A B C D

The name of this post may seem odd, but it will make sense as you read it.

A is for Anxious for spring wildflowers.  Anxious to find out if the hard freezes killed any plants.  Anxious for warm days of spring.  Anxious for bulbs to bloom and for the beauty of green trees, shrubs, grass, etc.

B is for Bulbs – all kinds.  Sorry this picture is blurry.  This plant will be clearer in another picture in this post.

I planted these long ago and don’t remember what they are.  I love that bulbs are so reliable and always seem like a great surprise when they return and bloom.

C is for Coyote Carcasses hanging on a fence.  When we first came to the area, that sight puzzled us.  The explanation given was that the purpose was to scare off coyotes from the vicinity.

Now, that makes no sense.  Seems like it is giving reasoning powers to a wild creature that are way above their brain power.

So I did a little research.  The practice started in the mid 1900’s when ranchers paid cowboys to get rid of coyotes.  It served as proof of kills so they could collect the bounties.

Before someone gets indignant about cruelty to animals, it is important to note that coyotes are more than just a nuisance.  They kill cows, sheep, goats, pets, and any other animals in the area, including all of our Blackbucks.  It was and is vital for ranchers and farmers to protect their livelihoods.  Fences don’t keep out coyotes.

D is for Daffodils – a cheerier subject.

Daffodils announce that spring is just around the corner.

There is the small pink flowers of the unknown bulb plant.  Anyone know what it is?

The bees appreciate the appearance of daffodils.  Daffodils are native to the areas that border the Mediterranean Sea. There are 50 species of Daffodils with over 13,000 hybrids.

I like that these stems are short, even though it means almost laying on the ground to get pictures.

Texas Scarlett Quince makes a good backdrop for pale colored Daffodils..

Daffodils need well drained soil, full sun, and about an inch of water a week.  It is important to leave the foliage after the flowers die.  They will not return if you cut the leaves back.  When the leaves start getting limp, I gently fold them down closer to the ground.

They also need to be dug up and divided every five to ten years.  Well worth the effort.

Since I badmouthed Texas Scarlett Quince (Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’), recently in a post, I thought I should show it further along in the season.  With lots of bright red flowers, it draws the eye and makes a nice accent low bush.

Daffodowndilly

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
‘Winter is dead.’

A. A. Milne

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What’s Winter?

“This weather is crazy.”  is a comment heard often around here.  It is so true.  Last autumn weather forecasters promised a cold and wet winter.  Did not happen.

We only had one cold spell here that lasted a few days, but it was enough to freeze everything.  I’ve been to the metroplex area this month.  It still looks like the fall with no freeze damage at all.

earlyspringIt’s a little early for this bulb flower to open up.  This is the third year this bulb has bloomed, and it has always been close to the ground.  Still, I think it’s Vuurbaak Hyacinth ‘Fire Beacon’, which was popular with the Victorians.  They’re known to bloom in early spring but should be taller.

If this ID is incorrect, I don’t know what it is.

earlyspring2

earlyspring4Just a few daffodils have opened in my yard, but I’ve seen several flowerbeds in Brownwood with lots of blooms.

earlyspring5The Flat Leaf Parsley is already spreading.  In fact, I’m not sure it died back completely.

earlyspringaNow to be brutally honest, the weeds, like these Henbit, are growing fast and furiously. These don’t really bother me.  In fact, I heard that their presence means a well-balance soil.  Doesn’t make sense to me.

earlyspringbAnd the bane of my life, Common Sowthistles (Sonchus oleraceus) are healthy and growing like weeds.  Ha, ha.  A recent post on Central Texas Gardener stated that these could be used to make a tea.  Really?

earlyspring3Even some of the trees are responding to this warm weather.  This Texas Ash is leafing out, which makes me nervous because we could have a late freeze.  Typically (if there is any such thing in Texas) we have a freeze around Easter.

earlyspring7It’s not unusual for this Texas Quince to have flowers this early.  In fact, it needs some cold weather.

earlyspring8The Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum rufidulum) has tons of leaves already.

earlyspring9This is the one that really worries me.  This small flowering bush/tree has struggled for three years and losses it leaves in late summer.  So a freeze could really set it back.

earlyspringcIce Plant flowers on dead stems.  How crazy is that?

About the only thing for certain about Texas weather is that it is super hot in summer.  And I don’t use that term as it applies to teenage idols.

“Teach your children to love cattle and they will never have money for drugs.”  unknown

Early Blooms in February

This post is an interruption of my series on our trip to Costa Rica.  Although not spectacular, I wanted to show what is happening in the yard here during the waning days of winter.

unknown3I have racked my brain trying to remember when I planted these bulbs, where I got them, and what they are.  Once again, my garden record keeping or lack of is embarrassing.

unknown2These bloomed the middle of February.

unknownAnyone know what they are?

earlybloomsThen, the last of February two inches of ice fell.

earlyblooms1Eastern Meadowlarks have been pecking around in the dried grass.  They are skittish and dart around making them difficult to photograph.

earlyblooms2Ice melted and daffodils are looking good.  The bush in the back with small orange red blooms is Texas Scarlett Quince.

earlyblooms7Individual blooms of Quince aren’t anything to write home about, but their bold color makes them pop in the landscape.  Plus, the buds begin to open late in February.

earlyblooms3Just got curious about the difference between daffodils and jonquils.  They are both in the narcissus genus.  Jonquils refer to a specific type of daffodil known as Narcissus jonquila.

Some characteristics to compare them:

Daffodils:  One bloom to a stem, long slender stems, not very fragrant, corolla (flower) comes in many different colors

Jonquils:  More than one bloom to a stem, rounded stems, extremely fragrant, only yellow corolla

earlyblooms4All seem to have heads bowed.

earlyblooms5Gopher plant (Euphorbia biglandulosa) is in euphorbia family, which is the largest genus of flowering plants.  This family includes over 2,000 species from small weeds to towering cactus like plants.

Gopher plants grow up to 3 feet tall and have this unusual flower.  Flowers die away to form seed pods, smallish in size yet huge in power.  When ripe, the pods open explosively; flinging the seed about 50 feet  all around the mother plant.

earlyblooms6Last fall I dug up a few Gopher plants because I wasn’t sure they would survive freezing temperatures.   The ones in the pot stored  in the shed have long, leggy stems and more spread out flowers.

Euphorbia plants all have one thing in common: the sap of the plant is highly poisonous.  Sap flows from the roots through the plant stems, making every part of the foliage toxic to animals who may attempt to snack from it.  The name of the plant may come from the fact that gophers, whose favorite food is roots, eat them and succumb to the poison.

Spring is on the way.  Yippee!

“Do you ever get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and think ‘That can’t be right!'”  Ged Backland

Flowers at Mayfield Park

This is the last post about our visit to Mayfield Park in Austin.  The back area of the garden is devoted to flowers and is planted and maintained by volunteers.  I suspect they also selected and furnished the flowers.

mayfieldpark46This purple flower really caught my eye.  I don’t know what it is but who love to find out.

mayfieldpark47The color and whole appearance is attractive to me.

mayfieldpark44Then I came across another bed with the same flower in a   brilliant pink color.

mayfieldpark43mayfieldpark42Just wanted to keep snapping pictures of them.

We visited on a Saturday, which, of course, was a busy day.  Lots of photographers were taking pictures of couples, probably engagement pictures.  Others were shooting high school girls; so I figured that were doing graduation pix.  All this to say that I was trying to stay out of their way.  So I didn’t feel that I saw all the different flowers.

mayfieldpark49These sunlit tulips were beautiful.  Makes me wish that it were really possible to grow them here, and that the bulbs would survive like they do in cooler climates.

mayfieldpark41Wonderful peach color.

mayfieldpark51More daffodil types than I have ever seen except in bulb catalogs.

mayfieldpark50An unusual two toned one with a pale peach.

newmayfieldThis appeared to be a new plot.  All the plots of individuals ran together, so it was difficult to know if each plot was small like this one or if this part had just been replaced.  Occasionally, a volunteer’s name was displayed on a raised metal sign.

mayfieldpark53mayfieldpark48See what I mean about all different kinds of daffodils.

mayfieldpark45Someone else liked the peach tulips and had them in their bed.

mayfieldpark40A few Grape Hyacinths poked up among the leaves.

Having volunteers responsible for the garden area certainly helps out the park employees.  Since the flowers are seasonal and not native, I wonder how often they are changed out.

mayfieldpark23One last picture of a peacock.  Their shrill call and physical beauty is part of this park.

Lovely park to visit when one is in Austin.

“I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad.  Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.”  Helen Keller

Mayfield Park House Grounds

Mayfield Nature Preserve is a 21 acre natural area outside the rock wall of the Mayfield Park.  Inside the wall is a house, a storage building, a large rock patio with three ponds, and an extensive flower garden area.

mayfieldpark28Allison Mayfield acquired the property with the board and batten house in 1909 for a summer and weekend retreat for his family.  His only daughter and her husband moved into the cottage in 1922 and added porches to three sides of the house.

She designed the gardens while her husband oversaw the building of the stone wall, ponds, and other garden features.   A resident gardener worked on the projects for many years.

mayfieldpark27This Wisteria bush next to the house is reminiscent of the early 20th century.

mayfieldpark30A small Redbud tree stands among other, taller trees.

mayfieldpark37At the back edge of the yard is this arch and a patio area before there is a steep drop off to a deep creek bed.

mayfieldpark38Looking over the wall towards the creek area.

mayfieldpark33One of the three ponds in the stone patio area has an arching water feature created by a simple spout pointed upward.

mayfieldpark32The flowers and foliage in the pond resembles an iris, so that made me wonder.  I looked on line, and there are indeed pond water iris.  Learn something everyday.

mayfieldpark31Not sure what the purpose of this structure was.  Looks like a castle turret and a little out of place.

mayfieldpark29Daffodils:  a quintessential sign of early spring.

mayfieldpark26A pretty little simple flower whose name I do not know.

mayfieldpark22Bless her heart, this peafowl has a huge body and a tiny head.  Pretty plain.  She and the other peacocks are descendants of the original ones given to the Gutschs in 1935.

Mary Mayfield Gutsch’s husband died in 1965.   At her death in 1971, she left the home and acreage to the City of Austin to be used as a park.

mayfieldpark24The male sports iridescent colors with…

mayfieldpark25with a gorgeous tail.  What’s fair about that?

The Mayfield Park area can be booked for weddings and other social events.

“Genius and virtue are to be more often found clothed in gray than in peacock bright.”  Van Wyck Brooks

First Blooms

The temperatures continue to bounce up and down like a kid on a trampoline.  The last two days have been in the 80’s, but today tiny ice pellets are being blown sideways in a bone chilling 21 degrees.  So good bye to the flowers that have already bloomed.  These pictures were taken yesterday.

quince4 Texas Scarlet Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) is the first noticeable color in my yard.

quinceThis plant is three years old, so there are more flowers on the branches than last year.

quince3With loose form, the flowers don’t last but a few days.

daffodils2Then came the daffodils.  Last year I moved the bulbs from a bed beside the house.  They had not done very well for seven years in that location.  So when I read that they should be in a bed away from the house, I decided to try it.

But the wind whips them around pretty good.

daffodilsThe color seems paler than last year.  Maybe it’s my imagination.

rosemary4The Rosemary bush has bloomed off and on for a couple of months during some warm days.

rosemary3These pictures are not particularly good, but I’m trying to show several things.  In this one is a bug with two orange stripes (type unknown) in the upper middle of the photo.  Also, the orchid like shape of the flower petals is noticeable..

rosemary5A yellow butterfly is feeding in the middle of this picture.  Bees and all kinds of insects were flitting around.  Most were too speedy for me to get a picture.

rosemaryThis shot illustrates the amount of flowers on the plant.  As I’ve said before, this out-of-control bush needs to be cut back.  I did some lopping last year but don’t really know the correct way to trim it.

Sunny days and flowers bring the promise of spring.  Then there are the days where winter bears down again.

“If you think your best days are behind you, they are.  If you think your best days are ahead of you, they are.”  Jon Gordon

Preview of Spring

There are small signs of spring in spite of the fact that weather forecasts indicate more freezes coming up.  Several trees have already budded out and those buds have turned black from a freeze.

daffodilA few daffodils have already bloomed and grown ragged from the wind.  But there still more buds.

swampsunflowersSometimes it hard to determine from the first shoot of a plant what it is.  So it helps if you can remember where something is planted rather pulling up little greenery as weeds.  Spoken from experience.  These are Swamp Sunflowers, which go through some pretty stages.  After this, it will become thin, frilly leaves that drop over like a circular waterfall.

violetsJust plain old common violets that have a nice low growth with lovely whitish, purple flowers that rise above the leaves.

dayliliesOne of my favorites – orange daylilies.  Not only are they pretty but so dependable and easy.  Emphasis on the easy.

dandelionOf course, weeds are here with more on the horizon.  The dandelion has a soft inviting shape.

dandelion2Beauty comes in all forms.

henpitThe prolific henbit will always be with us.

cherrylaurelCherry Laurel in full bloom promises new leaves.

cherrylaurel2The entire tree hummed like a bee hive.

Our first evidence of spring is weeds.  That brings a somber reminder that I need to be outside with a hoe or a spray.

“What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.”  Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871