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Saturday, September 16, 2017

We're Getting Close to Fall...aren't we?


~ Snailseed Vine * Fort Worth, Texas * photo by Suzanne

Well, howdy there, gardening podnahs!  We are now into the middle of September, and banking on an early fall.  Come next week, Autumn is supposed to become official!  Is it just a rumor?
 Also, I have not been very present on MyTexasGardens this summer, and, I apologize for that.  The weather has been pretty hot and muggy, and I just wasn't up for fighting off mosquitoes and pesky wasps!  Let's hope I become a bit more motivated as the weather cools down! 

The photo above is of a vine on my fence that faces south, and, this plant is a regular every Spring, and, into the Fall before Winter freezes it out.  They call it the Snailseed Vine, or, Moonseed Vine.  When I first saw this climbing the fence years ago, I would try to cut it off to get rid of it.  But, then I noticed the pretty little shiny berries, and have come to welcome the vine with an approving smile.  I don't cut it back anymore either, lol!

* Yahoo images

Snailseed vine grows easily throughout Texas, usually popping up in early Spring.   It is also capable of spreading itself around,  growing on shrubs, and hanging from trees.  The plant does not have thorns, as does the Greenbriar...ugh, I have some of that too!  And, yes...the berries can be toxic to humans, but, the birds love them!  I wonder why this Texas vine is called the Carolina Snailseed vine!  Could it be because it attracts the Carolina Chickadee?  Chickadees prefer nuts and sunflower seeds, but will eat berries in the winter.

~ Carolina Chickadee * photo by Suzanne

*** I had to work to get this photo...Chickadees move fast!  I got lucky on this one!

***

~ Here is another view of the Snailseed on my neighbor's side of the fence. 
 My white Oleander is in the background of the photo ~  
* taken by Suzanne 9-16-17 *

Even though I did not plant this vine, I did find that you can purchase the seeds for planting, or harvest your own seeds.  You simply peal the fruit off of a ripe berry and the seed is actually shaped like a snail!  EW!  The berries are pretty small, and I did not want to dive into that one, so I sleuthed (is that a word?) the internet, and found a picture of the seed.  They can be planted in late Fall or early Spring, shallowly, in part shade to full sun, near a fence or trellis.  This plant is not capable of attaching to another wooded plant, so it will travel to find something suitable for climbing.  

Snailseed seeds *  Yahoo images

If the roots don't freeze out in the winter, you can count on this one returning in the Spring.  The berries will stay in order for the birds to enjoy them as the Winter progresses.  Then the leaves will die back, giving the appearance of a dead plant.  But, mine always returns!

***

So, there we have it my dear friends!  With a bit of summer left, going into fall, the grounds are changing, and the trees are taking on new meaning,  My Pecan trees are loaded, and the squirrels are busy trying to get some of the nuts buried!

I believe we're well on our way to a productive Autumn season, don't you agree?

* Pecan tree * photo by Suzanne July 29,2017 * Fort Worth, Texas

****
Thank you so much for coming by today. It has been a stressful time for many folks who have suffered through recent Hurricanes and devastating flooding.  There have also been some tragic wildfires, destroying wooded areas and homes.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you all!

***

The elementary school that my grandson attends, pulled together and reached out to all parents and staff for donations of supplies to aid the victims of  Hurricane Harvey in Texas.  These supplies will be distributed to various churches and shelters this coming week to help displaced families.
Below is a photo of  the supplies donated by my Grandson's third grade class.

Thank you third graders for your kindness!  

~ photo by Suzanne * 3rd Grade pod * September 15, 2017

*Please stop in and say hello if you have time.  I welcome all visitors, of all ages!  And, I appreciate all comments, even if it's just a hello!   
Be safe, and have a great week ahead!
See you next time💝

*Hi Mom!

Thank you:
West Birdville Elementary School
Wikipedia
Google
Blogger
davesgarden.com 
wildflower.org
npsot.org (Native Plant Society of Texas)

***


"Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible!"
~Mother Teresa






Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Fine-Feathered Visit!

~ Yellow-crowned Night Heron * photo by Suzanne * June 5, 2017

Just when you're grumbling, and whining about cleaning up the kitchen from dinner, your mind turns to gaze through the window...and, WHAT in the world is that?  There were two odd looking birds,  standing in my back yard, seemingly watching me through the window!  Slowly, I dried my hands and whispered as I headed for my camera, "Oh my gosh, what are they?  Can I sneak out the back door to get some shots?"  Of course, one of them got spooked and flew up into a tree, while the other one decided to have a little fun with me, and stopped to observe from the soccer goal.  I got out there okay, and continued to ease up closer with each picture I took.

Later, after downloading my catch, I checked the internet to search for what I thought could be some kind of Heron, and, my suspicions were correct!  A Yellow-crowned Night Heron in MY yard?  He, or she is a long-legged, stocky bird, kind of elegant in appearance.  I mean, it has a large black head, crowned in yellow with what looks like a couple of long, white feathers draped down the back giving the appearance of an Indian headdress!  And, look at that beak!

* Here's looking at you, kid!

* photo by Suzanne

I don't know why they chose my property, but, I'm glad they did!  These Herons hang around wetlands, and feed on crustaceans and crayfish.  Well, I don't think there are any shrimp or crabs in our "Little Fossil Creek" down the street, but, I'll bet they can find some crawdads there!  They will also eat snails and earthworms...they came to the right place!  Their usual breeding habitat is along rivers and creeks, swamps and even drainage ditches in urban wooded areas!  And, I found out that both male and female are very similar in appearance, which leaves no clue as to their gender.  I'll have to assume that since there were two of them, I had one of each!  The long legs are to be a coral, pink or red color when they are courting, but the legs on this one looks a grayish color...hmmm!  It is noted that the Yellow-crowned Heron can weigh one and a half to just under two pounds, and grow to about 2'4" in height.



Both male and female work together to build their nest. They gather and carry dead tree limbs and small branches, sometimes constructing a nest that is four foot across on the ground, or in a tree.  Their nest is usually completed in about 10 days, and lined with leaves and Spanish moss, where available.


* photo by Suzanne

After gracing me with a theatrical profile, the bird stretched upward and flew off!   I hope the pair found their way back to the creek, and, perhaps one day I will venture down to the banks and search for a nest.  We're having spurts of rain off and on in Fort Worth, and, sometimes the creek is running just a bit too fast for comfort.
***
Here is a short video I captured of our "Little Fossil Creek" running fast after a recent rain.
~ June 24, 2017

* I hope this video plays...I had a heck of a time getting it loaded on this post!  Please accept apologies if you cannot open it.  (I will continue to work on it)
***

* And, just a friendly reminder to proceed with caution any time you come upon a roaring creek after a heavy rain.  This is a small creek, but you can easily be swept away by the force of the water.

I want to thank the various sites I consulted to acquire information regarding the "Yellow-crowned Night Heron."  At this time I will not list the links on my post, due to some recent problems I have had  with security.  
Thank you Wikipedia, Houston Audubon, All About Birds, and WhatBird of North America.

***
Thank you dear readers and bird lovers for coming by today.  I do hope you are all doing well and are enjoying your summer!  If you get the chance, please say hello!
I'm always glad to see you!  All are welcome, any time!

       *  Happy 91st Birthday to my mom!        

* photo by Suzanne

"With brave wings she flies."  ~unknown

♥ See you next time!♥






Friday, March 24, 2017

As Spring Wanders Through!

Wild Onions * photo by Suzanne * March 15, 2017

Hello, dear readers, fellow blogmates, and, all newcomers!  I will just bet you all are excited that Spring has finally arrived!  I know...some of you are still experiencing the wrath of winter and out of the way rainstorms!  I hope those annoying spurts of  mother nature do settle down for you soon.

In the meantime, I'm taking stock of all that is growing and sprouting here at MyTexasGardens!   We get a little bit of everything as Spring makes its entrance.   As you can see in the photo above, I am the proud recipient of what is known as "Wild Onions"!  It's the strongest smelling perennial weed I have!  "Wild Onions" are a common grass-like weed, and happen to be cousins of the garden variety kind!  These onions can grow in cooler weather, (faster than grass), as well as in the sun.  The interesting thing about these onions, though, is that the bulbs go dormant as the weather warms up.  AHA!!!  That is why I don't see them in the heat of the summer season!  Sources inform us that "Wild Onions" are edible, however, we are advised against eating ANYTHING that grows on our lawns!  Don't worry...I'm not interested in digging them up for my relish plate, haha!

That brings us to the weed known as "false garlic".  Another source tells us that, "if it smells like an onion, it is safe to eat, but, if it smells like grass, it is toxic 'Crow's Poison', aka 'false Garlic' !   Crow's Poison looks like a wild onion, but does not SMELL like one! 


~Crow's Onion in bloom * yahoo images

I don't think I've ever seen "Crow's Onion"...the blooms are very pretty, aren't they!  In the future, I will beware of onions bearing beautiful flowers, with no aroma!  And, I guess, Rusty will continue to mow over the "Wildly" fragrant, hard to dig up, annoying onions we all know and love!

***
Well, here they are now!  My garden associates!  
Rusty and Scootie have planted a few herbs, peppers, and, green onions from seed in a small garden out in the back '40 of our property.  Some of the plants are sprouting up now, and there is quite a lot of excitement about it.


~photo by Suzanne * March 14, 2017


~photo taken March 15, 2017


By the way, I collected my "Wild Onion" information from:
lawn-care-academy.com
foragingtexas.com

***
And, now for a sneak preview of what's happening at MyTexasGardens!


~photo March 23, 2017
~These are Zinnias, sent to me from a classmate in Kansas.  He had an abundance of seeds after harvesting them in the fall.  This is my first planting...I will need to thin them out some as they grow.  No worries...I have plenty more seeds to plant!
Thank you so much, Mike!

***


~Hosta growing in broken clay pot, watching over a red Canna plant,
and cushioned by dead leaves from winter's frosty temps.
March 22, 2017

***


~Dianthus and Dusty Miller
I planted them in the fall, and they made it through our Texas winter!
March 22, 2017

***


~Mums from last Halloween 2016 coming back for a Spring show!
March 24, 2017

***

~ An all time favorite!  Bearded Iris budding out!
March 22, 2017



~First Iris bloom of the 2017 season * Blue Iris
photo 3-23-17

Well, my gracious readers, that is it for now.   Time sure does fly when you're having fun, doesn't it!  I hope you have enjoyed my post today.  I'm sure you may want to run outside and look for "Wild Onions", and "Crow's Poison"!   

While I'm here, I wish to express my sorrow to the families in London for the tragedy that occurred earlier this week.  We can't always find the answers to why these terrible acts occur...we can only pray for more peace in the future, worldwide.

Thank you so much for coming by!  I know there are a few of you out there who are pretty shy about stopping in to say hello! 
  I am here to encourage all shy folks to take deep breaths, stand up, and say hello!

Be safe!  Love and laugh!  Until next time!

Thank you Blogger  

Hi Mom! ♥


"It's Spring Fever!  That's what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want-oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so."
~ my old friend, Mark Twain

Look what just blew in!

~Early March 2012 * 3 years old * photo by Suzanne

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Calling for Spring!

* Gala  apple tree * photo by Suzanne *  Late February 2013

Hello dear readers!  Here we are dancing into early March with Spring around the corner!  I'm here to tell you, it's time to get busy with garden Spring clean up, and, pruning projects.  I don't know about you, but just thinking about all that needs to be done, makes my head spin!  UGH!!!


*** Well, anyway ***

Why are we here today?  We're going to prune my Gala apple tree that my husband Karo planted a few years ago.  If you saw my previous post, "A Sweet Gala Tribute", from October 3, 2016,  you know that now is the time to prune!  According to my research, you should prune these trees in late winter, or very early spring.  Well, folks-we've got a little of both going on right now!

note: The featured post on my sidebar is "A Sweet Gala Tribute" if you would like to read it.

*** I'll run through a little history first to bring us up to speed! ***

The first photo above is the little tree in late February of 2013.  I believe it was sometime in 2011 or 2012, as Karo was eating a Gala apple, he discovered a tiny root on one of the seeds in the core.  He planted the seed in a coffee can at first, then, later we potted it to see if it would continue to grow.   Below is this tree in the same pot, just a little over a year later.  See how it has grown!
* Gala apple tree * photo by Suzanne * April 24, 2014

Finally, I am able to convince Karo that it should be planted in the ground!
* photo by Suzanne * April 24, 2014


Karo staked it to an old broomstick handle, or a rake!



***  Now, look at the tree!  ***  This is late September 2016

I didn't know if the tree should be pruned or not, so I looked up the care of Gala apple trees, and did come across some suggested pruning tips.

***
a.  Suckers
b.  Stubs or broken branches
c.  downward growing branches
d.  rubbing or criss-crossing branches
e.  upward or interior branches
f.  competing leaders
g.  narrow crotches
h.  whorls



The above diagram was very helpful to me, I HOPE!!!
  Here is my tree after winter's winds and cooler temperatures "ravaged" its appearance!  The leaves turn an ugly dried brown, but not all of them will fall off the tree.
  It has quite a dead appearance, doesn't it?


* photo by Suzanne * February 28, 2017


* photo February 28, 2017

Here is the Gala after my "butcher", I mean, pruning job!  And, you can see the debris on the ground that I took from the tree.  Gosh, I hope I didn't mess it up!  Well, time will tell.

I noticed some nubs on the branches, and my heart was sinking as I pruned, AAGH!  This tree has never blossomed in the Spring, and I have hopes that it will this year.  Some of the other trees in the area are already blooming, however, these nubs could be leaf buds.  And, it might be a good idea to find some fruit tree nutrition to help boost it along.

The photo is out of focus, but, maybe you can see the nubs I'm speaking of.
I circled one of them.

* photo by Suzanne * February 28, 2017

Have any of you ever pruned an apple tree?  We had several established apple trees on a lot of our property in Kansas as I was growing up, but, my parents didn't prune them.   They were already producing apples and blossoms when we moved to that residence.  I guess I am a bit skeptical, but my fingers are crossed that this pruning will yield more growth, green leaves (again), and possibly some blossoms, followed by apples...one day!



I hope you enjoyed today's juicy program, and if any of you has an apple tree small enough to prune, maybe the tips I mentioned will help you out some.  If my tree blossoms or starts exhibiting some leaf growth, I will send a photo and keep you all updated.

In the meantime I will thank:
Blogger
Google
Yahoo Images
weekendgardener.net (for the diagram and pruning tips)
For the cute animations, I am grateful to fg-a.com

All photos of the apple tree were taken by me (property of Suzanne Prickett)


*** Thank you so much for coming by today.  Please stop in if you have time, and say hello.  I would love to hear from you anytime! ***



"Cling, Swing, Spring, sing,
Swing up into the apple tree."
~T S Eliot

Sending blessings to you all * Be safe * Love and Laugh a lot!
  Hi Mom!  



Saturday, January 28, 2017

An Herb with a "Kick"!


~photo by Suzanne * January 27, 2017

Here we are, rushing to the end of January, as the New Year pushes on!  I hope you all are now well-adjusted to writing 2017 with your dates instead of that "other one"!  We've had some pretty cool temperatures here in Fort Worth...I mean down in the 20's and 30's.  But, that's okay, I sure have enjoyed wrapping up in a blanket in front of the TV for a good Saturday nite movie!

The International Herb Association previously made its announcement that the "Herb of The Year" for 2017, is Coriander/Cilantro!  Well...hot dog!  They just happened to pick one of my favorites, and I can smell the fragrance of this herb as I type!


Cilantro, aka "Chinese Parsley" is a versatile plant, found to be used in cuisines all over the world.  The leaves, and Coriander seeds, which are the seeds of the plant are added for flavor to Chinese/Asian, Indian, Spanish and Tex-Mex dishes. 

~ Mexican Red Pozole * prepared by son, Rusty
photo by Suzanne February 2016


~ My Indian "Chicken Curry" * Prepared with Coriander Seed
However, Garam Masala spice can be used, which already has Coriander in it.
~photo by Suzanne

***
Cilantro is said to have a long history, dating back thousands of years.  It is native to regions around Southern Europe, Northern Africa, to Southern Asia.  It was brought to the British colonies of North America in 1670, being one of the first spices cultivated by the early settlers.  I also read that Coriander seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs-as food for the departed.


I am sure you will all agree that the fresh cilantro leaves are tastier than the dried.  You can even freeze it, then make flavored oil or vinegar to enjoy during fall and winter.  I like to tear them up a little bit to sprinkle on my salads, and, we all know that cilantro is an important ingredient for guacamole...yum!  On another of my home cooked dishes, I sprinkle cilantro leaves on top for that added "kick" before baking.

~ King Ranch Chicken (before baking)

All done!

~ photos by Suzanne * March 16, 2016

Other uses of cilantro include drying the leaves to use on greeting cards, or as botanical art.  Also, fresh cuttings are sometimes used in floral bouquets!
* These are great ideas!  Perhaps we should suggest the greeting card idea to the KardKornerKrib lady!  She could probably make some very nice cards.


~ Cilantro Watercolor

***
So, how about growing some of this "to die for", pungent, herb?  Well, they say it is reasonably easy to grow, yet a bit sensitive to certain weather conditions.  According to the Vegetable Gardener, cilantro does not abide hot weather!  This herb grows well in early Spring in Texas.  However, as the weather warms up to, let's say 75°, cilantro quickly begins to bloom, the term actually used is "Bolt"!  Before that happens, you can harvest the leaves, by removing the outer leaves first, and leaving the leaves inside to grow a bit more.  You can even put the leaves in water in your refrigerator.   


~Cilantro in bloom

I have raised Cilantro more than once.  Actually, I have planted it almost every year for many years, but gave up for a while because of the "bolting" events.  It grows fast, and is beautiful, but as they say, here come the blooms, and the plant shoots ups awkwardly!  I planted it in the ground one year, and did get to harvest some leaves, but when the blooms came, I was lost.  I read that you should cut the blooms off and the plant will continue to grow and produce the leaves.  Well...the plant died on me when I did that, go figure!  The following Spring, here comes my cilantro plant poking through the ground.  It grew and grew, like Jack's Beanstalk!



And, the leaves, though large and green, didn't project the fresh, pungent aroma that was present with the previous year's plant.  The stems were thick and tough.  The blooms came, but didn't stick around long enough to go to seed.  I tried to pull the plant up, because it was of no use to me that way.  It was so tough, I had to enlist the help of my son to dig and pull it out of the ground.  This past Spring, I planted Cilantro seed in a medium pot outside.  The plant did well, but as the weather warmed up, it did "bolt".  We did get to harvest some of the wonderful leaves before the blooms came, then, alas...the plant cratered!  😭

***
Here's what we will do this year:


1.  Cilantro should be grown in early Spring or Fall when the weather is cool.
2.  The plant requires mostly full sun, with some shade, in well-drained soil.
                 3.  Grow Cilantro in the ground with plenty of mulch on top of the roots.  This will keep the plants cooler when the weather warms up.
4. Plant them closer together, they will serve as shade for each other.
                 5.  As soon as the Coriander seeds from flowering turn brown, shake the seed heads over a paper bag, allow to dry, then store in airtight jars.

* I'm hoping to have better luck with each attempt at growing this fine herb!  Maybe some of you have grown it, and can give me some better tips.  I do, at least get some great enjoyment out of my cilantro before it "BOLTS"!

***
~My pot of Cilantro is the large gray one in front.  The other pots have, oh...Oregano, Parsley, Thyme and Mint in them.  Photo by Suzanne * April 2, 2016


Well, my gracious readers...it's time to 'sashay' on out of here for tonight!  I appreciate you coming by my blog, and hope you got a little "kick" out of my program!  Please stop in if you get the chance, and say hello...I would love to see you!

***  Hi Mom! ***

*** please note-images not taken by me, are courtesy of Yahoo Images ***

Thank You
Blogger
Yahoo Images
Google
Wikipedia

According to Oscar Wilde, "A flower blossoms for its own joy."


~ photo by Suzanne * Be safe * See you next time!