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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Outback!

photo and arrangement by suzanne ~ December 17, 2011
is it edible, you ask?

I decided I wanted a Christmas 'dish garden' for the coffee table this year.  Just something low key...but NOoo...I end up with a large container planting with some sparkles.  I started out with a small fern tree of some sort that I already had, and 'mother-in-law's tongue', (aka 'snake' plant) (it's off to the left, you can barely see it).  The little gold bird is perched atop the fern, which is at the back.  Then, I picked up an 'English Ivy' plant, that is very healthy, supposedly for low foliage effect!!!  But it's almost overpowering.

I ended up having to get the red basket, because we were running short of time-but, it was only $1, so, time well spent.  And, also purchased the sparkly bird and cattails.  And, I couldn't think of anything else that would accomodate these 'wild and wooly' plants!  Then I decided it needed some more color...RED!  Had some berry stems that I always try to keep around for filler, and made a Christmas bow!  And, voilĂ -stick a Santa next to it...and there you are. 
Now, let's see if the plants live after all the poking and prodding!

A few years back, we thought it might be fun to decorate our backyard for Christmas.  So, we set out and tried to come up with a plan-it's so dark out there!!!

Here are just a few of our results~

~park bench~
Karo made the lighted Christmas tree from 2 pieces of 2x1 wood, as an upside down cross.  He cut the small end into a spike for easy insertion into the ground.  Karo spaced nails across the bottom piece and up and down the center piece to wrap the Christmas lights.  He then, strung tinsel garland over the lights for sparkle and color.  They were fantastic at night!

Karo's lighted trees
Here is another view with additional trees that Karo made. To the left of the little park bench is a horse and carriage, but, alas, it is black and doesn't show up well in the photo...never fear, I may have a closer photo of the horse and carriage. it is!
I just had to have this!  Karo's son, Chad, lived in a little town east of Fort Worth called Lindale, TX.  It's just near Tyler.  While visiting one weekend, we drove by a residence that had a lot of these cut out yard decorations for sale, and I saw the horse and carriages.  We went back and got this one.  For Christmas, I put some decorative green and gold braid around the horse's mouth and draped it to the cab.  I, then, added a headdress of berry stems (red and silver) to the horse for a Holiday look, and a bow from the window of the carriage.  And, you can see Karo's little white tree next to it.

Tin Soldiers and Frosty!
Around to the right of the park bench, we put lights in and around the arbor.  The vines you see are 'Carolina Jasmine', which eventually took over the arbor and knocked it over with the weight!  Anyway, I gave each soldier an American flag, and the soldiers were lighted up too.  There are candy canes crossed at the top, and a striped Christmas bow in the center.  Frosty is a wooden cutout decoration that we uplighted with a, 'you guessed it', homemade floodlight.  Karo made a lamp shade from tin foil and put an outdoor sized Christmas light in it using a socket that you can plug an extension cord into...clever, huh?
Another view of the arbor/Frosty scene
Down to the right of Frosty, we outlined the flower bed with lights and I stuck some Poinsettia blooms here and there between the lights.  Karo's little floodlight did great on Frosty!  He made several of them for some of the decorations we had out front too.
Overall view of our backyard Wonderland

The structure behind the Christmas decor is 1/2 my plant shed, and 1/2 some of Karo's junk!  No, really, he keeps shovels, and weed eater, etc. in one side, and we use part of it for storage.  There are some windows in the shed, so any plants we take in for winter receive some light.

Madison and Mary
Our Granddaughters, Madison and Mary, who live in Bridgeport, TX, enjoyed the Christmas Wonderland.  Most years, Christmas in Texas enjoys mild weather in the 60's and 70's.  So you can spend some time outdoors and explore in, what is usually wonderful fall weather.  But, the last couple of years we've gotten snow-which is unusual for our area.  We haven't decorated out back in the past few years, because of the changed weather, and this is a LOT of work!

Well, my kind, full-of-holiday-spirit-readers, that's outback Wonderland. If, in a few of the photos, you noticed up in the sky, a round light resembling a moon, I noticed it too.  But I can't  be sure...I'm thinking it might be a neighbor's vapor light.  Well, we can always say it was 'the full cold moon' of December which occurred on December 8th this year.  As the winter nights lengthen and the moon spends more time above the horizon, it is also called the 'Long Night Moon'.  I think it spends more time above the horizon to give Santa a better view and longer hours in which to deliver his gifts worldwide!
What to you think?
December Full Moon

* all outdoor photos were taken by me with a Minolta Autopak70 camera that I've had since the 1990's, before I went digital.  My Grandson Shawn now practices with this camera!*

Thank You to:
Karo, for his clever ideas!
Madison and Mary Trammell
Hi Mom!
and My Grandson Shawn

Thank you my gracious (and I mean gracious) readers!  Please come again and say hello.  The holidays are hectic...I'll probably see you early next year!


 our 'PRECIOUS" Grandson Shawn
December 11, 2011
Ahhh...the wonderment of Christmas, and the precious memories!
Now I know why my Grandmother met us at the door
each time we visited, with a big hug and kiss!!!
Be safe!
You too, Elvis!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

FlowerBed Makeover Part touches!

photo by Suzanne * 11-19-2011

It's been almost 2 weeks since I started my flowerbed makeover, and, I have finally pieced the concluding video together for viewing.  Let's see how I did!


Thank you, my gracious readers...oops...I mean, viewers this time- for spending a little time with me in my back yard, just messing around!  I'm sure you spotted the surprise 'cameo' views of me when Karo got a hold of the camera.  I know, I know, the wild hair needs some help!!!  Will get to that, it was rather windy outside that day.  But, we'll see how the small garden progresses throughout the winter.  And I will post updated photos from time to time.

And, now, I would like to take a moment to introduce a new 'blogmate' to MyTexasGardens.  Please welcome 'Shady Del Knight'.

Shady hails from York, PA. where the music scene was very 'hot' in the 1950's, 1960's, and, I'm sure, still is.  He offers up a fine repertoire of the greatest hits, and the not-so-greatest hits of the day.  You will be able to listen to some of the old hits right from his blog.  And, for guest speakers, or writers,  Shady dives deep into the archives and introduces us to some of the fabulous DJ's of the 1950's and 1960's.  He brings you to his days as a teenager, who frequented a popular dance spot in York, PA.  Well, you'll have to visit his blog yourself for that exciting story!  Shady's a bit of 'rock n' roll', and, in my opinion, a 'lot of soul'...right up my alley!

I have placed Shady's photo (I hope you don't mind Shady) and blog link above, but, it you can't get to it from above, go to my sidebar of 'my favorite reads', and click on his link there.  You can also find his link on my other blog sidebar at KardKornerKrib.   

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had plenty to eat, and, then some.  And, now, we're heading into the Christmas Season with all the sales and festivities getting underway!  Please remember to use caution when driving and shopping this year!  And, I'll try to get some pics of the Christmas Tree downtown Fort Worth.  They had the tree lighting ceremonies last nite, but we stayed in-still recouperating from the feast of the day before. 
'Unveiling of the Feast' * Bridgeport, TX
my brother-in-law Danny, sister-in-law Linda & her sister, Judy
photo by suzanne * November 24, 2011
Oh, look!  There's Karo's sweet potatoes behind the fruit salad!
photo by suzanne * November 24, 2011

till next time...

"Part of the secret of the secret of success in life is to
eat what you like and
let the food fight it out inside."
~Mark Twain

Sunday, November 20, 2011

FlowerBed Makeover, Part I...Both Hands On Deck!

Bouganvilla * photo by Suzanne * September 15, 2011

After the hard, callous, "fried-egg-on-the-sidewalk" summer, my TexasGardens suffered tremendously!  So, I've begun the slow process of rebuilding at least a few of my flower gardens.  I will have to relinquish some of them, as the winter will probably come fast and there will not be much time to accomplish the entire task.

So, I've started small and light...and, decided to video the process.  Here is Part I of 2 parts of my 1st garden makeover.  THIS SHOULD BE FUN!!!

Well, what do you think?  I'm not much of a speaker... but, maybe, with a little practice I'll get there.  And, the buffering of video makes the viewing time longer...I apologize for that.  The project is complete and I hope to post the remainder of the video in a few days.  In the meantime, thank you for spending a little time with me in my yard, and please stop by again!

Happy Thanksgiving from 'MyTexasGardens'!!!

Karo and Me * Thanksgiving 2007
self photo taken on timer and enhanced by Suzanne
Please join us in giving Thanks!!!
(our thank you list is too long to post!)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Promote Peace!

On behalf of Veterans all over the world, and honoring  and appreciating all soldiers, currently in action, MyTexasGardens presents my 'Peace Rose'!  Since Texas weather has cooled some, I have been blessed with several new buds and blooms in my are two of them!

Photo by Suzanne * November 10, 2011

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. 

 ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hydrangeas Come Honest!

photo by Suzanne * Spring 2003

'Big Leaf' Hydrangeas...Honestly!

One year I decided I wanted to have some Hydrangeas, just to see if I could keep them and enjoy the large blooms.  So we bought two plants labeled 'Big Leaf' Hydrangeas, somewhere, and put them under the Mulberry tree-with everything else!  Of course, I knew nothing about them, only that they are beautiful, so I set off to nurse the small plants into what you see in this picture.

Of course, I knew NOTHING about hydrangeas, and when it got cold, the leaves turned brown and fell off.  Then, the branches turned brown-what now?  Do I cut the branches back?  I mean, there were small nodes of new growth on these brown stems!  And we didn't want to lose them.  As it got colder, we fluffed some hay around the base and kind of throughout the plants, and when there were threats of frost, we covered them lightly with pillow cases that I cut open.  You could also see new growth at the base of the plants.  Needless to say, the brown branches cratered, and all that was left was the new growth close to the ground.  Well, ok, they're still alive.  And they grew large and healthy...but, we got NO blooms that year.  The plants thrived all summer, here comes fall, and the leaves turned brown-again, and fell off.  Again, new nodes on the brown branches, and nice, new growth at the bottom.  But, we did get some blooms, just not a whole lot.

I noticed, at the bottom of the plants, the new growth was of a floweret type.  I popped one off and put it in a pot.  Lo, and behold, it started growing.  When the weather got cold, I took the pot into the shed for protection, and we kept it lightly watered throughout the winter.  In the spring, I brought it out into the sun, and it continued to grow, eventually to put on a half-dozen beautiful, large, pink blooms!  Sorry, no photos-darn!  At least I knew I could propagate these plants.

But, I worried about the plants in the ground not blooming, and asked the guy who takes care of our plants at my office about them.  He told me if you can't save the stems from the prior year, you may not get blooms in the spring.  Tim said that this particular hydrangea most time will bloom on the previous year's stems.  We did get more blooms for a couple of years, and finally gave up-the plants just weren't producing on a regular basis without a lot of babysitting.  It was a lot of work! 

We still like hydrangeas, and are talking about trying them again, only, this time I will do some more research and find a type that is not so high maintenance. 

This is what the leaf of the 'Big Leaf' Hydrangea looks like
It is very large.

A site that I frequent has a small article regarding the 'Big Leaf' Hydrangea.

This article confirms my findings about this particular hydrangea.
1)  They tend to bloom on the previous season's growth, and the stems usually die back to the ground.  It also says they will produce flowers only in zone 6 and warmer.  In Fort Worth, Texas, we're on the edges of zones 7b and 8a.  And, as you all know, it's QUITE warm!  However, since we planted the hydrangeas under a large tree, they enjoyed some shade, which enabled them to thrive.

2)  And, in conjunction with the article, I always blend peat moss with my planting soil or mix, to add nutrients for healthy plantings.

3)  Our plants produced large, pink blooms.  If you want the blooms to be blue, you must add an acid plant food that will bring your soil to ph5.0.  The pink blooms are produced in a neutral or akaline soil.  The concern about acid plant food, is that it's not good for all plants, if you have neighboring plants in the same flower bed.  So I chose not to use this plant food.  Besides, I prefer the pink blooms.

4)  And, you can propagate hydrangeas easily.  The 'big leaf' hydrangea puts on small green nodes on the stems, and, at the base of the plants.  Let them grow until you can see small flowerets of leaves forming, then carefully POP them off, and plant in a ordinary pot to encourage safe growth.  If it gets cold, you can take the pot in, provide some sunlight and watering.  By could get a slew of plants started for spring plantings!

Below is a photo of my hydrangeas in black and white-why did I do that? Well, at the time, I had black and white film in my Pentax K1000 35mm camera, using, what I believe is called a 2x2 converter lens along with my normal lens.  I didn't purchase a digital camera until 2006. In fact, I want to get some film for my Pentax and take some more landscape and scenic shots.  Anyway, the photo isn't bad, and you can see some of the other plants surrounding the hydrangea.  The ladder was built by Karo and nailed to the tree for the variegated vinca major to climb, which it did.

photo by Suzanne * Spring 2004

And this photo gives a closer look at the size of the blooms and
 the texture of the leaves.
photo by Suzanne * 2004

Tonite, I am thanking:

My husband Karo, for helping me design and build our gardens

And a special thank you to all of my dear blogmates and readers for putting up with my, probably too many details.  I wish a special autumn season for all of you.

AND-I'm happy to say, it's 65° in Fort Worth, Texas tonite!  YAY!!!

Please stop by anytime and say hello!

"A strange black cat on your porch brings prosperity."
  Scottish Superstition

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tiny Gardner and Floral Confidante!

Meet Chloe
 Chloe is my Great Niece.  She lives in Kearney, Missouri with her mother, my niece Erica, her dad Dirk, and her two older brothers.  A real cutie! She just celebrated her 2nd birthday on August 22, 2011 and I'm quite certain that she is a 2-year old who is full of surprises.

I am told that Chloe is the keeper of some of the container plants and gardens at her home.  And by her expression in this photo, she means business!  Kansas and Missouri have also endured excessive heat this summer, as have a lot of our other states.  Chloe must keep up with the maintenance and care of her patio and porch plants in order to keep them thriving.  So I invited her to join me in a garden 'pow-wow' to compare notes and discuss container gardening.

You know, with so much drought this summer, some flower beds and flowering trees and bushes have perished.  But, you can still enjoy some low maintenance container gardens, and they're easy to move around out of the scorching sun if need be.

Chloe and I put our heads together and visited  Here are a few tips we found about container gardening that we would like to share.

1)  Try to co-ordinate the size of your pots to the size of the area you want to dress up.  And DON'T let yourself lose 'itty bitty' plants in pots that are too large.

Now, this is a nice area, and the pots are arranged in a fashion that is attractive and all-visible.  We see a lot of porch steps with container plants...they really add to these old steps, don't they?

You can put simple plants in fancy pots, or fancy pants (oops! I mean plants) in simple pots.  The garden directly above, I think, is compiled of simple plants in a simple pot.  And it's gorgeous!  It's like an ice cream sundae with a cherry on top!!!  Chloe agrees that it looks good enough to eat! Trailing at the bottom is the polkadot plant, and I would bet they only used four 4" pots or just one 6-pack of these plants for the bottom of the arrangement.  I've had polkadot plants before and enjoyed them...eventually, they will produce tiny pale pink blooms.  You can also get this plant with pink polkadots.  Flouncing above the polkadots are begonias in alternating red and pink.  Once again, just a few 4" pots of each color for the begonias-and, you can even divide them.  They have the lighter green leaves that I like best.  And, then, towering above is one coleus (under $2.00) of variegated burgundy and lime.  Coleus are so much fun.  And can be easily propagated (my favorite gardening term)!  All of these plants are inexpensive-but, this arrangement looks pretty high dollar!  It would require some shade time to keep the polkadots and coleus from burning up.  All of the plants in this pot are virtually shade-lovers.

2)  Color * Go for want drama and impact!  Refer to the color wheel if you must, to find opposite-like colors.
Now, this is what I call contrast!  Pop! Pop! Pop!  The container looks like red brick, and it's adorned with the luscious lime potato vine, some red and lime coleus, and what looks like marigolds.  This display is almost blinding with drama, and we love the look!

For harmony an tranquility, go with one color in different shades.  Chloe and I found the pretty palate above to be harmonious and fun!  I'm not sure what these flowers are, but they are in shades of blue with a variety of blue porcelain pots.  What a unique idea...different, yet the same! 

3) Bones and focal points * Try to create a palate using a larger plant for your focal point.  You can mix in trees, shrubs and even houseplants.
Wow!  Chloe and I selected this arrangement to show that  one 'focal' point can evolve into several, easily.  The main one here being that beautiful large sunflower.  And what a variety of plants!  Chloe and I were able to spot, not only the sunflowers, but, in the washtub it looks like snapdragons, and we saw marigolds, perriwinkles, blue salvia, some yellow mums (possibly), and what looks like small purple petunias.  And all of the containers used were galvanized buckets and tubs.  This is probably the prettiest container garden of all-I love blues and yellows together, and the clever arrangement of the tubs and buckets.   

Well, my gracious readers, this is our presentation...we hope you marveled as we did at these lovely container gardens.  They can be a refreshing and stressfree alternative to larger gardening areas when conditions are not so favorable.

Just remember sure to choose plants that enjoy being together.  When placing two or more plants in one container, consider their all need a lot of water, or not so much?  And, are all sun-loving or shade-loving plants?  If you choose your plant mates sensibly, you are bound for great success!

Chloe and I have some folks to thank for the research that made our post possible
Yahoo Images
Google Images

And we would like to thank our wonderful families!  "Chloe-I thank you with all my heart for taking time to  collaborate with me on this post.  It was entertaining and, I for one, learned from it.  We also got to enjoy some great pictures of fabulous container gardens".  

As my guest, Chloe, would you consider doing the closing quote?  I know you have to get back to your gardening.  Hope to see you soon!  

"Today is one of a kind and will only happen once-
so make it great!"
Have a safe and happy Labor Day holiday from My Texas Gardens!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Prince of "Petunia"

Isn't He Cute?
This precious little guy was sent to us girls through an email from one of the guys in our office last week.  The stock market had taken such a "big dive" and  he felt that maybe we could all use a smile.  He's our resident cheerleader-thanks Jeff! 
  I'm still smiling a week later at this little sweetheart!

And speaking of Petunias...

photo by Suzanne in the spring of 2000

I'm quite the Petunia fan.  My little English Garden features some 'fuschia' colored Petunias in front of the garden Peasant Girl.  I love Petunias flanked with white 'sweet alyssum'.  The alyssum brings out the bright colors of the Petunias and makes them "POP"!

photo by Suzanne, probably in 1994

This is an older photo, when I first got my house.  The pot on the left houses white, red and a fushia colored 'Petunia'.  See how healthy the plants are in this pot?  I like to buy 'Petunias' while they're young, before there are any full open blooms on them (just a peak-a-boo of bloom to know what color I'm getting).  You can control their growth, and they last longer.  And, by the way, those red lillies in the back are what I believe to be called "St. Joseph" lillies.  There were bunches of them in this back flower bed...I didn't know what the heck they were.  I dug them up and re-arranged them.  Of course, they multiplied!  Kudos to me!  They only bloom once a year, and the foliage stays nice until it gets really hot-then, I cut the foliage back.

photo by Suzanne * Spring 1996

I even have 'Petunias' on the patio!  The large terra cotta colored pot is bursting with red and white 'Petunias'.  Those are my favorite two colors to plant together.  Each color compliments the other.  And they're so fluffy!

The patio is homemade...I designed it myself and commissioned my, then, 15 year old son and one of his friends to construct it for me.  The pavers are concrete color and red.  And we edged it with red brick that I dug up all around the property.  The red pavers are small squares and we used large concrete colored pavers too.  And, hey!  I had a Dodge truck, so I was able to pick up the pavers and haul them home myself.  It did take two trips...the pavers were pretty heavy.  After prepping the area, it took the boys two evenings to get it together, according to my design.  I spent around $300.00 for materials and labor.  We still use the patio, but it does need some refurbishing now, as the pavers are shifting around.  It is getting on in years.

photo by Suzanne * Spring 2003

Well, I was messing around with black and white film in my old Pentax 34mm camera (which, by the way, takes great flicks) and shot this pot of 'Sugar Daddy Petunias'.  Now, I wish I had taken some pics of them in color.  They were a 'spicy' pink, with a darker pink center, and grew to be pretty large...and, of course, I adorned them with, what else, 'white sweet alyssum'!
One tip I have followed that really works, is to pluck the spent blooms from 'Petunia' plants to encourage more flowering.  I mean, this is VERRRY tedious, almost like peeling your sunburn-but it pays off!  You just have to go out there, faithfully, and do it!  Gently pull out the shriveled blooms, and, with a plastic grocery bag hanging from your wrist, you can deposit them into the bag as you go along.

photo by Suzanne * April 2007

I have a strawberry pot, and no luck with strawberries!  So, I planted red and white variegated 'Petunias' in the top of it and strategically placed 'airplane plant' and some 'golden sedum' in the other openings.  The 'Petunias' did pretty good in this pot, but I had to stay on top of it, as it's hard to keep the soil AND the plants IN THE POT when you water it!!!  The terra cotta Goat also has 'golden sedum' planted in it.  This is a ground cover that blooms little yellow stars in the warm of the spring.  And, it comes back every year-it also grows where it falls.  My next door neighbor Lee gave me sprigs of it and I have found it to be an enjoyable plant.  Behind the Goat are the 'Stella D'Oro' lillies with new buds-ready to bloom.  They are such a bright yellow and need plenty of sun to open up fully.  And, of course, a small pot of white 'Perriwinkle'.

Petunias are a beautiful addition to any arrangement of pots, and in the ground.  As they get leggy, I find a spot on the plant just above new leaves and cut them back.  And here they come again, but it does take water, sun, and a little patience. 
I hope you've enjoyed my 'Petunias' and my little Prince!

I've been out of commission (LITERALLY!) for almost a week.  Our phone lines cratered, and they had to be replaced.  How ANNOYING!  Thank goodness for cell phones during a time like this.  And, we had no internet.  So, I missed the wonderful posts from all of my favorite blogs, and I'm catching up on them now.  I still have a few to read, and I'm doing good getting to them.  I guess the phone lines on this old house just couldn't take the heat anymore.  But here, they stretch them from the top of the house all the way thru the back yard to a telephone pole!  And, they were sagging! 

I must Thank:
Yahoo Images
Jeff and Fred from my office
My Faithful Readers
And- the "Prince of Petunia"!

August 17, 2011 * National Joke Day
Here is a joke sent to us at the office from another jokster!

"I used to be I'm not sure". 
Well, my fellow bloggers and friends, 'tis all for now.  Stop by and say hello anytime. 
 Be well, and happy 
It is a muggy 94° in the fair city of Fort Worth, Texas, USA!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer "Six Pack"

Wanted to say hello with some quick 'pix' at 102 degrees in Fort Worth, TX this afternoon!

Under our Mulberry tree in the shade...Whew!
photo by Suzanne * July 23, 2011

Impatiens * May 2008 * photo by Suzanne

I like to plant the Impatiens early while it is still cool, because, by early July they are burning up if they don't have some shade and I often lose them.  This spot faces East, yet, it is still hard to keep them fresh and alive.  In the lower right hand corner is a 'Gardenia' bush.  I have another one on the other side of the porch.  They took a ghastly 'bite' this winter, but are trying to come back now-we'll see! The large clay pot houses a small boxwood shrub and there is another on the other side of the porch also.  They did well in these pots up until this past winter, and, they perished.  We will have to replace them, but it is so hot, now, I can't make myself do it yet.  And then, we have 'Elephant Ears' in the corner.  In May they are just starting to come up and thrive pretty well in this corner.  We have more of them this year.

photo by Suzanne

A trusty Gnome watches over the 'Japanese Fern' with 'airplane plant' in the lower right hand corner and some 'purple' plant that was given to me in the lower left corner.  This purple foliage is really hearty, still comes back after 11 years, and puts on small pink blooms in the late summer.

'Portulaca" * photo by Karo * July 23, 2011

Well, one, lone, 'Portulaca" aka 'Moss Rose'.  I feel so guilty-forgot we even had this in a pot out back.  But we noticed some growth and Karo started caring for it.  It has bloomed a little, so he journeyed out and took a quick pic.  It is very pretty.  So I have gone out, moved the pot out and freshened up the soil in it.  These are a drought-tolerant plant, NO DOUBT!  And I saw new buds on the plant. I promise to do better by this soldier.

Suzanne * Weatherford, TX * July 1992
photo taken by my Mom

Now here I am in the summer of 1992.  My son and I lived in Weatherford, TX about 45 miles west of Fort Worth.  Along my driveway I dug a large kidney shaped bed for -YES, of course, some excess plantings I had.   Can you see the large 'Yucca' towering to your left?  That's the one Rusty brought back from a trip to Arkansas-it was only 1 foot tall then.  Boy!  These things really take off!  I had to find another spot for it besides being in front of a bedroom window (it was tearing up my window screen).  What a job getting it down the driveway!  In the right hand corner rests a 'pencil cactus' that was given to me by some friends from their trip to Mexcio.  And it was a fast grower too!  Everywhere a piece drops, another one grows.  This plant, too, had to be moved.  I did find the perfect spot, didn't I?  A pretty wide open space coming up the drive toward the house...and, out of the way of small children, and clumsy women, like me!  I had placed a couple of barrel cactus, and some kind of 'fishhook cactus' that were low to the ground.  And, then, there was the 'pear cactus'.  You can see one in front of my leg.  They're quite abundant in Texas, in, and out of the city limits.  This one would bloom in bright yellow in the spring.  Then I dotted the ground area with white and pink 'perriwinkles' for brighter color.  I knew these plants could withstand the Texas heat and a cactus surrounding.  My mother and sister came to visit that month and brought me the wooden garden sign with the blackbird on top.  It was like icing on the cake, or something on the pin cushion maybe?  The garden was a real nice welcome to the property.

And as for #6 in the pack, you ask?
Blue Moon Belgian White Beer! (Whitbier)
from Coors Brewing Company in Golden, Colorado USA

Well, I don't drink beer anymore, but cold beer always looks good!  Thanks so much for stopping by...stay cool, and for those of you having fall and winter weather, stay warm...but, I ENVY YOU!  Come by anytime and say hello.  You are always welcome!

And Remember!
"Consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like an idiot!"

Thanks to:
Yahoo Images

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"OOPS! I Messed Up!!!" How Many Demerits Should I Get?

I am embarrassed to announce that I've screwed up the poll on my sidebar...AAGGHHEE!!!  Recently, I labored and put a survey on my sidebar asking if  you could name the 4 plants in the photo.  It took me three tries to get it on there, and I'll be...I left off the name of one of the plants that is actually in the photo!  So I have given myself a "DEMERIT", or 'boobie' prize, so to speak!  A dead sunflower!  Now a dead sunflower can't be all that bad, I say...I've had them before.

  Oh, I feel another story coming on! 

One year, I decided I wanted to raise sunflowers for cutting, and enjoying inside.  And I wanted to be sure they would have stems at least 10" long in order to work in a vase.  I had a tall, slendor, black ceramic vase that would be perfect for bright, yellow sunflowers.  To the store I went, looking for seeds-sheesh!  There are so many kinds and sizes of sunflowers.  I found a package that said 'up to 12 inches', and grabbed it!  Well, got the seeds planted along the fence row, watched and waited.  Of course, they did come up, but they looked kind of funny-took their time about growing tall.  And the stems were kind of thick.  Oh no, will they be stunted?  NOT ON YOUR LIFE!  The stems became 4 foot stalks, then came the buds-WOW!  And they grew in size too.  I didn't plant the seeds in a large area, but they didn't know it.  Gradually the buds started to open, but kept growing-LO & BEHOLD!  These blooms were mammoth!  I got the package out and read it again...'up to 12 inches' really meant the circumference of the blooms!  What a fluke!  I didn't read beyond the 12 inches...they meant the blooms themselves.  Well, no cut flowers here!  They were lovely, but overpowered some of the other plantings-yet, I couldn't let them go.  And, of course, they had to die out.  Karo to the rescue!  Since the dead blooms didn't fall off on their own, he cut them off-like, with a sword!  Then he dug the seeds from the centers.  This was kind of hard-they will poke you.  Then he spread the seeds out in some old pans we had and set them out in the back yard in various areas.  As more blooms dried out, he did the same.  It was great!  The birds came and feasted for several weeks on all the seeds Karo harvested.  So, in the end, I feel like I made a good choice.  But I DO read the seed packets more carefully now!

Anyway, back to my survey.  I know there were some votes on the survey, mostly correct votes.  And I thank you so much for your votes, but I took the survey off, when no one was looking.  Below is the photo.  CAN you name the plant I left out of the choices?  If so, let me know.

Here are the choices I gave (minus the key plant)
Lilac Bush
Apple Blossoms
Wood Fern
Umbrella Plant

And as a peace offering, here is a short video I shot on July 3rd thru our living room window.  I happened to see a mother cat tending to her kitten between our house and the neighbor's house.  This mama cat is a stray who we've seen in the neighborhood for the past 7 or 8 months.  She appears to be young herself.  And there is only one kitten.  We have since been providing food and water to them in hopes it will keep them healthy and well.  They are leary of us, but have gratefully accepted the food and water.  The other night Karo gave them boiled chicken!  My video isn't the greatest, you can hear our TV and other background noise, including my babbling at times, AND I had to cough in there, so the camera jumps around some.  Please enjoy!

I guess you've noticed the temperature gauge on my sidebar for my side of town.  On Friday, we reached a record temperature in the Fort Worth area for this summer so far of 107 degrees!  And this morning we had a rolling blackout in our neighborhood to conserve on energy-well, all that did was send all of our electronics 'haywire'!  We're really worried about these animals and our beloved husky "Whitey".  Even with large trees in the yard, she can't find a cool spot.  Karo waters down her favorite areas throughout the day, and we have put the sprinkler out in the evenings in an attempt to cool down the back yard.  She won't come inside, so we're doing the best we can.  Whitey is getting on in years, so this heat is a concern, as she clearly is NOT in her element.  She is a rescue dog, that, we believe just got lost from her previous owners.  We've had her for about 9 years-we think.  Below is a photo of Whitey taken December 24, 2009 when we experienced a great snow storm. 

NOW, THIS IS HER ELEMENT!  Trust me, she is smiling!

photo by Karo * Christmas Eve 2009
Merry Christmas Whitey!

So, I just want to ask you all to help out where you can in regards to any animals that may be in dire straits during this horrible heat wave!  Even tho we can't save them all, maybe a drink of cool, clean water and anything that can be spared for nourishment will make a difference. 


Thank you my 'cool' readers for stopping by...I don't know about you-but MY TEXAS GARDENS are burning up!  My white oleander, however, is starting to bloom now.  Some things just love the scorching heat.   Last nite, I went to pick up dinner from 'Taco Cabana' and they had a lovely display of white periwinkles on the patio, that are some other heat-loving plants!  I marveled at them, since I don't have any this year.  Well, maybe next time!  And, my 'gardenia' plants are trying to come back-in this heat!  Maybe by fall they will be healthy enough for a few blooms!

Please come by anytime and say hello!  I always enjoy hearing from you. 

Thank You:  Google, YouTube, Yahoo Images AND a cool thanks to Whitey!

"Bring me the Sunflower CRAZED with the love of light."
~Eugenio Montale

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Swan Patrol!

photo by suzanne * spring 1999

When I bought this house, there was such a large back yard, with absolutely nothing around, save some trees.  I had to take a few of them out, because they were dead. Well, some of my friends would donate bulbs and cuttings to my cause.  I couldn't afford professional landscaping, and, even if I didn't always know what I was getting, I took it gladly!    But, as time goes on, and flowers flourish, one needs to expand to keep things alive.  Thus, the 'Swan' garden.  It's primary digs are white and yellow iris, Shasta daisies, a few viola plants, and some monkey grass.

The daisies were given to me by a friend from work.  She just brought me a couple of clumps...I'm like, 'what the'...?  They looked liked nothing!  Well, I got them home, found an off-the-wall spot, and just stirred up the dirt enough to 'plunk' the clumps in it.  It was a slightly shady spot, but the clumps didn't care.  They started getting greener in a few days, the leaves perked up, and then, within a couple of weeks, I could see some actual growth, and runners coming from underneath!  "Man!"  These dudes are gonna make it!  And they did!  I couldn't believe it, but here came more-it was getting cold, and I wondered how they would fare throughout the winter. I covered them lightly with our 'Texas fallen leaves', and sat back.  They did survive and I was able to transplant them.  The one thing I found tho, is not to drown them with water, or they will wilt and die.  The following photo shows how they began to flourish in the first year.

photo by suzanne
They grew tall and plentiful.  This spot is shady most of the day...there is a large tree nearby.  So, I think 'shasta daisies' are pretty hardy almost anywhere.  I did, later purchase some other types of daisies, 'margerita daisies', and 'dahlberg daisies', but didn't have the same results.

photo by suzanne * spring 2000

This photo gives a better view of the border.  We dug the bed into a semi-circle shape, and bordered it with sprigs of 'monkey grass', which did grow in nicely, and it did make mowing easy.  In the lower left is a clump of 'violas' donated by my next door neighbor Lee.  She had them everywhere, and they were easy to start.  Now they LOVE all the water you're willing to part with.  They can be lying flat down from the heat, and perk up within just a few minutes.  In early spring, and again in the fall, they will bloom with small deep violet flowers.  I have given clumps of this to other friends myself.  Violas are so easy and make good bordering plants. 

I was very picky about coordinating depth of color and foliage...after all, I was accumulating so much, I could draw out plans and I used old, gardening books to help with arrangement of plants.  You can see how large the 'iris' plants are...does this REALLY mean "everything grows big in Texas"?  I think not!   A little old man in the neighborhood had a cardboard sign out front of his house "Iris for Sale-$1.00 a Clump".  So, I stopped by...this was in 1994.  He had rows and rows of all kinds of iris of many colors!  But, he said I couldn't have any of the snow white iris...they had been cared for by his late wife, and he wasn't giving any up...he said he didn't have enough.  Well, I hounded him and begged, and he finally gave in and gave me a few roots, or a 'clump' as he described it.   There are white iris in this bed-they grew so tall, you couldn't cut them to bring in.  I did find a tall bottle that I could put some in to enjoy indoors.  You can see how tall the iris foliage is.  These were large plants and the blooms were also very large...mmmm, smelled like grapes!  Some of the white ones get very tall, they lean over, so I try to cut them and bring them in to keep them off the ground.

Well, I needed an anchor, or focal point for this garden-it makes me think of a pond, with it's tall foliage and the daisies swaying in the front.  So much green, glistening with sparks of yellow and white.  Now, I was never a fan of swan planters...but, for some reason, it seemed as tho nothing else would fit!  And, probably, I found a good price on this molded plastic know, $2.00 or $3.00, and decided to take a chance.  We turned a black pot upside down to prop the swan up above the ground because he couldn't be seen admist the plants.  And the foliage covered up the pot nicely.  I planted white periwinkle in the swan, but, you know, I had a lot of trouble keeping anything alive in that planter, so I gave up.  Even so, it all came together pretty nicely, and later, I planted some umbrella plants at the back of this bed.
And the Swan continues to patrol and watch over!

Some tips for 'Iris' from MY diary

* Iris love a lot of sun.  If planting in a cluster, they should be placed where each plant draws the attention of the same amount of sun in order to bloom concurrently.

* And it's true!  You can  just drop a root or two here and there, and they will take.  But I would rather place them to be standing up when they start rooting.  And I point the roots in certain directions so they will not grow up 'willy nilly'.  I want all of the foliage facing in the same direction. 

* When it's time to transplant, you MUST have this done by early fall-September at best.   This will insure more successful blooming in the spring.  I thought you could just move them on a whim and get instant blooms...not on your life!  You will have to wait almost a year for them.  Once the blooming season is over, you can go ahead and transplant for the following spring-it's okay.  Just don't go beyond the deadline.  I have a few purple iris that bloom in February-don't know why, but I run out and get them to enjoy inside, and they really smell like grapes!

* As the summer progresses, and starts burning green stuff, I go along with a pair of scissors and trim the foliage of my iris.  Each plant gets cut into a fan shape to about 6 inches high...hehe!  I know-it's crazy, and I wish I had a photo to show you.  But some of the leaves will die or fall over and you have to go along and pick them up.  Cutting them back makes the plant look cleaner, and they withstand the heat better.

* And, it's okay to leave the top part of the root exposed, in fact, I've read that you should do that, even tho it sounds unhealthy for the plant. Plus, sometimes they will fall over, so I try to pack soil around to the back to help them stand up.

That's all I have today friends!  Thank you so much for visiting.  I hope you enjoyed and learned.  I couldn't find a Swan poem or quote that I wanted to share...they were all too sad.  So, I did find a quote from the internet (I'm embarrassed I can't remember which site) that I particularly liked.


"To pick a flower is so much more satisfying than just observing it, or photographing it ... 
So in later years, I have grown in my garden as many flowers as possible for children to pick." 
-  Anne Scott-James  

Happy Birthday MOM!!!
I Love You!