Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rain for Christmas, hooray!

After three months without significant rainfall, Santa dropped off some of the wet stuff on Christmas Eve.
Rainy Christmas Eve

For 2 glorious hours, we had ourselves a good ol' fashioned gullywasher.
Rain & Christmas lights

The rain quickly puddled on our hard, dry clay soil.
Rain puddles

You could practically hear the parched plants soaking up the moisture. Slurp!

This morning, I checked the rain gauge. Half an inch, says the Gnome. Wait--what? The Gnome? Where did you come from?
1/2 inch of rain, says the Gnome

Jack gave me new Fiskars bypass loppers and this super neat garden organizer that fits over a 5-gallon bucket; hand tools go in the organizer's multiple pockets, while larger tools, bottles and bags of fertilizers and whatnot fit inside the bucket, which can then be toted around the garden as I work. It's genius!

Tonight, we're in for a hard freeze. It's already 32 degrees and it's only 10 o'clock. Merry Christmas, y'all! What did Santa bring you and your garden?

Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last day of fall

Tomorrow night, December 21st, is the winter solstice; at 5:38 p.m., fall will officially end and winter will begin. My Texas red oak has not gotten the memo and is in full color.

Alas, I did not have this photo ready in time for Foliage Follow-Up, hosted on the 16th of each month by Pam Penick; stop by her blog, Digging, and see who got their photos up on time!

Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2010

Where are the blooms? Nothing but dormant perennials and agaves here.
Dormant perennials, agave

It's vignettes like these that drive gardeners to spend hundreds of dollars on annual bedding flowers so that there's Something Attractive to Look At Out There. Especially in front yards.
Dormant perennials, agave

Me, I'm too poor, so my neighbors get to look at bare sticks and brown leaves for two more months, until pruning time. Wait, what's that? A tiny hint of purple?
Post-season lantana

Well, hi! There's a tiny spot of trailing purple lantana (L. montevidensis). That qualifies as a bloom, by golly. I really like its spent seed heads, and the way its leaves turn the color of burgundy wine when the temperatures drop.
Trailing lantana

And here's a bit of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) that the caterpillars haven't gnawed to bits.
Butterfly weed

On the shady side of the house, here's a wee sprig of Molly Ivins salvia (S. Coccinea), hanging on for dear life.

Next to it, there's a few tiny white blooms on a Wort of Some Sort. I can't recall if Jenny or Diana passed this Tradescantia along, nor do I recall its full name.
A wort of some sort

The chenille plant (Acalypha pendula) hasn't done much since November. It's been super dry here, with no significant rainfall since September. But it still has one fuzzy bloom.
Chenille plant

Here's a few bright spots on an otherwise bare Hot Lips salvia (S. microphylla).
Hot Lips salvia

And a few blotches of yellow on this Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucida).
Mexican mint marigold

The Bright Lights cosmos (C. sulphureus) still has a few blossoms for the remaining bees and butterflies.
'Bright Lights' cosmos

Lastly, the baby La Marne rose, a polyantha from 1915, is finishing her fall flush. I love how her little leafies are edged in red.
'La Marne' rose

Not too shabby, considering the drought and the cool temperatures. Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting GBBD. Visit her website and see what's blooming around the globe, mere days before the winter solstice.

Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bird bath gets a workout

On a recent warm December day, the homemade bird bath got quite a workout. It's made from a hunk of old ash tree stump and a large planter saucer. It cost virtually nothing and works great.

First, I spied our resident male cardinal taking a dip.
Male cardinal

There was much splashing and flapping of wings as he bathed.
Male cardinal

Then he flew off. A few seconds later, I heard Mister call his mate. It's a short, distinctive "chip" sound. I crept a bit closer to the bird bath.
Homemade bird bath

Suddenly, Ladybird appeared for a dip. She kept an eye on me, though.
Female cardinal

She flapped her wings a few times, but more gently than Mister.
Female cardinal

The next visitor was a mockingbird, but he just stopped by for a drink, not a bath.

Last came the grackles. The males didn't bathe, but they did like to wade right in and drink, one sip at a time, angling their heads back to swallow.

The lady grackles were apparently informed they had to drink from the saucer on the ground. I've seen squirrels drink out of this dish, too.
Lady grackles

Without a bird bath, our garden would not have qualified as a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and we're diligent about keeping it clean and filled, even in winter. Do you have a bird bath in your garden? Who are your frequent visitors?

Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oh, those cosmos!

Just look at those half-dead cosmos. WHAT an eyesore.
'Bright Lights' cosmos, end of season

Why, there's hardly a blossom on those sad stems.
'Bright Lights' cosmos

Why on earth don't they cut them down already?
Honey bee on cosmos

Every year, we're "treated" to this, erm, "display."
'Bright Lights' cosmos

There's no purpose to keeping those ugly things standing that I can see.
Orange sulphur on cosmos

I mean, they're right there, next to their patio. Do they not see the problem here?
'Bright Lights' cosmos

Isn't there something in the deed restrictions against this sort of thing?
'Bright Lights' cosmos

I'm thinking they're just too darn lazy to deal with this problem.
American lady on cosmos

No purpose, no reason, and no excuse. Ugh.
Cosmos seed heads

Sigh. Maybe we should go over and say something. Or build a tall fence.
Common mestra on cosmos

Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.