Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hill Country Natives Nursery

I went to the Hill Country Natives open house today. I had a great time, visited with friends and met some new ones as well. The owners, Mitch and Kathy Mitchemore, are the nicest people you would ever want to meet and oh so knowledgeable about native plants. The nursery is around their house and extends out under the big oaks in every direction. There are trails winding through the trees and little alcoves and sitting areas are plentiful. With little ponds and creeks and garden art, it is just a very enjoyable place to spend some time. Even though it is mainly a whole sale nursery, I think us commoners can still buy from them.

I have done several projects for them through the years and every time I go they have added new additions to enjoy. This is a gate I built for them several years ago.
As you can see it's still swinging just fine.
This year I added some metal picket fence, a drive through gate and a walk through gate on the other side of the house. They were starting to have deer coming into the nursery here so a fence was needed. They wanted it to look nice and I think we pulled it off nicely. I built the big gate with a sun flower medallion in the middle and built sun flowers to go in the middle of the fence panels as well. In a normal year there are sun flowers that come up all through the nursery and they just let them grow. It's way cool.

I built the small gate to match the rest of the fence but I built a grape vine climbing up the open end of it. The grape vine is actually the latch for the gate as the top two foot or so is not welded and flexes side ways to pull the leaves away from the vertical of the big gate. It came out well and they really like it a lot. I'm just glad there are people that are willing to let me build things like this.

While the gates look good, they are only accents to a beautiful nursery. The rock work, by Larry Hullems, is just stunning. The man has serious skills. But again, accents to the whole of what Mitch and Kathy have done. Here is some pictures of a beautiful self made nursery.

 The tall plants in this picture are some kind of canna that likes shade. I want some.

Just this last year they added a creek system and it is something. I really liked it a lot. All the plants were native and were just perfect for a little stream in Texas.

There were little ponds tucked into the gardens every where and they were all beautiful.

It was just a wonderful day all around. If any one needs native plants I would certainly give them a call. It's kind of hard to find but so worth it if you need native trees or plants.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Man It's Hot

It's not only hot but it's dry as well. I have only had 1 7/8" of rain here since the first of the year. I'm praying that the well holds up so we have water to the house. Having the 24,000 gallon rain water collection system makes me feel better about watering the plants. This being the first year to really use it I haven't been watering any more than normal. Normal for me is letting a lot of plants die as I am a real water miser. I am down to four tomato plants left and one still puts on a tomato every week or so. That particular plant is in the shade from 10:00 until 6:00. I am wishing I had more shade and am thinking about shade cloth for next year now.

I finally decided to get a ladder and take a look inside the water tanks and see how much water I had left. They were not full at the first of the year but were very close.

This picture may not make much sense but it is looking down into the tank through the top portal. You can see the reflection of the pipe running across the top of the tank and the hole the water flows in. The little dark place on the bottom is dirt that has washed in. Not much at all, it tells me my home made roof washer system is working well. It appears they are down about one third as the water level is on the 2000 gallon mark. Times eight tanks, I have 16,000 gallons left and have used 8000. I feel better now.

I have been building a metal building lately and working in the heat all day. I just don't feel like working in the garden in the evenings. I may pull a weed here, prune a little there but I'm watering every where. With this kind of heat I'm just trying to keep plants alive until fall now. It is a learning experience though. I know now what plants will hold up and maybe even bloom a little.

I always have zinnias in my garden. They are descendants of plants that were seeded years ago. It may be time to buy new seeds as they seem to be displaying with less and less color every year. They don't mind the heat though, if they get a little water. Unfortunately they never seem to come up where I want them to. These came up in a tomato cage. The tomato didn't make it but they did.

While neither Lyn or I, are big fans of egg plant, I always plant a couple plants for my neighbor. He doesn't garden but loves egg plant. He swears they are the best he's ever eaten. I don't really know what kind they are. I just buy what ever I can find at the nurseries. I just don't tell him that, he thinks they are some special kind.

I got lucky this year and got a great heat tolerate plant from my buddy, Philip, at ESP. It was just a little thing in the spring when I got it but has grown well and is about to bloom despite being eaten down to the ground by a rabbit once. I don't know the name for sure as I think Philip is pulling some good ol' Scottish humor on me about the name. When I mention to him that the Pearls of Opar is doing well, he says no, it's Jewels of Opar. If I say Jewels of Opar then he says no, it's Pearls of Opar. I am fairly certain that it is one of those two. Either way it is a great hot weather plant and doesn't even require that much water to do well. I think I picked the perfect place for it if the rabbit stays away.

While working on a ranch last year I happened to notice a tiny, purple, little bloom on a plant by the ranchers drive way. With the bloom and the spiky little leaves, it was enough for me to tell that it was a Wooly Ironweed. I've wanted one for a long time and asked the rancher if I could dig it up. In a typical rancher response he said "You want to dig up a weed? Sure, go ahead and dig it up if you want it. I think there might be a few more down in the lower pasture if you want some more." I could tell it had been mowed over it's entire life. It is a happy plant now and has just started to bloom.

Temperatures over a hundred for months, like we have had this year, will take it out of most plants, but if a person has ponds and pond plants, then you know you will have plenty of green in the garden.

The upper pond has just about been covered in Lotus and Arrowhead.

The middle pond has Pickerel Weed and Umbrella plant with miniature lilies in it.

The big pond has lotus, lilies and Red Stemmed Thalias. The Thalias are a little behind this year and are just now big enough to start showing the red in their stems.

There have been more blooms on the lotus than in any year in memory.

As the leaves die they make for interesting patterns in the garden.

At least I have some green even if I don't have many blooms.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Garden Metalwork

Metal worker by trade and gardener by hobby, it's nice for me when the two come together. It seems metal just goes well in the garden, the lawn or the patio. I always consider myself lucky when I get those kinds of jobs because I just enjoy it more and maybe because I have an artistic yearning to satisfy. While a gardener can get a lot of metal work from nurseries, it is usually cheap, poorly made stuff from Mexico or China. Some people have their own ideas of what they want and need to have it custom built. I've gotten to do a couple of jobs like that recently and both of the customers were great gardeners as well.

One was just a simple arch over a gateway. The house is just a beautiful old ranch house that has been restored. The lady that lives there was raised in the house but has only been living back there now for a few years.
She plans on having vining roses climb up and over the archway. It should look just stunning.

There are flower beds behind the snort rock wall all the way around the yard with roses staggered through them.

She showed me pictures of them from last summer and it was gorgeous. This was in early March and I have an invite to go back and see them all in bloom. Can't wait.

The next job was a gate for a deck. The lady that lives there has beautiful gardens as well as plants in pots just every where. She was worried about accidentally falling down the stairs while tending her potted plants on the deck. There really wasn't that much room to move around on that part of the deck. She is in my native plant club and had seen another gate I had built for some one in the club and wanted hers to be similar.

The gate turned out just like she wanted it and should fit it's function well.

After installing the gate, I was privy to a stroll through her gardens, and lovely gardens they were.While it was not a mature garden, as she has only lived here two years, it was still beautiful.

 She has a stunning Peggy Martin rose that sprawls along her fence. You can see the first pink blooms, a promise of the explosion that is about to come. I must have one.
There is still some grass in the front yard but it is short lived. The crew to remove it was arriving as I was leaving.
I like leaving little surprises when I do these kinds of jobs. I left a grasshopper at the first house and a lady bug at the last. Both ladies found them within a few days and called to say what a nice surprise it was.

I haven't posted in a while. The gardening just about came to a stand still. Lyn fell and broke her arm....bad.
A few days afterwards, her left leg started to give her some intense pain as well. After an MRI, it was discovered she has five bulging discs as well. I've had to do a lot more than normal around here. I didn't realize how much she takes care of until I had to start doing a lot of it. That and going to a lot of doctors has put the gardening on the back burners, but I'm getting back to it now.