Monday, December 29, 2008

My New Monster-Plant Friends

Well, it's December and I don't have much outside growing - except maybe some spinach, so I picked up some new indoor plant friends.

A little plastic terrarium of carnivorous plants! It contains a pitcher plant, a venus flytrap, and a sundew plant. I am going to try to take good care of these little monster plants this time. Last time, well, things didn't go so well:

I keep their dried up corpses around to remind myself of how I murdered them. I am going to try again and this time, I will:

A) NOT overwater them
B) NOT water them with rainwater collected from my roof (apparently they are REALLY sensitive and this can poison them)
C) NOT overfeed them (a venus flytrap trap can only eat 4 bugs before it dies - you can literally feed these guys to death)
D) Stop touching them so much (all that opening and closing stresses the little guys and kills them)
E) Give them enough light but NOT in direct Texas sunlight by the window in the afternoon (really this one should be obvious, but well, you know how it goes...).

OK - so houseplants aren't really my thing, but I am never one to give up and I am therefore trying again. THIS time I read up on these monster plants and I think I can handle it. They thrive on neglect. I loved my other ones to death. Poor little guys - they were like that proverbial goldfish that goes home in a plastic bag to be dumped in a too-small glass bowl and cared for by a five year old kid that then dumps half the can of fish food into the bowl at feeding time. They were doomed. But I will do better this time! Really!

Here are my new friends:

Wish them luck!

As I was strolling through my garden, what did I see?

Several of my fall-planted bulbs looking at me! Check it out - the bulbs I dropped in the ground this fall are poking up through the earth:

Southern Grape Hyacinths:

Hoop Petticoats:



Byzantine Glads:

They think it is spring already! Silly bulbs. Shhhh - don't tell them it is still Winter, they might go back into hiding...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bloom day - Dec 15th...a day late

It is chilly outside this morning! The temps were in the 20's last night and it is only supposed to be in the 30's today. The wind chill is currently in the teens - Brrr!! I do have a few items still a-bloomin' even though it is mighty chilly outside:

Abutilon. This is in my sheltered entryway on the South side of the house:

Skullcap. Also on the south side of the house sheltered from the chilly winter winds. I get a whole extra Zone of warmth on the south side. It is where the Meyer Lemon also lives.

I think I will move on to Fall colors at this point, since I don't have much else with photo-worthy blooms. Here is the Prairie Flame Leaf Sumac looking all red and majestic:

A little closer:

I was picking the scarlet runner beans the other day to save for next year's planting. I love their purple-spotted beans:

And here is what each of my fountains looked like this morning all covered in ice:

The birds were slippin' and slidin' on the lip of the lion fountain trying to get a drink. They flew off when I tried to snap of photo, but here is the fountain anyhow:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sleet pics

Now, I realize that anyone that lives in a more Northerly climate will look at these photos and say to themselves 'What is the big deal here? There are only a few ice pellets on the ground. Those guys down in Austin are wimps!!' But, any type of frozen precipitation is kind of a big deal down here, so bear with me as I post pics of the sleet that fell in my yard last night...

It is in the 30's this morning with a North Wind blowing and the wind chill is at 26 degrees.

Sleet last night as the strong Northerly 30-35 mph winds blew the frozen pellets into my windows (I was shivering as I was snapping this photo, forgive me if it is a little blurry):

A blanket of sleet began to cover the lawn turning the backyard white:

And some pics from this morning. Some of the sleet melted since it was 81 degrees yesterday and the ground was still quite warm:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Crazy Texas Weather

I just wanted to note that there was a record high of 81 degrees in Austin today(it was hot and humid outside while hanging up the Christmas lights on the eaves of the house), and exactly 6 hours later it is now 36 degrees and sleet is being blown into my windows *shakes head while changing out of summer shorts to winter snuggy sweater and thinks back to the nice temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest that I left behind...*

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Trail of Lights - Marble Falls

Everyone knows about the fabulous Trail of Lights at Austin's Zilker Parks, but what about other cities in Central Texas? They must have displays as well. We had heard rumours that Marble Falls had a pretty keen Trail of Lights display, so yesterday evening we hopped in the car and drove over the hills and through the woods to check it out. It is located in a park right on the lake and is free - although they DO appreciate it when you leave them donations. The nice thing about this display is that the crowds are SO much smaller and you can wander around without running into people. I forgot my camera, but I did have the phone camera, and here are some of the photos from the trail:

Pretty nice show for a little town like Marble Falls. It is open from 6:00 pm to 10:00pm from November 21, 2008 through January 3, 2009 in case you want to check it out. I really enjoyed how it was placed right next to the lake. After taking the stroll through the trail of lights, we stopped off at the Blue Bonnet cafe - A Marble Falls staple since 1929 - for dinner. They have some pretty decent food and the pies are quite tasty! It is really all about the dessert, you know.

Fall Colors etc...

As I originally hail from the Great Northwest, I still find it odd that the trees don't change colors until December in Austin. Shouldn't the trees be bare of leaves by now? How strange. But now it is December and the foliage has begun to turn colors for the season.

The pomegranate turns a beautiful yellow. I think the lavendar planted beneath it provides a nice contrast:

Eves Necklace with silver ponyfoot beneath:

Flameleaf Sumac. As the season progresses this shrubby little tree turns fire-red:

The Tropical Milkweed was still blooming until Friday night when the first freeze got it:

Monarch Caterpillar on milkweed:

And another:

The aloe was just about to bloom and then it froze Friday night causing the bloom to freeze. Rats.

And if you didn't get to check it out last week, here is a photo of the Triple Conjunction on Dec 1st of the Moon, Jupiter, and Venus. On the bottom left is Venus and in the upper right is Jupiter. Pretty nifty.