Monday mystery.

I think I sowed these. I can’t for the life of me remember what they are (assuming I sowed them.) Any guesses? They grow in single spires until they’re too tall and then start to bend near the ground.
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A moment for green sheen.

Everything has a tinge to it these days. Cloudy. Dusty. Mossy green. There are oaks in these parts that grow dangling tassels that release pollen into the world. The wind conspires to help it along and soon enough everything is coated in a soft greenish yellow powder. Most people delay car washes until the trees have finished their raucous pollination. Not everyone notices when it coats the doorknob to the office or the top of the recycle bin and fingertips transfer the pollen from the outside world into the boxes of the day – the office, the car, the home. It isn’t as cursed as an allergy culprit as the clouds of juniper pollen (that causes cedar fever, go figure) that plague the area near the turning of the calendar to a new year, but for some it comes close.

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I took the moment today. I remembered my camera today. Today, I went for the usual walkabout with our pooch. But this time, I made time.

Before we got here, our yard had grass, trees, and roses. I haven’t pruned the crepe myrtles so I’m not sure they’ll bloom. I also haven’t pruned the roses. They don’t seem to mind.
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Walking down the street, there’s this fuzzy little thing coming to life.
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DH is particularly fond of this arrangement of Four Nerve Daisies, Blackfoot Daisies, and lavender.
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The snails here don’t seem to mind succulents. This one being nice and smooth, I can understand. I do find them on actually prickly ones in my pots though and wonder if spikes are to snails as spice is to us.
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What started out as decoy weeds have turned into quite the smattering of happy.
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Speaking of a smattering, these irises are having a joyous spring. This bed is roughly ten feet in diameter and the neighbor across the street from them has its twin.
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This little purple “weed” is not to be confused with…
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This little purple “weed” (who has wood sorrel neighbors that were dancing in the wind so much as to blur for the lens.)
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These “bushes” (most are grown to the size of trees by Texas’s standards of “tree”) are keeping the bees in a tizzy. (Bee butt!)
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The brightest smile on the block by a long shot.
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And soon to be the sweetest bite on the block.
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Speaking of those juniper bushes…
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As the clouds thickened, smothering the diffused bright light into a dimmer world, I came upon this treat. It reminds me of a childhood home where we had a snowball bush in the backyard and a giant bush of baby’s breath in the front.
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I do hope you’re able to take a little time to spot the wonders in your world. It’s a whole new way to take in a breath of fresh air.

A new mystery.

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I like to know what’s growing around me. I tend to only pull things out after I know what they are. At my last house I learned about henbit and horse herb. Here I’m learning about wild onions, prairie crocus, and…whatever this is.

Any ideas?

As luck would have it…

Saturday I could hardly believe my luck. Again? Weather and kiddo and energy and cough? Glorious. I’m not sure I’ve ever more enjoyed pulling thistle (and henbit and dandelion.)
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Besides, it gave me the good fortune to witness the opening of these…wild crocuses? I do have some Prairie Crocus here and there, but the centers of these little wildlings look different (more like a cone), as do the leaves. Any ideas?
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I also managed to sneak in some seed sowing (even if I had to keep my phone on me for a little work wrangling.)
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In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve never been one to invest in actual labels. I’m not sure why. Instead, I tend toward taking pictures of what went where and the metadata of the photo captures the day and time for me automatically. Perhaps I’ll treat myself to labels soon enough. (I did receive some lovely ones as a gift this year, so it really is only about actually using them at this point…brains are silly things.)

And just as I was about to sow something on the heads of where I’d planted the potatoes because they were obviously not doing anything themselves…
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I took a closer look.
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Now if only the peas I planted in their midst would sprout…

Try as I might…

I cannot make spinach happy. I try sowing it in the fall with the chard and kale…nope. I try with the winter lettuce. I try with the spring beans. It doesn’t take. I still try, but have nearly started to think of spinach seeds as a soil amendment.

And then there’s this guy. This guy can came up in the shade of a Thai basil and I didn’t even notice him until the basil wilted in a freeze months ago. Since then he’s grown, greened up, and gained a richness to his sheen.
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I last sowed spinach in this bed two autumns past.

And they say seeds don’t last long!

Before the freeze…

The ice (or snow, or both) that gripped so much of the country only gave a whisper of ice to those of us in Central Texas. Just the same, we had multiple nights in the 20s and a full 48 hours that didn’t rise above freezing. There were preparations to be done. The first of which? Capturing some final photos before the greenery melted and the flowers were zapped from their stems.

In came the African Blue Basil…
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Last year after the harvest, I left the roots in the soil in an attempt to maintain any microbial web they’d built in the soil. I was rewarded in the spring with a returning specimen. Fingers crossed for the same this spring…

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The rosemary in the background didn’t even shiver, but the butterfly weed has lost all vigor. Others I’ve pruned into the compost now that they’ve finished the cycle.

Texas Hummingbird Sage

Sage

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Lantana

Snap dragon

Berries

The bees will surely miss the loss of so many winter blossoms. I will miss the bees until their return after a few sleepy months.

This one barely barely blinked with each passing freeze. I’ve forgotten its name – does anyone know?
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Perhaps it will keep any wakeful bees busy enough until the reemergence of nectar pots…

And Bill the Lime Tree came inside, complete with two limes left to savor when the winter doldrums set in.
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It’s a squash, it’s a cucumber, it’s a…melon?

I started a strawberry bed last fall. There’s a six inch deep, eight inch wide, and twenty foot long concrete trough between the foundation of the house and the sidewalk in the backyard. With strawberry’s tendency to take over the bed they’re in, I figured the concrete cage would keep them in check. (I later learned they simply crawl over sidewalks, but that’s another story.)

I gave them straw mulch over the winter, some sand and compost in the spring, and they gave me strawberries from January through last month.

The compost also gave me some volunteers. A few tomatoes that gave up at 18″ tall, a pepper sprout or five that keeled over at 5″, and what is either purslane or a weed I don’t know yet.

Another volunteer it gave was what I assumed was a squash. It started with the dark green split leaf sprout of squashes. But then it started to hint that maybe it wasn’t a squash.

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It wasn’t hurting the strawberries, so I waited to see what it would do next.

This six inch by eight inch trough was also where I planted a little $2 sage plant from the grocery store. “It’ll make a nice 1′ by 2′ sidewalk edge plant,” I thought. “It’ll smell nice,” I thought. “We can cook with it all the time,” I thought. (I was right on two of those thoughts. The thing has been pruned multiply times and is still about three feet tall, six feet wide, and three feet deep…)

The volunteer I now assumed to be a cucumber made its way into the sage…
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And then the rains came. Our spring was great for gardening, as I’d mentioned. And by great, I mean that we actually had a spring. That lasted for months instead of days. Even our summer was postponed and when in previous years we’d already had 24 days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, we’d only had 6. The rains that came soaked the strawberries with purpose and a vengeance. The strawberries laid down in surrender.

In doing so, they revealed a treasure (and ruled out cucumbers…)
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No one in this house eats watermelon or honeydew. I think it must be some variety of muskmelon/cantaloupe…that looks like a watermelon. Which variety of melon…is the final mystery of this detective novel.

Pleasant surprises

I like surprises. I’ve claimed to like surprises for years. I still make that claim. I don’t often feel the need to specify that I like pleasant surprises. I jump in movies when things jump out at you. Enough so that those around me usually get a good chuckle (as do I when I’m settled back in my seat.) I never mean that I like those surprises…

What kind then? Well, the surprise carnations after a long week or the mid-afternoon coffee delivery during an eight hour meeting. Those kind I definitely like. I also like certain garden-variety surprises (pun! ha!)

This spring was possibly the best spring for gardening in Central Texas since I started gardening here five years ago in pots on a balcony. Unfortunately, it was possibly the worst spring for me for gardening since then as well. With everything working out how it did, most of my garden successes this summer are pleasant surprises.

A generational photo. The ornamental (so I’m told) Fiery Chili overwintered last winter, a little worse for the wear on the left. Rewarding my philosophy of “I don’t recognize that as weed or purposeful plant, I’ll let it grow” the chilies that dropped off in the freezes have made new offspring for the season.
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I attempted to grow Butterfly Weed season after season, year after year, and on the actual final seeds in the packet, I finally managed to grow butterfly weed (last year.) It went to seed last fall. I gathered up the giant wishers (butterfly weed seeds resemble dandelion seeds, if dandelion seeds took steroids.) I tossed them to the breeze. This year the original plant returned to bloom again, along with four new specimens nearby.
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The bramble or berry? I pruned it down to two main shoots as suggested. Within the week it had short nubby sprouts in the leaf stem armpits. One of which thought to test the air for pollen.
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DH is a fan of basil with hints (or brazen) flavors of anise. Thai basil tops the list for him. Last year we purchased a small African Blue Basil with an anise nose from our local Green and Growing. It fell off in the frost and I pruned it to the ground. My thought being that the root system would feed the soil and bring joy to the microbes and fungal map. I did not expect it to return…the bees are ever grateful that it did.
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And in remembering last year’s bumper crop of surprise acorn squash, I did not expect any acorns again this year as we hadn’t eaten any (to create a seed supply in the compost) since the last crop. I’d thought this little volunteer was a summer squash variety…
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Volunteer Avocado the 9th. I though to dig him up and pot him last fall, to bring inside with his brethren. I thought further. I already had six his size in pots, not to mention Elian and the middle-sized one. I left him to fend for himself. Fend he did. We had multiple nights last winter hit 24 degrees Fahrenheit and while suffering a little leaf burn, he came back. He’s been frozen, eaten, and burned, and here he stands. Not the most handsome of arborly fellows, but certainly one of the more stubborn.
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