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Going to be gone for a few days. Taking a mini-vacation with my aunt who is visiting from TAcoma, WA. She and her friend Sharon are visiting the baseball fields of Texas and they have invitied me to travel with them for a few days. I am going to have to leave all my plants and my garden in my husband's non-gardening hands and that worries me a little, but I am going to leave him some written instructions on what to do. I hope everything survives.
I got up early today and mowed the lawn cause I knew another storm was heading our way. I also finally got my little japanese maple planted. I had to stake it in its pot though because when the storm did roll in around 2:30 this afternoon, it really blew the little tree around. It looked nice in its pot though. I can always tell when bad weather is coming because the birds go crazy at the feeders. During the storm today, this little squirrel showed up - poor little thing looked like a drowned rat:
Later in the evening there was a break in the weather and we had a beautiful double rainbow. You can't see both the rainbows in this picture because it was pretty dark at the time, but it was really pretty, take my word for it. This is a composite picture - I couldn't get the whole rainbow in one frame, so I had to put two pictures together. This is the first rainbow I've seen since I've come to Texas.
Today was only a birdwatching day for me - not feeling up to any gardening, although it was a very nice day today. Sometimes I just like to make a note of what birds I am seeing in my garden. This is what I saw today:
I also saw a new bird for me - an Eastern Kingbird - I have never seen one of those before, so that was pretty exciting. He didn't actually come into my yard or come to the feeders; he's an insect eater, not a seed eater and was sitting on a fence and snapping up insects from the pasture.
I recently had hubby put up a new post-style plant stand for me right next to the bird bath. I put two potted vincas on it. I know the birds don't care if there are flowers there or not, but I like it and they like the new perch. They land on the top of the post, check the situation out and then fly down to the birdbath. It's kind of cute. I also have a couple of potted azaelas sitting beneath the birdbath. The silly little wren likes to take his bath in the saucer that catches the water beneath the planter. It's very comical.
Today when the hummingbird came to the feeder, he took one sip and flew away. That's my clue that it needed to be changed. Sugar water can turn pretty quickly when the weather is warm like it has been here. So I took down all the hummer feeders and put in fresh sugar water. In the meantime, the little hummer went to the irises that are blooming under the pecan tree for his nectar. I sure wish I had gotten a picture of that. It was so cute.
Today a Goldfinch hit the dining room window really, really hard. It broke his neck--poor little thing. I just hate it when that happens. Birds ocassionaly hit my windows, but they don't usually die; they just get stunned. But this little guy hit really, really hard. I think that something must have spooked him. Usually that means there was a hawk in the area, but I didn't see a hawk or anything else for that matter. I guess I'll never know.
I didn't get to do very much in my garden today other than a little watering and tidying up. I had a doctor appointment; I had to finally break down and go see the doc about my arthritis even though I more or less knew what he was going to tell me. I was right - back on my methotrexate which means injections once a week again. Oh gosh, how I hate that. But it comes down to this . . . do I want to hurt or do I want to give myself injections? What a choice . . . so far I haven't been able to bring myself to do the injection, maybe tomorrow. (I'm such a coward.)
I just got an e-mail from my oldest son who lives in South Korea. He is so thoughtful. He knows how much I love flowers and birds and so whenever he sees a bird or flower he thinks I might like, he takes a picture for me. Here's an excerpt from his e-mail:
"So I was out hiking last weekend and I saw some purple flowers on the other side of the handrail that I'd never seen before. I leaned over to take a look and while I was checking them out there was this explosion from the bushes and an awful "gwahk" sound as a pheasant flew up in the air. I don't know which one of us was more scared, but I darn near fell over backwards and never got to see much of the bird except a brown streak of feathers shooting up towards the sky. Thank goodness no one was around to see, but I'm sure it must have been a pretty funny sight."
He also told me that all the cherry blossoms are in bloom. I have always wanted to visit when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, but have never been able to do that. Maybe some day. He's been there for six, going on seven years, so I may yet! I would also love to see the Lotus blossoms in bloom. In the city where he lives there is a huge lotus pond. I've visited him twice and neither time have the lotus flowers been in bloom, but I have seen pictures and it is fantastic. Maybe someday I will see that also.
After all our storms and tornadoes and thunder and lightning, today was a nice quiet day. No wind, no rain, just a pleasantly sunny, warm day. I got some of my bedding plants planted, filled all my birdfeeders (all 24 of them), cleaned all the birdbaths and then treated all the fire ant hills that I could. But I need to get more "stuff." I only got about half of the yard treated.
I also placed some of my "new" rocks around some of the trees I planted last month and I mounted some wire plant hangers on the yard light pole out in the front yard - I plan to put some terra cotta pots planted with marigolds on the hangers. That's what I ALWAYS put in those hangers. So I went to the store and bought some marigolds, too! Instant color - I love it!
I also bought a wave petunia for this milk jug that I am turning into a planter. This milk jug used to sit rusting in my mother's yard and I always wanted her to plant something in it - she never did. She passed away last June and I brought the milk jug with me to Texas and now I am going to plant something in it in her memory. I got my love of flowers from my mother - I used to regularly raid her garden for plants. She used to have so many gladiolus that she could bring armloads of them into the house and you wouldn't even notice that she picked any.
Back in 1991 my husband and I bought a house in Bremerton, WA. I went to the Rhododendron Species Foundation in Federal Way,WA and bought two little rhodies - I mean they were very small. But being species rhodies would grow into huge specimens. Well just the other day I ran across this article on the Internet about them having to close down the bonsai exhibit at RSF due to the economy and as I scanned other happenings, I saw this picture:
In it they told how this rhody was grown from a SEED that this man brought back from China in 1994. Look how BIG it is now. It is so big it has to be moved with a tractor for Pete's sake. That makes me wonder how big my little rhodies are now - they must be HUGE!!! I always wonder how my former gardens are growing now that I have moved on.
I like to border my flower beds with rocks. If I can't find rocks, then bricks will do, but I so much prefer rocks. But I just cannot find any rocks in NE Texas - I have looked everywhere. Oh, I could BUY some I guess, but I don't want to do that - I just want some ordinary, everyday rocks. A friend told me to go to Arkansas, so today we took a ride up into Arkansas and he was right! We found rocks. Seems crazy to me, but I had to travel over 60 miles away just to find some ordinary old side-of-the-road type rocks to use as borders for my flower beds. Weird. Not only did I use rocks as a borders in my Seattle garden, I used them as a squirrel deterrent to keep the little rascals from digging in my flower beds.
I think that my love of rocks came from my Dad. He had tons of agates and petrified wood that he spent years collecting. I brought some of his rocks with me to Texas and I have them scattered throughout my flower beds. Those rocks have moved with me several times - I have carried them with me wherever I go!
As we drove we also saw an area where the tornado blew through. It was devastating. I've seen tornado damage first hand before, but it has been a few years and this was very fresh. There were mobile homes tossed around like they were toys and huge trees uprooted like weeds. I feel so sorry for those folks. But they were just out there cleaning up, sawing up trees, getting on with life. What else can they do? So sad. Made me very thankful for my small piece of the world and my little garden. Really puts things in perspective.
Exercise is good for arthritis so yesterday I took a little walk around my neighborhood. I saw some turtles sunning themselves on a log in the pond down the street. I never knew there were turtles in that pond! I also saw some lovely wildflowers along the side of the road. I don't know what they are - I need to get that book on Texas wildflowers. I saw quite a few birds and a few butterflies. Saw my first Scissor-tailed Flycatcher of the season. Good to see them back. Saw an Eastern Phoebe also, but I'd already seen one of those in my yard, so I knew they were back.
As I strolled I took pictures as I always do and one of my neighbors invited me in to take pictures of his wife's orchids. She has a lovely little greenhouse that I was quite envious of. She only had three little orchids and they were very nice, but it was the rest of the greenhouse that just blew me away. Caladiums, hibiscus, banana palm, ivies, ferns, plumeria -- oh gosh, I can't even remember all of it. It was just wonderful.
He then invited me to find his wife who was cleaning her fountain in another part of the garden and she showed me around. They have lived there 28 years and their daughter is getting married in this garden in May, so she was working to get everything ready. It was really just beautiful. There's a creek running down behind the house and lots of woods--azaelas in bloom everywhere and birds and bees and butterflies fluttering around. It was very nice.
Made me miss my garden back home in Seattle - I have never lived ANYWHERE in my life for 28 years, but I created a pretty little garden in the four years I lived in Seattle. I hope I can do that here, although I'm not having much luck so far. This Texas weather is a litte puzzling to me--not quite what I am used to. More storms again today - woke up to rain, wind, thunder and lightning. Hopefully, no tornadoes today.
Wow! Tornadoes touching down all around us last night. Wind, hail, lightning, thunder, tornadoes, rain - horrible, horrible stuff. Just north of us in Mena, Ark 3 people died and south of us tennis-ball sized hail and southeast of us in Shreveport there was a lot of damage attributed to a tornado. Too, too scary. Fortunately for us - we seemed to be between two weather systems and we got nothing at all here, a little rain and thunder and lightning and that was it. And tonight's weather report said we can expect more of the same on Sunday.
My old friend arthritis has been visiting me, so didn't do much in the way of gardening in the past few days. I still have a few bedding plants I need to get in the ground or in pots, but it's hard to do that when your hands and feet and hips hurt. And pretty soon, I need to start setting out some of my seedlings that I started indoors so they can get adjusted to being outside and then get them planted. That's a lot of work and boy, I just haven't felt up to that here lately with everything hurting like it has been.
We had another baby calf born in the pasture next door today. Another baby bull, but this one is much smaller than the one born a few days ago. Now I'm trying to figure out how a black cow and a black bull produced a brown calf. That just doesn't make sense to me, but there it is. This little one was so cute, it was still wobbling around trying to find it's footing and wobbled right over to me and let me pet it. It was so doggone cute. I just wanted to hug it, but mama cow wasn't having any of that. She did not like me near her little baby at all. Good thing she was on her side of the fence and I was on mine!
I got out early and finished the mowing from yesterday since we are supposed to have thunderstorms today. I can see the clouds rolling in now. Also got a few more things planted. Like the Esperanza I bought a couple of weeks ago that I've been keeping indoors. I think the weather is fiinally going to stay warm enough for it to go outside. Also, two azaelas I bought a week or so ago at Lowes when they lowered the price to $1.95 each. And I potted up some impatiens that I bought to pretty up a wrought iron planter I bought last week. I also did some weedeating and edged the patio. Oh, I planted some more marigolds, too. I just love marigolds. My best friend back in Seattle hates them, but I just love them.
All in all a busy day, but I still took some time for some bird watching. The birds were very active today; they always are when it's going to storm. The birds that are REALLY getting my attention are the Cattle Egrets. I don't know why they fascinate me so much. Maybe because we don't have them back home and there's an entire flock of them flying all around me from one pasture to the next for the last week or so. A couple have even flown into my yard. They are just so pretty and so elegant and graceful. I've been snapping pictures of them all day. They don't let me get too close though. They'll get right under one of those great big, huge cows, but fly off at the first sight of little ole me. Go figure.
Good thing I put up the hummer feeders - the hummer came three times today to my window feeder. I was so excited! I just love hummingbirds. I am used to having them around all year long because the Anna's back in the PNW do not migrate, but stick around all year. So I am very, very happy that the hummers are back in Texas! I tried to get a picture, but he was just too fast for me. I'm a lttle slow with this new camera.
But I'm very unhappy with this Texas weather. Up and down, up and down. They predicted very low temps, maybe freezing last night, so I brought in all my plants, EXCEPT I missed one - the hibiscus that I just bought. Doggone! It sustained a little damage, too. Not life threatening - it wasn't that cold, but definitely a little damage on the tips. I've never tried growing a hibiscus before,so I don't know how this will affect it. I think I will have to prune the damaged part off and it should be ok, but I'm not sure - why, oh why, didn't I bring it in (curses)!
My sister-in-law saw a hummingbird come to the location where she normally has a hummingbird feeder a couple of days ago, so today I put up my hummingbird feeders. I knew that it was time and the other day I made up a batch of hummingbird nectar (sugar water), but I just hadn't put up my feeders yet. Hopefully all this WIND we are having won't blow all the nectar out of them.
The weather has turned cold and windy and not nice again. It is supposed to be down to 31 degrees tonight. I brought in all my plants last night because I was worried about them. Especially the impatiens that I just planted in pots AND the hydrangea that got bit by the frost before. He's just starting to recover and I didn't want him harmed again.
A couple of Purple Martins checked out the purple martin house we put up last week. They didn't stick around. They only checked it out. First one side, then the other; then the top and then the bottom. They sat on it for a while, then they flew off. At first I thought they were swallows, but the male was all black and the female much lighter. The tails were not as forked as swallows. This is my first time with Purple Martins, but I'm pretty sure that's what they were. I hope they come back, but I know since it's a brand new site they may not.
I've been playing with my new camera today. The Goldfinches are just so pretty in their new mating colors, so bright and pretty. I just can't help taking pictures of them. My husband says they look like canaries and I guess they do. I love Goldfinches; they are the Washington State Bird.
We went to visit my sister-in-law today. She lives way, way, way out in the country. I live in a rural community, but I'm really just outside the city limits, she lives way out there. It's a 45 minute drive from town. But it's a nice drive and the Texas wildflowers are just coming into bloom. I saw Red Clover, Coreopsis, Thistle and Indian Paintbrush today. I think I also some some Honesty (Money Plant), but I'm not sure about that - it was back in some woods and not along the highway.
As I was trying to take pictures, Maggie, my sister-in-law's dog, who is still in puppy stage, ran around me and bit the heads off the flowers - silly dog.
Sherry also had some lovely azaelas blooming and a little Bridal Wreath Spirea. I've never seen that particular Spirea before, so I'm hoping to get a cutting from it when we go back next weekend for Easter dinner. It was really pretty. She told me her husband planted it before he died and this is the first year it has bloomed.
She also had an amaryllis ready to burst into bloom in one of her borders. I didn't now that you could plant those outside, I thought they only grew as indoor plants. Even as many years as I've been gardening, I learn something new everyday about gardening.
I found this iris blooming under the pecan tree in front of my office window yesterday. What a coincidence, it was our 38th wedding anniversary and I carried iris in my wedding bouquet 38 years ago yesterday. Not blue, tho, I had white iris, but still what an odd little coincidence. I absolutely adore iris, so I'm so happy it's there. I've been watching the bulbs growing there for a while, but wasn't sure what they were - now I'm so happy. I can't wait til the rest of them bloom.
Today I went back to Ellis Pottery to pick up the Japanese maple that I saw the other day. They had them for only $9.99. Good thing I went early. Everyone had at least one or two in their cart and and they were selling like hotcakes. I went to pick one up and someone took it right in front of me. I laughed and told the man, "Hey, I was going to get that one!" and he, very seriously, said, "Well, someone took the one I wanted!" and stomped away. I mean these people were serious. But I still got a very nice one and I have a nice big pot I am going to plant it in. That way I can take it with me when and if I move.
I also bought some more bedding plants and have been busy today potting up some containers. It's amazing to me that we can be planting already here in NE Texas. I talked to my son back in Bremerton, WA yesterday and he said they had snow again about 2-3 days ago. And here today it's about 80 degrees or close to it.
I couldn't figure out why two of three planters that I planted with tulips last fall have not flowered. So today I decided to just pull out the tulips and discard them because they just are not going to bloom - there are no buds; there are just leaves. I couldn't figure it out because all the bulbs were bought at the same store at the same time and were all the same bulbs. It should have been such a pretty display with all three planters in bloom at the same time. All the bulbs were treated exactly the same; however, the two planters which didn't bloom are plastic and the one that did well is concrete - maybe that made a difference.
But once I got in and started pulling out the bulbs - ANTS - the two green plastic planters are chock full of ants. I could not believe it. I don't know if that was the problem with the tulips - the bulbs are intact and they are not soft or anything, but they sure did not develop correctly and the planter is teerming with ants. That just never ocurred to me - I'm just not used to these Texas ants. So I checked the other planter where I have spring bulbs planted - it's full of daffodils - they bloomed fine, but I wanted to check it just in case. Yup, FULL of ants.
So I'm thinking if I'm going to do container gardening here like I did back home - am I going to have to use Diatomaceous Earth in my planters to keep the ants out (as suggested by yardgranny6 to control ants in the yard). There's a woman whose nature blog that I read all the time, Julie Zickefoose,
she raises orchids and she uses Aussie Gold Orchid mix (which contains diatomaceous earth) to control mites in her orchids. I'm wondering if I need to use something like that to control ants in my planters. It's awfully expensive, though.
A new baby calf was born in the pasture next door - it drove me crazy cause I didn't have a camera to record the event. I watched it being born. I've never seen an actual live birth before. It was pretty cool, but I really wanted to record it on film. Then I remembered I had a single-use disposable camera in my car left over from a trip to Hawaii a couple of years ago. I bought it to take pictures while snorkeling, and then I never used it. I grabbed it and took a couple of pictures, but of course now I have to have the pictures DEVELOPED!! EEEK! been a long time since I've had to do that! And of course the silly cow was clear across the pasture from me and no zoom on that little disposable camera.
So today, I went and bought a new camera - a Nikon CoolPix P90. It's pretty similar to the Panasonic that I had, so it will be pretty easy to learn (I think). But I had to charge the battery for two hours before I could use it, so not lot of practice on it today - I think I will go out and practice tomorrow if the weather isn't too bad. We're supposed to get wind, rain, hail and thunder storms - not great picture taking weather.
Today was beautiful - about 74 degrees, warm and sunny. Spring has definitely sprung. I saw azaelas in bloom all over town, and both red and white dogwoods. All the local nurseries are full of bedding plants. I stopped at Ellis Pottery which is near the camera shop and they had Japanese maples for only $9.99 - I think I shall HAVE to go back and buy one of those. It wasn't a lace-leaf, but it was still pretty and I do love Japanese maples. I have a nice big planter that will be perfect for it. They also had a really nice healthy hydrangea that caught my eye. I may go back for that also. Although the hydrangea that the frost almost killed earlier this year IS recovering - it is slow.
Yesterday Ann and I went flea marketing and I found a wire plant hanger for only a $1 - it will hold a terra-cotta planter and hangs over a deck rail or fence. I am going to hang it on the chain link fence and maybe plant something trailing from it - I think that will look pretty. But will have to watch that cause of the cows - don't want something they can reach and eat! This is interesting gardening with cows - never had to do that before! I planted sunflowers along the fence already, I hope they don't eat those. And I plan to plant morning glories and sweet peas on the chain link fence also, I wonder if they will eat those also? hmmmm - never thought about that before.
Ann has lovely gardens - she and her husband own a little subdivision with what they call "Patio Homes" here in Texas. She also has a huge gazebo and a wedding business. In the spring/summer/fall, they hold weddings on the gazebo, so she has very formal, manicured gardens. Not my style at all - I'm more a cottage-style/whimisical gardener. But we still both love flowers, plants and gardening, so we had a fun day. One of her tenants was moving and was selling a lovely little plant stand that I bought. It's wrought iron, circular and I just love it. It was a GREAT day!
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