Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Notes

Flowers are blooming, birds are migrating, the sun is coming up earlier and getting hotter.  Change is in the air.  Here are some spring notes and photos for you to enjoy.

There are several flowers blooming, but fewer wildflowers than usual because of low amounts of rain received in Austin this winter.  It's fun to see the early bloomers in full dress and the late bloomers getting ready.  

Pink Evening Primrose: some of the prettiest flowers are the ones that come up volunteer.

Texas's Favorite flower; Bluebonnets!
Did you know that they have a pleasant fragrance?

Verbena: This one's wild but I've planted more in the garden.

Winter snapdragons 

I planted Johnny-Jump-Ups again this year, and I hope the variegated Fritillary Butterfly caterpillars come back to eat them.  It's weird to hope the caterpillars eat your plants. 
The Sunflowers are growing and should be blooming by May!

If you are thinking of starting a summer vegetable garden now is the time to put tomato and pepper transplants in the dirt.  You can also start squash, melons, green beans before the temperature gets too hot.  Here's a link to SFC publications on what and when to plant stuff in Austin.  

Some winter veggies, peas and a leek, with zinnia sprouts coming up.  Since Jacob and I are moving this summer we decided not to plant tomatoes and peppers, but it sure feels weird not to be putting them in the dirt.  I'll have a flower garden instead.     
The first winter we were here I planted arugula from Seed Saver Seeds.
Offspring of these plants came up and bloomed.  

Bonsai all leaved out!
Migrating birds are coming through Austin.  I've been lucky to see some warblers, hummingbirds, shorebirds, swallows, and hopefully many more before summer arrives.  Many of our winter ducks have already said 'see ya.' I'll be posting more on bird migration in the next few weeks, but don't forget to keep your binoculars handy.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bear 71

 This image of Bear 71 video and map is from

My father-in-law sent me the link to a thought provoking video called Bear 71.  Bear 71 is the story of a Grizzly Bear living in Banff National Park in Canada.  The video is 20 minutes long, but is broken into chapters so you can leave and come back.  You can also read the the story if you don't like the human voice.  I don't want to tell you too much about this story, because I want to know what you think about it.  Do you like it, hate it, do you think the people who wrote it have a point, or are they crazy?   I personally can't stop thinking about this story even though I there are some aspects that don't like much.

The story also has a map that you can explore with while you are listening.  It's fun and engaging on a different level.  It seems like the producers did a good job presenting serious information in a fun and multi-sensory way.  I think about how to engage people at the Nature Center.  I hope people think about ideas discussed at the Nature Center after they leave just like this video left me interested to know more.

Okay check you the story-  What do you think the story and how they presented it?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bonsai Alive

I love Bonsai Trees!  I think they are incredibly beautiful, and a rewarding hobby.  Growing a bonsai tree takes patience, planning, and consistency.  The most artful bonsai are well balanced, look and often are old, and tell a story.  

I got my first bonsai tree, a juniper, as a Christmas present in 2009.  

I'm so happy to share that my Chinese Elm is leafing out.  It's coming back to life!  I've been worried all winter because I lost my dwarf holly tree, and almost lost the elm, too.  (I didn't say that I have all the skills for growing bonsai!)  When it cooled off in Austin back in late September, I forgot to continue watering regularly.  The tree dropped all it's leaves, but now all the branches have tiny buds with leaves.

This Elm is a favorite because I started training it as a bonsai in 2010.  I found where someone had run over it with a lawnmower; creating a short stocky tree.  I dug it up, kept it a one gallon tree pot for about a year, and then put it in it's pot in 2011.

Spring 2013
Summer 2012

New life

So Sad, Remember to Water.

This winter I've dug up 2 more trees; a ball acacia-like plant and another elm.  I like to say that I rescued the trees both were growing in the wrong places; one in a pile of dirt in a school yard, and the other in a flower bed.  I see a lot of potential in each of the plants.  

Elm II, Will it Survive?
I've only had Elm II about 3 weeks, and I'm waiting to see if it will survive being dug up and potted. What you can't see is a rock that I've placed the roots around.  When the tree goes into the bonsai pot, the rock and roots will stick up out of the dirt an look really old and Awesome!

Acacia-like Tree

This Acacia looks great, and I think it will be a fun tree.  Since, it is naturally a small plant that often goes through droughts, I think it has a good chance to make it as a bonsai.  

Jacob made all three bonsai pots! Aren't they beautiful!  Half the bonsai is it's pot.  Thanks, my dear. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A week with mom

You may have noticed that I didn't get a post in last week.  That's because my mom was visiting, and we were pretty busy!

We made a quilt for a friend who's having a baby.  We went to Ft. Hood to visit my brother and his girlfriend, John and Nikki, who are both in the horse detachment. We visited the Natural Gardener and South Congress shopping area.  I took mom to work with me at the Nature Center.  We walked the dogs, watched murder mysteries, sat on the porch, and sipped hot drinks.  It was a nice to share and be together.