Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What Time Is It?

Why, it's cactus time. This is the time of the year that all the cactus bloom at Draco. Not all are in the gardens, but they are on our place. Unfortunately they are a lot like iris in the fact that they don't look all that impressive for fifty weeks out of the year and are real stunners for a couple of weeks. Out of the two I would take the cactus. They just fit me better.

This is one I dug up on a ranch I hunted down around Ensinal. It's a stunner.

My Cholla was given to me by an old rancher out west of Lampasas. He had one on either side of the walkway to his house. They were like trees, twenty foot tall trees.

The Claret Cup Cactus came from the same Lampasas county Rancher. They are also called Strawberry Cactus and the fruit is shaped and colored like a strawberry and, while not tasteing like strawberries, is very good eating. The yellow inside is so bright it almost loks like there is a light shining in it.
Here on our place, there are Horse Cripplers, Lace Cactus, Nipple Cactus, and Prickly Pear Cactus. The Horse Cripplers almost never bloom here, and I saw none this year. The little Nipple Cactus and Lace Cactus made up for it though.

These are pictures of Nipple Cactus. The blooms look raggidy to me, but beautiful none the less.

The Prickly Pear never have a bad year and it's a good thing as so many animals feed on it. It is great fun just going around and looking into the blooms and on the pads to see what kind of little critters are there. The pollen output of cactus is ginormous. The bugs in the blooms are just covered in it, making them look yellower than they really are. At this point, my buddy Philip at ESP blog , would insert a picture from the Dune movies with the "spice" every where.

I saved my favorite for last. The Lace Cactus grows all over Draco. There must be thousands of these friendly little cactus around here. I say friendly because you can handle them with out getting stuck by them. I've asked a bunch of people to tell me what they are reminded of when they see them standing so proud and every one of them has said the exact same thing. I won't go into it here but if there is a pepper called a peter pepper because of it's looks then we should rename this cactus. Just saying.

The blooms are absolutely stunning and they produce more blooms for their size than most of the other cactus. This cactus also lends itself to use in gardens very well. Even when not in bloom it is a very attractive little plant and as I said, user friendly, so you don't have to worry about kids around them.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ol Blush

The Ol Blush Rose has really put on a show this year. The rain has been just enough and at the right time so all the roses look good, but the Ol Blush is just spectacular.

You can see wire mesh I've had to add to the outside of the fence to keep the deer from eating it.

I wish I could add aroma to these pictures as it is on a par with my Don Juan rose for sweet smell. I would grow it just for the aroma but it is a beautiful rose as well.
I always get two good flushes of blooms a year and some times a third in good years. There usually is a few blooms on it between flushes as well. If you have a gate top or arbor, it is a good plant to use.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Finally Finished Walkway

Patience is something every gardener must have. It seems we are always waiting on something. Waiting to plant, waiting to harvest, or waiting for blooms, we are always waiting for something. I started this walkway in the winter of 2008. I got all the way to the last rock and didn't have one. The last rock is always the hardest as it needs to fit in a finite space. That space has a shape as well, so the last rock has to be sized right and be shaped right. I now have hauled enough rock in to almost make another walkway, just looking for that perfect rock to fit "the space". The walkway is now complete, a year and a half later.

This is what the area looked like before we started.

The walkway around my raised beds had gotten to this point the year before when I ran out of rock. I used a string level to find the amount of fall between the high ground and the lower ground. With that information I could get an idea of how many of how thick of rocks that I needed to make a good transition down the slope.The first job is looking at your rocks and deciding which rocks you want to use where. The second job is hauling the rocks closer into the job. The Chief might be little but she's got heart. She insists on helping with all the projects. She's tough as nails but some times get's something she can't handle. Here she looks like she's making good progress, moving this big rock.

If you don't keep up with where your fingers are when the big rock shifts then you get this kind of look on your face.
After that it was up to the common laborer to haul the rocks. Notice that my rock is smaller than the one she was moving.
When I build walkways up a slope I always start at the bottom. I have the next higher rock overhang the lower rock by an inch or so. I bed the rocks in with sandy loam dirt and stomp the dirt down and leave the rock a little high on the uphill side to allow for settling.
This view shows how they overlap a little.
The roses had to be tied back to run along the fence so more rocks could be added. The rosemary got a good trim later.
After finally finding that last rock, here is the rock walkway finished. It looks like Bonnie, the Blue Lacy, really likes it.
We are on to other projects now. Weve started a new bed in the back. Of course there are big rocks involved. I told you, she's got heart.