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!

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 :-).

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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…

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

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Hummingbird mom-to-be…

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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?

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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…

 

 

Tiny bitty lady bugs…

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen baby lady bugs until Sunday. I was planting zinnias and was about to put disturb this area next to the fence. Do you see the tiny red spec on the little green leaf in the center of the photo? TinyLadybugs-1

It was a lady bug! And there were others, lots of them! They scattered but some brave ones stayed put while I fetched the camera…

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Isn’t it amazing what you can see if you just keep your eyes open!

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An outing to look at flowers…

Mom’s 82nd birthday was last week! She enjoyed a variety of activities and one was a trip to the Dallas Arboretum. Lorna came up with the idea for this excellent adventure and I’m glad she did. Mom, Lorna, Bear and I set off on  Wednesday morning, a beautiful north Texas spring day.

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Bear was an excellent adventurer. He rode in the stroller and sometimes got to get out and walk…

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The grown-ups looked at the flowers and plants, mostly to get ideas about what we might do in our own yards. Wild roses are so pretty, but I don’t have room…

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I have a lot more shade in my yard now than I used to and the best idea I got was to plant some ferns, purple oxalis, and some other purple-y shade lovers!

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I also have succulents in pots near the pool. I wish I could grow one of these, but there’s just not room…

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Here is my succulent space. No room for a century plant, although these guys should get bigger over the summer.

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Mom loves her plants. She used to love to work in the yard but she can’t do that so much any more. Happily she is only 4 houses down so I can do some digging for her, along with Hector (her yard man and his crew), and Christopher.

I spent most of last Thursday and Friday in my yard, and then mom’s yard. I should have been working on the manuscript for the next (two) book(s), but I didn’t. I felt some guilt but not enough to go inside :-). I was too busy last year with the color book to work in the yard and I promised myself that this year I would get out and deal with the bare spots. The weather was perfect when I planted and we got some rain on Sunday to water the plants in. My yard is making me smile!

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It’s nice now and it’s only going to get better! FYI to those who have not seen pics of my yard before: it’s small and unusual for my neighborhood. Every other house has the typical big yard of grass with bushes at the house. Lucky for us we live in a neighborhood without restrictions. Also, luckily, our neighbors really like our yard.