The Natural Garden Coach

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's Starting ... Spring??

'Grand Primo' Narcissus tazetta (I think)
Is this the start of spring? It's been unseasonably mild here, a far cry from last winter, and some of the bulbs are blooming much earlier this year. I dug up these narcissus, which I think are 'Grand Primo', the first week in March last year while they were in bloom. It was part of my daffodil rescue. But they're blooming already. I really like these bulbs - very robust leaves and stems and extremely fragrant (maybe too fragrant!). Plus they're just plain pretty.

Southern grape hyacinth, Muscari neglectum
Last year the grape hyacinth were just starting to open about a week later. So they seem on track. If I were to buy more grape hyacinth bulbs, I think I'd buy some larger cultivars. These are very teeny.

'Gravetye Giant' summer snowflake, Leucojum aestivum
These 'Gravetye Giant' snowflakes are new for me this year. Last year I had the smaller summer snowflakes blooming about a month later. The smaller ones have yet to bloom so I don't know if it's a cultivar difference or not. I do like the bigger blooms on these!

Flowering quince
The flowering quince is starting to open, probably a week or so earlier than last year. I'd say it's got a good month of blooming left though.

'Peggy Clarke' flowering apricot, Prunus mume
My new baby is blooming! I planted my 'Peggy Clarke' flowering apricot last January and it's covered in blooms and bees now! I'm so glad there are some bloomers for my pollinator friends.

Are you starting to see signs of spring earlier than last year? What's blooming for you?

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2012. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for the New Year

Improved Meyer lemon blooming indoors
What is blooming in your yard or house this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day? I have a few plants, mostly indoors, and a couple in bud outdoors. To start off, here's a couple of shots of my Meyer lemon tree. It's happily blooming away in the guest room. But I think I need to bring it outdoors for some pollinators if I want some lemons!
Improved Meyer lemon
Lemon trees need pollinators to set fruit, right?

Duba


This is my cat Duba, who was getting in my way as I tried to take the next photo (yes, he has one eye that's mostly brown and the other very light blue).

African violet
I wish I knew the name of this African violet. It never fails to bloom in winter and it continues to bloom for a long time.

'Patrick's' abutilon
I can tell our "hard" freezes haven't lasted too long because the abutilon is still blooming. The blooms are pretty small but it's still got them!

Flowering quince
The flowering quince is not quite in bloom yet. In fact, though there are many buds, it's coming out a little later than it has in the past.

'Peggy Clarke' flowering apricot (Prunus mume 'Peggy Clarke')
And last but certainly not least, one of my newer trees is getting ready to burst into bloom - 'Peggy Clarke' flowering apricot. It's loaded with buds now, and if we don't get a hard freeze, I expect to see a sensation.

Be sure to visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what she has in bloom along with many other folks around the world!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2012. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Davis Mountains and Indian Lodge

Davis Mountains, far west Texas
Happy New Year! Though it feels like spring here right now, I thought I'd reminisce about the winter we experienced over the holidays. We went to one of our favorite places - the Davis Mountains. They're in far west Texas, north of the towns of Marfa and Alpine, and northwest of Big Bend National Park.

Hiking trail in the Davis Mountains State Park
When we arrived, snow and "ice fog" had just started roll in, and it made for a less-than-ideal mini-hike, which we took immediately. Who knew that those conditions would hang around for most of our trip?

Indian Lodge lobby
We stayed at Indian Lodge, which is located in Davis Mountains State Park. The original part of the lodge (which we always stay in) was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was established by FDR to put many young men to work, and I learned that at that time many of Texas' state parks had just been established but there was no money to build structures. So the CCC built many of the beautiful cabins found within those state parks.
Post and beam detail in lobby of Indian Lodge
For Indian Lodge, the CCC made their own adobe bricks, cut posts from the area, and built much of the furniture that is still in use today.


Ceiling in our room
The cane used on the ceilings came from Boquillos Canyon, down Big Bend way.
Indian Lodge courtyard and snow as seen through our window (and screen!)
We were there to do some hiking, see some wildlife and for me to check out the plant life. The wildlife was a bit sparse. I guess they preferred to stay warm as I did. We didn't see the usual javelinas but did see some mule deer and a few birds (canyon wren, red-naped sapsucker, mountain chickadee, towhees and phainopepla were some of the "good" ones for you birders). And we saw many plants endemic to the area.

Cholla, Cylindropuntia sp.
The cholla is a very common cactus of the area.

Berries of the madrone tree, Arbutus sp.
There was a beautiful madrone tree in the courtyard of the Lodge. Though you can't really see it here, the berries are bumpy, and if you stretch your imagination, they can be said to resemble strawberries from whence they get a common name of "strawberry tree."

Madrone bark
Madrone trees are probably more famous for their peeling bark.

Ice/snow on Emory oak
I learned from a park ranger that most of the oak trees within the park are hybrids between the Emory oak and the gray oak. Interesting (in a geeky way).

Havard agave
Havard agave (Agave havardiana) is the common agave in the area. I saw them mostly near the bottoms of hills.

Chihuahuan Desert and Davis Mountains in the background
Why do we love this area so much? Many reasons - the wide-open skies, interesting high desert flora and fauna, friendly people. It seems the Wild West past is always simmering just beneath the present there. I have much respect for those who have been able to make a living out there.

Wildfire damage
It can be a hard place to live, and there was much evidence of that from the wildfires that terrified the people and ravaged the area this past spring. That's not fall colors in the photo, it's burnt trees.

Snow near McDonald Observatory
But we'll be back. And if I can get a little time, maybe I'll do a post about Marfa, an interesting place!

Meanwhile in the garden, though the weather is balmy I know winter is here from the winter birds: dark-eyed junco, white-throated sparrow, cedar waxwing, tons of robins, and soon to arrive ... the American goldfinches!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2012. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.