tell the flowers, because this is the driest, lowest, most exposed corner of our 500-foot-above-sea-level urban lot, and our two oak trees are located one to two dozen feet north. The NPIN entry also states Drummond's woodsorrel is found in "open grassy areas and brush-lands of either calcareous or sandy soils." OK, that sounds more like my backyard.

Naturalist Thomas Drummond identified this wildflower in these parts in the 1830s, along with 749 other species of native plants and 150 birds.

Admittedly, I do quite like the look of Drummond's woodsorrel around these aloes and bulbine. (Of course, it would look even better if the bulbine were [cough] blooming, erherm.)

The bees adore it.

These honeybees seemed to be humming an especially melodic tune, going quiet only as they drank thirstily from the flowers, starting up again the moment they lifted off to fly on to another flower.

If I hadn't had so much to do, I would have happily sat and listened to them for an hour.

Even the spiders like it.

Some gardeners might view such a scene with utter dismay as they run for the Weed 'N Feed. Me, I try to enjoy such unexpected pleasures while they last -- until the next mowing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Little twigs are getting bigger

Remember the little twigs I planted in the front yard this spring? (click on the link for a reminder)

Here's what they're looking like, four months later. Despite the drought, they've all gotten a lot bigger. And once the rains and cooler weather came, they sprung back to life with new blossoms, to the delight of the bees. (Cutting them back a bit in early August helped them rebound, I think.)

Here are some of my favorites, starting with "Indigo Spires" salvia.
Indigo Spires salvia

Bee on Indigo Spires salvia

"Coral Nymph" salvia.
Coral Nymph salvia

Bee on Coral Nymph salvia

Blackfoot daisies and trailing lantana.
Blackfoot daisies & trailing lantana

Autumn sage.
Autumm sage

Blue Daze.
Blue Daze

Dahlberg daisies and sedum ("Red Carpet").
Dahlberg daisies & Red Carpet sedum

In the back yard, the zinnias are fading.

But the Bright Lights cosmos are getting ready to explode, the roses are putting on new growth, the melon plants have blossoms (poor things, they think it's spring), the horseherb is reseeding along the shady west side of the house, and there's just the barest hint of an amaryllis leaf poking through the dirt in this neglected pot.
Amaryllis sprout

This is what I would have posted on Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, if I hadn't had a previous engagement at the endodontist's office for a repeat root canal. Forgive my tardiness?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Back from Balmorhea


It's been nearly a week since my last post! We spent Labor Day week at Balmorhea State Park. Balmorhea is an oasis in the middle of the West Texas desert, an crystal-clear artesian spring-fed pool surrounded by the Davis Mountains. It is 3 feet at its shallowest and 30 feet at its deepest (deep enough for scuba diving) and home to two endangered fish species. We saw dragonflies, turtles, hummingbirds, swallows, hawks, tarantulas, ground squirrels, and numerous fish including tetras, catfish, sunfish and the two endangered species, the Pecos Gambusia (Gambusia nobilis) and the Comanche Springs pupfish (Cyprinodon elegans). I hope to post more pictures of the wildlife and plants soon, but until then, enjoy this single frame.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Antsy for fall

I’m feeling antsy. I've been to two seminars on fall gardening, I've purchased my seeds, I want to plant my fall garden and I wanna do it NOW! [stomping feet and whining]
But it’s still a bit too soon (mid to late September is ideal), and the seven (seven!) raised beds I’ve commissioned have yet to be built. (The Head Carpenter assures me he can do it in an afternoon). Plus, we’re going out of town, so I dare not start even start seedlings or even move plants to different locations, lest I return to neglected, wilting plants.

So instead, I am wandering around my yard, taking pictures of ants. These little ant hills popped up after our last rain, along with hundreds of horseherb seedlings.

They are not fire ants--they do not make huge hills and they do not swarm. Judging from their size, color, behavior and mound shape, I think they are pyramid ants. They are very gentle. And they are everywhere.

I dare not kill these kindly, industrious ants, lest more evil species take their place. Instead, I let them be. I laid in the dirt under a Texas Red Oak tree for about half an hour, watching them work.

I also spotted some acorns that had fallen from the oak tree. Oh, but the squirrels are going to be soo happy about this turn of events.

Cooler temperatures, rain, and acorns -- all signs that fall is coming!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Forced to relax

Although I'm on vacation, I have a lot to do -- dishes still need to be done, clothes still need to be washed, and bathrooms still need to be cleaned. Alas, we have a broken pipe, so the water to the house has been turned off. Luckily, our friend Joe has agreed to come fix the pipe today -- on the Sunday before Labor Day, no less. What a guy! (Yes, our friend Joe is a plumber. Joe the Plumber. No, not that Joe the Plumber; nothing like that guy, actually.)

For the past couple of hours, I've been sitting here trying to figure out some chore or task to do without water, and I can't, and it's frustrating me. Either the task itself requires water, such as the chores listed above, or involves a great deal of washing up afterwords with water, such as weeding the garden.

I guess I could sweep -- that doesn't require water -- but it doesn't seem like an urgent enough task to motivate me. Especially after one of these.

Yes, it's true: the lack of one of mankind's basic necessities -- water -- is forcing me to sit and drink Cuba Libres made from Mexican Coca-Cola and Meyer's Jamaican rum.

Life is good.

Saturday, September 5, 2009



GGW Picture This Photo Contest – September 2009

The topic is ornamental grasses. Nan Ondra is judging. Here is my entry.