Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: Antique Roses for the South

On the West Coast, hybrid tea roses make a beautiful addition to the landscape.

On the Gulf coast, they usually die from rampant fungal disease, thanks to our subtropical humidity.

Never fear, rose lovers! There are roses that do grow here. Some of these grow so well that they survive literally decades of neglect, once established.

I refer, of course, to "antique roses". These are varieties that have been around so  long that they are, well, antique. They are tough and beautiful. If you need a good introduction to them, William C. Welch's Antique Roses for the South is a worthwhile place to start.


Welch is clearly enthusiastic about his subject matter, and is eagerness comes through so well in the text that it is rather catching.   The book includes the history of old roses, tips for collecting them and placing them in your landscape, descriptions of different categories to aid recognition, tips for rooting cuttings, and a few profiles of specific varieties. It even includes a chapter on things to do with clipped roses, from arranged bouquets to recipes for potpourri and rose petal jelly.  Of course, there are plenty of beautiful photographs to provide the reader with inspiration.

This slim volume is not a catalog of every variety of antique rose ever found.   It is meant, rather, to provide introductory material to a reader who is new to the world of antique rose collecting and cultivation. You will still want to talk to a knowledgeable person at your local nursery (preferably one that carries antique roses) about the maintenance of certain varieties, especially if you are purchasing plants. Some are hardier than others. Martha Gonzalez, for example, is frustratingly prone to blackspot.  The good news for those who catch the hunting and collecting bug from reading this book is that cuttings from a rose that has survived for 100 years in a neglected cemetery have a good chance of surviving lazy gardening, once they are established.


In short, if one is new to old roses,  it is a worthy addition to one's gardening library. It might even look nice on the coffee table.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Plants for Readers: Collards

from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:

Early one morning as we were beginning our day's play in the back yard, Jem and I heard something next door in  Miss Rachel Haverford's collard patch. We went to the wire fence to see if there was a puppy--Miss Rachel's rat terrier was expecting--instead we found someone sitting looking at us. Sitting down, he wasn't much higher than the collards. We stared at thim until he spoke:

"Hey."

"Hey yourself," said Jem pleasantly.


"I'm Charles Baker Harris," he said. "I can read."
(Image Source)

Collard greens  are staples of Southern cooking and, were even grown in ancient Greece and Rome (Aggie Horticulture).  Rich in vitamins, it is generally a winter crop harvested after the first frost for best flavor.   Considering how many crops are not in season during our short Houston winters, it is nice to be able to grow a variety of leafy greens during our colder months. The leaves grow up to about two feet long, giving us some idea of how small Charles Baker "Dill" Harris actually is.

If you find yourself eating collards at a Southern restaurant, you will likely have them the traditional way: boiled a little longer than necessary and flavored with hamhocks, pork fat, or bacon. Not perhaps the healthiest way to serve them, but certainly very tasty.

They can also be used in soups, or boiled served with a little salt and pepper and olive oil, and maybe some vinegar.

Some people who like edible landscapes find that leafy green winter crops such as collards and kale make decent ornamental annuals, as well as good eating.

For Houston area residents, Bob Randall recommends planting collard plants between early October and early November.  The Aggie Horticulture website suggests seeding and even planting as early as September.

Further Reading:
Plant Profile at Floridata
Marinated Collard Green Salad
Southern Collard Greens
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Grow Your Own Potpourri?




A recent article in the Wall Street Journal provides tips for making your own:

In fact, the garden is a perfect place to start in thinking about fragrances for the house. Potpourri today is largely a failure of the imagination: rose and lavender. ("Vapourri," or sprays, and plug-in air fresheners are also big on things like "pound cake," popular with the diet-weakened.)

But if you have a space to grow, why not begin in the garden, in conceiving original dried blends: meadowsweet, verbena, bergamot, gardenia, tuberose, thyme, honeysuckle, sage and violet. The list goes on. A variety of mint: orange, blackberry, apple, pineapple, chocolate, in addition to peppermint.

Scented geraniums like rose, lime and nutmeg; grasses like gingergrass, lemongrass and vetiver. There are 400 kinds of artemisia, including southernwood and tarragon, all pungent, and ready to plant. And fragrant ingredients to gather too: oak moss, cedar and bamboo. (If Antoine Du Piney de Noroy, writing in an herbal published in 1561, thought stuff like this could cure hair loss, how hard could scenting your home be?) (Read the entire article.)

The article includes recommendations for collecting and combining ingredients to obtain balanced, pleasing scents.

Of course, one will have to remember that this article was not written with our subtropical climate in mind. At one point, he recommends gathering herbs on warm, dry days. While our climate here near the gulf coast enjoys plenty of warmth, dryness is a bit rare in this part of the atmosphere. However, with our almost constant use of air conditioning keeping our indoor humidity down, it is still possible to dry plants indoors during more humid seasons.

It is also important to check the watering and soil requirements of the plants listed in this article before using them. Gardenias, for example, are best planted in very high raised beds with acidic soil, as our local soil is alkaline.  Local gardening expert Randy Lemmon finds Gardenias to be so high maintenance in this region,  I have heard him suggest not planting them at all on his radio show. Many people find bamboo is a little too happy here, and have difficulty getting rid of it after they plant it.

The good news is, Many fragrant herbs do quite well here, especially in slightly raised beds and containers.  As citrus is very popular in Houston area gardens, those who like the scents of orange and lemon peels should be able to make use of those when the fruits are in season. It may even be worth experimenting with citrus blossoms, if one's trees will still produce sufficient fruit even after the loss of a few flowers. 

So, if you are looking for a natural and fun way to scent your house, this could be a fun and useful experiement! Ask around at your nearest locally-owned nursery, and see what fragrant plants they stock that you might be able to use for potpourri.

Trowel Tip to: Elena Maria Vidal of Tea at Trianon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Edible Landscapes: Keeping You Fed and Out of Court

If your city or friendly neighborhood Homeowners Association have strict rules governing the appearance of your front yard, but you still want to maximize your space for growing edibles, you might be interested in a recent story in the Daily Mail, which is certain to attract the attention anyone who favors real food or private property rights.  A Michigan woman is actually facing a trial and possibly three months in jail because of raised vegetable beds in her front yard:





Are we really to believe that the  Oak Park legal system has nothing better to do with its time and funding than enforce bland conformity in suburban neighborhoods?

The Daily Mail column notes that the sky high prices of organic produce were part of Ms. Bass's motivation for planting her garden in the first place. This is certainly a widespread concern in the face of increasing food consciousness and decreasing income across the country.  Raised beds such as the ones she uses are a favored method of planting, especially for those of us with gumbo soil.

Fortuntately for those who wish to avoid fines, tickets, jail, or angry HOA letters, it is possible to incorporate edible crops into ornamental landscapes.   Raised beds do not always have to look like squarish boxes.  With a little creativity, some planning, one can create a landscape at which even the local city planner can't sneeze.  By arranging one's fruiting trees and shubs, leafy greens, and herbs in the same way one would arrange non-edible ornamental plants, one can generate stunning results. But where to learn about how to do this?

Fortunately there are many books and websites that address this topic. There are, for example, some lovely pictures of ornamental edibles at RosalindCreasy.com.

County Agricultural Extension offices and gardens, locally owned nurseries, and botanic gardens are also great places to look for information and inspiration. Here in the greater Houston area, one can view examples of highly attractive gardens incorporating edible plants in parts of the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens

For books with specific guidance on what to grow when, I highly recommend Bob Randall's Year Round Vegetables, Fruits, and Flowers for Metro Houston, which can be purchased from Urban Harvest. Brenda Beust Smith's Lazy Gardener's Guide is also useful for those who like low-maintenance ideas.



 Trowel tip to: The Healthy Home Economist

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Plants for Readers: Crepe Myrtle

For those who love to read and who wish to incorporate plants mentioned in their favorite books into their own Gulf Coast gardens, I offer this first installment in what I hope will be a series of posts on plants that appear in iconic works of Southern Literature.

Today: The Crepe Myrtle.
Crape Myrtles are easy to find in many local
gardening centers on the gulf coast, and may
be found online. (Photo Source.)


from All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren:
"The house was set up close to the road, with a good hog-wire fence around the not very big yard, and with some crepe myrtles in bloom the color of raspberry ice cream and looking cool in the heat in the corner of the yard and one live oak, nothing to brag on and dying on one side, in front of the house, and a couple of magnolias off to one side with rusty-looking tinny leaves. There wasn’t much grass in the yard, and a half dozen hens wallowed and fluffed and cuck-cucked in the dust under the magnolia trees. A big white hairy dog like a collie or a shepherd was lying on the front porch, a little one-story front porch that looked stuck on the box of the house, like an afterthought."

Crepe myrtles are popular in my region of Texas for their showy displays of flowers in the spring.


Links on varieties and care of Crepe Myrtles:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gardening in a Drought

What we consider a drought here in in the greater Houston area is rather similar to a normal year in many parts of my native California.  The difference, of course, is that in California they are used to it.  So how do they deal?

Bougainvilleas look their best in dry conditions.
Drought tolerant plants

Natives are ideal, but introduced drought tolerant plants can be useful as well.   If you can, observe areas near you where plants are growing wild. What is doing well? What isn't?  Choose these to replace plants that are unable to survive the current dry spell.


Smart grouping

Keep plants with similar watering needs together. This allows you to use your water more efficiently



Drip irrigation

This can provide a more constant supply of water to your plants. The slow flow of water allows more moisture to stay where it is needed, rather than running off into the gutters.


Watering Basins

Using the soil, create a basin around plants that require deeper waterings. This minimizes runoff and gives water time to seep down to the roots of the plant. These are especially useful for trees and shrubs that require deeper watering.  My grandfather, an avid plant collector who loves tropicals and has been gardening in California for decades, has these around almost every plant in his Southern California garden. This page at Learn2Grow.com features a picture of a watering basin around a newly planted rose.


Rain barrels

While they can be expensive, these can allow one to make better use of runoff from the roof between rainstorms. This is especially useful if your neighborhood is under water restrictions, as you have an alternative source of water on days when you can't use your hose or sprinklers. 

Mulch

Mulch insulates from cold in the winter, and also aids moisture retention in dry weather.


Minimize Lawn Space

While they are attractive and simple landscape features, lawns require a great deal of water, and can begin to look ugly when they do not get enough. Consider replacing part or all of your lawn with something with less demanding water requirements such as drought-tolerant beds, a low-growing ground cover, gravel, or pavers.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Motivation and Inspiration

I want this:


Hop on over to Parisienne Farmgirl to see more lovely pictures of Angela's garden.

It's kind of nice to see that someone else is accomplishing in her garden something very like what I want to do with mine. Helps me think that maybe it will all come together eventually.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

"Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children..."
--William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848)

(Photo by LobotomizedGoat. Used with permission)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Edible Gardens for Cats

Someone came across my blog while searching for "Edible cat plants" and since it looks like I don't have a post on such a subject yet, I offer the following:

Catnip (Nepeta Cataria) and/or Cat Mint (Nepeta mussinii) are, of course, a must.  Each cat has her own preference. Some like catnip better, and others catnip.  Some cats, like mine, are even "catnip connoisseurs", preferring the taste and scent of one individual catnip plant over another of the same species.

Cat grass is essential for indoor kitties.  This can be grown from seed, or purchased in small containers in pet supply stores, already sprouted and ready to grow.  I found a small windowbox container in which I have sprouted a small "lawn" which my little orange boy keeps very evenly mowed.  This alone may be enough for some cats. If your cat goes outdoors, he may be happy to mow your back lawn for you, to the best of his ability.

(Source)
In my house, catnip, catmint, and cat grass do quite well on a sunny west or south facing windowsill with enough room for the kitty to sit and enjoy his plants.  If your windowsill is wide enough, I suggest adding a place to nap. After the Teflon coating began to flake off of one of my roasting pans, I lined it with a towel, and it now serves this purpose. The metal allows the bed to heat up when the sun shines directly through the window, and the cat loves curling up in it.  If you really love to spoil your kitty and there is an electrical outlet handy, consider the addition of a drinking fountain for pets.

Dr. Leonard Perry of the University of Vermont also recommends Cat Thyme (Teucrium marum)and Valerian (Valeriana officianalis), though he warns that rodents also enjoy Valerian. This may be fabulously entertaining to your kitty, but not so attractive to humans, especially if your feline herb garden is indoors!  He also suggests some interesting features to add to an outdoor cat garden to protect plants from overly-enthusiastic kitties, and to encourage play and frolicking.

I have also read that some cats enjoy parsley and sage.

Some cats also express interest in vegetables eaten by humans. Mine loves canned pumpkin (plain, not the sweetened pumpkin pie filling), which is a good treat for kitties according to Wellvet.com. Some cats also enjoy raw pumpkin:



My furry companion will also ask for lettuce on occasion which, according to the ASPCA, is safe to serve your cat.  An old college friend of mine has a cat that craves asparagus.  I have no idea if this is safe or not. Spinach is a bad idea though. I have read it can give kitties kidney stones. That can't be pretty.


Indoor plants not only provide nutrition and entertainment for your cat, they can also keep him from eating your ornamental specimens.

Speaking of ornamentals, it is important to note that some cats still do not confine themselves to plants intended for their use. The really determined ones may even attempt to nibble synthetic plants! If this is the case with yours, or if you are unsure, please keep plants not specifically recommended as feline edibles away from your cat.

As always, when in doubt, ask your vet!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

John Paul II Rose

Jackson & Perkins John Paul II Rose
In 2006, Jackson and Perkins released a variety of gorgeous white hybrid tea rose named for Pope John Paul II.

Often called John Paul The Great by his admirers, he was loved throughout the world by both Catholics and non-Catholics.  One of the distinctive features of his pontificate was his frequent travel throughout the world. He made more pastoral visits than any pope before him.  When totaled, the number of miles he traveled equal three trips to the moon and back! Along with President Ronald Reagan, he is largely credited with ending the cold war. He is also known for his humility and his gift for encouraging young people to live holier lives.

Pope John Paul II will be beatified this Sunday. (Click here for a definition of beatification.)

While I enjoy the many plants that grow well here on the Gulf Coast, I miss hybrid tea roses. They do quite well in gardens in California and the Pacific Northwest (Check out the rose gardens in Portland, OR).  But, in the subtropical humidity we have here, they quickly succumb to fungal disease.  That is why most rose lovers in this region are so fond of disease-resistant antique roses.

If you live in coastal California, bare-rooted hybrid tea roses are generally available at locally owned nurseries and garden centers in the fall.  In colder regions where there is danger of frost, late winter and spring are better times for planting roses, as new plants should not be allowed to freeze. 

Since this particular rose is owned by Jackson and Perkins, you will want to look for it at establishments that feature their products. If they do not carry it, ask! Small, locally owned nurseries are particularly likely to be willing to help you get your hands on what you want, even if they do not have it in stock at the moment.  Their employees are also most likely to know exactly how to care for hybrid tea roses in your particular climate.

If you live in a region that is friendly to hybrid tea roses, and want to commemorate the occasion of John Paul II's beatification in your garden, consider planting this rose.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What to do with Easter Lilies

(Source)
Every year toward the end of Lent, we start seeing Easter Lilies for sale outside of our churches and in stores, and their bright beauty graces our homes during the Easter season*.

The question is what to do with them once those lovely flowers drop off.


The short answer: Keep them!


Kathy Huber at the Houston Chronicle gives a brief answer for how to do this.


The Aggie Horticulture website gives a long answer. They include the history of the plant, tips for choosing a healthy specimen, and detailed instructions for transplanting.


According to Dave's Garden, these bulbs like neutral to slightly acidic soil and are able to survive  temperatures down to around five degrees Fahrenheit,  which is well below what we generally experience here on the Gulf coast.  Most people recommend transplanting these in a sunny location and insulating dormant bulbs during cold weather by mulching.  As these plants prefer good drainage, that means containers or raised beds for those of us with heavy, alkaline gumbo soil.

Though we call them "Easter Lilies", Lilium longiflorum is not gauranteed to bloom exactly at Easter Sunday. Very often the ones that we see in the stores have been forced by their growers to bloom at just the right time.  But their flowers are just as pretty, regardless of their timing!

 ____________________________________________________
*Keep your cats from eating your Easter Lilies, as they are toxic!

BJ3XNG7HGNE5

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Template

Did a little blog redecorating today.  I have tabs now! Yay!

Off to do something really useful now...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unwelcome Garden Guests

Every now and then when I was in my teens,  my family used to slather on the bug repellent and sunscreen and take our alaskan malamute with us for day hikes up in the hills around where we lived.   She loved it. So did the ticks.  Inevitably, within a day or two of our hikes I was helping my mother pull these little vermin off the dog.  I'd feel crawly for days afterwards.

In the region of California in which I was raised, deer ticks are very common in the grassy places where people often love to hike and camp. Learning to recognize ticks was just like learning to recognize poison oak.  They were a fact of life if one wanted to enjoy the great outdoors. Aside from dealing with the dog,  I never had any trouble with them on me. Probably because I made good use of bug repellent. That hasn't stopped me from being a little unnerved at the thought of encountering them on my person.

So, when I saw what looked suspiciously like a tick crawling around on a branch I had just pruned from a long-neglected shrubbery this morning, I got that old creepy-crawly feeling again.  Ewwww.  It's so easy to forget about such things in the supposed civilized safety of one's own backyard. Thank goodness I had been using the rake instead of my hands to load the pile of cuttings into the wheelbarrow.

American Dog Tick (Photo Source)

After a tick check and a run for the bug repellent, I finished my work (still using the rake of course), tossed my gardening clothes straight into the washing machine, checked myself again and ran for the shower. This time I appear to be unscathed, but I shall be more careful in the future.

In my transition to Texas from California, I have had to learn a few new things and re-learn a few old things. Fortunately, what I know about ticks applies in both places.

Ticks like wooded areas, thick shrubberies, and tall grass, so consider the following if you plan to be in such places:
  • Wear light colored clothing, to make ticks easier to see.
  • If you can, wear long pants and sleeves, and tuck them into your socks/gloves.   This can be difficult in hot regions.  If you are a "belts and suspenders" type of person, you can also use some old shoelaces to tie off the bottom part of your pants to make doubly sure. Just tie them too tight. You still need circulation in your feet!  
  • Wear insect repellent that is labeled as effective for ticks. Treat clothes and exposed skin, following label directions. (I'm usually not crazy about chemical repellents such as DEET. If I'm just going to a barbecue, I usually wear a bug band to keep mosquitoes off, but for hiking or gardening in a tick-infested area, I make an exception.)
  • Check yourself thoroughly for ticks upon coming indoors. Pay special attention to all cracks, crannies, and crevices, and places covered by hair or close-fitting parts of your clothing.  Use a mirror or a spouse to help you check hard to see places.
  • Take a shower and wash your clothing as soon as possible. (CDC recommends within two hours.)  If you've been playing in the dirt or hiking, chances are you'll be hot and sweaty and will want to do this anyway.
  • Keep pets indoors if you can, check them often if you can't. Give them flea/tick preventatives regularly either way.
  • If you find one attached to you or your pet, see the links below for more information on removal and symptoms of tick-borne disease. If you develop such symptoms, seek medical care.

A few links:
Tickinfo.com
Texas A&M Tick Research Labaratory
The Gulf Coast Tick (TAMU profile)
UC Davis: Ticks of California
Control Biting Pests in the Organic Garden
Consumer Reports: Tick Control with Landscaping Techniques
Centers for Disease Control Tick Info Page
The Big Game Hunt: Preventing Tick-Borne Disease
P. Allen Smith: Tick Control
DogsAndTicks.com
ASPCA Tick Page
CatHealth.com: Tick Parasites of Cats


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations


While decorating books help you find inspiration for your home, Tony Lord's Encyclopedia of Planting Combinations is a guide to help you get ideas for aesthetically pleasing assortments of plants in your landscape. 

The book offers general advice on design, including varying color and texture in the garden, as well as  basic information on planting and establishing new items.  Chapters are arranged by types of plants, and offer profiles of specific plants, along with lists of species that make attractive companions for each.  It is fairly easy to use as a quick reference for finding plants that will look attractive together.  The book is loaded with beautiful photographs of a variety of plantings to help the reader visualize some of these planting combinations.

The author himself states that his book is meant only to be a general guide with suggestions, and that is exactly how it functions.  The gardener who uses is must have a workable understanding of her own local climate and soil conditions.   Many of the plants profiled in this work are popular in gardens across the country, and may or may not be suited to the tastes, needs, and time constraints of the individual gardener. 

While not an essential component of a Gulf Coast Gardener's personal reference library, it can be a handy resource when one needs ideas,  especially in combination with gardening books specific to one's own region.

Friday, March 4, 2011

There is a closet joke in here somewhere...

Those ubiquitous pocketed over-the-door shoe organizers can serve many purposes.

But I never thought of using one as a planter.

For people with limited space, here is an interesting idea involving a pocket shoe organizer similar to the one pictured below:

I'd probably pick one made out of darker fabric, as I expect the lighter-colored varieties will begin to look very stained from the water running through them and bringing soil particles along with it.  It would probably require frequent watering, too, depending on how breathable the fabric is.

Still, it is a great idea if you have limited space, and it's probably less expensive that anything at the garden centers that would serve a similar purpose.

I suppose one can always find another home for all of those shoes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New idea for old jars

I grow some herbs in containers on my back porch, but it would be very convenient to keep some in the kitchen.  Some need to be replanted after they are zapped by winter freezes or fried by our summer heat.

The problem is,  my cat is an indiscriminate eater of houseplants, and I want indoor herbs for human consumption. I needed to find ideas to help me keep them out of reach of my curious kitty.  The internet seemed the natural place to look for catproof indoor gardening methods.

I found this idea posted by Tammy at CraftAwl.com (Complete with instructions):


It's a floating herb garden!

I've totally got to try this. 

I'm thinking I might use those water-absorbent polymer crystals instead of just filling the jars with water. I think they'd be more attractive than soil, and probably more convenient, since I'm pretty terrible at remembering to water things.  I haven't found any information on whether those are safe to use for culinary plants, though.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Of Pecans, Allergies, Alligators and Groundhogs.

Whether we watch groundhogs, or we just feel it in our bones, we all have our ways of deciding when Spring is here.  (By the way, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year.)

Since moving to this area, I have noticed that my allergies always pick  up when a new season arrives.  My nose is itchin', so I guess that means it agrees with old Phil the groundhog.

A year or two ago, someone told me to watch the native pecan trees to see when we were past all danger of winter freezes.  Trees seem to take seriously the Entish motto "Don't be hasty," however. They still have yet to leaf out in my neck of the woods.

If you are looking for another indicator, maybe one from the slightly more hasty animal kingdom,  there is a post over at the Lazy Gardener on the habits of alligators and what this means for gardeners.  Basically, when the alligators get hungry, spring is here.  Big Al, the 1,000 pound 'gator living in Gator Country near Beaumont is hungry, and he has a record for 100% accuracy.



As it seems unreasonable to argue with a hungry 1,000 pound animal with sharp teeth,  I suppose I'd better start planting.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again...

Hello, there Houston Garden Blogging World!

After almost a year of neglecting my garden, followed by a couple of months of getting a bit ahead of myself when visiting nurseries, I'm getting the gardening gloves back on and having at it in a slightly more organized fashion.

Note to self: don't buy plants unless you have someplace to put them within the next two days.  Good intentions don't count! Must build beds first, no matter how cool those plants are.

The persimmon tree damaged in hurricane Ike has been replaced.  I am now keeping an eye on my fig, which was rather badly blitzed during our recent December freeze/snow episode.   My potted herb garden is being revived with new plants, and we'll see how tomatoes do when they are transplanted very very very much later than they really are supposed to be.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gardening for your health:

Regular, moderate, sun exposure helps us avoid Vitamin D deficiency and is also useful for combating symptoms of anxiety and depression (seasonal and otherwise). Exercise is also beneficial for one's mental and physical well-being. Gardening provides some of both. How cool is that?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Budding hope, or wishful thinking?

Well, things have been so busy, it's been quite some time since I've had the opportunity to do much out in the garden. I finally got out there to water things today. I'm amazed at how many of my plants handled so much neglect. I've hardly touched them in about a month. The container plants sheltered in my greenhouse have done amazingly well with the exception of my air potato vine , which now appears completely deceased. Rosemary, it appears, also has its limits.We'll see if I can nurse that back to health.

Which reminds me, my persimmon tree did not fare well in hurricane Ike, being almost completely broken off just above the graft. I stood it back up and bound it with grafting tape, giving it additional support by tying it to several stakes. That's pretty much where I left it, having become so busy shortly after that I hardly had time to even think about doing anything else with it. I'm not sure, but I think I may have seen some new buds while I was inspecting it today. I could be completely wrong, of course, but I am curious to see what will happen in the spring. In the meantime, I still haven't ruled out trying to replace the tree entirely. I missed the Urban Harvest tree sale this year, and won't make the Fort Bend County one either, so it may be awhile before we see a new persimmon here!

At this point, I'll just be glad if I can clear the weeds from my unplanted beds and get my roses pruned next week!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas lights

While I have yet to put any up for decorative purposes, I have them strung around the inside of my greenhouse to create a little extra warmth. I am also using them on some plants that are outside of the greenhouse. So far, they have proven to be both pretty and useful, especially during our recent and unexpected snow!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Moderation in some (if not all) things.

Sorry, folks. I got two spam comments for that ubiquitous little blue pill today.

Looks like I'll have to turn on comment moderation.

For now, it's only on posts older than two weeks. Hopefully, that'll keep some of the riff-raff out of the comboxes.

I don't like it when people are annoying. It irritates me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When Life gives you a lemon...

...You get out the cookbook and see what you can do with just one!

Yes, not much going on in the garden lately. Very busy times these days. Several potted things have dried up from neglect, but the strong are surviving, thanks to a few well-timed rain showers.

I got one meyer lemon off of the tree today. The other two aren't quite ripe yet. The little Miho Satsuma orange tree has six more this year. Last year it produced six as well, but three of them were stolen (I presume by hungry fruit-eating critters of the non-human variety), leaving us with very little. Better luck this year I hope.