Monday, November 28, 2011

Leaves of Grass

Garden Inspiration

I learned to knit from my mother when I was, perhaps, 10 yrs old. After a 35 year hiatus, I tried it again and I'm having great fun! Last year I jumped right in and knit up some little tops for myself and my niece; created some fun berets, a scarf, a shawl/wrap and a couple of cardigans; just finished off a lovely alpaca and wool shawl for a cousin of mine. Every project is different and brings with it another challenge and learning opportunity.

OK, so you're probably asking yourself... that's all very well and good, but what has this to do with gardening?
AHA... my new project and first lace object: A beautiful round shawl called Leaves Of Grass created by the very talented Jared Flood for Brooklyn Tweed.
What a gorgeous representation of nature!

The wool I am using (Brooklyn Tweed's Loft)  is 100% American, grown in Wyoming and then spun in an historic mill in New Hampshire.

Here are some pictures of the finished object taken from the pattern:

And here is a picture of the beginnings of my Leaves shawl:

I'm feeling very inspired, and can't wait to complete it. I would love to present this as a christmas gift this year to a very gifted gardener and talented knitter:
my dearest mother.

hmmmm... I've got one month. Time to shut off the computer and sit down to the needles and lace chart!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Foggy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! 

I woke up this morning to two border collies rolling around on the bed in between my husband and I, insisting on giving us cuddles and wet kisses. They are the silliest and sweetest dogs I've ever met.
Plopped out of bed, put on my slippers and shuffled to open the window blinds. WOW! Glaring bright white!!!... blink, blink, blink.
It was so foggy, I could barely see beyond our back fence. Well, heck, I could barely see! Felt my way downstairs, made some coffee, then took some pics of the back yard. I probably should've been up earlier to catch it at daybreak... maybe tomorrow!?

OK, I'm awake now.
Time for another cup of coffee, and then to begin preparations for our first turkey-less Thanksgiving. I'd be happy with just a pile of mashed potatoes and gravy (mushroom, of course) on my plate... but in addition to that and sweet potatoes and green beans, we're going to give this a try. I've been very pleased with their other products, and this, frankly, sounds delicious. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 
I hope you all have a deliciously satisfying meal, are as thankful for your friends and family as I am, and get out in the garden today and enjoy the beauty of nature!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Backyard Bears

Well, ok, maybe not a bear with black fur and big sharp teeth, but a "bear" none the less. It's called a water bear, or more correctly, a tardigrade.

Today started out quite frosty and chilly, but warmed into such a lovely day, my son and I decided to take the dogs for a walk in the greenbelt behind our house. While out and about, we brought some empty beakers to fill with pond water which we could study under our microscope when we got home.

To my delight, in that drop of water I found one of my absolute favorite animals... the tardigrade. These little critters (less than 1mm in size) actually look like bears: they have a lumbering gate, sharp claws on their feet (however, unlike a fluffy black bear, the tardigrade has eight feet), have eyes, skin, and muscles. Amazingly, tardigrades can survive -200C temps, boiling water, the vacuum of space, lack of oxygen, lack of water, freezing and thawing, x-ray radiation. In fact, tardigrades have been launched into space on a rocket and the space shuttle, and became the first animals to survive exposure to space. 

If you have a chance, and access to a decent microscope, why not go bear hunting in your backyard!

For more info:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Late afternoon light

Yesterday, as the sun was about an hour from setting, the prettiest light fell across the back yard. I took a few photos, but will try again for more golden light. Wander the garden, sip some wine, take a few pics... sounds like a fine afternoon!

Potager in the late afternoon light.

Two jays come in for their evening meal.

I got four of my new roses planted yesterday (hooray) and am still fostering some heritage roses for a rose enthusiast in Round Rock who is under tight outdoor water restrictions. It's been about two weeks since I brought them home. They're still doing just fine... I think they are loving the cooler daytime temps and warm sunshine! I think the one pictured below is my favorite, although it is merely labeled with a number, so I have no idea what it's name is.

The bloom on this sweet little rose is only 1 1/2" across.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Come on out, the weather is fine!

Hello sunshine!
This afternoon a few more of the roses I am fostering opened up some blooms. The red one in particular has a strong, sweet scent. I adore the heritage roses, so much personality in each one.

It's amazing to me what a little rain and sunshine can do. Just four days after we received a few inches of rain, I'm seeing so much new growth in the garden. Salvias and roses that were cut back are sprouting fresh leaves... and look what I spied out in our greenbelt behind our house:  the earth has been so hard and dry for so many months, and these little seeds have been patiently waiting for the ground to soften and push forth new life.

In years past, nature has done a beautiful job of giving us a colorful floral display of Texas wildflowers and natives in this greenbelt from early spring until late fall. Because of the dry conditions, not only did we have no wildflowers this year, but even the native plants looked dead. It was a sad, barren wasteland. 

What a nice surprise to see that there was so much life here all the time! 

Come on out and play kids, the weather is fine!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm a Foster-Mom!

On October 5th, Williamson County, Texas, enacted emergency water restrictions due to a mechanical failure of a pump that brings water from the Brazos River to Lake Georgetown, which is currently at historic low levels. Effective immediately, ALL outdoor irrigation of vegetation, including from a hand-held hose, is prohibited. 

On October 7th, a plea for help (via a home school chat site) went out from a rose hobbyist in Round Rock. His passion is roses, and he loves to cultivate old roses. Unfortunately, being a Round Rock resident, he could no longer water them! 

So, this afternoon, I became a Rose Foster Mom! 

Foster Roses arrive at their temporary home.

Foster Roses grouped on the back patio.
 In the photo above, you can see the many roses that I am fostering and will take care of until their "dad" can claim them again. From what I've read, the intake pump should be fixed in about two weeks, so I think I can keep them alive until then. There were many, many more that he did not want to part with, and so will use water collected from his bathroom and kitchen sinks and shower.

 At the far back of the photo are about 6 roses that he has given to me as a thank you.

Foster rose.

Welcoming the roses to the backyard this afternoon:  

this fantastic bright purple salvia. If you can call a bright pink "hot", then this must be "hot purple",

and this spicy red salvia.

OK, everyone play nicely together... we won't be together for long. 
Let's enjoy it while it lasts.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A little bit of rain

Those are indeed, dark rain clouds above the house this afternoon... with thunder and everything! We received sprinkles on and off throughout the day. I think the wildlife is enjoying the change in weather. Plenty of birds out and about, enjoying the backyard feeders...

and this cute little guy sheltered under an oak tree, taking a quick break from bathing himself to wonder what I was up to.

 Yes, that is a puddle. I know, doesn't seem like much. But late this afternoon, we got a quick downpour. Enough to actually create... a puddle! It's location is right at the bottom of the deck steps. Before the drought and water restrictions, there actually used to be lawn there.

Someone else is excited about the rain too!

It's nature's simple pleasures that can be so rewarding!

Rain Clouds

Just before heading upstairs to bed, I took the dogs outside and looked up to see a magical sight... rain clouds gathering. The moon was quite bright and kept trying to make an appearance, but eventually the clouds won out as I later woke to the sound of rain on our tin patio roof.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Scratching The Itch

Itchy, Itchy!
The last few days have brought beautiful weather to us here in Central Texas... cool mornings and warm afternoons. Having endured months of 100 plus temps, the break in the heat is SO welcome. With the tease of cooler weather ahead, I've spent the last few days playing outside: cleaning, planning and planting.  
Scratch, Scratch! 

Itchy, Itchy! 
And with most of today's work completed, I'm scratching the itch to start a blog. My goal is to create a diary of garden activity, trips, thoughts and family wanderings. So here goes!
mmmmm... A little to the left! 

My poor veggie patch really suffered from the heat this summer, and everything (with the exception of one lone yellow pepper plant) got pulled out weeks ago. Look at the state of this poor tomato plant. The fruit are only grape sized, and they were supposed to be a large heirloom variety.   

I am so very grateful for the plants that managed to pull through! This butterfly weed was a wild volunteer... you are welcome in my garden! 

 This red salvia self-seeded in my garden in spring and is enjoying it's second flush of bloom now that things are cooling down! 

 Another welcome self-seeder... Blue Mist Flower. The butterflies LOVE this! 

Hyacinth Bean Vine ... this was started from seed (or should I say, bean) in the spring. It too, waited until now to flower. So pretty! 

Veggie patch with new plantings and sun shade. Yes, I still need to trim the shade cloth a tad, but it is sure shielding these tender young ones from the blast of early October TX sun! 
Planted are varieties of : cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, lettuce and some dill, basil and cilantro for good measure.
I left the bed on the far right empty and waiting for ...? Time to take a trip to my seed box and make a selection! 


My two beautiful helpers today were Ginger and Shadow.

Ginger will never let a moment go by without handing you a tennis ball just when you need one.

Shadow is always willing to get her paws dirty and help in the garden.

Good work today, pups! Time to roll over and get your tummy scratched!

Aaaaa... yep, that's the spot!