Archive for the ‘texas’ Category

Adventuring

Posted: October 17, 2011 in family and friends, nature, texas
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To me, even the littlest step into nature can provide an escape… but in the eyes of children, you can bet that it provides a grand adventure.
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I have developed a seedy new habit… Whenever I see a robust and bustling garden, I have an insatiable desire to loot it.  Always begging for seeds and offspring plants at any opportunity presented.

In my third year of gardening, I can say that my style has been largely inspired by my Aunt Pam’s “tough and adaptable, natural and Texas native” planting creed.

This au naturel style is abundantly clear when meandering down her thyme covered stone steps… the entrance to her whimsical, butterfly-peppered sanctuary… filled with patches of periwinkle Plumbago, pungent Spearmint, and happy little clumps of Blackfoot Daisies. Continue walking, and the crunch of the crushed rock underfoot will fill your ears as you explore the P-shaped path of her little prairie garden… Strange old world herbs, utilized by long ago pioneers, bushing to the right… trailing Vinca (occasionally blooming with bell-shaped lilac flowers) ever so slightly grappling up the wall of her house for more space than the floor of the garden will allow it… Autumn Sage and Turk’s Cap to satisfy the greedy hummingbirds buzzing around them, all held ransom by a border of redbud trees and tall red yuccas (that always seem to be blooming with their ferocious crimson spires reaching towards the sky.)

Even in negligence, this garden would survive. In fact, without the dutiful hand of a keeper, the “daughter plants”, as my aunt would say, and “grand-daughters” …would pop up wherever the breeze or birds directed them to take hold.

I'm obsessed with my little rock garden, filled with different types of Sedum, Iceplants, Torch Cactus, Salvia, and Skullcap

This lovey Rock Rose seems to be doing well in my West facing garden of fire… for now.

This is what I want to emulate in my own garden. NATURE’S beauty. Not the fake, pointy, manicured nail of perfection. While cookie-cutter gardens are very beautiful, the maintenance involved seems tortured and insincere. I don’t need voluptuous ‘Knockout Roses’ and begonias to be satisfied with myself, er uh, I mean… my garden. 😉 It sometimes feels like I am surrounded by prisons of conformity and compliance.

                

 

But I also know, that when my garden is lush and thriving… I would do the same for my friends and family. Share in the joy of gardening.  Let the grand daughters go play in someone elses yard! 

I have also taken to collecting seeds from my own plants, and I relish discussing each variety. So far I have Salvia greggii, ‘Winecup’, ‘Nana’ Coreopsis, two types of ‘Rock Rose’, and I even took seed from my ‘Batface’.

Rock Rose and the White Crab Spider

Citronella Plant and the Lynx Spider

Will I ever have daughter, even grand-daughter plants in my garden?! I certainly hope so.

3 year old Salvia greggii ~ one of my FAVORITES

 

Goodbye, Old Friend

Posted: March 31, 2011 in Little Texas Garden, nature, texas

I’m sad to tell you all that I have decided to remove my sweet Yucca that has become infested with Yucca bugs, as she has been suffering a slow painful death while the little fiends suck the life blood from her soft spikes. 

I’ve attacked the bugs with organic pest repelents to get rid of them… but they came back anyway.  And I’ve tried non-organic pest killers… which just made things worse for my beauty by affecting the weak foliage.  I really don’t feel like war-ing with the bugs anymore… so I am accepting defeat.  I’m so sorry my old friend.

Hopefully I will not get too beat up removing her.  And in her place I needed some sort of small tree or shrub… so I’ve picked up an unusual yellow flowering shrub called: Genista racemosa… A desert/tropical that will not burst into flames in my west facing front garden.  And I’m hoping it might even provide a little shade for the smaller girls in the garden.  BUT I have a creeping feeling that I may get a caterpillar infestation to defoliate the newbie… because, well, it’s me.  Very hesitant and nervous.


 

(Mine is about 1/3 this size right now)

PS: My Little Texas Garden – Spring 2011 coming SOON!

Quiet, Strong, and Proud

Posted: February 28, 2011 in nature, texas
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If you would know strength and patience,
welcome the company of trees.
~Hal Borland


Trees are so beautiful.  Barren and desolate in the winter… Reborn, neon, and untainted in the Spring.

Like a long lonely stream
I keep runnin’ towards a dream
Movin’ on, movin’ on
Like a branch on a tree
I keep reachin’ to be free
Movin’ on, movin’ on

‘Cause there’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
And before my life is done
Got to find me a place in the sun

Like an old dusty road
I get weary from the load
Movin’ on, movin’ on
Like this tired troubled earth
I’ve been rollin’ since my birth
Movin’ on, movin’ on

There’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
And before my life is done
Got to find me a place in the sun

You know when times are bad
And you’re feeling sad
I want you to always remember

Yes, there’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone…

~Stevie Wonder

Common House Gecko – (Hemidactylus frentatus) Originally from Asia, these geckos spread globally by ships and then adapted to the climates of South America and the southern parts of N. America, 3 to 6 inches in length, nocturnally feeding around areas of easy prey; such as areas with an abundance of bugs due to lights on buildings and houses, translucent beige spotted bodies with striping on the tail help them camouflage to brick and siding, large circular pads on their feet help them to cling to walls and even ceilings… We have lots of these little cuties on our house. Over the spring and summer months we would watch a group (of up to four) feed on our bathroom window when the moths and flies would drone to the light at night. I’ve photographed many House Geckos, but I’ve only held two (not counting all the geckos I cared for at Planet Pet). The first was a small adolescent that had probably been in the house for days without a substantial source of food… I cornered him and took him outside. The second was an adult that I spotted outside on the brick just before a summer storm… I still can’t believe I caught him! All he had to do was climb out of reach… but he didn’t. He just kept circling the same column until I was able to gently grasp him in my hand and pluck him from the wall.  After a few pictures, I finally let him go and he did not hesitate to run out of my reach this time. As I watched him go, I felt like he had shared something special with me.  I love Geckos… they seem so gentle and soft, fragile almost.  Geckos will easily drop their tail if they are threatened… I learned my lesson with a Giant Day Gecko at the pet store.  I felt horrible.  Sometimes they recover and heal without any problems, and sometimes they don’t survive it.  The tail regenerates, but is never the same.
  
Texas Spiny Lizard –
(Sceloporus olivaceus) 7 to 11 inches in length, usually grey to beige in color with some black spotting or stripes, males usually have blue patches on the sides of their belly, long toes with sharp claws for climbing bark and rough terrain, sometimes mistaken for Horned Lizards because of their spiny appearance.

The Spinies I’ve seen on nature walks and in my garden are VERY fast. I’ve only caught a few because of their ability to climb out of range in a split second… and they tend to be shy, staying in brushy, safe areas. I will say that I run into these guys more after a rain. They seem to love basking in the sun with the added humidity. Their natural habitat is in areas with mesquite trees. When challenging each other for territory, the males will have push up contests… until one gives up and runs away. Predators of these little guys include: Roadrunners, snakes, raptors, coyotes and foxes.

The first lizard that Riley ever held was a Spiny… it ran up his arm, then his back, and onto his head.  My cousin found one laying a clutch of eggs in a hole dug out of her rocky garden ledge.  I was thrilled when I finally spotted this female in my garden!  She’s SO shy… she won’t let me anywhere near her.  Especially after I tried to catch her by my Star Jasmine one day. Ha!      

  

 
Green Anole – (Anolis carolinensis) 6 to 8 inches in length, found in warm humid climates in North and South America, long slender tails and toes, ability to camouflage in ranges of color from green to grayish brown… but healthy, non-threatened adults are usually bright green, males have a large pink flap of skin called a dewlap under their jaw that they aggressively display during courtship or territory disputes… raising their head up and down and sometimes appearing to shake it back and forth. I usually find these guys in houseplants, green vegetation, or more tropical areas. These are pretty easy to catch… aside from the booger that I chased around at my cousins for a half-hour.  Anoles seem to be the ballsiest of the three, and after the initial shock of being captured they will hang out for a while.
  

I’ve never been bitten by a wild lizard, only lizards bred in captivity… and then, only twice. Seems like I should move on to snakes, since I’ve caught all of the usual lizard suspects in our area. I still hope to eventually spot a true Horned Lizard in the wild. (Phrynosoma cornutum), also known as the Horny Toad. Fun fact: they squirt a stream of blood, mixed with a foul smelling secretion out of their eye… into the eyes and nose of their predators, to keep from being lunch. Pretty darn cool.

There are some pretty phenomenal things going on in music right now, and if you want a piece of the action BEFORE these bands get big ~at $15-$25 a pop~ then check out these shows that are coming to the metroplex!  I’ll keep my eyes on the radar for anything newly announced.  Oh, and you may think these great little bands suck, ONLY if you don’t like hipster-blues-indie-rock-folk-dance-punk AWESOMENESS to rock your face off!!! 

July 1st: Psychedelic Furs @ the Granada (80’s brit-pop-rockers ❤ ) 

*July 5th: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros @ the Palladium (10 member band playing blissed out folk rock, YEAH!) 

*July 7th:
Islands @ the Loft $12-$14 (peculiar, catchy awesomeness)

July 7th:
Mates of State @ the Granada (chick singer – indie rock)

July 9th:
Telegraph Canyon @ Lochranns Irish Pub

*July 15th:
Delta Spirit @ the Loft $12-$14 (indie rocker folk BADASSEDNESS… kinda reminiscent of Bright Eyes with a pinch less angst)

July 17th:
Observer Music Awards @ TREES (not sure if I’m still hard-core enough to truly enjoy TREES like only a punk kid can)

July 17th:
Eleven Hundred Springs @ the Granada (If you like country and some rock… you should love these guys!)

July 21st:
Silversun Pickups @ the Palladium

July 24th:
New Pornographers @ the Palladium (LOFT) $22-$25 *ALSO playing: The Spazmatics $15

August 7th:
Ishi @ the Loft $10-$12 (folky, yet electro pop-ISH)

August 7th:
TOADIES @ the Palladium

August 11th:
Cyndi Lauper @ HOB

August 11th:
Built to Spill and Telegraph Canyon @ the Granada

August 12th:
Lords of Acid and Thrill Kill Cult @ TREES (I KNOW I’m not hard-core enough to handle this show anymore!)

August 12th:
Hacienda @ the Prophet Bar  August 13th: Hacienda @ Boiler Room

*August 13th:
Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears @ the Loft $12 (great bluesy band from Austin influenced by Howlin’ Wolf and James Brown)

*August 13th:
Eleven Hundred Springs @ Lola’s Saloon FTW (GREAT BAR!!!)

August 24th:
Billy Idol @ the Palladium (If there’s an off chance you would NOT fist pump to Billy Idol… I don’t want to know you)

BEDFORD BLUES FEST (battle of the bands lots of musicians)  the headliners-
Sept 4th: Robert Cray
*Sept 5th: Buddy Whittington

September 19:
The Pixies @ Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie

*September 23rd:
THE BLACK KEYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and kings of leon @ the old Starplex (I don’t care what it’s called now)

*October 6th:
Vampire Weekend @ the Palladium (I love this catchy band… they sorta remind me of The Police or Paul Simon)

*October 8th:
Matt and Kim @ HOB (I LOOOOVE this hip dance-punk duo… at least that’s the genre according to WIKI- HA!)

*TOP PICKS

Oh, my mama, she loves me
She get down on her knees and hug me
Like she loves me like a rock
She rock me like the rock of ages
And loves me
She love me, love me, love me, love me
~Paul Simon

Veronica spicata – ‘Glory’ Royal Candles:  Blooms spring to fall and they have not dissappointed me once!  Attracts bees and butterflies and stays radiantly purple with just a touch of dead heading.  One of the only flowers that remained glorious during last summer’s heat wave (or the Summer of Death, as I like to call it)

Dianthus gratianopolitanus – ‘Firewitch Diantthus’  and  Lavandula stoechas – ‘Spanish Lavender’  finally blooming after I rescued them as the last remaining puny outcasts last fall.

Dianthus blooming like crazy.

Gelsemium sempervirens – ‘Carolina Jessamine’:  only one flower this year as it only blooms a few weeks in early spring.

Bruce turns into a Rolly-Polli when I let him out to garden with me… he’s still not used to being outside!

My ‘rock garden’ makes me so happy! 🙂

Stone crop or anything in the Genus: Sedum, I have no idea what their names are (there are over 600 species)… but I LOVE THEM!

Nierembergia hippomanica – White cupflower:  Amazing mounding perennial that thrived in the hottest part of my garden… this baby blooms spring, summer, and into fall.  And it survived our coldest TX winter in history!

My favorite!  Calylophus drummondianus – Sundrops:  native to TX this lovely perennial is a true gem… like good drainage, sloping hills, and our hot Texas climate.  Very drought tolerant.

My rock garden EXPLODED this spring!  Last year I was trying everything to fill it up… now I’m trying to prune it back!

Star Jasmine… smells so sweet!

The bees LOVE my Beauty Bush!

Scutellaria suffrutescens – Pink Texas Skullcap:  Texas native, drought tolerant, tough little booger that you might find growing in the desert.  Love it!

The boys ‘helping’ mommy pick seeds


Ramona Clematis:  We’ll see how this vine does in the hottest part of the garden… I’m a little worried that she wont make it.


Tulbaghia violacea – ‘Silver Lace’ garlic in bloom

Please tackle me if I try to take anymore pictures of my rock garden!!!