Seasonal is as seasonal does.

It’s still odd to me. It’s citrus season here. It’s chilly out. No real winter yet, even by our standards of “winter” and yet this is normal citrus season. I’m worried about the bugs this coming year if we don’t get a good freeze soon…

But the potted citrus are enjoying much more time outside than in usual years when they decorate our kitchen.
Kumquats seeing their best year yet.
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Marmalade anyone?
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Bill, the Persian Lime, is still ripening fruit from the past season, but he likes to multi-task.
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Oscar the Meyer Lemon is trying to both grow leaves (of which he has terribly few) and set buds for blossoms. I’ll be knocking those off as they appear. If he can’t manage to keep leaves through a season I don’t want him worrying about setting fruit just yet.

There are two mandarin oranges left on the tree that we’ll snack on now that buds are beginning there as well.

Finally, not a citrus, but Elian the Avocado, is pushing new leaves through like its going out of style. DH is talking again about planting him in the ground near a pond nearby…but I’m still hesitant. Elian is a volunteer from years ago who has grown quite tall under our care, but as a volunteer I have no information regarding his variety. Avocados of any variety don’t seem too tolerant below 25 degrees, and we do drop below 25 degrees some years. I’d hate to lose him in an freeze, but I also know that in a pot he’ll always struggle to find happiness.

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These aren’t those.

I traveled to Houston this week on business and the wild flowers called to me. They wanted to speak to y’all. They wanted to share their view of the world with each of you. I hadn’t packed my camera, nor did I schedule a spare moment to pull over to the side of the road. Boy, doesn’t that say something.

I didn’t schedule a single moment to spare.

As a result, I have blurry pictures taken through a dirty car window speeding by on a windy day. So…low resolution splotches and splashes of color. So instead, I will merely share their names with you, and within such names a link to images from others. Other people who thought to pack cameras. Other people who allowed buffer in their day. Who took the time to take pause. I hope I’ve learned my lesson. I fear I will be relearning it time and time again, the hard way, in the weeks and years to come. I won’t say that I didn’t try though. I have and I will continue to try.

Bluebonnets, that for nearly a decade I would accidentally call blue bells, carpet the roadsides. Other roadsides prefer a warmer shade of blossom in the form of Indian Paintbrush. Not to be confused with Downy Paintbrush. Then there are the Winecups and the Moss Verbena adding some purple to the scene. We can’t neglect the yellow of the Engelmann’s Daisy, the Texas Star, or the countless other yellows soon to pop. Or the white of the blackfoot daisy or the wrinkly poppy that are coming soon. The summers here may turn brown and dry and drab, but the springs contend with the best of the springs out there.

I did have my camera this morning though and there are things up and about on home turf. Stretching their arms to the sky in a morning yawn. Wriggling their toes deeper into the soil with the help of the sprinkler. Working on their tan in the sunbeams or flexing their muscles in the wind, the growth has started to outpace the pill bug population…or so I hope.

Elian the Avocado is working on his next few inches.
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An accidentally acquired navel orange is giving it a go in hopes of a bee or two.
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These leeks have an rather cumbersome bedfellow…
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The Peas That Nearly Weren’t are in need of a stick to climb.
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And it’s past time to mow thanks to the timing of the rain lately and the alignment of naps and daylight.
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Thankfully, the baby monitor that I left to fend for itself in the flood waters from the sky has miraculously recovered so I am once again free to roam about once or twice a day on weekends. Or as I say, “I’m going to go play outside now.”

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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Elian gets a new home…

In October of 2010, I opened a compost bin. It had been “cooking” for at least four months, undisturbed. Dark and damp, the plant materials had been fodder for the microbes and the whole pieces had turned to powerful muck.

All except for this guy.
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The Pit That Earned a Pot. (Later renamed Elian by DH, for surviving a long “voyage” in a dark lonely place.) Time passed. We moved. Elian out grew pot after pot…

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Elian rode home with a friend a few weeks ago, to his new home across town. May the sun shine gently on his leaves and he continue to overcome the odds. Perhaps with any luck, he’ll be of a self-pollinating variety and we can have an avocado-inspired dinner party in his honor (where I will eat other things…)