Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Show off!

We've had some show offs in the yard lately.  The Garden King, a large green anole who inhabits the front garden bead, was dewlaping on Sunday, and Jacob was able to get several fantastic photos of him in action.  He is a healthy, strong beauty!  Thanks for the pictures, my dear!



Hey Baby!
We also have two TX Spiny Lizards living in our elm tree.  They have been displaying, too, but they don't have a dewlap and instead show off with push ups.  One was doing his exercise with such vigor that he almost fell from the tree limb as he bobbed up and down.  These are the only photos I've been able to get of them, and I realize they aren't the best.  The dark tree shadows, and leery critters prevented clearer pictures.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Austin Bonsai Show

A classic bonsai tree, Juniper,
 in an impressive cascading pose.  
Yesterday, Jacob and I attended the Austin Bonsai Society's show at the Zilker Botanical Garden.  I love my three bonsai trees, and sometimes, okay it's more like often, waste time by looking at bonsai trees online.  So, getting to see approximately 75 beautiful trees in person was wonderful.  I got to see many of the species that are for sale online, but with a small photo I've often wondered what they are really look like.  There were many styles and types of trees represented from indoor to outdoor, flowering, dwarf varieties, and specialty plants.  I wish there was a info card with the trees saying how old it is, if it was sprouted from a seed, or dug up originally, but that's part of the art and mystery of bonsai.

Brazilian Raintree

The show inspired me to seek out answers to how they get the leaves to grow so thick, and other questions which lead me to find this website and blog.  The writer really gives useful instructions that are more detailed than many other bonsai websites that I've tried.

Okay here are some beautiful bonsai from the show!  Which one's my favorite?  It's hard to choose, I like them all!  You can never have too many bonsai!  

Chinese Fig, I love the thick leaves, and over all shape.
Check out those roots!
A dramatic display on lava rock, tells a story.
a hobbit house (the funnest tree!)

TX persimmons, one of my favorite TX trees.  I sprouted two seedlings last year
which makes me wonder how old is this bonsai.  
Japanese maple- classic form for a classic tree

Japanese maple- group planting
Ginko planted in three. 

A Bougainvillea vine in bloom
Fukien tea can be grown indoors
Lantana- a flowering shrub.  I love that someone
saw the bonsai shape in an nontraditional
bonsai plant.   
Neea buxifloia-  I just love the thick, small leaves,
and overall shape.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Plant Experiments

Jacob and I often have different opinions about trying new things.  Jacob's in the camp of stick with what you know you like, but I like trying different things.  Most of the time Jacob wins.  My new shoes are a good example, instead of sticking with my old brand of shoes I decided to try a different kind.  (I miss my old hiking boots.)  Our difference in opinions includes food.  There have been several lunchtime meals when I have experimented on myself and wished I hadn't.  However, not all my experiments turn out bad.  If I hadn't done some experiments, I would never have tried making a quiche (now one of our favorite meals), or tried brie cheese and mango filled crepes (yum!)

May 2012
What about the garden; should you stick with what you know or experiment?  Gardening seems to be a balance between finding the right crop/variety for your space, learning to anticipate pests and other problems so what you plant has a chance, and trying new things.  My gardening space is pretty small, and there isn't much room to experiment.  Plus, a plant experiment takes months to complete unlike some lunch menus gone south.  The things that I usually grow have been narrowed down by what we like to eat, and what seems to grow well in our soil.  We usually grow peas, broccoli  and onions in the winter, and tomatoes, peppers, and green beans in the summer.  We both love cucumbers, but each attempt has been met with aphids, vine borers, and bitter fruit.  Squash do poorly because of vine borer insect pests.  Watermelon didn't grow very well, and then got eaten by a rabbit.  I don't have enough space for corn.  Once I grew eggplant, and it did great only to discover, that Jacob and I don't really like to eat eggplant.  I found a good plan for me is to plant one or two new things each year with a balance of dependable crops that we enjoy.

 This year's experimental addition is Tomatillo!  Tomatillo is related to tomatoes and peppers, a member of the solanceae plant family.  It makes a fruit similar to a tomato, but the fruit stays green and the sepal (bud covering) makes a papery bag around the fruit.  I'm excited to see how it will do.  So far, it's making a bunch of pretty yellow flowers.  Since I've had luck with other solanceae family members I am hopeful that I will get fruit.  I hope to be snacking on chips and tomatillo salsa soon, and who knows maybe Jacob will enjoy it, too.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ready or not here comes summer.

We're right in the transition between spring and summer.  It is like a bucket brimming with water; one more tiny drop will send water over the edge.  The cool weather plants are just about done, and the hot weather plants are getting ready.  Last week, was probably the last time until next September that I will make a quiche or other baked item that requires the oven on more than 20 minutes.  (I hope I'm wrong I like using the oven.) The days and night temperatures are just about perfect, and I am enjoying time outside in the sun and shade.  The knowledge that the nice weather won't last long makes it all the sweeter, and I hope you get outside too.

Who's the Summer Garden King?

This guy- He's the big daddy Green Anole, and is about 7 inches long with thick neck muscles, and a beautiful dewlap (I really wanted of picture of him dewlaping, but no luck.)  Long live the king!

Yesterday I pulled down my wall of pea plants.  I enjoyed eating and sharing the sweet veggies with co-workers.  Behind the wall of peas is a row of Zinnias getting ready to bloom and they are happy the sun blocking peas are gone.  I need a lower growing flower to plant in front of the zinnas.  I prefer something I can plant with seeds, and something attractive to bees and butterflies.  Does anyone have a suggestion?

The first sunflowers and Mexican Hat blooms have appeared.  I will have more of these blooms to attract bees, and other pollinators soon.

A few caterpillars are already munching on the passion-vine growing to Gulf Fritillary butterflies before the vine can get up above the sunflower stalks.  Another caterpillar was spotted on my elm tree.  The caterpillar will become a Tawny Emperor Butterfly, unless the Mockingbird finds it for it's hungry chicks.