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

Sage

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.
Bill

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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