Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's a Dry Heat

Such a dry heat that the air hits my face like an oven door opening.  The temperature guage is set at a constant 100 plus degrees day in and day out.  We are at 27 days in a row with 100+ temperatures, not counting the days we had in late May and early June.  The last record for the searing heat wave was 1980 with 42 days of solid 100° weather.

East Texas is getting a little relief from gulf moisture surrounding the high pressure ridge, but it isn't strong enough to make Mr. H go away for a while.  Today's weather report showed a tropical depression at the bottom of the gulf with hopes of moving toward Texas.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, watering the lawn is a waste of water and money.  The trees are stressing badly.  The bees are at their hives because there are few flowering plants from which to feed.  Birds stay near the ground and are appreciative of the daily supply of water in the birdbaths and sunflower seeds. 

All I can say is I'm holding out hope for the August prediction of rainfall.  Something has to give!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A New Vision!

Pat moves the rock border back
to make it easier to get to the

Prior to visiting Zilker Botanical Gardens on Thursday, Pat and I had started a project near our driveway.  Previously, the rock border was about a foot farther out.  When I pulled my car into the carport, I often had to run over the border just to get back out again.  Pat had removed a tree and several saplings which made moving the wall back much easier. 

After our inspirational visit to Zilker, we see new potential in this area of the yard.  One of the plants that caught my eye was the Cast Iron plants at Zilker.  They look a lot like Cannas, but they have purple-brown blooms in the spring.  They love drought and are hardy to zone 6 (-10°)--yippee!!  They are shade tolerant and mix well with irises, hostas and other perennials.  We purchased our Cast Iron plants at Green 'n Growing Garden Center in Pflugerville.  This is a fantastic little nursery offering all sorts of native Texas plants, pottery, and yard art!

Other plants purchased at Green 'n Growing were Flame Acanthus, Sapphire Showers, and Mexican Oregano. I also bought a lovely green pot which you'll see in another post.

Our last staycation stop was at Bonnies Greenhouse today.  I bought some plants for my new pot, Mexican Honeysuckle, Mexican Sage, and a patio tomato plant to replace one of our spent tomato plant.  I just love buying new plants for the yard.  We don't quite know where we'll put all the new additions, but we'll have a blast trying to figure it out!!

Welcome home sweet plants!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Zilker Botanical Garden Tour

View of the Butler's Window and rose garden.
Their roses are looking a lot like ours--needed
some rain!!
For our "staycation" this year, Pat and I decided to trek down to Austin to tour Zilker Botanical Gardens and to pop in on a few garden centers in the area.  We had a wonderful time touring the gardens as the photos suggest!  For anyone living or visiting the Central Texas area, a trip to Zilker is worth it.  The majority of the plants in the 31 acre garden are either native or well-suited for our Texas climate and drought-prone seasons. 

We had several surprises on this tour.  During this rain-stressed season in Texas, Pat and I were amazed how well the gardens were thriving.  Also, I was surprised by how shady the gardens are and the variety of plants doing so well in the shade.  Our yard is full of hot spots as well as dappled shady spots.  We noticed they had planted Turks cap just about everywhere.  This confirmed what Pat decided to do this spring--spread the Turk's Cap wealth in our own gardens.  While there, I snapped pictures of landscape designs ideas we'd like to incorporate into our own garden. 

Butler's Window from an historic home in Austin
This window was on an upper story!!

Beautiful Texas Sedge
I'd love to use our brick to form a nice feature like this in our garden!

I'm not sure what these flowers are, but they would look nice
falling over the rock border Pat has by our back driveway.

Gorgeous Caladiums...how I wish they multiplied!!

Water Lily in the Japanese Gardens

So beautiful!

My sister would love this one!

Cactus Garden

Pat outside a pioneer cabin.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Repotting 101--Asparagus Fern

Asparagus fern about to be rescued by yours truly!

Pat and his mom have the same mantra:  Ferns love to be root bound.  That may be true, but root-bound plants get on my nerves!! I have been asking Pat to repot several of our ferns that Mom B gave us years ago!  To me they look like they are struggling.  However, if one is patient and picks the right time to re-pot--ferns can easily multiply! 

The asparagus fern that is about to do a multiplying act is actually sitting on the table without it's pot.  Yes folks, talk about root bound--I could probably leave the plant like it is for several months, water it, and it'd still be green and good to go!!  However, that might be border-line plant cruelty--so repotting, here we come!

Asparagus Fern

Before we get to the repotting portion of this post, a little bit about asparagus ferns.  In my brief research on this plant I learned quickly that it is not part of the asparagus family, nor a fern.  The foliage looks like asparagus plants, and the way the plant falls over the pot looks like a fern.  However, this plant is a part of the lily family because it flowers and produces berries.  Asparagus fern loves sun and drought!  That is a boost for this family's yard!  Allowing the plant to dry thoroughly between watering is highly recommended.  While it does like sun--in this Texas heat we're having the foliage will turn yellow if there is too much sun, so part shade is recommended.  We have ours in dappled shade, and I will be looking for other areas in the yard to give my newly repotted plants a little more sun so they can flourish.  The ferns can be planted in the soil and will die back due to freezing, but will rebound in the spring after the dead foliage is cut back.  I have not noticed asparagus fern in the ground in our area (8a/b), but apparently folks in Louisiana plant the fern in the ground all over the place. 

Prior to sawing, it's important to part the "hair." 
Okay, I was just messing around here!!

Repotting the root-bound fern

I must warn you the pictures your are about to see may shock and amaze you, but if repotting an asparagus fern is in your near future...reach for a hack-saw.  Yes, a saw.  After Pat had pulled one out and all the plants had been repotted, I actually read about it online.  These hearty plants can withstand it, and I promise--it's next to impossible to break the plant apart without a saw!

Here he goes!!  After the sawing, we had 4 plants to be potted!

This process will produce a lot of casualties, but the huge root system on this old plant (we can't remember how long we've had it, but we decided that it is at least 13 years old) will produce more foliage in no time at all.

Here's a shot of the root system--
This plant is here to stay!

I used my trusty wheelbarrow to mix the potting soil.  I used a mix of good potting soil and Lady Bug compost, plus just a little vermiculite to help with drainage.  I lightly wet the soil.  I wanted to be able to keep the soil loose around the roots in the new pots so the roots can quickly find their way to the nutrients and become root-bound in less than a year! (Just kidding about the root-bound part.)

Have fun repotting ferns---they are so lovely around the landscape and super easy to grow!!

The final product!!  Here are 3 of the 4 pots I was able to propagate.  Actually, I could have
split the plant in half--I didn't have large enough pots, and the pot the plant
was in originally was plastic and was not usable.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

June Forecast Prediction 2011!! Update!!

June in a nutshell--dry as a bone and hotter than a firecracker!

Sunflower at dusk.
As long as we water, everything's good.  Just got the water bill yesterday--it was only $123.00.  We're on a septic system and pay for garbage pick up separately, so that bill is purely for water.  Pat and I definitely be investing in a cistern--as soon as we can afford it.  We may not get a very large one, but something is better than nothing.  In previous blogposts, I reported how Pat and I  captured rainwater with 3 and 5 gallon buckets.  Without a steady amount of rainfall at the right time to switch out buckets, our catch has not been very much at all. 

I cannot say that we didn't get any rain in June.  We got about 1/2", but that was all.  On my last update, I reported that the Farmer's Almanac predicted a wet June for our area.  Now I don't feel so bad about my own predictions!

Now that I've seen how this "January" prediction thing works...I'd say that if I had paid closer attention, I would have known that we were in for a very hot and dry spring and summer.  I think next year's predictions will be a little more accurate.  Now for the results!

Even the sunflowers are begging for moisture!
My Prediction for June 2011--

It seems we will have a cool June. The high was only 8° above normal, but the low was 7° below normal. The sky did not hold much promise for rain today, so we will need to get our rain in the springtime as we usually do. The next few day's posts should be interesting as a cold front is moving in. We're expecting frigid temps and highs well below normal. Maybe we'll save on the electricity bill this summer!! Stay tuned!!

Actual June 2011 Weather

Notice the highlights in the prediction.  That is what I will pay close attention to in January 2012.  I was right about needing to get good rainfall in the springtime--but it didn't happen.  My area as well as most of Texas is now in a severe to extreme drought.  This has been the driest spell--going all the way back to October 2010.  In reviewing my prediction for July and August...we won't see rain until August.  I hope and pray we only have one more month of dry weather.

According to the Waco Tribune-Hearld, June was a record breaking month.  June 2011 is tied with 1934 as the second hottest on record.  June 22nd was the coolest day at only 90°.  June 12 began 8 straight days of 100°+ temperatures with the hottest day at 106° on June 18th.  In all, we had 17 days of 100°+ weather this month---which is about 8° above normal.  Hmmmm. 

Low:  67° to 80°
High: 90° to 106°
Winds: 0 to 43 mph with gusts from 17 to 52 mph
Precipitation: .88 at Waco airport


I was right about the rain, but not so much about the temperatures--I'm 50/50 for June!!