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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Let it Snow! Did I make it in time?


photo by Suzanne * December 21, 2013 * Fort Worth, TX

I know, I know...isn't this amazing?  I REALLY did take this photo, and SOMEONE added snow to it!  It was a cold and drizzly day in Fort Worth, and we were over on the west side, trying to get our Christmas shopping done, when what to my wondering eyes did appear!!!  What a line-up!  These were some of the most beautiful trees I've ever seen, just waiting for the right person (with a large wallet, I might add) to come along and take them home.


~photo by Suzanne * December 21, 2013

~photo by Suzanne * December 21, 2013

This is the spot where the gorgeous trees are in Fort Worth, TX, if anyone is in dire straits for the prettiest tree on the block!  


~photo by Suzanne * December 17, 2013

The nativity scene in front of St. George Catholic Church in Fort Worth. They have this every Christmas, and I just love it!  This is the first time I have photographed the scene!

Well, time is flying...December is almost gone now,  the New Year is beating on it's back door.  I have taken some plants in for the winter, and, they are faring well.  Begonias in bloom, and the fern is holding its own.  Outside, the vinca major and violets are standing up to the cold arctic blasts we've experienced thus far this winter.  

I hope you all are well and happy during this holiday season,.  We have participated in two food drives for the needy in the past month, from home, and at work.  And, yet, I know it's never enough!  There are so many in need, and, I feel guilty when I'm eating my delicious foods and salads, knowing that some child would truly enjoy a plate of spaghetti or a home grilled burger.  So, I do as much as I can during these food drives.  And, food drives are just a drop in the bucket of needs in our country-shelter, clothing and medical assistance are among some of the greatest needs.  

Christmas is only one day in a year filled with over 300 days of needs to millions of people.  If I MUST make a New Year's resolution, and, if you know 'what's her name' over at KardKornerKrib, then you know she doesn't make New Year's resolutions!  BUT!  Ms. Krib has agreed to make this one resolution, to do more  for the needy and less fortunate in the year 2014! 

*** Thank you for stopping by.  We're all so busy with the holidays...I don't even have a meal planned yet!  But, I will get there!  Soups on, y'all!  Please stop in and say hello if you get the chance.  I love hearing from you, and appreciate all smiles and laughter!  Be safe this Christmas season, and, have fun!

*** P.S. If you are reading this via email, you may not get to see the spectacular snow animations added to my photo!  So, you should call up my blog for the best effects!

***
And, by the way, Ms.Asta over at KardKornerKrib recently had a birthday...
 (she doesn't want you to know her age)!
 Cindy from work took a couple of flicks of the Birthday Girl!

~photo by Cindy Rogers * December 19, 2013

***
I wish to thank:
Google Chrome for adding the snow
feature to my Christmas trees!

So, y'all better watch out, you better not shout, 
Cause me in my kerchief, and, pa in his cap,
Have just settled down for a long winter's nap!
Merry Christmas to you all from,MyTexasGardens!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Falling Into Autumn, and Some Blue Things!

~photo by Suzanne * Fort Worth, TX * Nov. 9, 2013 

G'Day to you all.  Did you know that there is actually a 'G'Day' week in Australia?  I think it was during the first week in November, so 'G'DAY'!!!  And above is my private garden, also flourishing during the first week in November.  Looking good with begonias, mondo grass, vinca ground cover, a pot of mums, and fern.  I was actually pleased that two pots of my mums from last October did come back for a repeat performance of blooms this fall!

***

Last weekend, we took a day trip to Karo's hometown, Bridgeport, Texas.  He drove us through town, showing us where the old Rock Island train depot used to sit...torn down now.  All that's left are the tracks that still go through town.
~photo by Suzanne * Bridgeport, TX * Nov. 16, 2013

We visited the site where one of Karo's parents' first cafes, The Frontier, had been in the 1960's.  Somewhere near 1966, The Frontier Cafe was moved to another part of Bridgeport. The empty lot is really grown up with brush and, our shoes were full of goat head stickers when we got finished walking through!


~ The Frontier Cafe * Bridgeport, TX * 1961

Along the way we stopped to visit the cemetery where Karo's parents and other family members are buried.  The cemetery is called 'Old Town Cemetery', and, you'll find quite a few old tombstones from the late 1800's and early 1900's here.

Not being a really large cemetery, it's easy to walk through most of it.  Well, I was just looking around for items of interest, and spotted a strange looking tree off in the distance.  The tree had sort of a blue cast to it...my curiosity urged me on to get a closer look.

Looks like a giant Christmas tree doesn't it?


~photo by Suzanne * Bridgeport, TX * November  16, 2013


~Some kind of fir tree * photo by Suzanne

* So, after doing some digging around, which is what I do best, lol, I discovered that this tree is called an Ashe Juniper, or 'Blueberry Juniper'.

The Ashe Juniper is native to central Texas, and considered a weed by many ranchers and landowners.  The pollen from this shrub can cause a severe allergic reaction to some people who are allergic to cedar.   It is commonly known as 'cedar fever'.  The tree can grow from up to 33' to about 49'.  They are drought tolerant and serve to control erosion.  It provides great shade for the livestock and wildlife, too!

* The berries are actually seed cones, containing only 1 or 2 seeds, and, distributed after eaten by birds.  Believe it or not, the male seed cones are yellow, and turn brown after pollen release in the winter.  I didn't see any yellow ones.  But, beware, the seeds are bitter tasting, and are even avoided by cattle.


*The wood is naturally rot resistant and provides raw material for fence posts. Posts cut from old-growth Ashe junipers have been known to last in the ground for more than 50 years. Over one hundred years ago, most old-growth Ashe junipers were cut and used not only for fence posts, but also for telegraph poles and railroad ties. 

~ Blueberry Juniper * photo by Suzanne * November 16, 2013

You can bet that I probably won't be trying to raise one of these big guys in my yard, as I would be worried about our little Scootie trying to taste these tempting berries!  

That would produce a photo like this, lol!
~Scootie * November 9, 2013 * Fort Worth, TX *

Even tho he is five years old now, we still have to keep an eye out for what he puts in his mouth when he's at our house.  We have Chinaberry trees, and the berries are a bit toxic also.  The birds won't even eat them!  Scootie likes to pick them up and throw them, but I have banned him from touching them. So, there's no 5 second rule here on the China berries or the Juniper Blueberries!  "What's the 5 second rule?", you ask.  Well, according to Karo, if you drop an item-say a lifesaver candy, on the floor or ground...you legally have 5 seconds to pick it up and pop it in to your mouth!  I know, I know...it's not funny!  

Oh, here it is...one of our China berry trees.  The berries come on in the fall.
And, if they fall, no living thing cares!  They are not edible.
~ China berry tree * photo by Suzanne * Fort Worth, TX

* Well, my dearest readers, I really must close for now.  I promised 'Miss Thing' over at the KardKorner some help with a short post before Thanksgiving gets here!  And, there will be a project coming up for Mom and her herb study group in Kansas City.  Time is nearing to announce the Herb of the Year for 2014! 
 I'll tell you what it is later!

Before I go, I would like to thank:
Yahoo
Google
Wikipedia
Thank you Karo for the fun day trip to Bridgeport!

And, thank you all for coming by.  I appreciate you so much.  And, I wish the best to you all.  Step in and say hello if you get the chance.  
Best wishes for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving 
go out to you and yours from my family at MyTexasGardens!

~Photo by Suzanne * November 2011 * Fort Worth, TX

"Whatever a Bluejay feels he can put into language, straight out and out book talk.  You never saw a Bluejay get stuck for a word...he talks the best grammar of all the animals."
~Mark Twain * Morals Lecture, July 15, 1895

Remembering Mark Twain on the date of his birth:
November 30, 1835

See you next time xoxo!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Neighborhood Stroll...so good for the Soul!***


Here we are my dear readers...heading into my favorite season of the year-of ANY year!  It's the red, orange and yellow season...AUTUMN!  And, are you ready for it?  I bet you are!  The smell of that crisp new air, that accompanies autumn's entrance...such a delightful embrace! And, oh, the 'falling leaves' are bound to drift by my window, sooner or later! But, in Fort Worth, most of the trees don't start turning colors until November.  Instead of the beautiful reds and oranges, the leaves turn brown, dry up, then you have to clean them up in your yard! Just kidding-some trees do turn beautiful, and I hope to send some lovely autumn photos your way this year!

Oh well...it's the wonderful air that sets me 'aglow', and the sights and smells of apples and pumpkins (well, I don't know about pumpkin smells)!  But, how about that mulled cider?  Or any cider?  Halloween is just around the corner, and the mums are in full bloom!

Here's what's going on at our local Kroger store!  Gorgeous, huh?
~photo by Suzanne

It's that time of year when I love to take a stroll through the neighborhood with my camera, of course, and look for fun fall things!  And, since our trees aren't displaying fall colors just yet, I've been focusing on the many other beauties in my neighborhood.  There is one adorable home I drive by every morning that has a beautiful plant in front near the driveway.  I have admired and enjoyed this plant for several years now, and, vowed that one day I would stop by and photograph it.  You see it only blooms in the morning, so you have to be an early bird, and show up at just the right time!


~Angel Trumpets * photo by Suzanne * September 24, 2013

Isn't this beautiful?  It's called 'Brugmansia', aka Angel Trumpets, and boy, is it a big one!  I get to watch this plant thrive and show off every day.  I wanted to stop and meet the homeowner and ask a bit about the plant.  I have seen her outside deadheading the plant...it has such large buds. I think you can see some of them in this photograph.

*** These plants become large trees or small shrubs, with quite a lot of branches.  They are actually native to South America, along the Andes from Venezuela to northern Chile, and also, south-eastern Brazil.  Most of these plants are fragrant and attract moths and butterflies, who store the plant's alkaloids, later to be used as a defense mechanism against predators for the adult butterfly.

*** Today, Angel Trumpets are mostly grown as flowering, ornamental plants, but, have also been grown in many South American cultures for medicinal uses.  One such use was as a ritualistic hallucinogen for divination, to communicate with ancestors, as a poison in sorcery and black magic.  It has been applied as an ointment for treatment of dermatitis, arthritis, headaches, and, as an anti-inflammatory.  Some South American cultures have used 'Brugmansia' as a treatment for unruly children, and, mixed with maize beer and tabacco leaves, it has been used to drug wives and slaves before they were buried alive with their dead lord!  Ugghh!  ...Shall we move along?

*** Let it be known, that all parts of this plant are poisonous...OH NO!  I got up close and personal with this one for a real good look!

~photo by Suzanne * Fort Worth, TX * September 24, 2013

The plant contains Scopolamine hyoscyamine (what the?) and several other tropane alkaloids.  Mind you now,  if you ingest any part of this plant, it can cause confusion, diarrhea, migraine headaches, paralysis of the smooth muscles, and death.

*** Do I dare continue?  Well, the hallucinogenic repercussions of the Brugmansia when drank in tea form can be horrific!  According to Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, a young man amputated his tongue and private parts after drinking one cup of Brugmansia tea!  It induces a powerful trance with violent and sickening after effects, and, possibly insanity.

*** I hope I didn't spoil the fun of this plant for you, dearest readers...just stating the facts ma'am (and, sirs!)  This is a lovely plant, and, in warmer climates, it is capable of flowering year-round.

This is a very thirsty plant that needs to be watered well and often. I did get to meet the owner of this lovely specimen.  Her name is Pat, and she has a great yard full of gorgeous plants.  She did tell me that her Angel Trumpet plant attracts bees...as you can see in my photo above, there are a few bees in the angel blooms, and they were plentiful around the entire plant as I photographed it.  I had a great visit with Pat, and she invited me to come by anytime to photograph her plants and get additional tips from her about them.  She had several plants that I am not familiar with and would like to investigate further.

***
I hope this post finds you all well and happy.  It's really getting festive in my neck of the woods, what with Halloween coming around soon.  I hope to have our little Scootie here for Tricks or Treats!  Here is a photo of him when he just turned two, on his first Trick or Treat excursion!

~ Halloween 2010 * 
What a pro...he already knew how to sort out his candy and count it at the age of 2.  Kids are born with Halloween skills!  

Thanks goes out to:
Google
Yahoo
Wikipedia

*** A special thank you to my neighbor Pat!  You have a beautiful yard!

Thank you my gracious readers for taking the time to come by and check up on me!  I've been staying out of trouble, but, 'you-know-who' over at the KardKorner is bugging me to help her with a Halloween post.  I know, I know!  Time's rolling by...it's just around the corner!  I'm coming, oh Kard mistress!

Please say hello if you get a chance, I welcome any and all (well, within reason) comments!  Hope the weekend brings you fair, fall weather and much laughter!

Got Pumpkins?
~Photo by Suzanne

See you soon! ♥

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Howdy September!

~photo by Suzanne * August 2013

Just coming by to wish you all a wonderful Labor Day holiday!  We're under a tremendous heatwave right now here in the Lone Star State...so, plant life at MyTexasGardens is suffering.  We have moved some of the plants to a shadier area as  you can see here in my little 'open air' green house!  Not really a true greenhouse, just pretend-Rusty just walked in and said the thermometer is at 104°.

So, I ran out the back door with my camera, and, got the shot of our poor little bird that hangs on the mulberry tree...I mean, this is in the shade, folks!  See for yourself!


~photo by Suzanne * September 1, 2013

Now does that say over 100° or what?  Phew!  And, not a breeze in site...or, in the air, rather!  Yes, my dears, I've spent most of the day indoors, and, have enjoyed it.  But, really, we'll all be glad when autumn hits town, and we can spend more time outdoors, roaming around, picking up pecans, and, enjoying the nice fall colors!

~photo by Suzanne * September 1, 2013

Directly under the thermometer, under the mulberry tree, I have some Asparagus Fern.  And, miraculously it is still thriving along with just a few of my caladiums.  So, all is not lost!

***
Thanks so much for coming by today.  I just had to stop over and say hello, and tell you how much I appreciate your visits and comments.  

Play hooky tomorrow from work...it's legal!  Well...I say it's legal.  I wouldn't want anyone to get fired for skipping work if  you're supposed to be there, so, I guess you better show up!


Happy Labor Day from MyTexasGardens!
See you next time!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tuesday's Tickle!


I decided to stop by this afternoon and say hello.  I hope you all are doing well, and, not suffering the summer heat too much.  I am willing to share the hot Texas temps with anyone who needs more heat!  Haha-now, how funny is that?  Hmmm...no takers, huh?

We are baking at 102° today!

Now this looks a lot like my yard, but, really it is not.  We've had an outbreak of cats this spring, and, they're about to drive us crazy...NOT that we don't like cats-BUT, they're demanding and they're messing up my gardens!

And, there are kittens involved, so we don't feel comfortable running them off while they are nursing.  We have one mom cat that looks identical to the one in this photo, who has taken on 2 more kittens who lost their mom, and, that makes 5 with her three.  What a compassionate feline!  So, we're trying to help her out.  But, at some point, we must find homes for these sweet creatures!

In the meantime, I'm having to  repair the damage to my flower gardens, and, with this heat, that is not easy to do.  I'm just going to have to sacrifice some of the plantings, until the weather tapers off, and we have some relief.  I came across some tips that I thought we all might be able to use (well, those of us who may be having a cat problem!)  And, along with the heat, I am happy to share them with you, my dearest readers!

TIPS

1.  Dump citrus peels-orange, lemon or lime, into your garden.  The scent should keep cats from exploring.  You'll need to replace the peels as they dry out and lose their scent.

2.  Fill small glass jars, such as baby food jars, with diluted ammonia and bury near the perimeter of your garden. The smell should keep cats at bay, and putting the ammonia in glass jars will keep the liquid from leeching into the soil.

3.  Spread coffee grounds or used tea leaves throughout your garden. The grounds or tea leaves should be evenly spread and they will also help with fertilization. But the scent will keep the cats away.

4.  Mix up black pepper, red pepper and dry mustard in equal parts and spread on the perimeter of your garden.  The smell-and the taste when the cat gets its paw into the mixture and then licks it off, will discourage the cat.

5.  Fill old, clear plastic juice containers with water and place throughout your garden.  In theory, the reflection from the water will keep cats away.

...OR...
you can stick spikes in the ground...SURE-so they can impale themselves!  That would surely do it!  I'm just kidding.  I read that if you spread pine cones throughout the garden, they will deter the cats, because of their sticky, sharp edges.  Also, landscape fabric is a suggestion, because the cats don't want to dig through it...THAT'S BALONEY!  They can and will dig through it...been there!


I don't know about you, but I'm kind of leaning toward the coffee grounds and citrus peel idea.  We've always got an abundance of coffee grounds on hand (my drink of choice), and, we almost always have some lemon and lime peel in residence!  I've been down the red pepper/chili road, and, well it's okay if you water the ground allowing the peppers to stick.  Otherwise, as soon as a strong gust of dry wind comes along, it's gone,  and you're replenishing this expensive method.

Well, if you find something that works, be sure to let me know!

Thank you so much for stopping in, please say hello if you can!  I love hearing from you! You know, I had a lot of grief getting this post on.  As you can see, it's titled Tuesday's Tickle!  Well, needless to say, blogger was acting up on me yesterday evening, and would not save the post properly.  I had to rewrite at least half of it, UGH!  But, even though it is now Wednesday,  I am keeping the title.  I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful evening, or, morning, whichever the case.

Thank You:
Yahoo
Google
http://gardenguides.com
http://ehow.com

This is one tough Cowboy...note the band-aid on his wrist, lol!

See you next time

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Raindrops!

~Canna and Vinca * photo by Suzanne * June 9, 2013


Hi everyone!  Hope this Sunday finds you all well, and ready for the hot summer that is creeping our way!  We had a pretty good rain storm in the wee hours of the morning in Fort Worth with lots of low, rolling thunder, and puffs of lightning here and there. It didn't hurt my feelings any, because I knew I didn't have to get up for work this morning, so, I chuckled to myself, and, snuggled deeper under the covers...of course, I went back to sleep!  That's why I didn't get outside early enough to beat the sun's drying the beads of rain from my gardens.  I did catch some raindrops on my canna though, and, managed to get my shoes wet in the grass!

We've been working pretty hard at MyTexasGardens this spring.  The weather has been a blessing up to this point, so we were able to rejuvenate most of the floral gardens with some nice plantings.  And, I have planted seeds of 'Zinnia', 'Shasta Daisies', and 'Sweet Peas'...just some old favorites.  The 'zinnias' and 'daisies' have popped little sprouts in their little rows now, thank you rain!  It is so hard to decide on flowers to plant, because there are so many gorgeous jewels out there!  And, you can get ahead of yourself, too much at one time!  Been there, lol!

Here we are under the Mulberry tree...at last, the mulberries are about all gone, just a few remain at the very tops of the tree.  The squirrels and various birds have had their spring feast, and, they are allotting me my space now to nourish this garden as I see fit.  We've got Saint Francis guarding the plantings...he is centrally located, and, is able to watch the entire property of gardens.  For that I am grateful.

As you can see, we have planted 'vinca major' plants all around the tree...that was done right around Easter at the end of March.  Then, with Rusty's help, we placed brightly colored 'impatiens' throughout, and, in front of the 'vinca' for pops of color.  And, it just so happened that I had some 'caladium' bulbs-we went behind the vinca and shared the bulbs all around the tree.  Yay!!!  They are coming up now...we did get them out early in the last week of April, meeting the May 1st deadline with time to spare, although I wish I'd had more of them.  Can you see the 'asparagus fern' beneath the little, worn out ladder?  Well, that's been there since I planted it in 1996, and, it just keeps on giving, it's beautiful!  Last week Rusty and I planted some 'Christmas' fern on the other side, since I couldn't find any small pots of asparagus fern, can't wait to see if it will flourish as the other plants and flowers have.  In the fall I will try to dig some of the asparagus fern up and share it around the tree.  It has been hardy, and hearty!!!


~photos by Suzanne * June 9, 2013

~a sneak peek at my 'private' garden * photo by Suzanne * June 9, 2013
This garden is in a shaded area on the north side of the yard.  It receives sun during the mid-morning hours.  In the lower lefthand area, I have some violets....ooooh!  They really love the shade.  Violets are so hardy...and, they can multiply quickly.  They serve as great border plants, not reaching over 7-10 inches in height.  Then, of course, you can see the 'all invasive' vinca major.  At the back of the garden, grows mondo grass, aka liriope.  Originally, I just stashed it there, but it has become an inspiration, and, keeps me motivated to tuck a bit of color here and there, 'privately'!

My private garden is still a work in progress.  Remember last year, I think in August, when Ms. Suzanne from KardKornerKrib wrote about the 'Sky Bauble'?  Well, she did show some armillary globes in various garden settings, and, mentioned that I should try to feature one such globe in one of my gardens.  I found one on Amazon that was reasonably priced, and ordered it!  Here it is sitting on an old concrete column, that was a cast-a-away from my sweet mother-in-law.  The column was abandoned for a time, and, then offered to me!  I've had it for quite a few years myself...now, it has found its place, and will serve as a memorial to my mother-in-law, Dorothy, who passed away in December of 2009!  And, I will post more photos of the private garden as it continues to evolve.

Just a few notes
1.  Vinca is very invasive.  It puts out long runners that attach to the soil, and root quickly.  We have kept the vinca plants under the Mulberry tree trimmed so as not to choke out the Impatiens.  
2.  Impatiens are also shade-loving plants.  Their bright colors pop against the variegated leaves of the vinca.
3.  Caladiums are a great way to anchor any flower garden, whether at the back or as bordering plants.  In the fall, you can dig up your Caladium bulbs, and store in newspaper and paper bags, with some peat moss or a little potting soil, and, keep indoors throughout the winter.

I have found that the three above-mentioned plants compliment each other, and, yes, they do get along...providing you keep the 'vinca' under control!

And, now, my gracious readers, I must bid you adieu.  I hope you've enjoyed your visit, and, were able to get some of your gardening questions answered (especially regarding vinca!).  I must admit, I am not really ready for the 100° this summer, and, we're expecting temps in the 90's this week in Fort Worth!  The city wants us to water the lawns only twice a week.  But, we'll do what we can to keep the gardens alive, won't we?



Thank You:
Yahoo
Google
Amazon

~Stop by and say hello if you get the chance.  I'm always glad to see you.
  Take care, and be safe!

~Pawpaw and Scootie * March 31, 2013

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Treat Me to a Tree!

~photo by Suzanne * April 29, 2013

When on the road, I keep my eyes open at all times, trying to take in all that's out there for me!  And, you know, I'm always searching for cool and unusual things to photog and write about. 

I spotted this strange tree, I guess, a little over a week ago on my way home from work-the sun was gleaming on the burgundy leaves and the fuzzy stuff was glowing.

  I said, as usual, "What the...?"  "What did I just see, is my vision out of focus...did I just imagine fuzzy stuff  on top of a red tree?"

Well, I've been stewing about this tree ever since, and, continue to glance at it as I drive by.  I finally decided I should take my camera with me to work one day, then stop by and get some shots of this masterpiece.  And, maybe the homeowners would come outside and visit with me about it.

Needless to say, it was a bright sunny day when I made my detour onto the street beside this property, and, when I got to the yard, I noticed a 'BEWARE OF DOG SIGN'.  Bah, Humbug!!!

The yard is totally fenced in, but I managed to get my shots, heck-the wind was blowing to 'beat the band', and I worried that the pics would be out of focus.   No sign of a dog anywhere, so you see, to get this top photo closeup, I leaned totally over the fence!  No one came out of the house, and I chose not to enter the yard to knock on the door.  

So you ask, "What the heck is that bizarre-looking object, posing as a tree?"
Why, it's a 'Red Smoke Tree'!  This is the first time I've ever seen the likes of this!

Of course, I did!!! I did do a little bit of homework- after typing in 'fuzzy tree', trees with red leaves and fuzzy flowers, and fuzzy red trees, in order to find out what it is!

This tree blooms in the spring with the fluffy plumes surrounding it like 'puffs of smoke'.  Some folks refer to it as a 'poodle tree', that's funny! 

~here is the full length view of the tree
(as I straddled the fence, lol!) 
Oh, and I'm still bewaring of the dog while I snap the photo!

* It's a tough landscape plant that can tolerate dry conditions (a plus in Texas) 
* It's capable of growing 12-15ft. with a 12ft. spread
* It's indigenous in zones 5-8 ranging from Iowa to Texas (of course!) 
* Thrives in full to partial sun (Texas Ahoy!)
* Resistant to insects and other damaging pathogens
* Can survive in various soils:  acidic, alkaline, sandy, clay

And, I found that it is available in other colors too! You have a golden smoke tree that turns lime green in the summer and orange to red in the fall.
And, not only is there a purple smoke tree, there is also a pink one, that also turns red and orange.

So, if any of you folks have a hankerin' for a 'smoke tree', it looks as though it could be a worthwhile project!  This tree appears to be young yet, but, I think it's a fine specimen...don't you?

Thank you so much for stopping by-it is 43° in Fort Worth, Texas this evening...a drop from the 80's yesterday, and, I understand it has snowed in Kansas City this afternoon!   I will have to take some plants in tonite, as it is expected to drop to around 34° by morning.  
I love it!

I gathered some of my info from:


Hugs to you all!
Have a wonderful weekend...be safe!
See you next time!♥

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Two-Stepping Into Spring!

~Grandson Shawn * Easter Sunday * March 31, 2013

Can you hear it?  Spring's sweet 'cantata'...making it's way over meadows and fields, winding in and out of  streams and rivers, whisking it's way into nature's gardens.  And, along the way, it deposits droplets of vibrant color in the form of blossoms and blooms, showcasing the onset of a most anticipated and revered season! Phew!!!  Did I spit that out, or what?

As for me?  I've been quite the bum thus far, basking in the warm sun, with cool breezes that lend just enough comfort to keep me feeling fresh and renewed...ah yes! 

*** 
But, my laziness was to subside quickly...come Easter Sunday, up at the crack of dawn with 'Scootie', he got to come for the weekend, and was more than ready for the Easter Bunny (literally)!  It had rained heavily on Friday nite, and, was still pretty damp outside come Easter Sunday morning. 
 But, we had to get those eggs out!  

~Shawn * Easter morning, March 31, 2013

As the day went on, the sun became more obliging, and we were all outside enjoying the day with our little 'Scootie'.  While he was happily showing Pawpaw where he found Easter goodies, his dad (Rusty) was busy working in one of my gardens, that had succumbed to the hideous heat of the past two summers.  It is a rather large flower bed that encircles the huge, old Mulberry tree.

Vinca Major
~photo by Suzanne * March 31, 2013

My current garden help, Rusty, had cleaned out this bed, and, he wanted to put something in it.  In 1995, I had purchased 2 small pots of Vinca Major, the plants you see in the photo above.  Note, I said TWO pots at around  $2.25 each!  And, over the years, my 'two' plants have become '200' plants (lol!)... it has jumped over to the south side and the north side of the yard, and taken hold.  Since we didn't have any new plants for this bed and Rusty was very eager to put something there, I suggested he dig up some of the Vinca around the yard and plant it around the tree.
The photo above shows the first installments.
***Now, Vinca is a member of the Periwinkle family, and vinca major is actually an 'herbaceous' plant that disappears in the winter, and, soon pops back out in the very early spring. If you'll recall, we did a study on this very blog about 'herbaceous' plants just last fall in September.  Herbaceous plants have little or no wood in their structure, and usually die back at the end of their season to where you can't even tell if they're still there!  Then, presto!  They come back for the new season.  Vinca major is only herbaceous to a point in MY yard.  It is a ground cover that is virtually shade loving.  When the summer gets too hot, the leaves turn a papery light brown, and I will have to cut them back.  Then as it cools down in the fall, they begin to re-appear, and, most of the plants will be evergreen throughout the winter...go figure! And, once a year, depending on their mood, they will bloom lilac colored little periwinkles.  I don't know if it depends on the sun, or what...I just accept the blooms when they come!

Here's what the bloom looks like...mine aren't blooming right now (of course).

Hey!  I guess you could say this plant is unpredictable, couldn't you?
We don't know when it will bloom...
...We don't know where it will pop up next!
It's not totally seasonable-comes and goes as it pleases!
I've read some comments about vinca...some say it's 'devilish', oh...THAT'S NOT NICE!  Yes, it is true, vinca major is invasive-it will hop all over a neighborhood I suppose.  But, mine is variegated and so lovely.  I just let it go where it may.  If I don't approve of a spot it has chosen, I just dig it up and move it, or pot it and give it away!


Here, you see, the vinca has grown on the south side of my yard, and, Rusty is digging it up in clumps to transport them via the 'Red Flyer' wagon to their new home under the Mulberry tree.  To the left of Rusty up against the fence, is quite a bit more!  

And, now, this part of the makeover is about completed.  Rusty has planted 'umpteen' clumps of Vinca Major around this massive tree!  
photos by Suzanne * March 31, 2013

"Ka-Ching!"

Well then, I decided that we should add some color to the vinca plantings...something that is shade-loving, and color-popping!  I decided on Impatiens, and high-tailed it to my local WalMart, where I knew I could find them...and, they were incorporated in front of the vinca to fill the spaces.   And, finally, last week, we planted some caladium bulbs behind the vinca, so I can't wait to see how they look when they appear.  You know, the deadline for planting caladiums is May 1st, so I'm right on time.

* And, I will need to stay on top of the vinca spreading and possibly choking out my impatiens...this brings forth another customer complaint..."It's aggressive and a nuisance to keep in bounds!"
  Here's a good one.  "I hate this stuff, it is a major headache!"
And, "It will jump any edging to take over your lawn!"

OK, OK..granted, all of this is true!  But, here is this same garden a few years ago.
Note the gorgeous vinca climbing up the wood ladder!  It was a great backdrop for my pink coleus and white caladiums...oh, and there are some begonias bordering around the edging, and gladiolas flanking either side.  This was probably the most lovely garden I ever designed.  There were pink hydrangeas on either side of St. Francis...I will show another view in a future post.
~photo by Suzanne * Fort Worth, Texas
September 2009

Never fear, my gracious readers...I will keep you posted on the progress of the plantings.  In the meantime, I am also working on a couple of other projects.  My private garden has been neglected...Rusty cleaned the area up, and we are currently making some new, fresh, 'easy maintenance' plans for this garden.  I sent a sneak preview of it to my sidebar.

As you know, we had high winds a couple of weeks ago resulting in an old tree splitting and taking down phone lines and electrical lines with it!  GAH!!! We are so relieved to be past that, and grateful that it wasn't any worse (although it was quite expensive).  The company that came and took out the tree did a wonderful job-I mean-they cleaned up all the debris and took it with them!
Thanks, guys for a great job!

And, thank you my great blogmates for your good wishes and prayers coming our way to the folks in West, Texas, who are sadly, but bravely, picking up the pieces after that horrific explosion.  Stop by and say hello if you get the chance.  It's a beautiful, sunny day in Fort Worth...Scootie is in residence!  I believe I'll make a spot of Columbian coffee and venture outdoors to see if I can get my hands dirty!

*** Thisisme, I'm glad you enjoyed my Peace roses...but, your roses still rule!


*** Take care, I'll see you soon!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Will the Elder 'Berry' Please Stand Up?

This is how I got my start!!!


My sister sent me this card for my birthday this past December.  Somehow she always manages to come up with a Birthday card that signifies some of the events that took place during our childhood, -that being, they almost always ring true!  And, she admits it!  She'll say, "Does this look familiar?"  Or..."does this remind you of anything?"  These cards are always hilarious!!!  I mean-it's like she has her own greeting card company designing these cards just for her!  Anyway, it is a cute card...I'm sure other siblings can identify with it too!
Thank you Leta for the really ORIGINAL and fun card!
So,  I called you all here today, to announce an annual garden event.  Every year since 1994, the International Herb Association has chosen a specific herb to be designated as 'herb of the year'.  And, I am excited to reveal that the herb of the year for 2013 is the 'Elderberry', also known as the 'Englishman's grape'.


The Elderberry is a  soft-stemmed shrub that is usually found growing along fence lines and wet areas, native to the Southeastern U.S.  These shrubs are a member of the honeysuckle family and can reach heights of 12' to 20'.  Elderberry can grow at edges of swamps, ditches and lakes.  They can also be found throughout Florida and the Gulf region to Mexico.

Elderberry blooming along a creek bottom

In the early to mid-summer, the Elderberry will bloom large white clusters of flowers...many times, these shrubs are grown in gardens just for their showy flowers.

~aren't they pretty?

Did I hear you ask "Are there any uses and benefits of the Elderberry?"  Well, Elderberry has been used for centuries to treat wounds, when applied to the skin.  And it is also used in treating flu and allergies, relieving nasal congestion, and helping to reduce swelling of sinuses.
(I could have used some of that a month ago, lol!)

* In European folklore, fairies and elves would appear if you sat underneath an elder bush on a midsummer night.  And, elderberries were known to ward of witches.

I know, I know...you want to hear the good stuff about the grand Elderberry Wine, don't you?  Well, it is said to have health benefits too-it helps strengthen the immune system.  And, the wine is pretty- I have not ever partaken of Elderberry Wine, but according to Elton John it is a hot item.


~looks a little wicked to me!

Sometimes, white-tailed deer will feed on the leaves of the elderberry.  And, over 50 species of songbirds, robins, mockingbirds and gray catbirds feed on the elderberries.  So, we know that the sweet, juicy fruit appeals not only to us folks as jellies, pies and wine, but, also to some of our beautiful wildlife, as well.

I don't know about you guys, but, I don't recall ever seeing an Elderberry bush.  If so, I didn't know what it was.  I did find in my Burgess Seed and Plant catalog that you can order Elderberry bushes, 18-24" size at $9.99 a pair.  Hmmmm....thinking about trying it out-but, I would have to find a swampy, kind of damp area of the yard for planting.  You can also order elderberries at:
http://store.isons.com 
http://elderberrylife.com
www.naturehills.com

And, it's time for membership renewal at the Greater Kansas City Herb Study Group for 2013.  This group maintains an herb garden at Loose Park in Kansas City, Missouri.  They enjoy luncheons once a month, with a visiting speaker or a field trip to some beautiful gardens out of the city.  My mother is a member and assists with organizing the programs and luncheons for the club.  She also, helps design and plant the herb gardens for the club. For the past several years, Susan over at KardKornerKrib has designed and printed the membership applications with the itinerary for the year for the Herb Club.  Below is what the front of this year's membership flyer looks like.  More than likely, Susan will feature the flyer in its entirety on her 'My Stuff' page over at the KardKorner.
***
And, now...back to the 'elder' Berry!!!
 It's my sister, of course!
Our maiden name is Berry, and, she is the eldest.  Her birthday is coming up in February, and, I'm already on the lookout for a unique card idea (will have to get that KardKorner gal to help with the design)!

Thanks to:
Wikipedia
Google
Yahoo
Univ of Maryland Med Center (article on Elderberry)
Florida Forest Trees (article on Elderberry)
http://wildmanstevebrill.com

And, my heartfelt thank you to my gracious readers for stopping by to see what I've been up to.  I sincerely hope you all are staying well and healthy.  My goodness, that horrible flu, pneumonia and all of those other virus strains are taking toll on us this year!!!  Please be safe-drink a lot of fluids...well, I have learned that Elderberry wine, can assist in warding off cold and flu, haha!

* Happy Australia Day * and, prayers for a bit of relief from the heat over there!

* Devon, UK...I'm wishing sunshine your way!

***
"Drunk all the time,
Feeling fine on Elderberry wine-
those were the days."

Taken from the song 'Elderberry Wine',
written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin in October 1972

Sir Elton John

Be safe!  See you next time!