Friday, January 15, 2016

Cactus Fence

Any one who has driven around the hill country of Texas very much, has seen fences made of cedar pickets wired together to form a fence. They used to be popular for corrals and cattle working pens as they were cheap, cedar was plentiful and live stock couldn't see through it. Not being able to see through it, they weren't as likely to jump. In more recent times, it is used more as nostalgic looking fences for entrances as well as yard fences. This one is my neighbors down the road a bit.
While we were in Tucson I noticed several fences made like the cedar picket fences but they were made using ocotillo limbs.. I saw them both as live stock fences and ornamental fences. Seems only reasonable to make do with what you have on hand. This one is the boundary fence for a park in eastern Tucson.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Beautiful Highways

Lyn and I recently went on a trip to Tucson, Phoenix and Las Vegas. I was literally stunned by the beauty of their highways in all three towns. Every over pass was painted with Indian and south west designs. Fences along the high ways were painted as well. The tapered sections leading up to the over passes were done with designs out of colored rock and some had huge metal sculptures in them. Not some, but all of them. Even water retention ponds had beautiful fences around them. I didn't get pictures but cell phone antennas in Las Vegas were made into artistic trees. Some in Phoenix were big artistic sculptures. El Paso high ways were decorated as well but not nearly as nice as in the other states. The Texas Highway Dept. sure could stand to take some lessons from these states when it comes to highway beautification. These pictures are not the greatest as I was driving and taking pictures.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ice Weed

I was beginning to think it wasn't going to get cold enough for the ice weed to "bloom".
It is a great addition to the garden. Even though it's real blooms are not all that much to look at, they do attract a lot of different butterflies and the winter "blooms" are great.

There is no end to the different shapes and swirls that they produce.
I inspect them every year and am dazzled and amazed by their formations.
I have read several different theories on how the ice forms but none seem logical to me.
It is so very fragile and will just crumble if squeezed at all.

I have come to the conclusion that it is magic, natures magic and I'll just leave it at that.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Back to Gardening

The gardens took a hit this year with the sickness and eventual passing of Lyn's Dad. He was a great man, great father, husband and a good friend to me. He liked to build things and fix things and was always interested in what I was doing. I couldn't have wanted for a better father in law.

After the entire redo of the back yard, including the deepening of dirt, held into the beds by more and larger rocks, the run off problems we have always had was lessened considerably. Much of the running water was now directed into the beds where it could soak into them.

There was one place that kept washing out though. We keep two syrup tubs under the gutters that don't drain to the rain water collection, to catch that water. When they would over flow, the course they would take would wash with every rain. Lyn and I looked it over for months until we could both agree on a plan. It would include building more steps that would block the present run off direction and making a dry weather creek bed for the rain water to run off in a new direction to a rock walk way. That rock walk way went to the back gate and the water could get all the way out of the yard with out hurting any thing. Bold plan but a lot of work.

The tubs catch water from a very small part of the roof but it is still a lot of water. When the tubs run over, they now run down the creek. We've just recently had enough rain to see it all work and it worked great.

 The rock steps in the left of the photo was the route the water used to take. The steps and the built up ground now block the water and it runs onto the rock walk way that we built years ago.
 Once on the walk way, the water runs down the low steps in that walk way to the gate. There is a walkway under that rock rose I promise. I guess I better prune that.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Recent Garden Tour

I was visiting a couple recently that are customers of mine that have, like most of my customers, become very good friends. Mrs. Cole is an avid gardener and has an unusual and different garden then we usually see. She has to deal with deer as well as other kinds of varmints that want what she grows. She has done a good job of keeping the varmints out and the veggies in but it has taken her and Mr. Cole some serious work to do it. Like my own gardens, she had to bring all her dirt in as there just wasn't any there.

I noticed when I drove up that she had added to my favorite bottle tree.

 The deer proof fence was made with materials on hand, cedar and lots of it.

 Beds are also made of material that was plentiful on their place meaning rocks, syrup tubs and plastic drums cut in half.

 Paths are made of wood chippings.
 Excess run off from the house runs off in a dry creek bed.
This is such a productive little garden with some thing to harvest all the time. Mrs. Cole may need help this year as Mr. Cole is under going cancer treatments and was a feeling a little punky the last time I was there. They own land on both sides of the road and the land on the side opposite the house borders the Lampasas river. They have always given me access to fish the river and it's one of the most beautiful and relaxing places to fish that I know of. I may have to go fishing a little early one day and help her with the garden. It would only be right seeing as how I will also get to fish!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

West Texas Excursion

My neighbor down the road recently asked me to go to their ranch in west Texas, close to Dryden, to help with some ranch work that needed to be done. His wife didn't want him to go alone as he is under going some chemo treatments right now and is short winded and not his normal manly self. I've been there before and it is usually not all that pretty of country to ride through. This time it was different. The fall rains had made for lots of plants blooming and lots of green grass. I was also lucky to hit it when there was a pretty good cenizo bloom.

Right off the bat we ran into a rattle snake at the steps going into the cabin.
Then we found a bee hive in the eave of the house. I'm fairly certain it was Africanized bees as they were very aggressive and I got stung several times. I was so glad they got me and didn't get Billy as they hardly bother me a bit and it could have been bad for Billy with all the medication he is on. There was an owl decoy on a tripod to help scare the rodents away. It obviously didn't work as there was a cactus wren's nest right under the owl and the snake was probably at the house because there was rodents around.
Sunset on the first evening was typical west Texas great.
We started out that morning with beautiful scenery in every direction. 
The sotol stalks looked like telephone poles jutting out of the brush here and there as far off as you could see.
I was lucky enough to hit it on a pretty good cenizo bloom. The fall rains had triggered it, I'm sure. There was every shade imaginable. They made for quite the stunning back drop to a normally desolate land scape.

We rode off into one draw that had quite a few with white blooms. I had never seen them with white blooms before other than in a nursery where they were advertised as some kind of hybrid. It looked like nature had hybridized her own here.

 The ocatillo were in full leaf. I wished they were in bloom as it is stunning. Wrong time of the year for that. There were so many different shapes, sizes and structure that it made for a bizarre scene indeed.

I thought of my own ocatillo at home that was in full leaf as well. I had dug it up on this ranch about 7 years ago. It looks a little different than these as it has sugar pumpkins hanging on it.
I did take time to dig up some perennial wild flowers that I had seen the last time I was here and did not have time to get. I had to look them up just to find out what I had. The ones I could find in my books are Stiff Stemmed Flax, Linum berlandieri, Jimmy Weed, Isocoma pluriflora, Mexican Poppy, Eschscholtzia mexicana and Snakeweed, Gutierrezia sarothrae. I brought home a few others that I haven't found their identities yet. I'm glad the rancher didn't mind me getting them as they are like trophies to me. I looked long and hard for Zinnia grandiflora for a friend but didn't see any. There is always next time.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Sky Forest of the Thalia

That sounds like some thing from the movie Avatar and really, it's kind of close. Thalia was one of the first plants we bought when we built our first pond. It provides a taller plant scene to the water garden. We just didn't know how tall. The plant's leaves give it kind of a canna look, maybe just a little taller. The bloom stalks, on the other hand, look almost out of this world and can get to 15' tall.

The blooms are hardly even noticeable, just a couple of little folds of pink tissue like petals. The bloom stems are zig zags with pointed little pods.

 The thalias are a real, small forest that attracts all kinds of small critters like snakes, frogs and birds. This little tree frog stayed on this thalia stalk all day long.

As more stems reach skyward, it starts to look like a giant spider web. Even though the stems must be cut back in the fall, they are not very strong and very easy to cut. When the winds blow it is a real show to see with the hummers trying to feed on the tiny, little blooms. Try thalia, I think you will like it.