Visiting the Dallas Arboretum…

NOTE: If you got the way-too-early link to next week’s Wednesday Giveaway it’s only sort of gone. It will post on time next Wednesday. If you already commented, your comments should still be there.

Lorna, the kids, and I went to the Dallas Arboretum yesterday and it looks like spring is already here! Jack took way more pictures than I did.

Jack Taking Pictures

Bear rarely wanted to stop for a photo.


The cherry trees have begun to bloom. That was a surprise to me — I didn’t know there were cherry trees there!


The crepe myrtles are lovely even when they have not leafed out.

crepe myrtle

This is for my friend, Catherine :-).


Shaking hands with a shovel…

Bruce Taylor’s guys put in our drip irrigation system last week. These brown drip hoses are perfect, but don’t look that great laying on top of the ground. 


The last time we spread mulch was 2 years ago and it has decomposed. It was time to mulch again. 
We’re lucky that there are big mulch piles that we can use but it is real work to get the mulch from those piles to our yard. It requires shoveling mulch into bins and buckets, driving it home, and hefting it into place.  

Steve and I both shoveled. He did the heaviest bin-lifting into the pickup. But I did my fair share of lifting and I was thankful for all those Pilates classes :-). 

We started at 7:30am and quit at 3:15pm with a 30 minute lunch break. We are fried but the yard looks great!

The mulch pile is much diminished…


We celebrated with home-made hot fudge sundaes!

And now for Mom’s fence…

Steve and I both thought that water sealing my mom’s fence would be fast. She has a small yard. How long could it take!? 

Well, there’s a mile of fence around my mom’s small yard. Not really, but it seemed that way. We started at 8:30 AM, and finished at 2:45, with a tiny break for lunch. 

You can see that it really needed this and it does look much better now. And the fence will last longer, too. 

On the up-side: it didn’t rain. On the down-side: it was clear and sunny and hot. We are both beat, but happy to mark this chore off the list. Yay!

On home ownership, part 2…

Do you remember that we have a problem with our irrigation system? I think the problems developed when we were in Hawaii but it could have been farther back. We had a wet spring which masked a lot of problems. But we now have a lot of very dry plants:

It took two days for the first repairman to have time to over. He started digging and found this:

That is a flexible black pipe that should be bigger, rigid PVC pipe. The guy who put in our irrigation system obviously did not work to code. Sigh. 

A tree root has pinched and broken this main line and if it has happened here it’s going to happen in other spots. It doesn’t make sense to just repair it. Everything underground is going to have to be replaced. Deeper sigh. 

So now I’m waiting on Bruce, who installs irrigation systems. He’s coming over Sunday afternoon. For now I’m watering the old fashioned way:


And there were flowers!

Succulents don’t flower a lot but when they do, the flowers are lovely. Here are a few, seen at the Ruth Bancroft Garden last week:

The yellow flowers on this little barrel cactus were practically translucent…

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Another tall cactus wore what appeared to be a corsage, albeit not one I would want to wear :-).


There was a lovely stand of poppies, taller than me! I kept thinking of the poppies that put Dorothy, et al, to sleep in the Wizard of Oz…

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These little purple flowers were all over a small hump of what looked a little like grass but was instead pretty spikey. You wouldn’t want to walk on it…

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There were several flower that could have been designed by Dr. Seuss…


And a personal favorite, the ones that look like spikey fireworks!

PurpleBurstingFlower-Succulent copy


Hummingbird mom-to-be…

While walking through the Ruth Bancroft Garden, we passed this eucalyptus:


It’s a nice plant but I didn’t stop. Amy did. She spotted a hummingbird, sitting on a nest! It took me a very long time to see the bird/nest and by the time I saw her, we had irritated the poor bird so much that she flew away. When we walked back by later, she was sitting on her nest.


We very carefully took pictures and it wasn’t easy. She was so well hidden that it was hard to figure out where to point the camera. It made me wish for my big camera, the one with viewfinder that you look through rather than a digital screen.


I realized as I was admiring this bird and her nest, that I had not ever thought about where the hummingbirds that frequent my yard build their nests. I’m going to have to be a little more observant and maybe I’ll spot one!

If you want to read more about hummingbird nests, click here, and here, and/or google it.



So succulent…

My friend, Amy, is a succulent gardener and while I was there on a visit, she gave me cuttings from several of her plants with instructions not to plant them for a couple of weeks. If you put them in the ground too soon, the stems rot and the cutting dies. Who knew?! They came home in my carry-on bag, carefully protected in cake pans with some crushed newspaper padding.


Due to Amy’s inspiration, last year I planted succulents in pots on the deck by our pool. Steve likes them because they don’t drop stuff that ends up in the skimmers. I like them because they are so interesting to look at. Most of my plants did well, some did not and now I know—bad dirt.

We visited the Ruth Bancroft Garden… I’ve never seen so many succulents in one place. It was fabulous! (I’ll show more pictures from the garden tomorrow.) I learned at the succulent garden to mix little rocks (pumice if you can get it) evenly with potting soil. Sand holds too much water, as does straight potting soil.

Two weeks ago I re-potted all of my succulents with potting soil. They got rained on and I thought that was a good thing until I checked them yesterday morning—they were all sitting in wet dirt, more than a week after the rain. Sigh. So I went on a hunt for pumice and ended up buying two 5-gallon buckets of very small granite gravel (the next size up from decomposed granite). I re-potted my succulents, again. Here are some of them…


Adding rock to the dirt makes the whole pot heavier! So heavy that I decided not to touch the big aloe on the left. It appears to be happy as it is and I’m going to wait and break it apart in the fall.

Here’s a question: Do any of you know what this plant is?


One of Steve’s colleagues moved away a couple of years ago and couldn’t take this with him. I love it and have managed to keep it alive but the leaves are a bit yellow and it looks like it needs something I’m not giving it. The leaves are stiff, almost woody. If you look at the base of the plant you can see the ‘trunk’. It’s sort of like a palm, but not. Right now, it’s in regular potting soil… I didn’t want to mess with it without knowing what it is. Thank you in advance for any help with this one :-).

Update: Many thanks to Lisa who suggested that it could be a Cardboard Palm. After googling (I do love to google) I think she’s right… it’s a zamia furfuracea. I think it’s OK in the potting soil I have it in, I think I’m not over-watering it. It might want some palm food. But the thing I found out that makes me wonder if I should find this plant a new home is this:

“All parts of the plant are poisonous to animals and humans. The toxicity causes liver and kidney failure, as well as eventual paralysis. Dehydration sets in very quickly. No treatment for the poisoning is currently known.”

Amanda, if you are reading this, I wonder if you and Keith might want to give this plant a home. It was Jason’s, and it is in a lovely square pot…