Monday, December 31, 2012

Rounding up the year - garden projects completed.

Can't wait to see if cleaning and amending
the iris bed pays off with spring blooms!

It is gray, foggy and drizzly outside, and a cool 58 degrees: perfect weather for reflecting on garden accomplishments of the past year. 

Nearly a year ago, I posted about my garden plans for the year 2012. Four projects were on my list, some in varying states of completion.

You know how these New Year’s Resolution lists are. Generally they end up making one feeling inadequate, lazy or incompetent. Take your pick.

I blogged about the completion of this project in September, You just can't rush these things.
I am pleased to post, however, that I actually completed every project on my list.

This is probably the first time in my entire life that a New Year’s Resolution list has been fulfilled completely. If I had known this would be such a successful list, I could have added additional, important items to it:  GET A JOB  (oops, sorry, did not mean to shout that), finish a cross-stitch project (underway since at least 2010), write a novel.

Completed rock garden out front;
apparently I never blogged about this!

More of the rock garden, which extends
across the front yard and parking area.

Bed populated with blue mistflower. If you are familiar with this plant,
you know that it will fill in the bare spaces very quickly!

Perhaps it is best to keep the list small and manageable.

I hope you were equally productive with your projects. Even if you weren’t, I hope you had a wonderful time dreaming about your projects and spending time in your garden. After all, that is the most rewarding part of gardening, is it not?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ode to the modern Santa.

‘Twas a few days before Christmas, and all through the house,
all the creatures were stirring (though we don’t have a mouse).

The stockings were hung on the staircase with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas would soon be there.

The children were rushing hither and yon,
Visiting friends, buying presents, and eating bon-bons.

And Dad in his flannel shirt, and I in my sweater,
Were working last minute to make Christmas better.

In the kitchen, I’d been baking: cookies and bread
While Dad sawed and created out in the shed.


When out on the yard there arose such a clatter,
I threw open the door to see what was the matter.

Outside on the lawn, dusty grass and limestone
Helped to create a dry, Texas tone.

The wind tossed dried leaves up and around,
And the sun lit up grasses, green and brown.

What to my wondering eye should appear
But a large brown truck drawing quickly near.

With a shorts-clad driver sporting a tan,
I knew in a minute he was the UPS man.

This is not my UPS man, but an apt photo
from the Lodi, California website.

He was dressed all in brown from his head to his foot,
His arms were quite brawny from lifting his loot.

His smile was so friendly as he asked if my name
Was Cynthia, and I told him it was the same.

He spoke no more words, but handed it over:
A box filled with presents for all my book lovers.

Stuffing his hand-held device in his pocket,
He turned and was off at the speed of a rocket.

He sprang to his truck, turned the key and backed out,
Waved jauntily out the window as he headed south.

But I heard him exclaim ere he drove round the bend,
“Merry Christmas to you, and to all of your friends!”

Ashe juniper Christmas tree, cut from our property.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Where's the rain?

It's a good thing to have drought-tolerant plants
when you garden in a drought-prone area:  Silver pony-foot
(Dichondra argentea) under Lindheimer's muhly
(Muhlenbergia lindheimeri), with spineless prickly pear
(Opuntia ellisiana, maybe).

We just wrapped up a November totally devoid of measurable rain. I can’t find any records for Hays County, but in Austin where they track such things the last dry November was in 1897.

As you know, this part of the country recently endured an extreme case of the dries during the summer of 2011, culminating in the terrible fire near Bastrop. The next summer and fall were reasonably wet. We gardeners were ecstatic! Probably the farmers and ranchers were pretty happy, too.

But anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with history (which accurately describes my acquaintance) knows that droughts can be multi-year events. The drought of record in Texas happened in the ‘50s, and lasted seven to 10 years (depending on the source). And when you see a factoid like this – the last dry November was 115 years ago – well, your heart sinks a little.

I read somewhere (and now can't remember where) that when very thirsty, the Agave americana's leaves start opening wider. These are pretty wide.

According to the U.S. Drought Portal, 82 percent of Texas is in moderate to extreme drought as of Dec. 4. Hays County is in the “moderate drought” category. To my recollection, we have been categorized in some drought category or other since 2011.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index measures forest fire potential on a scale of 0 (saturated soil) to 800 (completely dry soil). The majority of Texas counties, including Hays County, appear to be in the 500-600 level.

I may have posted this before, but I still find it fascinating so here it is again: an animation of the drought index:

I’m not a meteorologist, nor do I play one on television, but I’m beginning to wonder if drought is just Texas’ natural condition in the brave new world of climate change.

Days with 20%, 30% and 40% chances of rain continue pass by dry. Seems like there’s a good chance this drought is not through with us.

Favorite spot in the garden:  The white crape myrtle behind my porch swing is at last bowing to the season, and losing its leaves. The fall color of its leaves, decorating the tree and the ground underneath, really accentuate the red of its trunk.