Monday, May 30, 2011

They’re Baaaaacccckkkk!!

One of my earliest posts was about how Pat plants Sunflowers in the most random spots around the yard.  In my quest for photos this weekend, I found that the Sunflowers are making a comeback.  They literally are blooming overnight—second by second!  The following photos were taken Saturday and today.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Photography Lesson #1

I've included this picture to remind myself and to
show the challenges I have phtographing my yard.
The electric meter and the a/c unit constantly get in
the way.  Not to mention one ball-chasing,
loving dog!!

I've signed up for on-line lessons in photography!  Although they are free--and free sometimes means you get what you pay for, these seem to be good.  So far the lessons and challenges are right on my level.  Not too techy, not too easy.  This week's lesson was the contrast between foreground and background and the various ways you can focus the subjects.  Within the lesson, there is a challenge  to take a black and white photograph 10 minutes away from your home.  You must drive or walk 10 minutes away and take a picture of whatever is there.  While I haven't worked on that challenge yet, the pictures on this post are my "dress rehearsal" for black and white beauties using the tips from the lesson.  Enjoy!

Tomatoes & Lawn

Birdfeeder and twinkle lights in the background. 
As I was practicing this lesson, I was also playing around with the features on my camera.  Apparently, if you know nothing
about f-stops, you can still create some of the effects
professionals can!  I actually chose the number of lights
I wanted to twinkle!

Duck Sculpture & Cedar Tree

I think this one is probably the neatest one because Pat's
moon came from a barbecue pit.  The pit in the background
belonged to his father.  I wonder what yard art he'll
create with that one??

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bird & Plant Shopping

Yesterday, Pat and I headed out to Homestead Heritage for the last time this spring. The seminar was on drip irrigation. We love the idea of watering our plants efficiently and consistently given the fact that we have had an excellent chance for rain for 3 days now and have barely registered a quarter inch. While there, we picked up a suet hanger and 4 suet bricks. If you’re ever at the General Store at the Homestead, buy your suet from them. They were only $1 each and the hanger was $2.75. That gives you an idea of how inexpensive these feeders can be.

Trap-perch bird feeder!
 After that, we headed into town to Wild Birds Unlimited. It is one of my favorite stores. Although I can often find feeders elsewhere cheaper, their bird feeders tend to be higher quality, and some of them come with warranties or lifetime guarantees. We purchased this steel-trap birdfeeder while there. I just love this style. I bought a similar feeder for mother for her birthday a few years back. She said Uncle Billy had one like this and it was quite squirrel proof. The perch is weighted so that if a bird lands on it, nothing happens.  When a squirrel lands, the perch clamps tight keeping the squirrel from the seed.  We’ll see. We have some mighty fat squirrels on our property---cunning ones, too!

Hummingbird feeder from Poteet, Texas

We also purchased a tiny hummingbird feeder brush to clean the feeder portals. That cost a whopping forty-nine cents, and well worth the price. WBU also has a card with Hummingbird Nectar Solution and care for feeders. I like to mix up nectar in 2 cup batches. That way I’m not wasting a lot of nectar between batches. They recommend cleaning the feeder every 2 to 4 days, especially in the hot summertime, and changing the nectar regularly. Other websites warn not to use red food coloring as that can cause fermentation. (That made Mr. Pat a little upset…he likes the red color.)  Below are the recipe and cleaning recommendations.

Hummingbird Nectar Solution

1 part sugar to 4 parts water (example: ½ sugar to 2 cups water)
  1. Heat half of water
  2. Dissolve all of sugar in hot water
  3. Add second half of water as ice water
Cleaning Feeders & Birdbaths: 1 part bleach to 10 parts water

Caladium in birdbath

We finished the "shopping" part of the day at Lowes.  We bought bird feed there because it's much cheaper than at WBU.  We also bought 3 shade tolerant Hostas and 2 Caladiums.  I planned to put the Hostas and Caladiums in the bed that is next to the house.  It is a gardening goal of mine to find something that will grow well there besides Mondo Grass.  Well, Mr. Pat loves Caladiums, and he snatched one of them to put in a special spot.  I don't looks quite lovely there.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to buy another plus 10 more plants for him to take care of!  I've planted the Hostas, but I am waiting to snap pictures until we finish cleaning the bed out completely.  I also need to watch the sun patterns, because I think part of that bed does get some sunshine.

Finally, other weekend chorse included: 
  • praying for rain (none so far),
  • turning the compost bed--I think it's getting close to being finished!!
  • planting new plants
  • salivating over a tomato that is ripening
  • bird watching

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday Thrills

There is a lot to be thankful for this Thursday. 
  1. It may rain a ton tomorrow
  2. There are new flowers blooming and almost blooming every day
  3. We picked our first squash
  4. The "squash beetles" are confused
  5. The Hydrangea may bloom soon
  6. There are more tomatoes on the tomato plants
  7. Life is good!
Here are the pictures...enjoy!!

Daylily.  Our Daylilies look a little on the spent side, but this is the first year in a long time that
we actually fertilized.  Looks like we need to research how to care for them, and they'll probably

This Daisy mound has been in the circle garden since the boys were in High School--
2001 or 2002 at the earliest.  It is still going, although the blooms
are a little smaller than when they first were planted. 
Nevertheless, we must be doing something right...because they just keep
coming back!
This Hydrangea bush was given to me by Abigail last year for Mother's Day.
Look---it's going to bloom!!!

Well, I never know what nature has in store for you.  Here is our
Spineless putting on a spring show!!

Here is a beautiful cactus bloom---
but what's inside?  Pat thinks they are
squash beetles---could they be confused???

Finally, my favorite picture today--more tomatoes are growing on our bushes!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May Blooms & Such--2011

May is turning out to be a better month than April--probably due to the rain and the winds calming down a little.  Among a few other gardening chores I turned the compost pile yesterday, and it is finally showing signs of decomposition--I started it in earnest at the end of February.  I'll update the progress next time I turn the pile. 

Because yesterday was most likely the most beautiful day yet of spring, I decided to take a few quick snaps.  Some of my pictures are probably bright because I still don't know what I'm doing with that fancy camera of mine, and I also experimented some.'s what the lens saw:

The spineless will bloom!!

I'll start with my favorite--our spineless cactus!  In an earlier post (don't remember when) I was fearful that the spineless wouldn't bloom because of the lack of rain and the setback it had suffered the winter of 2010. 

But happily I was wrong about that.  Our spineless is loaded with an amazing amount of blooms.  Updates will definitely follow!!

Oxalis--Granny's favorite

I think I was playing around with F-stops and such on the camera with this shot.  Seriously, I do not know what I was doing!  But despite my lack of knowledge, I think the picture turned out okay.  Or perhaps I should say...thank goodness for Picasa!!

Desert Willow in bloom

We'll need a little more rain to get more blooms on the Desert Willow, but it is looking lovely right now!

Easter Lily

When taking this picture, I was practicing resetting the white balance on my camera.  A friend of mine had taught me what to do this week.  I don't know if I got it right or not, but this shot was better than the auto shot I took previously!

Bee Station

When it occurred to us that the the drought was impacting our wildlife, I remembered an article I had read about bees.  It suggested putting out shallow water stations so they can get water.  Pat suggested I use pot saucers until I find something more decorative.  I put rocks in the saucers so the bees can ease in and get a sip.

Squash blossoms!!
Some kind of fly or hornet on the Kalanchoe

And finally, our tomatoes are doing so well this year.  Pat and I are so excited.  Today he plans to water them with compost tea again.  They are cracking a little around the top, but with our temps spiking up and down and everything else...we're not worried about that at all!


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rain, Beautiful Rain!

Praise the Lord and hope the creek rises!!!  We finally got a good soaking rain yesterday, and more is in the forcast for today and tomorrow!  I was so excited, I even took pictures from the back door.  Pat thought I was going to go out into the yard with my camera during a downpour--silly Pat!

The garden is getting a much-needed rain!

According to Weather Underground, Waco got about 1 1/2" of rain.  Pat seems to think we got about that to 2".  He ran out during a calm spell to replace buckets from the downspouts.  We definitely need to look into getting either rain barrels or a cistern! 

This time the back porch light was on, so you can actually see
the rain pouring down!  Delightful!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

May 2011 Garden Update

Pat is always on the lookout for a pesky squirrel grazing at the bird feeders.  Lately he's been adding birdseed almost daily to the feeders.  Then last night he had a frightening realization.  The squirrels aren't at the bird feeders...the birds are.  Additionally, they are hitting the birdbaths as soon as they are filled up.  The drought is impacting them, and the bad thing is we didn't realize it.  So, from today on we'll be checking the water in the birdbaths twice daily and filling up the feeders as much as possible.  We have a slight hope for rain on Thursday, but that is so far off, I'm not even counting on it at the moment.  The Farmer's Almanac holds out hope for decent rain chances in June.  If so, that'd be a great start to summer and dampen the drought we're experiencing.

Please feed and water the birds.  I know I also need to put out a few bee baths, too!
In other parts of the garden, the Basil and Vegetable Garden are coming along fine.  We even have some yellow squash starting.  However, the cucumbers aren't doing so well.  Perhaps it isn't hot enough for them.  Pat did say when I planted them that they haven't ever done very well. Maybe we need to toss that packet of seeds!

Zucchini, Squash and Cucumbers
Baby Yellow Squash!

Pat says he has 3 buckets of rainwater to use on the tomatoes this week.  That's impressive considering we're catching rain in 3 to 5 gallon buckets!  He's making compost tea with most of the rainwater.  I love how I get something started....and then he takes over!!  Isn't it great??

The Circle Garden is coming along nicely.

Basil...grow baby, grow!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Bearded Irises--Iris Garden

Our Iris show in our first Iris garden was lack luster.  Most likely due to the lack of rainfall during March.  Also, this garden does not seem to produce blooms regularly.  We have several hypotheses:  inadequate sunshine, poor soil, and an abundance of weeds.  After about seven years or so, I would have thought that this garden would be jammed packed with Irises, but the bulbs have been slow to multiply.

Nevertheless, when the Irises do bloom in this garden, they are beautiful and showy!
Another view

Bronze Beauty
 I do not know the official names of these Irises.  I can tell you that the best blooms we had this year were from "Mom's Iris Garden."  I've named it for my mother-in-law because almost all of the bulbs came out of her yard.  Pat transplanted them as she requested.  She was funny that way.  She'd have to have a certain plant.  Then she'd buy as many as she could and plant them all over the yard.  Then she'd get tired of them, and Pat would dig them up and bring them to our yard.  I think she had this planned all along!


Purple Delight

Yellow & White with Lilac Beard

Soft Pink bud

We're hoping for a better blooming season in 2012.  The lack of rainfall had to have impacted our Iris show this year.  In the meantime, well allow the greenery to continue to make sugar to feed the rhizomes and pray for rains to keep the greenery alive for as long as possible.  In the fall, we'll fertilize and clear away the dead stuff and keep our fingers crossed for spring!