Sunday, October 31, 2010

3-4-Th + 3D= 7-4-Sun

Life interrupted my cogitations re what to post on Three for Thursday ... three days later, I'm still playing catch-up on my corner of Katy, both real and virtual.  Hence the algebraic equation in the subject line, making the topic for today Seven for Sunday.

#1: 78 YOM + XHealth Issues = 1 BD*.   I was outside in the garden, watering new plants and enjoying the slightly cooler weather when I received a lunchtime phone call from my 78 year old mother, who lives just a few minutes away in a nearby subdivision.  She had been feeling lousy and was convinced that a lower molar was responsible, so I made a phone call to the dentist and got her an appointment for later that afternoon.  We spent almost an hour with the dentist but he could find no evidence of any major issues, just several minor problems that will require attention.  On the way over there, she had complained about also having some problems with her vision. As we left the dentist, and headed towards home, it became evident that her eye problems were the real concern, especially since she has glaucoma and must be alert to any changes in vision.  Her opthamologist was on our way home so I stopped there, hoping we could get her in to see him.  Unfortunately (for us, but not him), he's in Fiji until mid-November.  I took the name of a colleague and we decided I'd call him in the morning.   At some point during the night, while worrying about what was going on, I realized that her former opthamologist would be the best person to call, since she knew my mother's history.  (Were her office closer to home, Mom would still be seeing her. ) I called Dr M's office Friday morning and was able to get an appointment at 1:00.  I am so thankful that I did, since Mom has a serious problem in her left eye.  About 10 years ago, she suffered a central retinal venous occlusion in her right eye, essentially meaning a blockage of the central retinal vein caused by a clot.  Fortunately, it was a mild one and her vision was not severely impaired.   Not so fortunately, the problems she's been having are due to another CRVO, this time in her left eye and much more extensive.  We see a retinal specialist tomorrow.   (*1 78 year old mother plus x number of health issues equals 1 busy daughter.)

#2: As I sat on the patio, sipping coffee and thinking about my plans for the day Thursday, I watched a flock of birds circling overhead a few streets away, soaring and swooping, and marveled at how well they kept formation.  10 minutes later, they were still wheeling through the sky, their flight pattern taking only seconds to bring them back to the start.  I'm not sure what kind of birds they were, although they were about the right size for grackles; I'm even more curious what had them so focused.  Due to hail damage from a storm back in July, there are still roofers in the neighborhood ... I wondered if removing a roof had stirred up some sort of tasty insect.  

#3: I discovered what I fear is Rose Rosette Virus on my 'Mutabilis' rose.  You may recall that I whacked her back to a faretheewell in 2009, as discussed here.  I've regretted doing so ever since: it was far too grievous an insult to even her sturdy sensibilities. I removed the diseased canes and will keep a close eye on this rose to see whether the disease progresses.  
#4: The landscape crew stopped by on Thursday to rearrange the rock border to my satisfaction.  I'm happy with how that looks now but the foreman pointed out a new and unexpected problem in the corner bed.  This is an Agave univitata, a low-growing clumping Agave, which was planted at ground level by Othal's crew.  As you can see, it is not at ground level any longer.  A sinkhole has developed in that area of the bed, which I think was where they dug the first hole (I'm not sure ... it was such an unholy mess that it's hard to tell). I did go ahead and remove the Agave and pot it up to keep it from vanishing into the sinkhole but I agreed with the foreman's suggestion that we wait a few more days to make sure the ground doesn't settle further before filling in the hole with landscape mix. 
#5: We are now on Day 54 without rain.  I am watering the new plants and transplants almost daily.  Our rain chances are better this week than they've been in quite a while but I don't want to get my hopes up and then have them dashed.  The Cuban Gold Durantas in the picture above were watered deeply on Friday morning and yet they're drooping again.  Too much wind and too little subsoil moisture, combined with transplant shock, is my surmise.  I guess I'll be watering again this afternoon.
#6: Fall may have just barely arrived at Wit's End but the garden is already thinking about spring ... these Linaria maroccana (Toadflax) seedlings might even reach bloom size before we have our first frost!  I've spotted Viola cornuta (Johnny Jump Up) seedlings in several spots already, too.  
#7: In honor of Halloween, Ike the Stump Monster has donned his top hat and put on a happy face.  Happy All Hallow's Eve from all of us here at Wit's End!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Three for Thursday: What Will It Be?

I'm still pondering what my three for this Thursday will be.  Check back this evening and see what I decided on!  Meanwhile, I hope you'll post your own Three for Thursday.
Pick 3 pictures of plants from your garden ... tell us about 3 books you've read that you want to share ... rant about 3 things that bug the heck out of you ... show us 3 pieces of garden art or 3 photos of egregious crimes against gardening ... you choose what your three will be.  Just have fun and be creative!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday: They'll Always Be Asters To Me!

Symphotrichum oblongifolium just doesn't haven't the same ring to it.  This stand of Fall-Blooming Asters was originally a single one gallon plant.  I think I need more of these in my garden!

The bees would doubtless concur!

This fellow didn't care about posing for the camera: nectar was the only thing on his mind!

As you can see, the Asters are gloriously full of blooms which are fading fast, thanks to our unseasonably warm temperatures and the lack of rain.  Although they are heat and drought tolerant, 50 days without moisture from the sky is a bit much.  I've done some supplemental watering and these flowers are my reward for spending so much time with hose in hand.

Wildflower Wednesday is Gail of Clay and Limestone's once a month meme celebrating the natives in her garden and ours.  Hike on over to her little piece of Nashville and join in the fun!

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Update On The Street Where I Live

Gaillardia 'Grape Sensation'
The utility district crews did indeed return this morning to begin the laborious process of dismantling the street and locating the leak in the water main.  Happily, they did find the leak and were able to repair it fairly quickly.  Once that was done, they went about the equally laborious process of returning the street to its usual condition.  There was talk of them going ahead and digging out the sinkhole/pothole area to check the pipes underneath. Evidently powers that be disagreed because that remains undone, as does the reassembling of my rock wall into its previous condition.  With Otahal and his crew here again today to finish up planting, which required a great deal of input on my part, I had no time to spend with the utility crews.  IF tomorrow's weather is conducive to being outside, I'll call the water company and insist on their attention to the matter.  Part of me just wants to do it myself but, dang, those rocks are heavy!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Day After The Day Before: Wild Extremes

Awakened by the sounds of heavy equipment, I walked outside this morning and was greeted by several less than lovely vignettes.  

There was a large pile of wet, sticky, clay soil along the curb on the north side of the garden.

The rubble from the various digging efforts was not quite artfully arranged at the end of the sidewalk.

A backhoe operator was preparing to wreak yet more havoc.  There was more wet and sticky clay soil to remove.  On Thursday afternoon, they were quite certain they'd found the source of the leak.  By Thursday evening, it was evident they were wrong.


If they needed further evidence, by Friday morning, the 7 to 8 foot deep hole had become a small pond.  It seems that the break in the pipe is on the OTHER side of the street. After clearing out the muck, they were able to see a cavernous void on the OTHER side of the street. The side where there is no beautiful garden to be destroyed.

So the workers quickly went about the process of filling in the hole and cleaning up the mess on MY side of the street.  Clean builder's sand was shoveled in and thoroughly compacted.  They set forms, laid rebar and then brought in the cement mixer.

The crew poured and smoothed the cement mixture in what seemed like a matter of minutes.

At the end of the day, this was all that remained of the presence of 5 or 6 pieces of heavy equipment and 10-12 workers.  But we won't be lonesome for them for long: since they're now certain the leak is on the other side of my street, they'll return on Monday to start the process all over again!


One would think that the presence of this large pothole/sinkhole in the street would have indicated that something is drastically wrong on that side of the street and caused them to dig on that side first.  Hmmppph.

And since I know y'all are wondering just how this affected the garden, here's how things look post depredations.  I won't pretend that I'm crying for that little patch of lawn out front.  I may even replace it with some other sort of groundcover.
I was not happy with the rebuilding of the rock border, however.   Those rocks are NOT properly stacked, despite the multiple assurances by multiple crew members that they would put it all back just as it was.  I made sure the foremen knew that I was not happy with these results and that I would want them to redo the rocks on Monday.

Since the crews have done the best they could, given the circumstances, to limit the disruptions to the garden, I did my best to be pleasant about any dissatisfaction on my part.I'm not looking forward to Monday, though!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Three for Thursday: This Is Not MY Mess!

When Otahal and I returned to Wit's End yesterday with our truckload of plants, we were greeted by the sight of three trucks from the utility district parked near my house and a group of men milling about, pointing at the ground by the curb and talking animatedly.  That's never a good sign.  I was informed that there were breaks in pipe joints somewhere under my grassy area and I could expect them to start digging in the morning.  And so they have.

The moss rocks that were so carefully cut and placed back in April to create the edging on the back side of the corner bed  ... the loose bull rock and weedblock fabric so expertly laid to create a drainage swale ... and a huge amount of soil ... all have been shifted so holes could be dug to find and repair the leaks. 

This is one of two large holes (more may follow) and as you can see, there is indeed a leak. The picture doesn't adequately convey the depth of that hole; it's at least six feet. I kept a careful distance from it because falling in would not be pleasant.

I'm grateful that the leaks weren't somewhere under valuable garden space but I'm still bummed about the mess out front. It could end up being a good thing that the work is being done while Otahal and crew are here. We shall see.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What I Did On Wednesday

El Patron supervises the sorting of plants. Lots and lots of plants.

A sampling of the 112 plants 
purchased at Treesearch Farms. 

The remainder of the plants waiting to be unloaded.
Hosta 'Fatal Attraction'

Dyckia brevifolia ... I'm totally enamored of this plant. Did we buy enough?
I grew Aluminum Plant (Pilea spp.) as a houseplant in my college days. 

Otahal and I spent several hours at Treesearch Farms today and came home with a rich array of plant material.  Many thanks to Heidi, Theresa, Kit, Mark, Vincente and Jose' for all their help.  And an apology to Cisco, canine representative, for stepping on him so many times (his middle name must be Underfoot). 

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 2010: Now Blooming on My Corner of Katy

It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, the creation of Carol at May Dreams Gardens, and I've spent all day outside again.  Yesterday I pruned the Turks' Caps down to the ground, leaving a few in one area for the hummers.  Today I started the process of digging daylilies from the soon to be redesigned daylily bed, which will become more of a meadow border.  By the time I called it quits for the day, I only had a small window of opportunity (WOO, as Carol calls it ... the woman does love her acronyms) for picture taking.  That was cut short by the determined efforts of the mosquitoes, which are all too prevalent despite the lack of rain.  Time is of the essence if I want to get a good night's sleep before I leave for a beach weekend with my WOW pals (WOW is short for Women of W[h]ine).  So I beg your kind indulgence for indulging in no further ado.  I give you a few of the blooms of Wit's End (some of them stressed by the lack of rain).

Rose 'Heritage'

Coral Vine: Pink and White
The Symphyotricum formerly known as Aster oblongifolius
Cassia splendida
Rose 'La Marne'
Shasta Daisy 'Daisy May', New from Proven Winners
Pink Skullcap (Scutellaria)
Shrimp Plant, Pink aka Fruit Cocktail (Justicia spp.)
Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Three for Thursday: Through the Garden Gate #Whatever

As I was pondering today's Three for Thursday topic on this cool and crisp fall morning, it occurred to me that I haven't done a Through the Garden Gate post in quite a while.  So I headed outside with the camera to remedy that.
I think I found the stone marker at Nelson Water Gardens several years ago ... the gnome (be afraid, be very afraid) was a Christmas gift from my daughter a few years back.  We got as far as buying the paints to transform him into a proper garden gnome, then never found time to actually sit down and paint him.  Perhaps that's what's keeping him from joining forces with Seamus and instigating an insurrection.  If you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, read this post about a how-to guide every gardener should own.

I rarely think to look north through the garden gate and show you the view of the rose bed, so that's today's third shot.  If you want a plant that can handle drought without skipping a beat, Dwarf Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra) is a root hardy perennial shrub that blooms in cycles from spring through fall here on my corner of Katy.  

I hope you'll join me in posting Three for Thursday, if not this week, then next! Pick 3 pictures of plants from your garden ... tell us about 3 books you've read that you want to share ... rant about 3 things that bug the heck out of you ... show us 3 pieces of garden art or 3 photos of egregious crimes against gardening ... you choose what your three will be.  Just have fun, be creative and leave me a comment when your post is up! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stop Me Before I Yank Again ...

I went outside today, armed with my sketch of the front gardens and my notes, intent upon coming up with a plant list so I could go do my shopping.  I also took my tote of tools, just in case ... Can you see where this going?  

I did spend SOME time thinking about the design, as evidenced by the pots which are being used to signify plant placement.  There's a lot of bare ground but I'm notorious for not allowing plants enough space and I'm trying to mend my ways.
Most of the day, though, was spent creating piles like this one.  In the process of pruning the native Turks' Caps, I developed a really bad case of the change-it-ups.  The Head Gardener is fit to be tied and she didn't sleep well last night, thinking about where this could lead.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ten for 10/10/10: Ten Things I Did in The Garden This Week

#1:     Watered.  Due to the aforementioned lack of rain, I'm having to take hose in hand on a daily basis.

#2:     Lopped a limb off the 'Montrose Purple' Vitex and was immediately happier with how it looked.  As beautiful as it is in bloom, I've not been satisfied with the shape of it for a long time. I didn't do a good pruning job early on.  I may yet whack it down to the ground and let it regrow into a multi-trunked tree.

#3:     Weeded.  The confounded Dallas Grass, Gripeweed and Spurge continue to plague me.

#4:     Watered again.

#5:   Visited the 68th Annual Bulb & Plant Mart on opening day, Thursday the 7th. For the first time ever, I bought nothing.  Due to a new system using scanners and UPC labels, the line to check out was too long for me to consider the time spent waiting in it worthwhile.  I hear the line moved much more quickly later in the day. I'm going to miss handing my form to a Garden Club member to record the plant and the price in green ink, though.  (Eve's Necklace is on my wish list after seeing this picture.)

#6:     Discovered that there are actually NINE juvenile Japanese fantails in the pond, one more than previously counted. 

#7:     Found the plant on the left in the back garden and based on its similarity to the plant on the right, I'm convinced Lefty is a species of Pavonia.  That's Pavonia lasiopetala on the right, aka Rock Rose.  The plant on the left has small yellow blooms, about the size of a dime.  I know at some point in the past I'd purchased a yellow Pavonia.  Whether this is it, I can't say.

#8:     Sat.  I had planned to drive over to Austin on Friday but a low-grade bug of some kind had me feeling puny most of the week.  So I sat out front and sketched the expanded planting areas, then perused plant catalogs from the various local sales I've attended recently.  I compiled a lengthy wish list and hope to start shopping next week.  Otahal and crew are on tap to help me plant. 

#9:     Had the Executive Producer stabilize 'Kolomikta' so it wouldn't fall off 'Table With Legs'.  He pounded masonry nails into the brick, wrapped fishing line discreetly around a portion of 'Kolomikta' and then attached that to the nails.   I'm still playing around with plant placement and trying to come up with the right containers and plants to go on either side.

#10:     Watered MORE.