Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holy Crap! Snow!!

WTF?!? It's snowing outside! In Austin. On Christmas Eve! It's a Christmas miracle!! OK, so it's light snow and the ground is warm, so it won't stick, but it's snowing! Look (look close - it is really windy outside and the snow is mostly blowing sideways):

As I noted above, the wind is really tearing across the countryside today and it is freaking cold outside. The weather changes so quickly here. Just yesterday it was 73 degrees and the Redbud was thinking about blooming:

And the trees just started to lose their leaves for the winter. Yeah, in December. I know. It's weird. Shouldn't the leaves all be gone from the trees by October? Nope, not in Austin. I still can't get used to it. The leaves fall off at the end of December and start returning at the end of February or the very beginning of March. That is 2 months sans foliage. I mean, why even bother? Sheesh.

I took these photos 2 days ago when the leaves all started falling off the trees. All at once (again, so weird). Today, the wind has blown whatever leaves were left clinging to the branches off and away:

Only the orchid tree is stubbornly holding onto it's leaves today. It will stay semi-evergreen unless we have an ice-storm to freeze off the leaves. It, therefore, makes a great place for the resident birds to hide from the elements. The White-Crowned Sparrows are all huddled up in the orchid tree sheltering themselves from the winter chill:

Stay warm and Merry Christmas, and a Happy Winter Solstice everyone!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bloom Day - December 15, 2009

December bloom day and I have blooms! Whee!


Copper canyon daisy:

Lemon Blossom:

and Yarrow:

That's it folks. Happy December Bloom day!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Caterpillars in the Flax

There are flax seedlings all over in my front flowerbed and so I went to pull them out the other day and what did I find? Tons of caterpillars hiding in the flax seedlings! I didn't have the heart to weed the seedlings and kill the caterpillars, so I left the flax for the caterpillars to forage in. Here are just a few in the field of flax:

The caterpillars are those of the Variegated Fritillary. They must snuggle up somewhere when it freezes, because they haven't been bothered by the recent freezing mornings. Soon I will have a yard full of beautiful butterflies.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Look at me being all Martha Stewart-y

First it was Lemon Curd, now Green-Tomato Chutney. And this weekend, I'm making a gingerbread house. I'm feeling very Martha Stewart-y. Here's the Chutney:

I used that Green Tomato Chutney recipe Lancashire Rose posted here. Wow! Is it good! Thanks for sharing Lancashire Rose!

Friday, December 4, 2009

All So Very Anti-climatic...

All week the local weather stations have been making a big old ta-do about the weather and all this snow we may receive, and, drumroll please.....

This was the monster snow-storm:

No, really, there is snow in the photo. Click on it to enlarge, and look very, very closely. There it is! Snow flurries! Yep - we ended up getting light snow flurries for about an hour and that was it. It was all very anti-climatic.

And I had my Snow Ice-Cream recipe all ready and waiting too.

Snow Ice Cream


8 cups snow
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place snow into a large bowl. Pour condensed milk over and add vanilla. Mix to combine. Serve immediately in bowls.

Oh well, No snow ice cream and no snowman for me. Guess I'll go purchase 3 sno-cones and stack them atop each other and pretend it snowed. Sigh.

Preparing for a Hard Freeze

The first Freeze of the season will be tonight and it is gonna be a hard freeze. 28 degrees they say. That means bring in the hanging plants, wrap the tropicals, and pick any green tomatoes.

I didn't realize I had quite so many hanging baskets. Sheesh. Usually I leave the geraniums and cyclamen outside if it is only around 32, but 28?, yeah they are coming inside. I clearly need to hang some more rods in the garage for them though as most of them are hanging off the ladder!:

The Meyer lemon is wrapped in christmas lights to keep it just a little bit warmer. I also will wrap it in a thick blanket and a big ol' frost cover:

And I brought in any green tomatoes as the freeze will abso-tively kill the plants tonight:

And what to do with the green tomatoes? The bigger ones will be fried up 'cause I LOVE me some fried green tomatoes!! And the rest, well, I think I am going to try making that green tomato chutney that Lancashire Rose posted here. It looks delish!

And I will wrap the Aloe Vera that is planted in the ground. It has been so warm the last couple of years that I was able to plant the aloe right out in the yard. It can't take a freeze at all, so I just wrap it up and usually only the tips will be damaged if there is a hard freeze. Plus, it is kinda sheltered by the fence and the Texas yellow bells that grew around it. The aloe is also about to bloom, so I will probably just pick the bloom stalk and bring it inside and put it in a vase. It will freeze outside, so I might as well just bring it in and see if it blooms.

Same goes for the Mexican Tuberose. They are about to bloom, so I am picking them today and bringing them in to put in a vase. They smell so nice and are so pretty:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making Lemon Curd

The Meyer Lemon tree is heavy with lemons and that means it is time for lemon curd! Yum!

Nothing beats homemade lemon curd. The stuff at the store doesn't even compare. Put it on biscuits, scones, toast, or eat it just plain by the spoonful (I dare you to make some and NOT eat it by the spoonful!)

There are many recipes out there for lemon curd, but here's the recipe I use:

Lemon Curd:

6 Egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 Tbls grated lemon zest

Strain the egg yolks into a medium, non-reactive saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow mixture to boil (it could cause curdling).

Remove from heat and whisk mixture until slightly cooled. Stir in the butter, a piece at a time, until fully incorporated. Add the zest. While still warm, pour the mixture into hot, sterilized jars, cover tightly, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 1 pint.

You may also freeze it up to a year.

It is SO easy to make and totally worth the time to make your own. There's nothing better. Yum!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Cactus

This naughty little plant seduced me at the garden center yesterday and I had to bring it home with me:

It's a Christmas Cactus and they have the most beautiful blooms. These are tropical succulents and live in the same environments as the orchids. They are light sensitive, so in September and October you want to keep them in a cool place (around 50 degrees) and out of electric light at night to ensure they will begin to set blooms. Also, water less during the blooming cycle and make sure they are not exposed to a freeze. If the buds start to drop, the issue may be over-watering, lack of humidity or insufficient light.

The rest of the year during their growing season they are treated as other tropicals. Make sure they get enough water and humidity and fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer with a nitrogen ratio of no higher than 10 percent.

Oh, and you also don't want to re-pot these until they are done flowering. I want to re-pot this one, but I will have to wait until it's done blooming to do that. I guess I will just sit it inside a nicer pot for the time being.

These cactus are long-lived and if you take care of them, they grow into fabulously beautiful plants. My mother had a ginormous one for years and years. Hopefully I can get mine to do just as well.

More butterflies...

The garden continues to play host to many butterflies this fall. Here are a few:

American Snout:

American Lady:


Gulf Fritillary:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Butterflies Dig Yellow

Lots of butterflies to be found in the garden today. They are mobbing the yellow Copper Canyon daisies and the Tropical Milkweed:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Planting Bulbs...

My bulb order arrived from Brent and Becky's and I am planting bulbs today. The bulbs all looked big and healthy too. Yay!

What I planted:

1)Narcissus - Sweetness (this one is yellow and supposed to smell sweet, hence the name)
2)Narcissus - Avalanche (called 'Seventeen Sisters' in the past because of its 15-20 white and yellow blooms on each stem; this is also supposed to smell sweet)
3)Narcissus - Flore Pleno (a double yellow jonquilla-ish bulb)
4)Crocus - Tommies (cause I REALLY want to have some spring crocus and I hear these sometimes work down here. I'm gonna give them a shot; they were cheap, so if they fail it isn't that big a deal)
5) Freesia Laxa - (these are winter growing south african bulbs. I put them where I have canna in the summer in the hope of having some winter color in that spot. I hope these work out for me!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why I now will be adding watermarks to all my images

So, I just realized a company in California has stolen my images and content, claimed them as their own and placed them on their business site selling ponds and fountains. I am pretty fricken pissed about this whole thing. They do not have an e-mail contact, so I will be calling them Monday asking them to please remove my images from their e-commerce site, otherwise I will be forced to take legal action.

I want to encourage anyone to NOT purchase anything from as these are the thieves who have stolen my images.

I will be placing watermarks on all my images from this point forward. I fucking hate people.

Anticipating a few late season blooms....

There are a couple of blooms stalks I am keeping an eye on right now:

The Aloe is sending up a flower shoot. Last year the first freeze of the season was December 5th in my garden and the aloe bloom stalk froze before it could open. This year, I am hoping the bloom preceeds the first frost:

The Mexican Tuberose is also sending up several bloom stalks; the garden will be perfumed with their intoxicating scent when they open:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bloom Day - November 15th - a day late...

Happy November Bloom Day! (so I'm a day late - it happens..)

Autumn crocus coming up and blooming (these are new this year):

The Mexican Tuberose are getting ready for their second round of blooming this year. I adore these bulbs.:

Mexican Mint Marigold:

Copper Canyon Daisy. These are light sensitive and only bloom when the days are short in the spring and fall. Don't plant them near an evening light source (street light/house light) or they get all confused and won't bloom:

Mountain Sage:

Mealy Blue Sage covered in skippers (the butterflies, not the fast food fish for those who know what I am talking about):

Shrimp Plant:


Mexican Bush Sage:

Texas Bluebell (Yep, still flowering. Gotta love this one):

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Butterfly Invasion!

My yard has been invaded by butterflies!! Seriously. I have never seen anything like it. Queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus) are literally taking over my yard. Not 5, not 10, not 50, but hundreds!! It is crazy! Walk along my side yard where I have a bunch of Greggs Blue Mistflower and a hundred butterflies swarm you, dancing about like fairies in some kind of wonderland. I have to duck, half expecting to be doused in butterfly-fairy dust. They are carpeting the mistflower, the butterfly bush, the salvias, the rock rose, and even the trees.

You have to look close, but there are about a 50 butterflies in this pic. They are on the flowers, in the grass, in the trees, in the air, and at least another 50 dancing around and above my head as I took this photo:


And on the Snow on the Mountain:

Then as the sun began to wane, the butterflies began to collect on the trees in giant clumps:

First a few on the orchid tree on various branches here and there:

A few more in the pomegranate:

Then they began to commune on the Texas Oak tree:

And more came to join the party:

Soon the branches were coated with Queen butterflies:

Apparently they have decided to stay for a bit and are going to sleep in the trees in my backyard. It appears I will be playing host to the butterflies for a while. I should probably put out a bowl of wet sand for them to puddle in tomorrow as I wouldn't want to be a bad hostess.

Bloom Day - October 15th, 2009

El Nino has finally arrived! We have had much rain over the last couple of weeks and my garden is bloomin' crazy in response. Let's get to it:

The begonias are finally really happy, although they toughed out the summer really quite well (hanging in the shade of course):

Dragon-wing begonias:

The fan flowers have been amazing all summer and fall (just keep them wet!):


The geraniums are making a comeback. Here is a hummer hiding from the rain the other day on the feeder between the geraniums:

The shrimp plants continue to bloom and attract hummers:

The Abutilon stuggled through the summer and is beginning to revive now that the weather has cooled a bit:

Gulf muhly and red coreopsis:

Blackfoot daisy and Damianita:

Bulbine and Damianita:

Blue Mistflower:

Mealy blue sage:



Texas Mountain Sage (the hummers fight vicious battles for this one):

Turks cap:

Golden Leadball tree:

Hotlips Salvia:

Laceleaf lavendar:

Mexican Mint Marigold:

Mexican Bird of Paradise:

Moonbeam Yarrow:

Mushrooms (ok, not a flower, but still cool):

Pink skullcap:

Rock Penstemon and Antelope Horns milkweed:

Rock Rose and Mexican Bush Sage:

Various salvias:

Snapdragon Vine:

Anacacho Orchid:


Obedient Plant:

The Flowering Senna is LOADED with blooms:


Texas Betony:

Autumn daffodil - Sternbergia lutea (actually a member of the Amaryllis family):

And Texas Bluebell. These are finally winding down for the season, only a few blooms remain. This was the BEST flower in my garden this year as it simply thrived on the heat as long as it had a bit of water (it is growing by the jar-fountain):